Why Nottingham? Steve Britton from Sills & Betteridge reveals all

Our July edition of “Why Nottingham” Comes from Sills & Betteridge Partner, Steve Britton, who is head of the Nottingham office and also is head of employment law for the firm. Steve and his team of personal and commercial lawyers were finally able to move into their new offices on George Street in Hockley, after a three month delay caused by lockdown.

1.What first attracted you to Nottingham?

Apart from leaving to study law at The University of Leicester between 1981 and 1985, I was born in Nottingham and have spent the past 34 years working in the City.

2. When did you first start to work in the City?

I joined law firm Cruickshank Bird & MacLaren in 1985 and became a Partner in 1992. The Firm subsequently adopted the name Maclaren Britton. In 2013 we merged with Sills & Betteridge in order to expand their East Midlands footprint into Nottingham. I am now part of an expanding firm which is the largest independently owned law firm in the East Midlands and now has 15 offices across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, employing over 300 partners and employees.

The Nottingham office deals with all areas of personal and commercial law. I head up the Employment team across the firm and we deal with all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment law, for businesses, HR professionals and individuals.

Since 2003, I’ve also been a fee paid Employment Judge and acted as an Independent Adjudicator of Appeals on behalf of the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs in connection with Gangmasters’ Licensing Appeals.

3. How has it changed during your time here?

As a Nottingham lad, I’ve witnessed the City go through many changes over the years. Some good and some not so good.

From an infrastructure standpoint we’ve made great strides with the addition of our fantastic tram system and the £169m widening of the A453, which has no doubt helped the local economy grow by providing a better access route out to the motorway and to East Midlands airport. (Let’s hope Clifton Bridge gets fixed soon!)

I’ve also had witnessed the rise of our two great Universities. Both play a key role for the City, whether that be from the cultural and economic benefits their students bring, or the employment opportunities they provide for thousands of local people.

On a not so good standpoint, Nottingham’s retail sector has declined on an alarming scale over the past 15 years. When I was growing up, people would travel from far wide to come to Nottingham to shop. Now with the rise of online shopping and deterioration of Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, we just don’t see the footfall of people that we used to generate. This is bad for retail, but also impacts the opportunities within the commercial property sector.

4. What is/are the biggest challenges we face as city compared to our rivals?

I’ve already mentioned the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, but something clearly needs to be done to rectify the situation, especially now with the redevelopment hanging by a thread.

I’ve felt for a long time that Nottingham portrays a very poor first impression when you travel in by the train. Other cities have made great strides in improving the aesthetics of their city. Birmingham invested heavily in the Bull Ring development nearly 15 years ago, Leicester built Highcross and Derby built the Westfield Centre.

If the redevelopment of Broadmarsh does not go ahead, then we have a real opportunity, in a prime location to address some the issues mentioned above. I really like the idea of creating a central green space surrounded by smaller retailers, offices, bars, restaurants and cafes.

5. How long is your commute into the city and what is your method of transport?

I currently live in West Bridgford, so depending on traffic I can be in the city in 10 minutes. Normally I drive into the office, or if alcohol is involved then I’ll more than likely jump on one of the many buses that pass through.

6. Where are your favourite places to eat and drink for business and leisure time?

Prior to our recent office move, I would have said Loch Fyne as it was very near our old offices, but now that we have relocated into Hockley, I’m very much looking forward to frequenting the local independent restaurants and bars like Sexy Mama Loves Spaghetti, Bar Iberico and Mowgli.

7. Finally, if you had a blank canvas, what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?

First and foremost, I would love to see a plan for a more vibrant Nottingham, especially post Coronavirus. This is only going to be achieved by working together through a collaboration of local councils and businesses.

We need more reasons to be in the City. This is important to businesses like us that have invested in the City. Our new office space is in a prominent location and we need initiatives that will attract footfall. People often seeing our shopfront and decide to call in for legal advice. This is imperative for all the business community in the City as it will help to get them going again as lockdown measures are further relaxed.

I also selfishly would love to see the tram network extended out to West Bridgford and maybe even further out to surrounding villages of Radcliffe-On-Trent or Bingham.