Leave businesses alone, urge Swindo...

Leading Swindon accountants are calling on the Chancellor to leave businesses alone, in his forthcoming Autumn Statement. But Richard Mathews, direct...

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 08.43.41

More signs of growth for South West...

Small to medium sized (SME) manufacturers in the South West have reported steady signs of growth over the last six months, according to the latest Bar...


Hills wins South West CIPR PRide aw...

The Hills Group intouch magazine has been named gold winner of ‘Best Internal Publication’ category in the 2013 South West Chartered Institute of Publ...


Christmas at STEAM is coming

The sights and sounds of Christmas will soon fill the STEAM Museum as the permanent displays are transformed into a Christmas wonderland setting. ...

Leave businesses alone, urge Swindon accountants

s465_statement960x640Leading Swindon accountants are calling on the Chancellor to leave businesses alone, in his forthcoming Autumn Statement.

But Richard Mathews, director of Banks, Chartered Accountants, said he feared George Osborne may use the Autumn Statement on December 5 as an opportunity to slip through some unpopular measures before the Government starts to gear itself for the next election in 2015.

“We’d really like to see the Chancellor leave businesses alone and let them get on with furthering the economic recovery which is clearly underway,” said Richard. “But the Autumn Statement next year and 2015 Budget will be the last before an election, so they’re unlikely to contain anything too controversial or unpopular.

“It leads us to believe that, far from leaving businesses alone, next month’s Autumn Statement could bring bad news.”

Richard predicted rules governing the use of incorporated partners in limited liability partnerships could come under scrutiny; VAT on goods purchased online might also be changed, as the Government tries to get more taxation from the likes of Amazon.

Following the Autumn Statement on December 5, Banks will be running an event with a panel of experts providing their analysis of Mr Osborne’s announcement. The free event, with light buffet, runs from 5.45-7pm at Banks’ Stratton offices. Experts will give their overview on how the Autumn Statement will impact on businesses, banking, taxation, personal finance, and employment issues.

Places are limited, so pre-booking is essential via www.banksca.co.uk or by emailing claire.hunt@banksca.co.uk

Richard will also give a presentation on the Autumn Statement, and what it means to Swindon businesses, to Swindon Business Village networking group, at their breakfast meeting on December 12. For more details and to book, visit www.businessvillage.org.

More signs of growth for South West manufacturers

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 08.43.41Small to medium sized (SME) manufacturers in the South West have reported steady signs of growth over the last six months, according to the latest Barometer from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

More than a third (35 per cent) of respondents reported that their sales, order books and enquiry levels had all increased over the last half year. Of these, the most significant growth has been in sales, with over half (57 per cent) of companies reporting an increase. This is a rise of four per cent from the last quarter.

Simon Howes, MAS area director for South West England, said: “Our latest Barometer results highlight the flexibility, adaptability and resilience of South West manufacturers, many of which continue to thrive despite the difficult trading conditions in recent years. The findings also mirror the encouraging figures recently reported by the Office for National Statistics, which revealed an increase in manufacturing output between July and September.

“However, our survey also provides some evidence that expectations of sales growth are somewhat cautious, with companies slightly lowering their sales forecasts for the coming six months compared to the previous quarter. This is a time for manufacturers to review their business and product strategies, generate new product ideas and identify market opportunities to ensure that they can fully grasp the opportunities presented by the improved economic outlook.”

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “These findings are another sign that the economy is heading in the right direction and confidence is returning as we move from rescue to recovery. The Government is committed to helping SMEs grow which is why we are saving companies around £1bn through removing unnecessary red tape, cutting corporation tax and establishing a business bank to diversify the choice of lending available to SMEs.”

The Barometer also reveals that forecasts for investment in new technology have continued the pattern of steady growth shown since January, with 42 per cent of businesses indicating that they plan to increase their spend in the next six months. There has also been a slight rise in the number of companies looking to take on staff, which now stands at 40 per cent.

Simon Howes added: “Although plans to recruit have increased slightly since the last quarter, these numbers could still be a concern if manufacturers are to achieve their growth forecasts. It is vital that businesses frequently review their recruitment plans to ensure they have enough skilled workers. A lack of available skills could directly hinder growth as the economic recovery starts to take full effect.”

Hills wins South West CIPR PRide award

CIPR 3The Hills Group intouch magazine has been named gold winner of ‘Best Internal Publication’ category in the 2013 South West Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards, announced at a black-tie dinner at The Bristol Hotel in Bristol last Friday (22 November).

Over 220 guests attended the event where 23 awards were handed out to 13 recipients.

