Blog

Double awards success for NN1 Personnel

A recruitment agency in Northampton is celebrating after winning two awards at the Northamptonshire Logistics Awards.

NN1 Personnel, which specialises in supplying drivers to local companies, was delighted to take away two trophies from the ceremony which saw some of the leading names in the county’s logistics sector attend to celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams in the industry.

The awards saw a record number of entries and judges struggled to choose between the exceptional shortlisted candidates, opting in some categories to give out awards to joint winners.

Bartek Kowalczyk of NN1 Personnel was named as joint winner of the HGV Driver of the Year category, and NN1 Personnel was chosen as joint winner of the coveted Logistics Temp Agency of the Year accolade.

Bartek was nominated by the company because of the positive influence he has on his colleagues. He was described as ‘a role model for new drivers’ and ‘always willing to help and go the extra mile’. His ‘passion for safety and quality’ and willingness to ‘pass on his knowledge to less experienced drivers’ were also commended.

Justyna Sodel, Director of NN1 Personnel, says: “It’s fantastic for us to come away with two awards. We only entered two categories so to come out on top in both is more than we could ever have hoped for!

“I’m delighted to see the hard work and dedication of everyone at NN1 Personnel being recognised in this way. We treat our drivers with great respect and in return we receive their commitment and loyalty, which helps us deliver a first-class service to our clients. We can rely on our drivers at all times and can boast a 100% attendance record, which is practically unheard of for an agency that supplies temporary staff.

“I’m really pleased for Bartek too – he is such a worthy winner and is a great representative for NN1 Personnel. It just goes to show that being passionate and honest about what you do really does pay off!”

Tony Bellott, Chair of the Northamptonshire Logistics Forum, which organised the awards, said: “Huge congratulations to all our finalists and winners – testament to the thriving logistics sector we have here in Northamptonshire. The quality of the entries was outstanding, with double the applications we had last year. This is a true celebration of the
achievements and success of organisations across the county.”

To find out more about NN1 Personnel, visit www.nn1personnel.co.uk or call 01604 626355 / 07955233144.

Back to Blog

Blog

Firefighter set for big screen debut

A firefighter from Northampton has landed a starring role in a film being made by Northampton College to help recruit new students.

Mother of four Carla Williams, from Pitsford, who currently works as an on-call firefighter with Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service at Brixworth, donned her breathing apparatus as part of the re-enactment of a real fire in a student’s house - which forms a central part of the film’s storyline.

The student, whose story is due to be revealed later this summer when the film is launched, was unharmed in the fire and went on to successfully complete her course at the
college in Booth Lane, Northampton.

Carla said: “As part of my job, I do get called out to a wide variety of situations but I have never been cast in an acting role before. It was certainly something a bit different and I really enjoyed the challenge. Anything we can do to help raise awareness of fire safety has to be a good thing.

“I have applied for a full-time job with the Fire Service and hope to be selected. It’s a fantastic career and I have been fortunate enough to work alongside some amazing people. Hopefully I can progress to being a full-time firefighter, helping save lives across the county day-in, day-out.”

Watch manager Ashley Tugby from Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue said: “We were happy to help when the call came in from Northampton College to assist with their film.

“We do a lot of work in the community and at the moment, we are focusing on promoting safety, and in particular during this hot weather, making sure people are safe with their barbecues. They also need to be careful when they are out about on the roads and enjoying activities on the water in our local rivers and reservoirs.

“But for this film, the big message is about fire safety at home and the importance of making sure your smoke alarms are working properly.”

Northampton College will launch its film in August when the mystery student’s story will be revealed. The film highlights the ‘life-changing’ impact of the courses available at the college and will be shown in local cinemas and across social media channels.

For more information on fire safety, go to https://goo.gl/Sgoifq and you can book a free home safety check.

Back to Blog

Blog

Microsoft Office 365

Back to Blog

Blog

Northampton Castle mapped in archaeological survey

The site of Northampton Castle has undergone an archaeological survey this week with the aim of mapping its surviving remains.

The geophysical survey was commissioned by Northampton Borough Council to provide a better understanding of any archaeological deposits and structures that may exist on the site.

An area presumed to encompass the north gate and part of the northern barbican was surveyed by technicians from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) at the beginning of the week. The results of an earth resistance survey and ground penetrating radar will be used to map the layout of the original structure in a zone where medieval foundations were unearthed during excavations in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning at Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Tim Hadland, said: “The castle edifice was lost years ago, but the events that took place there will always be an important part of our history so it’s wonderful to have a chance to explore that heritage further.

“The results of the survey should provide us with a rough map of what may still lie beneath the surface. This will be very valuable for interpreting the layout of the castle
for future generations.” The Friends of Northampton Castle are working alongside Northampton Borough Council as part of the castle project implementation board.

Dr Marie Dickie OBE, chair of the Friends of Northampton Castle, said: “We know from previous excavations that the survey area includes the most historically significant sections of the castle where the important events would have occurred. It’s possible that the spot we’re looking at this week could be the one where Thomas Becket was tried before he fled to France.

“We hope that following the survey we’ll at least be able to mark out the bare outline of the castle’s footprint, but we’d also like to do some interpretation work to visualise what once was.”

Back to Blog

Blog

50% off meeting room hire

Back to Blog

Blog

Mazars to hosts quiz night for Winter Night Shelter MK

The Milton Keynes office of Mazars, the international accountancy and advisory firm, is to host a charity quiz to raise much needed funds for the Winter Night Shelter MK.

