A year of work in progress – day 143

Day 143 – 26 August 2014

One of the disadvantages of driving to Durham every day is that I rack up a fair few miles and need to get my car serviced frequently. Today was the day and I also needed some new discs and pads. Of course it’s very difficult to do without my car and so I get it sorted at a garage in Gilesgate Durham. This used to be ideal when we had an office just around the corner, as I could walk from one to the other but that team has moved to Meadowfield now.

Sometime ago I had bought a fold-away bike and so I chucked this into the back of the car in order to cycle to work and back. Anyone who has ever been to Durham will know that if you go downhill one way you are going to have to go back up and the only way to get from the garage to County Hall, a distance of just under four kilometres, was to go down into town and climb back up past the station. It was not the easiest journey on a bike with twelve inch wheels! Still it only took me twenty minutes and I only had to push it for a little while. (A colleague told me that if you are pushing your bike then get your phone out and pretend to be calling someone. It helps with your street cred apparently.)

It continues to be quite quiet at work as it is the last week before the schools come back so there was not a lot going on. I managed to squeeze in a couple more tier 4 managers though as well as a couple of supplier meetings.

Simon is the Managing Director Business Durham. We didn’t really get the opportunity to talk in a way that I would have done with my other colleagues. Instead we had a general conversation about developing the economy of the North East. Wealth creation is our number one priority yet we don’t talk about it in the way we should. It should be top of every one of our agendas.

Durham is a place to do business. We have the second largest employer in the region, the second largest industrial park and the only growing science park. Our manufacturing base accounts for twenty per cent of the economy compared to eleven to fourteen per cent across the North East.

Simon brought me up to date with a few programmes including Future Business Magnates, the Primary Engineer Programme and the Satellite Application Catapult. They all sound interesting and fit in with my desire to see the North East as a centre of excellence for public sector ICT and big data as well as seeing more young people coming into the industry. He’s going to give me more details.

Anne is the Strategic Manager Libraries. As a recipient of their service it was fascinating to hear what goes on behind the scenes with: thirty nine traditional libraries, four prison libraries; a mobile library and; books on wheels. We talked about how the market worked, how they bought books, both paper and increasingly e-books, as well as how the authors got their share. This is another very fast moving market despite its traditional appearance and one where investment in technology could make an enormous difference.

On the way back up to Gilesgate my pedal fell off.

Learning points for today: We have a stationery cupboard downstairs where people can come along for replacement stuff; there is no demand for stationery today; 2015 is the United Nations backed international year of light; my mother likes to read what are known as ‘Aga sagas’ and ‘clogs and shawls’ books (think Catherine Cookson) and; speed and agility are the new cost savings.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – couldn’t do that on a bike every day.

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