Group communications officer, Monique Hayes, said:  “This is a proud moment for our small team and it is extremely rewarding to have our work acknowledged in this way.”

intouch was described by the judges as: “An engaging and readable internal magazine, well written and thoughtfully produced, with interesting and relevant content. Innovative use of social media drives reader engagement.”

Sarah Pinch chair of the CIPR South West: “On behalf of the CIPR and the whole South West region I would like extend a huge congratulations to The Hills Group for winning the category of Best Internal Publication. We had a large number of entrants from some very talented organisations, and The Hills Group should be extremely proud to have taken the top spot. The PRide awards enable us to celebrate the wealth of talent in the region. Judged by leading industry professionals from across the UK, they are an important benchmark for professionals across the South West, and allow us to formally recognise outstanding contributions to Public Relations.”

The CIPR PRide Awards, sponsored nationally by Precise, PRWeek and RedBrand/Specialist Speakers, receive entries from freelancers, consultancies and in-house teams across 12 UK regions and nations. The judging process for the PRide Awards is rigorous with a national panel of industry experts assessing the shortlisted entries and choosing the winners. The 2013 Chairs of Judges, Gill Dandy FCIPR, Senior Consultant at The Centre for Strategy and Communication, and Chris Genasi FCIPR, Senior Consultant at APCO Worldwide, assisted in ensuring a fair and consistent judging process.

Pictured: Darren Goddard, publications & online officer and Monique Hayes, group communications officer

Christmas at STEAM is coming


The sights and sounds of Christmas will soon fill the STEAM Museum as the permanent displays are transformed into a Christmas wonderland setting.

Christmas at STEAM takes place between 10am and 5pm on both Saturday, 30 November and Sunday, 1 December.

Swindon Kentwood Show Choir will set the scene with their heart-warming harmonies, alongside many other performers including Swindon Pegasus Brass (and the youth section), the Swindon Male Voice Choir, Wiltshire Saxophone Choir and the Merribels. New for this year is a special performance by Madam Renards.

Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Regeneration and Culture, said: “Christmas at STEAM has something for all generations to enjoy and it’s a fantastic way to celebrate the traditions of Christmas.

“The live musical performances inside the museum really do set the festive scene and there are many activities to keep children busy, making this a very popular and great value day out for everyone.”

With more than 50 specially selected market stalls placed around the museum, visitors will have the chance to browse a whole range of gifts, including traditional toys, games and puzzles, designer jewellery, stained glass and other artworks, bespoke soft furnishings, GWR bottled Real Ale, plus home-made preserves, confectionery and fayre.

For little ones, there will be the chance to see Santa in his Grotto, accompanied by his helpful elves. Children can also get creative and make their own Christmas cards and decorations in the Christmas Craft Zone. There is an additional charge for Santa’s Grotto and the Christmas Craft activities.

Full access to the main exhibition area is included. So fun seekers of all ages get the chance to climb aboard the famous locomotives, Lode Star and Caerphilly Castle, ‘be an engine driver’ on the Train Simulator and test their skills as a signalman in STEAM’s authentic Signal Box.

To keep energy levels topped up, the STEAM Christmas Café offers delicious festive meals and refreshments.

STEAM aims to keep its visitors especially cheerful with the special Christmas at STEAM admission prices of £1.00 for children (16 and under) and concessions and £3.00 for adults. Under threes go free.

*Admission to Santa’s Grotto includes a quality gift and costs an extra £7.50 per child on top of the Christmas at STEAM admission. This extra fee also includes access to the Christmas Card activity.  


Steady growth for South West hotels, says BDO report

ospitalità-in-hotel-a-pisa-3-stelleHotels across the South West experienced steady growth in Q3 2013, with hoteliers in Bristol and Plymouth witnessing month on month increases in rooms yield and occupancy levels during the peak summer season, according to figures released by Bristol-based accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP.

The firm’s hotel survey found that most major cities in the South West outperformed regional UK, with rooms yield, the industry term for the amount of revenue generated by each available room, increasing by 6.8% in Plymouth and Bristol, and 3.6% in Bath at the end of Q3.

Swindon hotels reported a rise of just 3.2% compared to the same period last year, falling slightly below the regional UK average increase of 3.5%.

Occupancy levels also increased in Plymouth, Bristol and Swindon to 79%, 75.2% and 67.3% respectively during September; however there was a small decrease for Bath hotels (-0.1%). Bath fared better, however, when it came to the price customers were willing to pay per night, charging an average of £87.33 per room compared to Bristol (£61.31), Plymouth (£52.74) and Swindon (£50.91).

