David Parkin on the arena debacle, Roger Marsh and getting stick from readers

THOSE who read my comment some months ago about the High Court case between Jan Fletcher’s Montpellier Estates and Leeds City Council might assume that yesterday’s news that receivers have been appointed to her property portfolio would be greeted with delight here.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately yesterday’s news underlined the sad fact that when a dispute goes to court there are very few winners other than the lawyers and barristers.

And that is absolutely true of this case.

Faced with paying at least £2m of the council’s costs, Mrs Fletcher’s firm was in talks to pay them but then the council issued a winding up order, her bank was threatened with losing its investment and receivers were called in.

Unsecured creditors, of which the council is one, are likely to get zilch.

And Jan Fletcher, once one of the best known and most admired figures in Yorkshire business, is left with very little.

There are no winners here.

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LONG serving PwC man Roger Marsh bid farewell to the firm at a lavish do at Leeds restaurant Bibis last night.

It was the first leaving do I’ve been to which had a title – ‘A comma, not a full stop’ was the name Roger adopted for the soiree, with his usual aplomb.

Someone commented that all the great and good were there (it was probably Roger who said it) and another person observed to me that it was a who’s who of Yorkshire business (I nearly replied that it looked more like a who was who but then realised where that left me).

Roger’s speech was witty, self-deprecating and recognised the role of the many who have played a part in his successful 37 year career with what started as Price Waterhouse, became PriceWaterhouseCoopers and is now simply PwC.

And it only lasted 19 minutes 45 seconds. You might think that I had an interest in the sweepstake on the length of the speech, unfortunately I had elected to bet on him using the phrase: “It is an inconvenient truth…”, given he’s used it in our last four meetings but my luck was out on that one.

The good thing is that Roger is not disappearing off to do the gardening at home because he now will play a big role in the future of the region as he takes over the chairmanship of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership from Neil McLean.

It was nice to catch up with old friends and contacts and the buffet at Bibis – two long tables groaning with sumptuous delights – reminded me of Henry Hill’s wedding in the movie Goodfellas.

The only thing missing was the lines of wise guys queuing up to pay tribute with envelopes stuffed with cash. Just in case, I kept 20p handy and offered to clean Roger’s Ferrari.

Whilst some of us chatted and sipped champagne, others used the packed event as a business development opportunity.

Guy Martin-Laval of La Grillade traversed the room employing all the Gallic charm that comes from 32 years of running the best restaurant in Leeds.

He kept walking up to unsuspecting guests and saying: “Why haven’t you been to my restaurant recently, have you been in jail?”

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REGULAR readers know that they are unlikely to find high level economic comment and insightful opinion in this corner of TheBusinessDesk.com.

If I can raise a titter (ooh no missus!) among readers on a Friday morning, then that’s good enough for me.

Unfortunately last week’s column about the demise of Anthony’s restaurant, raised the hackles of several readers, as you can see from the comments on the bottom of the piece by clicking here.

I knew using the phrase ‘dolly bird’ would wind some people up, but I thought having a pop at scruffy angst-ridden teenagers would be completely uncontroversial.

If I took some of these comments to heart and was over-sensitive, it would be enough to make me want to grow my hair long, wear black clothes and go and sit on the steps of the Corn Exchange feeling sorry for myself.

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YOU may well have read TheBusinessDesk.com’s own news this morning about the business being acquired by one of our shareholders, Mark Hales, an entrepreneur and technology investor.

It is strange being the subject of your own headlines.

The good news is that this spells a bright future for the business with big plans for growth. I’m looking forward to the future as are our team and, hopefully like many other firms, we head towards exciting times.