Mazars is extending the invitation to its clients and contacts in the Milton Keynes area. The event is being held at the Doubletree by Hilton at the MK Stadium from 5.30pm on Wednesday 5 July.

Stephen Eames, Milton Keynes Office Managing Partner at Mazars, said: “You can’t help but notice the homeless around the city. You’ve only got to walk between the shopping centre and the station, and you’ll encounter at least half a dozen people sleeping rough. This is an issue that we can’t ignore.

“At Mazars, we believe it is both our privilege and responsibility to support the communities in which we work to help build a sustainable world for everyone.”

Winter Night Shelter MK provides warm, safe and friendly accommodation for the homeless in the coldest months of each year. The scheme runs annually between early December and mid-March, providing a hot meal, and a bed and breakfast to approximately 15 guests per night. Volunteers interact with the guests during their stay, engaging in a variety of activities including games, films and quizzes.

Since they started five years ago they have hosted 320 guests, provided 3,587 bed nights, served 7,174 meals and helped 165 people move into longer term accommodation.

The charity also funds a welfare officer to work with those affected by homelessness. They help them to rebuild their lives by signposting drug and alcohol support services, and by
helping individuals to find accommodation and work.

Steve Wilson from Match of the Day is the MC for the evening. Entrants can make their entry donation via a charity choice giving page: http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/lorraineconnolly/mazars-charity-quiz] or by cheque. There is a minimum donation of £100 per team.

Entrants can confirm their entry by emailing Lorraine.connolly@mazars.co.uk

Back to Blog

Blog

Cultivating empathy in your workforce

Back to Blog

Blog

Firms must take action to prepare for new data protection responsibilities

With a year to go until the General Data Protection Regulation comes into law, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is urging businesses to start preparing to ensure that they are compliant with the legislation when it comes into force.

From 25 May 2018, all businesses that hold personal data will have to guarantee that their data procedures are fit for purpose and compliant with the new regulation.

While the GDPR is an EU-initiative, the UK government has already made it clear that the legislation will still take effect in the UK after Brexit. Businesses that are found to be non-compliant risk potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover.

Chambers of Commerce around the country are urging their members to start taking the necessary preparations to ensure they are ready for the regulation.

Steps for businesses to take include:
For more steps on preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation, businesses should revert to the Information Commissioner’s Office checklist.

  • Document what personal data the company holds, where it came from and who it is shared with. Firms may want to consider organising an information audit or speaking to a data expert
  • Review current privacy notices and plan for any necessary changes needed before the implementation deadline
  • Check procedures to ensure that they cover all the rights individuals have under the new rules, including how to delete personal personal data or provide data electronically if needed
  • Review how the company seeks, obtains and records consent from individuals, and whether any changes are necessary
  • Ensure the right procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach
  • Determine whether a Data Protection Officer is required, and designate one if so, to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess how the role will sit within the organisation.

David Riches, Executive Director at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Businesses need to be proactive about ensuring they are ready for the new data protection regulations when they come into force this time next year, and not leave preparations until the 11th hour. Those firms that don’t fulfil the necessary responsibilities leave themselves vulnerable to tough penalties, not to mention public scrutiny.

“With 12 months to go, there are a number of procedures businesses should be reviewing to determine what changes may need to be introduced
to be compliant. Businesses that are already vigilant about their data protection responsibilities won’t be unduly burdened by the new legislation.

“The General Data Protection Regulation is intended to reflect modern working practices in the digital age, and will strengthen consumer trust and confidence in businesses. It will establish a single set of rules across Europe, which will make it simpler and cheaper for UK companies to do business across the continent, even after we leave the EU.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Motivational Speaking

Back to Blog

Blog

Protection

Back to Blog

Blog

Don’t lose your tax reliefs…

The past 18 months have seen much change across the tax landscape, with the last few weeks alone witnessing a significant proportion of tax planning taking a trip back to the drawing board as the result of recent changes in the Finance Act, which have seen a number of tax reliefs and cuts being removed.

In spite of this, there are still some valuable reliefs and allowances available but making sure you don’t lose them is another potential obstacle in the tax planning process. And yes, you might well ask just how is it possible to lose the tax reliefs and allowances that the government has supposed to have made available. As ever, the devil is in the detail.

Three immediate areas spring to mind when it comes to advising individuals where they need to pay extra attention:-

1) Business Property Relief (BPR) is a relief that is often taken for granted but if you don’t look after it you can quite easily lose it. Available on certain business interests and business assets, BRP can provide relief of up to 100% of the value of such items from Inheritance Tax. However, when these assets or interests are passed on to another family member, the protection against Inheritance Tax is lost. By putting in place a Business Property Relief Trust, the value passed on to family members can continue to benefit from the relief. Say, for example, shares worth £500,000 are passed on from husband to wife, the wife sells them and later dies. The £500,000 that is now cash in the wife’s bank account is now subject to 40% Inheritance Tax on her estate. If a Business Property Relief Trust had been set up, the shares would have been passed within the Trust meaning that the wife could sell the shares and hold the funds in the Trust. She would have had access to the Trust during her lifetime, spending it all if she so wished, but if she didn’t, the Trust would pass on to the other beneficiaries without forming part of her estate and therefore not subject to Inheritance Tax. In this scenario, that would mean a staggering £200,000 being saved in Inheritance Tax.

2)Personal Allowance is another area that is often taken for granted. Many people are under the impression that everyone is entitled to receive the first £11,500 of their income tax free. What they often don’t realise is that when their income level hits £100,000, the personal allowance begins to taper away. And once your earnings hit £123,000 you lose the personal allowance altogether. Ensuring that family members’ Personal Allowances are shared across the family unit means that income generating assets can be held in the lower taxpayer’s name thereby helping to preserve the Personal Allowance.