Neil Dimes, partner at BDO’s Bristol office, comments: “The summer months have brought visitors to the region and punters through the doors, which is good news for the hotel and leisure industry. It appears that, while there are signs of economic recovery, this has not yet fully translated into consumer confidence, with many still preferring to go on ‘staycation’ and holiday in the UK rather than going abroad.

“In September we saw the business and corporate market come back with force in Bristol with a number of events held in the city boosting occupancy growth (8.4%) including the Green Doors Fair, Bio Dynamic Conference and the annual SPAHG (Spatial Planning & Health Group) Conference. Hopefully this will continue in the run up to Christmas.

“Moving forward, Bristol’s leisure and hospitality sector would receive a significant boost if a concerted effort is made to ensure that the city gets its long awaited indoor arena. In fact, such a venue would bring enormous economic benefits to the whole region.”

Frankie & Benny’s to open at St Stephen’s Place in Trowbridge

882a0b3ca4764da01e42638d8d5ea7c1Property agents Legal & General Property (LGP), on behalf of its UK Property Unit Trust, has secured a pre-let for a Frankie & Benny’s restaurant at St Stephen’s Place Leisure Park in Trowbridge town centre.

The family restaurant will take 4,020 sq ft on a 25 year lease. The American-Italian style chain has a 1950’s inspired New York theme and counts char-grilled burgers, steaks, pizza, and pasta amongst its most popular dishes, as well as house specialities such as chicken parmigiana, BBQ ribs and seafood dishes.

Joining Nando’s, Prezzo, ODEON and Premier Inn, Frankie & Benny’s is the latest pre-let to have been announced at St Stephens Place Leisure Park, which is set to be a first-class leisure destination. The news comes the same week that ODEON opens its doors to the public, coinciding with Autumn half term and the Trowbridge Arts Festival.

Nando’s, Prezzo and Premier Inn are all due to open over the course of November, while Frankie & Benny’s will launch in February 2014.

Tim Russell, senior asset manager at LGP, said: “With a strong focus on the quality and range of operators that we add to the line up at St Stephen’s Place Leisure Park, we are pleased to welcome one of The Restaurant Group’s principal brands, which we feel complements Nando’s and Prezzo in offering a highly popular, family-focused dining option.

“Another exciting new entrant to the town, Frankie & Benny’s should form a real draw and allows the people of Trowbridge to look to their own town centre to satisfy their leisure needs, as well as attracting visitors from the wider local catchment area into the town. Having not had a cinema for 30 years we’re delighted to be opening the ODEON cinema this week which is a further milestone in the transformation of Trowbridge town centre.”

Savills and Alder King acted for Legal & General Property. Wareing & Partners advised The Restaurant Group.

Smart cards join up public transport in the South West


Public transport in South West England is being transformed through a partnership of local authorities and bus operators implementing smart ticketing across the region.

The smart ticketing initiative is joining up public transport throughout South West England. From the smallest transport operator to the largest, joining services together under a local smart card scheme is simplifying travel for visitors and local residents alike. Eventually, more than 3,400 buses in South West England will accept smart cards for travel on their services.

The partnership operates through a member organisation called SWSAL (South West Smart Applications Limited), which provides a framework to deliver and manage smart transport ticketing in the region.

While members are free to implement smart ticketing schemes that best serve local needs, SWSAL makes it easy and cost effective for members to set up new schemes. In particular, SWSAL encourages the introduction of multi-operator smart cards, providing flexibility and choice for passengers.

Smart ticketing schemes are now being rolled out across the region to enable most public transport journeys to be undertaken using smart ticketing technology. Through joined up services, faster boarding times, and convenient ticket purchasing, passengers are already benefiting from the type of integrated transport system previously restricted to major cities.

Andrew Seedhouse, chairman, SWSAL said: “By sharing the technology infrastructure, SWSAL members have benefitted from lower costs and proven knowledge. This expertise and shared infrastructure has delivered ITSO transport tickets, eMoney and support services across the regional bus and rail transport network.”

Geoff Rumbles, project manager, SWSAL said: “Minimising costs for our members was a key aim for SWSAL. ACT has been instrumental in the design and creation of an intelligent cloud ticketing and settlement service. The supporting infrastructure gives authorities and operators access to a shared platform that gives each authority independent control of any ticketing schemes they want to launch in their area.”

The flexibility each local member has to implement smart ticketing to most benefit their own local requirements has seen the launch of student combined travel and cashless payment schemes, integrated park and ride projects and collaboration on shared routes by local transport operators.

Gary Watts, CEO, ACT, said: “We designed and delivered our cloud based ticketing and payment services so that authorities and operators can achieve economies of scale without losing the flexibility needed for local, tailored passenger ticketing and payment services. The SWSAL platform includes our CMS, HOPS ticketing transactions system, on-line ticketing and payment portals, sQuid eMoney fund management, and a network of Retail POSTs ®.

