Cities

Public transport is goodPublic transport use is about the opportunity-cost of getting across town, not provision

Public transport: it’s all in the numbers

The scale and quality of public transport provision in a city matters most where its economy is growing like Topsy.  Just examining the raw data doesn’t tell you the whole picture, argues Merrion MD Dougal Paver. We love a good map or chart here at Merrion Towers.  Geography ‘O’ level: it never leaves you. And so I had to dive […]

urban design in Camden TownWhat happens when urban design gets precedence over uniformity

Invest in great urban design or pack up and go home

As town and city centres deal with the perfect storm of on-line shopping, retailer failures and changing shopping and leisure patterns it’s hardly the time to be talking about investing in public realm and urban design.  Or is it, asks Dougal Paver. If you’re pension is heavily exposed to retail real estate now might be the time for a little […]

commonwealth pool LiverpoolLiverpool's eye-catching Commonwealth pool. Pic credit: Liverpool bid team

Chutzpah: the double-edged sword of civic boosterism

Merrion’s MD, Dougal Paver, has been a cheerleader for his home city of Liverpool for longer than he cares to admit and has seen how confidence and ballsiness breed success.  But chutzpah can also shield a city from the harsh realities of how others view it, as a recent incident demonstrated. We’ve all experienced it: a reality check from a loved one […]

How cannabis tourism works"Would sir like a croissant with his kush?"

Roll-up, roll-up! Seattle tokes its way to a cannabis tourism industry

As Amsterdam squeezes one last drag out of its coffee shop industry, Seattle in America’s north west has taken to cannabis tourism as its latest wheeze to boost its thriving visitor economy.  Merrion MD Dougal Paver breaths in the controversy. There’s a lot of rain and a lot of water in both Seattle and Amsterdam, and until recently there the […]

Has Birmingham been knocked off its perch as the UK's second city?Manchester. Is this now the UK's second city?

Has Birmingham been knocked off its perch as the UK’s second city?

A much-publicised suggestion by The Economist magazine that the government should move to Manchester whilst the Houses of Parliament are refurbished has given Birmingham’s cheerleaders a fit of the vapours.  Is it no longer the UK’s second city?  Merrion MD Dougal Paver investigates. In Britain’s Victorian hey-day at least four cities could make a credible claim to be the nation’s […]

Barcelona is full, but is 'banning' tourists smart?Not everyone is happy with Barcelona's rampant tourism market

Barcelona is full, but is ‘banning’ tourists smart?

For many cities, wading through tourist dollars would be a lovely problem to have.  But not in Barcelona, it seems, whose mayor is seeking to control the numbers ‘let in’, as Dougal Paver discovers. Thirty two million.  Divide that by 365 to find the average number of tourists per day pouring in to central Barcelona.  87,671 to be precise.  Except, of […]

Housing allocation: who's left holding the ball?Housing density: just one of a number of things that will wind the public up

Housing allocation: who’s left holding the ball?

Being in opposition when the time comes to deliver an authority’s latest Local Plan is often a blessing in disguise, suggests Dougal Paver.  For starters, you don’t get the blame. Local authorities the land over are currently working on the latest development plans for their boroughs – the statutory documents which govern what can be developed, and where.  The quantum […]

Someone's listeningYou get a better quality of busker in Dublin. To be sure

Someone’s listening

One city has twigged that good buskers boost tourism whilst bad ones with limited repertoires send poor shop workers potty.  Hats off to Dublin, says Dougal Paver. A while back my esteemed guest blogger, John Flamson, pondered on the challenges of ensuring buskers cut the mustard.  I added a footnote about the quality I’d seen in Dublin and Galway recently, […]

Johnny Depp for Manchester?  Why not?Deansgate: going up in the world

Johnny Depp for Manchester? Why not?

The UK media is agog today at reports that Hollywood heart-throb Johnny Depp is moving to Manchester.  Turns out it’s a load of codswallop, but does that matter, asks Merrion Strategy MD Dougal Paver. Depp apparently said: “I’m just tired of the L.A. lifestyle and I feel like, at this point in my life, I’d rather just live in a place full […]

That push for localism starts with your food marketThey'd eat loads of these in Chorley - if only they could find them

That push for localism starts with your food market

The Sage of Chorley told us that garlic bread was the future, but now we know that’s only the case if it’s locally-baked from sustainable sources.  For cities as much as market towns, localism holds the key to economic sustainability, argues Dougal Paver. You notice stuff wandering around cities like Barcelona for a week (that’s the holiday plug over).  Things […]