3)The Residence Nil Rate Band has been presented as a welcome increase to the amount that is exempt before Inheritance Tax is payable. However, it’s not quite what it seems and again, it’s easy to take it for granted that this new relief will apply to you. Due to be phased in over the next four years, this top-up of the Nil Rate Band promises married couples and civil partnerships exemption from Inheritance Tax up to £1million by 2020. However, where estates exceed £2m the relief starts to taper away and by 2020 an estate worth £2.35m or above won’t qualify for the additional exemption at all. Furthermore, the property must be passed on to a direct descendant. This means that any past planning that has involved putting the main residence into a Trust must be reviewed as this may mean you cannot claim this relief. To benefit from this potential £140,000 tax saving, there are a number of further conditions and considerations to take into account to check whether or not you qualify for the relief. Considerations include downsizing your main residence, whether you have multiple dwellings, whether you hold the property as Joint Tenants as opposed to Tenants in Common, which will provide more flexibility in retaining the RBRB, and what the terms of your Will set out. It may be that by addressing and updating your Will, you can ensure that you qualify.

As with many other tax reliefs and allowances available, the key, as ever, is to ensure that you are aware of the rules and qualifying criteria surrounding each one and that you understand just how they affect your own personal circumstances.

For more information on these and other tax reliefs and the best way to address them, please contact Jennie Brown on 07554 553 844 or via email on jbrown@hwca.com

Back to Blog

Blog

Digital marketing courses special rates for Chamber members

Back to Blog

Blog

East Midlands housing experts discuss solutions to housing crisis

Housing experts from throughout the East Midlands gathered for the first time as a region at a major summit to discuss solutions to the housing crisis.

Futures Housing Group’s ‘Solving the Housing Puzzle’ event brought together more than 60 housing professionals from social housing, local government, development, construction, legal and finance.

Chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the Lyons Housing Commission which advises the government on housing, the event saw experts discuss a series of issues from land reform and investment to creating a rent-first culture.

The event was held at the National Space Centre in Leicester and included a stellar line-up of speakers including Sir Michael, Observer journalist Sonia Sodha, finance expert and media commentator Justin Urquhart-Stewart, East Midlands Chamber’s Director of Policy and External Affairs Chris Hobson and Futures Housing Group’s Chief Executive Lindsey Williams.

Lindsey said: “We weren’t able to solve the housing puzzle in a morning, but it was a great opportunity for leaders and influencers to discuss issues.

“Our speakers offered different insights into the housing crisis and sparked debate which I hope will support the work of local government, housing associations and house builders to work together to provide the homes people need.

“Housing can be complex, but if we think of it as a people issue we can make it simpler.”

Sir Michael said: “What we concluded at the end of a very lively session is that organisations in the region should not wait for the government to change. They should do what they can locally to make the difference.”

Delegate Vladimir Epuri from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see a mix of people from different fields exchanging knowledge of the nuances in the housing market place.

“As a Local Enterprise Partnership we work with partners to address housing growth and other issues across our area of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We can’t solve the housing problem on our own, no one can so it would be good to have more events like this.”

Futures has ambitions to build 1,000 new homes by 2020 to help ease the crisis, but acknowledged it will take cooperation from across housing and beyond to
further support the housing market.

Back to Blog

Blog

Businesses must take action to prepare for new data protection responsibilities

With a year to go until the General Data Protection Regulation comes into law, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is urging businesses to start preparing to ensure that they are compliant with the legislation when it comes into force.

From 25 May 2018, all businesses that hold personal data will have to guarantee that their data procedures are fit for purpose and compliant with the new regulation.

While the GDPR is an EU-initiative, the UK government has already made it clear that the legislation will still take effect in the UK after Brexit. Businesses that are found to be non-compliant risk potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover.

Chambers of Commerce around the country are urging their members to start taking the necessary preparations to ensure they are ready for the regulation.

Steps for businesses to take include:

  • Document what personal data the company holds, where it came from and who it is shared with. Firms may want to consider organising an information audit or speaking to a data expert
  • Review current privacy notices and plan for any necessary changes needed before the implementation deadline
  • Check procedures to ensure that they cover all the rights individuals have under the new rules, including how to delete personal personal data or provide data electronically if needed
  • Review how the company seeks, obtains and records consent from individuals, and whether any changes are necessary
  • Ensure the right procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach
  • Determine whether a Data Protection Officer is required, and designate one if so, to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess how the role will sit within the organisation.

For more steps on preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation, businesses should revert to the Information Commissioner’s Office checklist.

David Riches, Executive Director at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Businesses need to be proactive about ensuring they are ready for the new data protection regulations when they come into force this time next year, and not leave preparations until the 11th hour. Those firms that don’t fulfil the necessary responsibilities leave themselves vulnerable to tough penalties, not to mention public scrutiny.

“With 12 months to go, there are a number of procedures businesses should be reviewing to determine what changes may need to be introduced
to be compliant. Businesses that are already vigilant about their data protection responsibilities won’t be unduly burdened by the new legislation.

“The General Data Protection Regulation is intended to reflect modern working practices in the digital age, and will strengthen consumer trust and confidence in businesses. It will establish a single set of rules across Europe, which will make it simpler and cheaper for UK companies to do business across the continent, even after we leave the EU.”