“This has been a very complex design brief to deliver against and has needed active, multi stakeholder involvement from local authorities, bus and rail operators, their advisors and SWSAL to deliver the interoperability needed for mass consumer adoption.”

Increasing the use of park and ride is high on the agenda for many cities, and a convenient ticketing process is a key driver to increase their use, reducing congestion and carbon emissions. As part of the system roll out, Bath, Bristol, Norwich and Salisbury are all implementing smart ticketing for park and ride schemes to make this service as convenient and accessible as possible.

Students will also benefit from the project. Smart cards are being launched for travelling to and from college or university, buying lunch on campus and offering personalised discounts from local retailers and restaurants. In Torbay, collaboration between ‘same route’ transport operators has meant an end to waiting for a particular operator’s service; students are now able to hop on the first suitable bus, using their smart card to pay for the journey.

As all authorities and operators implement smart ticketing, eventually passengers should be able to travel all over South West England with a single interoperable smart card.

Local law firms’ donation helps put the needs of the children first

1463615_682654261745806_1988282719_nA number of law firms within Wiltshire, who are all members of the specialist family law solicitors’ group Resolution, have worked together to make a donation of £1000 to the Devizes, Chippenham, Frome & Trowbridge Child Contact Centres.

These centres are independent charities, affiliated and regulated by the National Association of Child Contact Centres and are staffed by volunteers who help to facilitate meaningful contact between children and parents (or family members) who are divorced and are no longer living together.

By providing children with toys, games and facilities in a safe, secure and child-centred environment Child Contact Centres offer a neutral and protected area to those families where contact is difficult and the children are often affected by family breakdown.

All of the solicitors involved in this donation are part of a group of specially trained collaborative lawyers (www.collaborativefamilylawyers.co.uk) who help separating or divorcing couples resolve the issues arising from their separation amicably and without going to court.

Nicola Grosvenor, who chairs this collaborative group said: “We are delighted to be able to donate £1000 to such to such worthwhile charities, ones that put the needs of children first. Indeed it is this principle which forms the foundation of our work as collaborative lawyers.  We place the needs of any children first, whilst encouraging divorcing or separating couples to work together to achieve mutual goals”.

The Child Contact Centres are always looking for caring, sensitive and flexible volunteers to help ensure that a child can enjoy contact with their non-resident parents or other family members.  If you have a few hours to spare and would like to make a real difference in the lives of children and their families in your local area then please email devizesccc@yahoo.co.uk

Report highlights rise in maternity negligence

free_1165671-400x202Birth injury legal experts at Swindon-based Withy King have welcomed a report on ‘Maternity services in England’ released by the National Audit Office.

The report raises significant concerns over the standards of medical care on NHS maternity wards.

Paul Rumley, a partner in the Clinical Negligence team at Withy King, said the firm endorsed the core findings of the report and in particular, the need for improved staffing levels on NHS wards alongside much improved training and supervision of clinical staff. He emphasised that better standards would reduce the number of medical negligence claims.

The father of one of Withy King’s clients, who was recently awarded a £6m settlement for avoidable birth injuries which led to cerebral palsy, was interviewed (anonymously) on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Paul Rumley said: “The purpose of the National Audit Office report was to review whether the standards of care on maternity wards had improved since the implementation of the 2007 Maternity Matters strategy. The statistics provided in the report make for very concerning reading and reflect the stories we regularly hear from mothers who have suffered poor care during pregnancy and the delivery of their baby. In 2011 one in 133 babies was stillborn or died following birth, a rate which requires improvement.

 “The report also comments on an increased level of clinical negligence claims, and on “wide unexplained variations” between trusts in relation to complication rates. While it is often easy to make a scape goat of the lawyers who represent the victims of medical errors, it is worth remembering that if standards rise, legal claims will fall.

“The statistics provided in the audit report certainly make for concerning reading, but it’s imperative that these issues are aired and discussed so that they can be addressed. Where there is poor maternity care, the effects on the mothers and babies involved can be devastating, and the outcomes which we see for our clients and their families are heart breaking; the NHS care services to support families with disabled children are wholly inadequate and cannot provide for children with cerebral palsy as they require, and so when severe outcomes occur it is necessary for families to seek compensation in order for proper care to be provided.”

The National Audit Office report on ‘Maternity services in England’ comments that: “Most women have good outcomes from NHS maternity services, but there are significant and unexplained variations in performance around the country……our findings on how services are being managed, demonstrate there is substantial scope for further improvement.”

