For the last couple of days, I’ve been at the Thames Gateway gathering at Excel, where I’ve been trying to extract any sort of business lead to create a new property deal which would raise the prospects of my ever being able to retire.
Not much chance of that, if what seems to be going on these days is a measure of the state of the industry. Apparently Margaret Beckett was making the ‘keynote’ speech, but I didn’t bother to listen to that.
The house builders are putting on a brave face, and so are their consultants. The building industry is all but grinding to a halt and this means that all the suppliers, producers etc are being hit hard as well. The agents are all scratching their heads too, which is unusual.
But an overriding factor of all this gloom is the huge bulge in the number of government appointed organisations to promote/advise/consult new development. Add the local councils, and you finish up with a big wave of people with rules and regulations, which eventually restricts and stifles any entrepreneur who is willing to risk everything to make a property development work for a profit.
I usually try to avoid talking with any of the government reps, as they’re usually commercially naive, incapable of saying anything which doesn’t include their own jargon (or more likely, acronyms), and swan around as though they are important. The one conversation I had with a bored government quango man was inconclusive, uninteresting and summed up by his hanging around for another free drink on a stand (which was run by a private business of course).
There were one or two shining examples of councils trying to get something going, but the majority will always stick rigidly to the rules and eventually cause the previously interested party to give up and go and do something else.
So, to alleviate the gloom, I’ve managed to meet the stunningly lovely lady again (coat removal expert from last year); avoided every Wii game going for fear of making a complete arse of myself, spent several happy minutes with a glass in hand, polished off loads of crisps and felt sick, missed my train (twice), been to a function which was billed as a photographic exhibition, and didn’t see one picture, had a good group rant about the failings of Gordon Brown, (which did look quite promising and could have turned into a riot), and fallen flat on my back on a tube train after someone removed the glass screen by the door just as it was picking up speed. Three kind gentlemen helped me to my feet, but it was really very funny and we all had a laugh about that!
Oh, and I did manage to do some business eventually, but it ain’t going to be easy...