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce will host a 60 minute seminar on How will GDPR impact your business on June 12. To book a place visit https://www.northants-chamber.co.uk/events/detail/how-will-gdpr-impact-your-busines

Back to Blog

Blog

Robinson and Hall has been shortlisted for a prestigious planning industry award

Robinson & Hall is delighted to announce that its Planning & Development team has been recognised by its peers and is a finalist in the Small Planning Consultancy of the Year Award at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2017.

The RTPI Awards are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

Andrew Barr, Partner and Head of Planning & Development, comments: “We are thrilled that we have been shortlisted for the ‘Small Planning Consultancy of the Year Award’ at the RTPI Awards of Planning Excellence. Our nomination is testimony to the way we seek to work as a team, placing our client right at the very heart of the job. At Robinson & Hall we always like to think of ourselves as doing planning ‘the right way’, that every planning application is a conversation rather than an argument. This approach has helped us achieve significant results on a variety of sites throughout the Home Counties and beyond.”

Stephen Wilkinson, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, comments: “The finalists represent some outstanding contributions to planning which are making a positive impact for the community and environment. The judges will find it difficult choosing the winners given the high calibre of entries this year.”

The RTPI champions the power of planning in creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. It is the only body in the UK that confers Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification sought after by employers.

Back to Blog

Blog

10% Discount to fellow Chamber Members

Back to Blog

Blog

Top 10 Tips to becoming a successful freelancer

Back to Blog

Blog

NITAL hosts open evening

An organisation which provides first class accredited training is hosting an opening evening this month.

NITAL (Northamptonshire Industrial Training Association) works with more than 300 companies and has a purpose built Training Academy in Kettering.

On May 31 it will host an open evening covering engineering full time courses and apprenticeships.

It will take place from 3pm to 7pm at NITAL’s base in Kettering Parkway, Venture Park, Kettering.

To book a place call 01536 408188.

Back to Blog

Blog

Charity Golf Event

Back to Blog

Blog

Mazars achieves platinum Xero status

International accountancy and advisory firm Mazars has announced it is now a Platinum Xero partner thanks to its continued focus on technology enabled client service. The firm has upgraded from Gold to Platinum status, since first partnering with Xero in 2013, a company leading the provision of cloud based accountancy software for the SME market.

The Platinum status reflects Mazars’ ongoing commitment to supporting the growing SME market which represented 5.5 million private sector businesses at the start of 2016.

Xero has over one million subscribers and is recognised as one of the fastest growing ‘software as service’ providers globally. It is used by accounting firms to provide clients with an efficient way of managing accounts, providing 24 hour access to data from anywhere in the world and streamlining accountancy processes so that there is a single source of data as close to real time as possible.

Commenting on the upgrade to Platinum status, Margaret Laidlaw, Mazars Partner and Head of SME UK said: “Reaching this top level status with Xero is proof that more SME clients are asking our advice around the most modern methods to help manage their business more efficiently.

“Mazars is committed to continually innovating and this includes sourcing the latest technology to provide the most efficient services to our SME clients. Cloud technology has reshaped business and we are witnessing a rise in ‘global small business’ operating outside traditional boundaries.”

She continued: “Xero can provide our SME clients with potential cost-savings and a business ‘dashboard’ that provides a real-time view of how a business is performing, helping SMEs work faster, smarter and better.”

Gary Turner, managing director of Xero UK added: “Mazars is already well established as a Xero partner and we envisage even greater involvement with the firm as its partnership with Xero broadens to meet the growing demands of SMEs globally.”

With over 100 Xero accredited specialists in the UK (Xero “Champions”) Mazars is one of the most experienced accountancy firms in providing technology enabled solutions and is well placed to support the SME market now and into the future.

Back to Blog

Blog

New chapter for students as they discover ‘joy’ of reading, writing and design

A campaign by the Reading Agency to get people reading has seen more than 170 people at Northampton College discover the joy of books, with some students even becoming published authors themselves.

The Reading Ahead scheme encourages people to read a minimum of six items and share their thoughts on what they have read. It is part of a national drive to improve literacy and encourage people to use libraries.

The Northampton College library has been awarded a gold award for its completion rates as part of the scheme and more than 50 students who took part were honoured at a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Gareth Eales and local author Sue Bentley.

Debbie Hicks, creative director at The Reading Agency, which organises the annual campaign, said: “Reading opens a window to the world. Everything changes when you read, it helps you see the world differently and see other people better. We want to get more people reading more often, and to encourage them to share their stories and inspire others to read.”

The ceremony also saw students honoured for writing poetry and short stories, as well as for photography and illustration.

Patrick Leavey, deputy principal of Northampton College, said: “The library is the heartbeat of the college. It is an intrinsic part of student life and provides the resource to help put
students at the centre of all our activities.

“Reading adds tremendous value to student engagement, supporting student progress and helping to develop essential life skills.”

As part of the ceremony, a group of students officially unveiled ‘Aurum’ – an anthology of short stories created as part of their course which has seen them become published authors. The work is now available to buy on Amazon and is stocked in the College library.

Sue Bentley, who has written more than 70 books which have been translated into more than 20 languages, said: “The best adventures you can have in the world
start with a book. Reading is a joyful experience and it’s wonderful to see so many College students embrace the Reading Ahead scheme and immerse themselves in new books, new experiences and new stories.”

For more information on courses available at Northampton College visit www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk.

Back to Blog

Blog

Charity Golf Event

Back to Blog

Blog

Pedalling prolongs life! 

Want to live longer? Reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease? Then cycle to work, say scientists!