FSB pledges to help small businesses export

001aa0ba5c8510ad2f6b02The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has launched a factsheet for businesses looking to export for the first time, to help more small businesses get a foot into overseas markets.

This week’s trade figures with the EU highlight the importance of raising exports to the UK economy. Currently, the UK has a trade deficit with the EU in goods and services of £3.3 billion.  That longstanding gap needs to be narrowed as part of rebalancing the UK economy and putting it on firmer footing.

Recent FSB research showed that £792 million could be added to the economy annually, if its members who say they want to export for the first time took the plunge and did so.

John Allan, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: ”This week is Export Week and it gives us the perfect opportunity to help businesses understand what they need to do to take advantage of overseas opportunities. Given the export growth potential among the smallest businesses they just need a helping hand to get on the way.

“Small firms remain a key part of the drive to increase the number of exporters. Our members alone that want to export could make a huge economic contribution. However they do face barriers to taking that first step.”

The top tips are:

1. Know the country you are exporting to: Knowing where you want to do business is just as important and setting out a business plan. A business needs to be confident of demand for the goods and services as well as what the competition is and how much they charge. Different countries will also have different rules concerning marketing and advertising too, so what works in the UK may not work in overseas markets. UK Trade and Investment offer help through the Passport to Export scheme which helps first time exporters.

2. Consider how you want to sell abroad: Businesses need to consider if they will sell through a distributor, an agent, through a joint venture or open an office. Ultimately most businesses will benefit from some local help, either in the country or through other businesses that have sold products there.

3. Understand one country before moving to another: While each country will have different documentation to fill in on tax for example, all countries will have different customs as part of their culture. Firms should get to know these before moving on to sell in another country. HMRC provides good documentation to help first time exporters.

4. Know your customers: Knowing the customs and commercial deadlines potential customers work to is important, for example, Saturday and Sunday are not weekends everywhere. A business should also check that new customers can pay for the goods. If a business has concerns about payment, they can ask for pre-payment or an Export Letter of Credit through their bank.

Businesses may also need to use finance to produce goods or other aspects of the sale. UK Export Finance and each of the high street banks can provide assistance to first time exporters, or those looking to grow export operations. Before approaching a finance provider businesses should consider:

1. The cost of borrowing including interest rates and fees and how this will affect the price charged and the profit made.

2. Whether the finance is needed for short, medium or long-term as there are different products available which will offer more favourable terms.

3. The greater the risk associated with the transaction the greater the cost will be. This can include the political and economic stability of the country as well as the creditworthiness of the buyer. A firm will need to prove to the finance provider that they can deliver a product that will be accepted on time and that the buyer is reliable and can pay.

South West house prices set to rise by 17.6%, says CBRE

RooftopsHouse prices in the South West will rise by nearly 18% during the next five years as the UK’s economic recovery begins to kick in, according to forecasts from CBRE Bristol.

New research from CBRE has identified an increase in optimism that has fed through to the national housing market, with mortgage approvals at their highest level since 2008.

Guy Mansfield, head of Residential land and development at CBRE Bristol, commented: “On a national level, the continued improvement in lending conditions has been a significant factor in the increased demand across the UK property market. Notably, the Funding for Lending and Help-to-Buy equity loan schemes have proven particularly successful.

“In the South West, land values have broadly stayed flat over the last quarter but activity has increased with improved sentiment and the assistance of Help-to-Buy, although this has been isolated to strong performing markets where a supply imbalance exists.

“House-builders’ appetite to acquire immediate development sites with consent in areas where underlying demographics and sales rates are strong continues to increase in the region. However, due to limited supply these sites are harder to source, making strategic land and off market sites the key focus.”

CBRE claims the first phase of Help-to-Buy has achieved its objective of stimulating the UK property market by delivering over 12,500 reservations since April 2013. The firm expects the second phase of the scheme to help in the region of half a million prospective buyers who are seeking to enter the property market.

Swindon networkers back Global Entrepreneurship Week with event aimed at developing business

Global-Entrepreneurship-Week-LogoLong-running networking group Swindon Business Village is supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week by throwing open the doors of an upcoming meeting to new visitors and hosting talks aimed at helping businesses to develop.

Global Entrepreneurship Week runs from November 18-24 and during that week Swindon Business Village will gear its regular Thursday breakfast meeting – on November 21 – to encouraging current and aspiring entrepreneurs to take a step forward in their plans, whether that’s starting a business, seizing a new opportunity, or developing an existing business.

Swindon Business Village meets every Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express, near M4 junction 16, from 7.30-9am, and attracts a wide range of businesses – from professional firms, to SMEs, to sole traders, to start-ups.

