In our December edition of our Why Nottingham articles, we sit down with Heather Stanford, Managing Director at the Stanford Gould Group.
1. What first attracted you to Nottingham?
I came to Nottingham as a student aged 18 in 1987 to study law at what was then Trent Polytechnic. I never left… I now have a husband and two children who were born at QMC and I’ve lived in many locations within the city from St Ann’s to Sneinton, Lenton to Bramcote, and beyond over the last 30 odd years.
2. When did you first start to work in the City?
After I completed my law degree and post graduate, I was taken on as an articled clerk at Warren and Allen – a very old established general practice in the city centre who then occupied the building where Jamie’s Italian now is on Low Pavement. One of my first jobs there was opening the post in the morning in the back room with my fellow very sleepy clerks, which is now the main restaurant area and then taking it through to the partners boardroom for distribution and review. I worked there until 2001 when I left to have my daughter and I very much loved that place. It gave me great experience as a lawyer, a business manager and partner – achieving the honour of being in 1999 (and perhaps still?) the youngest managing partner of a legal practice in the country.
It’s very odd having dinner in there, still…
3. How has it changed during your time here?
Wow – where do I start? The traffic flow! The pedestrianisation of the city centre has transformed both the experiences of shopping and leisure in the city, as have the public transport links. City living was certainly no luxury when I first came, and only a few students had city centre places which were frankly horrible. Now we are almost overwhelmed by student accommodation and other executive apartment blocks in the city. City centre living is probably the biggest turn around in my time here.
We are so lucky to have incredible arts offering here, the Broadway cinema was here when I first came but was a very different place. It is fabulous and the two theatres and all the smaller arts and drama options we have make this city vibrant and exciting. Whatever your view about modern art Nottingham Contempory is quite a find here! The transformation of Sneinton Market continues apace and that’s fantastic to see. The shopping is still eclectic and varied although I’m saddened by the state of some of the high street in current times. It needs the support of us consumers – especially as I’m not a fan of internet purchasing.
I am however, a big fan of the tram and the really excellent bus services we have in the city. I’m not so chuffed with the current parking offering, so it’s just as well.
4. What is/are the biggest challenges we face as city compared to our rivals?
Getting the Broadmarsh regeneration completed as soon as possible and, perhaps more importantly, getting it right, will be a key challenge. Leicester has moved on in droves in recent years but having secured John Lewis it still can’t match the choice and extent of the options here in Nottingham for shopping and arts, in my view. But it soon will! We just HAVE to get that right – it’s been embarrassing for so long, and an awful gateway to the city from the train station and south of the city, that I think it’s the biggest challenge we face to improve our centre.
I think we need to continue to work towards improving and tackling some of the social issues we have here in the city. Homelessness and poor housing, social deprivation and poverty and pockets of low social and educational aspiration are rife here, as they are in many urban centres and we should not be dazzled by all those lovely shops and arts places, and not forget there is some real work to do in that regard too.
5. How long is your commute into the city and what is your method of transport?
I work from home so my commute is about 6 feet from my kitchen to my office. I tend to use the tram or the bus if I come into the city. As long as it’s not peak time, this is a pleasurable experience usually – although when will the tram get some wifi…..?
6. Where are your favourite places to eat and drink for business and leisure time?
I am a foodie and I love a drink, so this is a tough question!
Current favourite for coffee and breakfast is Delilahs on Victoria Street – they do the best scrambled eggs! Although if I have a sweet tooth moment the French toast at Blend in Sneinton Market is a tough one to beat.
For dinner with the man or the fam, I still think World Service is the best for service and ambiance, but I also love to see the folks at Memsaab where the welcome, and the food, could not be better. My son is always treated to an off menu options for the lovely Amita, with whom he is a little bit in love. He is 14 years old…
7. Finally, if you had a blank canvas, what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?
If someone could wave a magic wand and complete that eyesore of a sight at Broadmarsh, and the traffic nonsense that it creates….. PLEASE.