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- Adrian Colwell, Head of Strategic Policy, South Northamptonshire Council


MIPIM 2013 - Day One

13th March 2013, by Graham Chase

So, I made it..... After a tedious overnight stay in a Gatwick hotel followed by a 5:30am alarm call I was off through the snow to the South terminal and a date with the de-icing machine before the 737 was permitted to hurtle down the runway and off to sunny Cannes and MIPIM 2013.

Tensions rose early, however, with hundreds in the queue but only 4 check in desks open and speedy boarders coming straight through to the front. An hour's wait just to hand over one piece of 20kg luggage does make you question if technology does speed up processes or just invents new ones. Nevertheless not even a half cooked porridge and tired mint tea on board could dampen my spirits as the snow clouds cleared and blue skies heralded our arrival on the tarmac at Cannes. Waiting at border controls as is common in most UK airports but a friendly bonjour and wave through saw me by the luggage carousel within 5 minutes of stepping off the plane. It was a pity the luggage took half an hour to arrive but the sun was still shining as I purchased my bargain return coach fare to Cannes and all the fun of MIPIM for only 23 EURO.  Then I saw the queue for the coach of some 100 equally enthusiastic MIPIM delegates. My heart sank as the bus only holds 50 and with one bus every half an hour and more delegates arriving every minute this made prospects of boarding the bus remote and a 100 EURO taxi fare a distinct possibility. However lady luck was with me and despite a growing line of MIPIM delegates I managed to scramble on to the second coach and settled down for the much advertised brief trip to Cannes but was thwarted again. An articulated lorry carrying copper wire had managed to catch fire on the auto route so another half hour of sitting still.

Eventually the coach came to a stop opposite the Palais des Festivals the excitement of the passengers mounting but efforts to alight quickly and make my way to "the bunker" were thwarted by an array of pedestrian barriers and walkway closures which represent the rerouted Croissette as delivery lorries queue up to disgorge their loads into the bowels of the conference centre. I had to cross the same main road three times and engage the wroth of the gendarmerie to achieve my goal of the registration office of MIPIM but I had arrived. Oh joy, fortunately I had remembered to print off my Registration document and as soon as I presented the bar code to the reader a badge and entry card arrived and I was registered quicker than I can blink. After a frustrating journey it looked as if my fortunes were on the way up but I was wrong.

My 1 bedroom studio flat is very central but that is where the plaudits stop. Swinging a cat is not an option and I will not describe the toilet seat arrangements but the place reminds me of those rustic and smelly places we visited in France during the 60's and early 70's which the travel guides described as rustic but as a surveyor I described as condemned. 1,000 Euros for 4 nights indicates the standard should be so much higher but when you find out that outside of MIPIM week the usual weekly hire for 7 days is 190 Euros the reality is all too plain to see.

Despite all these setbacks and frustrations the sun is still shining and I still feel positive, my agency spirit, coming to the fore on the "I can do ticket". That is if you can do....the internet system employed in the flat has a block against my firewall with the result that the connection is useless so it is back to the hotspot on my iPhone and an hour of wasted time trying to find a technical facility on the computer with a skill and ability I simply just do not possess.

Beaten but not deterred I pack up my computer and take it with me out of the flat to the bar across the road. Admittedly this is the backstreets of central Cannes but the Bar/Brasserie is full ....of indigenous French with not a MIPIM candidate in sight. I quickly remove and hide my MIPIM badge and settle at a table just by the bar. The babble put up by the staff and customers is intense and makes me sit up and observe what is going on which in reality is not very much but the characters and atmosphere makes me realise I am somewhere different and that Cannes is not just about MIPIM; but is a busy French Town on the Cote D'Azur. Just as that thought makes me smile I note the blue skies have gone, it is overcast and it is surely going to rain. It has already been a long day even though it has only just gone 4 in the afternoon. The travelling arrangements remind me of the sheep pens that hurtle down the motorway to market with their cargo bleating for a reprieve that will never be heard the weary look in the eyes of most travellers and the knowledge that I have 3 ½  days of MIPIM before me.  Depressed certainly not. I will see as many friends and clients/potential clients as I meet in 3 months in London and there is always something to learn. What a pity we have to travel to experience MIPIM at its mighty best. Hello, the sun is out again, the clouds have scuttled across the sky and I will join my new found French friends in this bar for a swift pastis before I check out were the action is tonight

Tomorrow the report will focus on property issues as I look at the future of investment in Real estate, the impact on logistics as retailers switch to greater on line sales and how sustainability is measuring up and adds value to investors and occupiers alike.