Its founders believe they and other regular ‘villagers’ have  a wealth of experience they can offer to support budding new and young businesses, as well as those established which want to develop.

“Although we are a networking group and in the business of doing business, we are also very supportive towards each other and to new businesses coming through the door, and everyone is very happy to impart their advice and support freely,” said co-founder Steve Dye, of Search Internet Marketing. “There have been many occasions when our expertise, collectively, has helped new businesses get off the ground, either with some free advice or by providing the necessary services. That’s why we want to support Global Entrepreneurship Week and would encourage any new, or established businesses wanting to develop, to come along and see what we have to offer.”

The event on November 21 will comprise its usual element of networking, round table introductions and referrals. But there will also be two short presentations: Charlotte Mannion, of training consultancy Quicklearn, will talk about how to get the most out of networking, while Chris Farnsworth, of ‘training with sheep’ business Raising the Baa, will talk about composing and delivering a great one-minute pitch.

Business Village’s other founder members – Mary Hoffman, of law firm Hoffman Male, IT support specialist Hew Helps, and branding expert Martin Warnes of Warnes ID Co – will also be on hand to chat to newcomers.

Business Village is a friendly, relaxed networking group and has been running for more than seven years,  charging £10 per week for breakfast, plus a £25 one-off joining fee for those wanting to become full members and attend regularly.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is well-established in the business calendar, last year attracting 279,500 people attended over 3,200 events, run by 532 partner organisations across the UK – a 30 per cent increase on the year before.

To book on to the Business Village entrepreneurship event visit www.businessvillage.org or for more information email Steve Dye at steve@searchinternetmarking.co.uk.  For more information about Global Entrepreneurship Week visit www.gew.org.uk

GWP launches Correx division

correx-sheet1Wiltshire-based GWP Group has launched a new division, GWP Correx, to meet increasing demand for specialist Correx packaging.

GWP Correx joins GWP Packaging, GWP Protective, GWP Coatings and GWP Conductive and offers a bespoke service in the design and manufacture of packaging products using Correx – a durable polypropylene sheet material.

Correx is the preferred material of choice for many packaging products as it is lightweight but durable as well as being both chemical and water resistant. It has a number of different uses in re-usable packaging such as customised picking bins, tote bins and containers for a multitude of industrial applications.

GWP Correx has a dedicated design team and material stock holding to allow even very short lead times to be met with bespoke products.

Ian Cook, managing director of GWP Correx, said: “Following huge growth in the number of customers coming to GWP for packaging using Correx, we decided to create a new, dedicated division to manage this growing part of our business. This move should further enhance our drive towards complete customer satisfaction across a whole range of packaging materials”

“Whilst the GWP Correx division itself may be fairly new, GWP’s experience with Correx spans many years.  We have long utilised Conductive Corriplast as a key offering from our GWP Conductive division, whilst also offering standard Correx products through our GWP Packaging division so we are very confident that GWP Correx has the experience, skills, knowledge and people to create the perfect solution for any application.”

As well as manufacturing re-usable packaging from Correx, the new division is also a major stockist of the SSI-Schaefer range of rigid moulded containers.

CaféNexus opens at Cheney Manor

John Simpson and Maria Basson, Operations Director of NexusCheney Manor Industrial Estate has a new meeting place for people to grab a drink or a bite to eat thanks to the opening of the CaféNexus at Nexus Business Centre on Darby Close.

This ultra-modern and beautifully fitted out café has the added attraction of a water-front terrace.

The café is open to members of the public as well as those looking for a casual venue for a business meeting over coffee.

Operated by Swindon-based Hospitality Services, CaféNexus will be serving fresh and healthy food and drink from 9am until 4pm from Monday to Friday.

The food on offer will range from hearty breakfast rolls, fruit pots, sandwiches and paninis to wholesome salad pots and homemade soups. Drinks will include favorites such as cappuccino and lattes to herb teas, fruits smoothies and ginger beer. Prices start from £1.50 for soft drinks and £2.95 for sandwiches.

Regular customers will also be able to benefit from the Café Nexus pre-paid card, which can be topped up in advance and gives holders 10% off standard prices.

Managing director of Nexus Business Centre, James Keith, said: “The opening of the café is a very welcome addition to Nexus Business Centre and gives the businesses in our serviced offices – as well as other businesses and members of the public – a great place to meet and relax.

“We are very pleased that Hospitality Services are operating the premises as they have a solid track record in providing excellent catering services for businesses in and around Swindon.”

John Simpson, managing director of Hospitality Services, said: “CaféNexus is in a great location and is sure to become a hub for coffee, entertainment and event space in Cheney Manor.