The results of a recent study, which delved into the transport habits of more than a quarter of a million UK commuters, have come as music to the ears of the team at Cynthia Spencer Hospice who are hoping that the chance of prolonging life, alongside the passion for two wheels prompted by the return of the Women’s Tour to the county next month, will see more people to leap into their saddles in aid of its biggest annual fundraiser, Cycle4Cynthia.

“The team of scientists found that regular cycling can almost halve the risk of heart disease and cancer, so it’s a proven way to stay healthy,” explained the Hospice’s fundraising manager, John Helm.

“With that as the best possible incentive to get pedalling, and the fact that Cycle4Cynthia is a really fun way to show your support for the amazing work we do for our patients and their families at Cynthia Spencer, I’d urge everyone to dig out their bikes and register for the ride!” he added.

Among those to know the benefits of using two wheels rather than four is Paul Maylunn from Northamptonshire Trading Standards who, come rain or shine, dons his bicycle clips and helmet for his daily commute: “I’ve been pedalling to work for about two years now and I’m definitely fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been before” explained Paul.

“Not only do I arrive at work feeling invigorated, having pushed up my heart rate a little, but I also quietly delight in the joy of overtaking tired looking drivers as they battle the queues of the rush hour.

“There’s really no better way to commute, so why not start pedalling to work - and show your support for this amazing cause by signing up for Cycle4Cynthia too!” enthused Paul.

Cycle4Cynthia, which last year saw more than 1100 riders take part in the 5, 25 and 50 miles routes and raise over £76,000, will take place on Sunday 24th September at Lamport Hall.

For more information, including registering for the ride, or for details of corporate sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.cycle4cynthia.co.uk or call the Hospice on 01604 678082 or email info@cycle4cynthia.co.uk

Meanwhile, to keep up to date with the latest news on the event, please visit and ‘like’ the ride’s and Hospice’s page on Facebook.

Back to Blog

Blog

Is the way we look at housing land supply changing?

Over the past few months Robinson & Hall have observed a step change in the importance of achieving a 5 year supply of housing and the way in which paragraphs 14 and 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should operate.

Historically there has been an inclination for decision makers to only consider policies that include the word ‘housing’ as housing policies. Similarly, many have fallen into the trap of ‘4.99 years’ worth of housing, settlement boundary switched off. 5.01 years’ worth of housing, settlement boundary switched back on again’. There have, however, been several national and local cases that suggest planning officers, inspectors and the courts alike see the operation of paragraphs 14 and 49 of the NPPF as something a little more fluid.

This has all been brought to a head following the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on how punitive the NPPF should be in the event that a local authority defaults on its 5 year supply and exactly what comprises a housing policy to be rendered ‘out-of-date’ in such instances.

In brief, the Supreme Court suggests that when interpreting what comprises a ‘relevant policy for the supply of housing’ we need to be far less legalistic and literal in our approach. Rather than consider whether specific policies, such as settlement boundaries or green space designations, encourage or unduly restrict housing it is more important to consider the requirements of paragraph 47 of the NPPF – that local authorities have an obligation to significantly boost the supply of housing. If a local planning authority is failing in its duty to do so then the weight to be attributed to its development plan in general weakens. After all, planning law dictates that the policies of the development plan should be considered as a whole.

In short it appears that the central message of paragraphs 14, 47 and 49 of the NPPF is to ensure that where Councils are able to deliver housing in a sustainable manner then they should consider doing so. Less arguing about what comprises a housing policy and more focus on how we can deliver the homes themselves.

Do you want to discuss what the impact of this shift in thinking around housing mean for you? At Robinson & Hall we constantly monitor emerging policy issues to ensure we can deliver the best advice to clients.

Back to Blog

Blog

PwC staff make a difference at Northampton mental health charity

Staff at leading professional services firm PwC, were making a difference in their annual ‘One Firm, One Day’ on Friday (19 May) by working with a Northampton charity providing specialist mental healthcare for patients.

One Firm, One Day is PwC’s firm-wide annual fundraising and volunteering event where staff across the UK are encouraged to join together and take part in giving something back to local communities.

Almost 40 staff from across PwC’s offices across the Midlands visited St Andrew’s Healthcare headquarters in Northampton, where staff provide healthcare for patients with some of the most complex, challenging mental health needs in the UK.

Volunteers joined patients, some of whom have few visitors, for a ‘walk and talk’ in the hospital grounds, and a game of walking football. Staff, who worked alongside 22 members of St Andrew’s finance and procurement team, also took part in gardening, painting, helping in the coffee shop and garden centre, as well as bringing their professional expertise to help improve some of the patient work experience areas.

Dawn Wright, voluntary services manager for St Andrew’s, said: “The day was a fantastic first volunteering day for PwC and St Andrew’s, but we hope not the last. PwC were a great team who were all very generous with their time and commitment to their given tasks, and our staff and patients thoroughly enjoyed working alongside them. Their support on Friday made a real and measureable difference to our patients and services. We are truly grateful for their support.

“If Friday has inspired any of PwC’s staff to volunteer more regularly, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, as we are always looking for volunteers across our Northampton, Birmingham, Notts and Essex sites.”

One Firm, One Day saw more than 20 teams of PwC staff across the Midlands joined local schools to provide employability sessions, took part in environmental volunteering with hospitals, hospices and charities and community organisations.

Rebecca Cooke, partner and community affairs lead for PwC in the Midlands, said: “We would like to thank all of our colleagues and the organisations involved for making One Firm, One Day so successful. The impact of the day across communities is fantastic, and it is a great way for our staff to use their skills and experience to benefit others.