“The café is built around the principles of being light and fresh – both in atmosphere and the food and drink available. We have already got exciting plans and ideas to expand the offering.”

Top marks for Swindon care at home company

Bluebird Care Swindon staffA care at home provider launched just two years ago has been given a second set of full marks in its recent inspection by the sector’s watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission made an unannounced visit to Bluebird Care (Swindon) and found the company was meeting all the required standards, including ensuring the care and welfare of its customers, safeguarding its customers, supporting its staff, and assessing and monitoring the level of service provided.

The inspection took place in September and the report was released this month. Back in March, an earlier CQC inspection was held which also gave Bluebird Care (Swindon) full marks.

Ben Curtis, managing director at the company, which was founded only in October 2012, said he was delighted to have had two excellent CQC reports.

“We don’t know when the inspectors are coming, so they really are looking at what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Ben. “We pride ourselves on the high quality, good old fashioned care at home service we provide our customers, and the training and support we show to our staff. I think this shone through, and I’d like to thank the staff for all the hard work they put in.”

Customers and their families were interviewed as part of the inspection process. One commented he was “very pleased” and carers “used to do everything for me”, and this has changed as “I can do a lot more now”. A relative said that staff were “very flexible and accommodate last minute changes”.

The CQC report added: “The people and their relatives told us that the carers were always polite and respected their dignity.”

It went on: “People’s care and treatment reflected relevant research and guidance. The care plans were person-centred in line with best practice. They contained information about each person’s personal history and were written from the person’s point of view.

“When we inspect, we always visit and we do things like observe how people are cared for, and we talk to people who use the service, to their carers and to staff. We also review information we have gathered about the provider, check the service’s records and check whether the right systems and processes are in place.”

Commissioner to speak at Federation of Small Businesses crime conference

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 09.29.40The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Wiltshire and Swindon will have another chance to engage with the business community when he speaks at a Crime Against Business conference organised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

During the summer Angus Macpherson launched his first Business Crime Survey. The findings were debated at a Business Crime Forum which the Commissioner hosted in Devizes in September.

The Chief Constable, Pat Geenty, took  part in the debate about how Wiltshire Police can best work with the business community to combat business crime and anti-social behaviour outside shops which can keep customers away.

Now Mr Macpherson has been invited to address the Somerset and Wiltshire members of the Federation of Small Businesses at Haynes Motor Museum in Sparkford, between Yeovil and Castle Cary, on Thursday 28 November (4pm to 9pm).

Mr Macpherson said: “It  was clear to me from listening to the audience at my Business Crime Forum that there is a common misconception that business crime is a victim-less crime.

“We heard from the owners of small businesses who were clearly very upset that they had been the victims of burglars or other criminals. They said that they felt just as violated as a householder.

“I am delighted to have another chance to engage with members of the business community by addressing the FSB conference because they play such an important part in the life of our cities, towns and villages – providing a wide range of goods and services as well as creating jobs and paying taxes.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon & Somerset, Sue Mountstevens, will also be speaking, together with members of the Wiltshire Police complex fraud team and officers from Avon & Somerset Police.

Ian Dyer, Regional Chair of the FSB, said: “Crimes Against Businesses is part of our regional lobbying plan.

“Since the PCCs were elected, we have had the privilege of working closely with both Sue and Angus to raise the issues faced by small businesses in relation to crime.

“We hope that the conference will cement yet further this relationship and enable members to raise and address some of the concerns they may have directly.”

The conference is open to FSB members and non-members. For more information, please email gioia.grobler@fsb.org.uk or call 01722 416045.

New future for Salisbury shop

11041-WEBEstate agents Myddelton & Major have sold 27 Wilton Road, Salisbury.

The property which comprises a prominent retail showroom of 2495 sq ft has been sold to The Muslim Association of Salisbury. They will be converting the premises for use as their new place of worship.

Dean Speer from Myddelton & Major said: “we have been very pleased to help the Salisbury Muslim community to identify and secure their new meeting place.”

Myddelton & Major acted on behalf of the vendor.

Pre-register for Swindon’s second energy switching scheme

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 06.34.45Residents can be first in line to sign up for Swindon’s second collective switching scheme, which uses people power to reduce energy bills.

The scheme officially opens on Tuesday, 10 December but you can pre-register from today by emailing energyswitch@swindon.gov.uk

As the big six gas and electricity providers have all recently announced price hikes, there has never been a better time to try and beat the increases by joining in the scheme. It works by using the combined buying power of residents from the Borough and across the country to negotiate cheaper prices with energy companies. Rather than switching provider as an individual, residents register to switch and save as a large group all at the same time to achieve economies of scale. You don’t even have to live in the Borough to take part.