“As a firm we promote social mobility, not only through removing barriers in our own recruitment process, but also through activities like this and ongoing partnerships where our staff can provide skilled volunteering support to enhance others’ opportunities.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Top 10 Tips to finding a good Financial Planner

Back to Blog

Blog

What Will You Do For Armed Forces Reserves Day - Wed 21 June 2017?

Did you know it is Armed Forces Reserves Day on Wednesday 21 June 2017?

The aim of the day it to increase recognition and awareness of the Reserve Forces and, from that, the Armed Forces Community. Traditionally, it has been part of the Armed Forces Day campaign and takes place in the week building up to Armed Forces Day.

To show support why not celebrate by undertaking workplace activities such as: -

  • Reservists and Cadet Adult Volunteers wearing Uniform to Work
  • Internal Armed Forces employee lunch/networking event
  • Launching a workplace Armed Forces Network
  • Local Reserve Unit Insight events
  • Fundraising events
  • Internal and/or external Social Media posts

Most importantly of all, it would be greatly appreciated if you could raise awareness by posting details on your internal or external social media pages.

To assist with ideas, a toolkit is now downloadable from the Armed Forces Day Website https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/events-toolkits-resources/toolkits/

Back to Blog

Blog

Former Northampton College catering student is on fast track to success

A former Northampton College catering student is on a fast track in her career after winning a worldwide competition and securing three promotions in just five years.

Mary Palecek, 25 secured a job as a commis chef at Sundial Group’s Highgate House in Creaton as she came to the end of her Level 3 catering course at Northampton College. Five years on, and Mary has managed to work her way up through the kitchen to chef de parti, senior chef de parti and more recently sous chef, also moving to work at Sundial’s well-established Warwickshire conference venue, Woodside, during that time.

Her talent and strong work ethic sets her aside in the kitchen and her head chef was so impressed he even entered her into the junior category of a celebratedinternational catering challenge – Global Copper Skillet Competition – where she scooped the winning title.

Mary said: “Winning the competition has been a highlight of my career so far. I had heard about it but never felt confident enough to put myself forward. I have always been keen to learn new skills and cooking is my passion but to enter a global competition like that can be a bit daunting. I am not a nervous person but it was a scary prospect. I went in with the mind-set of getting the experience rather than winning, and it paid off because I actually beat everyone to the top.”

Mary travelled to UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center in Los Angeles to compete. She was up against chefs from IACC Americas, Australia-Asia-Pacific and European member venues but it was her dish of sautéed courgette and aubergine, poached sea bass, pan fried sirloin, red pepper, tomato and coriander salsa, heritage carrots and caramelised shallots that wowed the judges.

Mary believes the skills she learnt as a catering student at the College is what has helped her progress quickly through her career and she is now looking to gain as much experience as she can as a sous chef before possibly becoming a head chef in the long-term future.

She explained: “Looking back it is what I learnt at Northampton College that has given me the basis for my career so far. You are taught to be hands-on and given practical experience from the word go. Lecturers encourage you to push yourself out of your comfort zone which is what you need to do to be a good chef. Like when we were serving paying customers in the college restaurant, it’s all practical experience that sets you up for work. You can’t learn to be a chef in the classroom, it has to be practical too so I learnt the basics which I’ve since developed at Highgate House and now at Woodside.

“I want to continue to perfect my skills and who knows what the future holds. For now I am happy gaining as much experience as I can at Woodside as it’s a fantastic place to work and the head chef is very inspiring so I am learning lots.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Call for co-opted members to join council Standards Committee

Northampton Borough Council is calling for local people with an interest in local issues to join its Standards Committee.

The Council is recruiting for two parish councillors and two independent members to join the Committee for a two year period, to help
promote and maintain high standards of conduct by elected and co-opted councillors.

If appointed, applicants will learn more about the Council’s ethical framework and how local government organisations operate,
whilst working with the Monitoring Officer to provide objective and impartial views on complaints about councillor behaviour.

Applicants should have the ability to be objective and impartial, and have good analytical and communication skills. They should also be available to attend quarterly Committee meetings at the Guildhall and ad hoc meetings to deal with case work.

The independent members should not have any connection to a political party, Councillors, Parish Councillors within the borough or Council staff.

Committee members will be entitled to claim reasonable expenses for travel and subsistence when they attend meetings.

For more information or to apply, please visit www.northampton.gov.uk/info/200033/councillors-and-democracy/622/standards-committee or contact Marianne McCarthy on 01604 837016 or Tracy Tiff on 01604 837408.

The closing date for applications is 15 June 2017 at 12noon.

Back to Blog

Blog

Milton Keynes Family Festival returns with a Special MK50 Showcase this summer

Festival in the City, hosted by Milton Keynes College, takes place from 15-18 June at the centre:mk.

With live performances, demonstrations, an interactive zone and workshops, there’s something to inspire the whole family at this special MK50 edition of the college’s summer showcase.

Families from across the region are invited to attend this free event, where they will enjoy art exhibitions, fashion shows, live music, activities and competitions. Visitors can pamper themselves in the Graduate Hair & Beauty Zone and engage with live cooking demonstrations from our Brasserie chefs, in our pop up kitchen.

The relaxed festival feel at this year’s showcase promises to immerse visitors in the summer spirit and encourage interaction from families, to bring a real sense of community to Middleton Hall.

Janine Coney, Events Manager for the Milton Keynes College Festival in the City explains: “In line with MK50, this year’s summer showcase is all about celebrating everything great about Milton Keynes College and our students. We’ve got some fantastic performances, music, exhibitions and interactive workshops to share with families over the four days at this year’s event, including the live finals of the Bucks, Beds and Herts Barber of the Year Competition on Sunday 18th June.

“We’ve also been working with local schools to encourage pupils to get involved in the festival, by showing us their creative side and entering our competition to design a festival t-shirt. The winning designs from each of the three age categories will get their designed t-shirt to keep, will be featured on the main stage and catwalk at the festival and may be worn by staff at the event too.”

For further information about the Festival in the City visit festivalinthecity.co.uk, email events@mkcollege.ac.uk and search #MKCFestival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Back to Blog

Blog

Klood Academy adds three new Google courses to its prospectus

In response to demand, Linford Wood-based digital marketing trainer Klood Academy has added three new Google-based courses to its existing prospectus.

Focused on upskilling SMEs and marketers with the ability to create and execute a digital marketing strategy across the core competencies of inbound marketing, SEO and social media, Klood Academy has this month (May 2017) added courses in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google AdWords.

These three new disciplines add capability for delegates to understand these popular Google platforms and learn skills that they can apply back in their day-to-day roles. The courses are designed for complete beginners to each of the subjects, but also cover a number of advanced functionalities.

Matthew Kay, Head of Digital at Klood, commented: “Google’s utilities are used by so many companies and marketers, but in many cases knowledge is limited and they are not used to their full potential.

“The addition of these three subjects is in response to demand by our existing delegates, who have been asking us lots of questions about Google platforms and how they can increase their knowledge and skills.

“Our in-house Academy has been delivering courses in digital marketing subjects since October last year, so we are ideally placed to help bridge the divide between existing knowledge and the full capability of the platforms.”

To find out more about these courses and all those delivered through Klood Academy, please visit https://academy.klood.com

Back to Blog

Blog

Get Boosted working with Smith Hillman to boost online marketing efforts

Chamber members Get Boosted and Smith Hillman are working on raising the online profile of Smith Hillman’s brand and products.

Smith Hillman owner, Dave Hillman, said: “I crossed paths with Christian (owner of Get Boosted) at a recent Chamber event and we got chatting after he showed interest in our flagship product – the coccyx orthopaedic memory foam cushion. We had recently launched and were getting excellent customer reviews, but we felt we needed to take things to the next level.

“We decided to meet up a few weeks later to talk over ways in which we could improve and grow our online presence beyond our website and Facebook page. We have big plans for the business so having a solid strategy and foundation for selling online is very important to us and we are looking forward to working towards this with Christian’s help.”

In addition, Christian said: “There’s nothing I love more than helping small businesses with great products and services raise their profile and generate more business through online channels.

“And having used and benefitted from the Smith Hillman seat cushion myself, I am more enthused than ever to help them market this brilliant product online and raise awareness of their business and future product lines.”

Back to Blog

Blog

What Are You Doing For Armed Forces Reserves Day - Wed 21 June 2017?

Did you know that it is Armed Forces Reserves Day on Wednesday 21st June 2017? The aim of the day is to increase recognition and awareness of the Reserve Forces and, from that, the Armed Forces Community. Traditionally, it has been part of the Armed Forces Day campaign and takes place in the week building up to Armed Forces Day.

Why not help raise awareness? Activities could include:

  • Reservists and Cadet Adult volunteers wearing Uniform to work
  • Internal Armed Forces Employee Lunch / Networking event
  • Launching a workplace Armed Forces network
  • Local Reserve Unit Insight Events
  • Fundraising events
  • Internal and/or external Social Media posts

Most importantly of all, it would be greatly appreciated if you could post on your internal/external social media pages.

A toolkit is now downloadable from the Armed Forces Day Website, link below:

http://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/events-toolkits-resources/toolkits/

Back to Blog

Blog

The Carpet Was Right!

The Deco Theatre hosted a successful sales conference on behalf of the Carpet Right Management last week. Store and Sales managers from all over the midlands region, a lot of them visiting the theatre for the first time, spent all day utilising all the facilities available at the Theatre. With the flexibility of the space available at the theatre, Carpet Right managers were able use break out rooms for more details sales meeting and plus utilising the Glenn Suite for CPR practice with up to 90 Resusci Annie’s laying in waiting.

The Dore Suite catered for all refreshments and a 2 course hot and cold buffet, all freshly prepared at the Theatre.

A great day for the Theatre, with fantastic and positive comments from Carpet Right Senior management highlighting the flexibility and the facilities on offer at the Deco Theatre.

We are now just waiting for someone to measure up!!!

For further information on our conference facilities please contact the Conference department on 01604 491005

Back to Blog

Blog

The ONE Group is targeting Mental Health in the Workplace, with a move to its new permanent office

Specialist recruitment company The ONE Group is launching its new Northampton office with a free seminar “Mental Health in the Workplace - Taking Resilience Seriously” in partnership with Howes Percival and Calm People.

The office move came as a result of continued growth in Northampton and Northamptonshire jobs market.

The ONE Group offer specialist recruitment across; Accountancy & Finance, Executive, Human Resources, IT, Marketing, Office Support and Technical. They bring with them a recruitment network exceeding 50,000 people. The ONE Group has emerged to be a trusted and leading provider of recruitment expertise to leading plcs, SMEs and blue chip and non-profit organisations.

As a part of the launch, The ONE Group have teamed up with Howes Percival Solicitors and Calm People to bring you an insightful and engaging seminar that looks at mental health from the employer, the lawyer and the human point of view.