It’s quick, easy and, most importantly, there is no obligation to accept the offer. Registration opens on the 10th December and closes on Monday, 17 February, 2014 when energy suppliers will be asked to compete to make the best offer in a ‘reverse auction’, which means the lowest price wins.

Swindon took part in its first switching scheme in April and more than 750 people signed up during the registration period, resulting in hundreds of families saving an average of £72 a year on their bills. The more people who express an interest, the more likely better tariffs will be achieved. Although the level of savings cannot be guaranteed, people in other areas have seen their bills drop by between £60 and £300.

Supporting the economy, small to medium-sized businesses can also benefit from the money-saving initiative and receive bespoke advice about switching.

Cllr Dale Heenan, cabinet member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability, said: “Swindon Borough Council has frozen council tax for the past three years to help local residents, but other household bills, particularly energy ones, all continually rise. Rocketing gas and electricity prices is a very topical issue and we have taken practical action now to help families.

“Six months ago, Swindon Council ran its first Collective Energy Switch and saved hundreds of households an average of £72 each off their gas and electricity bills. In fact, 69% of those who signed up were able to freeze or cut their energy bills!

“I am determined that Swindon runs this scheme again to help even more families because it is a fantastic opportunity for residents and businesses to join together to save money. It is completely free and there is no obligation, so you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. I hope as many people as possible sign up so the best level of savings can be achieved.”

For more information see www.swindon.gov.uk/energyswitch People can also send an email to energyswitch@swindon.gov.uk to receive a reminder of when the scheme goes live.

UTC Swindon begins next construction phase

th_f405eee6d696e119582c2a786a25cfb3_Engineering-workshopsAngela Barker-Dench, Principal of UTC Swindon, has pressed the button of the Brokk 180 demolition robot today as BAM Construction start the next phase of the build of the new University Technical College.

UTC Swindon will be a brand new £10m state-of-the-art facility. The Old School Building and the iconic Water Tower, that are on-site, will be key features of the college. Both are Grade II listed structures and will be treated sympathetically, with the Water Tower being restored and brought back into educational use.

Sponsors and partners of the University Technical College will be in attendance including UTC Swindon directors from Oxford Brookes University and Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells.

UTC Swindon will cater for 600 14 to 19 year olds interested in pursuing a career in engineering. For these young people, it will provide a fantastic opportunity to gain highly desirable skills and raise their aspirations in progressing to careers in the engineering industry in all its diverse forms.

The college will be situated on Bristol Street, Swindon, at the heart of the railway village in a location generously supplied by Network Rail, one of the college’s main partners. As part of the original Great Western Rail works, the site links the engineering heritage of the area with its engineering future. UTC Swindon will be within easy walking distance from the train and bus stations.

Leading ISO consultancy gets four stars for excellence from prestigious assessment body

IMSM 4 star awardISO consultancy IMSM has yet again achieved a 4 star Recognised for Excellence award from the prestigious European Foundation for Quality Management.

IMSM, an ISO consultancy based in Malmesbury, and with offices in Swindon, Manchester and Chelmsford, achieved the 4 star rating from the EFQM.

The business, which next year celebrates its 20th anniversary, helps companies prepare for the internationally recognised ISO quality standards, including ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 27001 Information and Data Security.

EFQM helps organisations improve and achieve high levels of performance through its Recognised for Excellence model, a comprehensive management framework used by more than 30,000 organisations in Europe. The model covers nine criteria, including leadership skills, policy and strategy, internal processes and the results they have achieved from customer, employee, society and key performance sectors.

Auditors from EFQM put IMSM through its paces during a week-long audit at the company’s headquarters. Afterwards, they praised IMSM for understanding the market and the needs of the clients and for adding value. The business was also complimented for making considerable investment in growing people internally and externally.

“IMSM really committed some years ago to excellence and our commitment is paying off in improvement across all results areas, the impressive commitment of people to continuous improvement, as well as through the achievement in the Recognised for Excellence process,” said Diane Dibley, IMSM business improvement consultant.

Wendy Mewis, leader of IMSM’s excellence steering committee, added: “Our employees are being personally developed and trained, our customers are being offered a continually improved service and our internal processes and long-term strategy are structured and proactive rather than reactive. In short, we are a better company.”

She added: “Our assessment week was tiring, stressful, but intensely rewarding. The achievement of our goal made all the hard work worth it and the assessment feedback has given us invaluable insight in how to move forward.”

Pictured from left: Audrey Asamoah, Owen Wright, managing director Michael Bright, Wendy Mewis and Diane Dibley