Julian Hall, Emotional Resilience Specialist at Calm People will talk about the human side of mental health in the workplace drawing on his professional and personal experience. He will discuss:

  • Our Mental Health Continuum
  • The costs of Mental Health challenges to business
  • The signs to look for in ourselves and our teams that they are less than resilient
  • The key factors that affect our resilience
  • A closer look at one aspect of our resilience - Stress
  • The good & the bad side
  • Where it comes from
  • Why it exists
  • Our own personal relationship with stress using Calm People’s uniquely insightful 5 pillars model.
  • One tip that could dramatically improve your physical & emotional health

Graham Irons, Employment law partner at Howes Percival will look at the legal implications of stress in the workplace giving delegates a chance to discuss issues arising from a workplace scenario including:

  • Implementing systems to identify stress
  • Looking at management of stress
  • Avoiding claims relating to stress
  • Stress as a response to HR procedures
  • The risks around disability discrimination

Marc Kent, Divisional Manager - Northampton commented: “This office launch marks an important step in the growth of The ONE Group. We strive to be different from your average recruitment company, which is why we choose to give something back. Mental health and resilience can appear in many different forms in the workplace, so we hope that our seminar will offer a useful insight into this difficult topic.”

To visit The ONE Group at its new home or to attend this launch event please contact mkent@theonegroup.co.uk or call the Northampton office on 01604 210888.

Alternatively, registrations for the event on July 11 can be made here:

http://www.theonegroup.co.uk/event-mental-health-in-the-workplace—-taking-resilience-seriously/

Back to Blog

Blog

The TSC Transport Cafe: Support and Networking Event

Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) are delighted to invite you to their regular Transport Café: Support and Networking Event, to offer SMEs in the Transport and Intelligent Mobility (IM) sector support and guidance.

In addition to Intelligent Mobility, this Transport Café will have a focus on Connected & Autonomous vehicles and will see some fantastic talks from local SMEs, and colleagues from the TSC, with the opportunity to book 1-1’s to discuss specific ideas around these exciting topics.

If you would like to attend, book a 1-1 or have any further questions or queries about the event, please email Chris Brown, our Business Innovation Manager at chris.brown@ts.catapult.org.uk.

The event will be held on 21st June between 09:30 and 11:30 at Transport Systems Catapult, with a networking opportunity afterwards.

Back to Blog

Blog

Celebrating 30 years of Call Care support

The Borough Council’s Call Care service is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an afternoon tea at the Guildhall, on Friday, 26 May.

The new Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Gareth Eales, will join Call Care customers and residents at the event to celebrate the service, which was opened in 1987 by the Earl and Countess Spencer.

Call Care is a Council operated community alarm service that provides peace of mind and continued independence to over 4,500 elderly and vulnerable residents in the town.

At the pull of a cord or press of a button residents can speak to a control operator about issues from reporting a smoke detector sounding to calling about an illness or emergency

Cllr Stephen Hibbert, the Council’s cabinet member for housing said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating Call Care’s 30 year milestone. It’s a really important service that offers elderly and vulnerable people a sense of security and can make the difference between someone being able to continue to live independently and in their own home, or not.

“As a Council, we are committed to giving people flexible housing options and Call Care is a vital part of support we offer to give peace of mind to tenants and their families who are comforted by help being at hand 24 hours a day.”

Please visit www.northampton.gov.uk/callcare for more information about Call Care.

Back to Blog

Blog

Mazars achieves platinum Xero status as part of innovation drive for SMEs

International accountancy and advisory firm Mazars has announced it is now a Platinum Xero partner thanks to its continued focus on technology enabled client service. The firm has upgraded from Gold to Platinum status, since first partnering with Xero in 2013, a company leading the provision of cloud based accountancy software for the SME market.


The Platinum status reflects Mazars’ ongoing commitment to supporting the growing SME market which represented 5.5 million private sector businesses at the start of 2016.

Xero has over one million subscribers and is recognised as one of the fastest growing ‘software as service’ providers globally. It is used by accounting firms to provide clients with an efficient way of managing accounts, providing 24 hour access to data from anywhere in the world and streamlining accountancy processes so that there is a single source of data as close to real time as possible.

Commenting on the upgrade to Platinum status, Margaret Laidlaw, Mazars Partner and Head of SME UK said: “Reaching this top level status with Xero is proof that more SME clients are asking our advice around the most modern methods to help manage their business more efficiently.

“Mazars is committed to continually innovating and this includes sourcing the latest technology to provide the most efficient services to our SME clients. Cloud technology has reshaped business and we are witnessing a rise in ‘global small business’ operating outside traditional boundaries.”

She continued: “Xero can provide our SME clients with potential cost-savings and a business ‘dashboard’ that provides a real-time view of how a business is performing, helping SMEs work faster, smarter and better.”

Gary Turner, managing director of Xero UK added: “Mazars is already well established as a Xero partner and we envisage even greater involvement with the firm as its partnership with Xero broadens to meet the growing demands of SMEs globally.”

With over 100 Xero accredited specialists in the UK (Xero “Champions”) Mazars is one of the most experienced accountancy firms in providing technology enabled solutions and is well placed to support the SME market now and into the future.

Back to Blog

Blog

Soloist announced for 2017 Proms In Campbell Park

The Parks Trust and Milton Keynes City Orchestra (MKCO) are delighted to announce that Soprano, Ellie Laugharne will join the orchestra, under the baton of MKCO Music Director Damian Iorio, for the 2017 Proms in Campbell Park on Friday 18th August.

Ellie will perform a stunning repertoire of Opera and Musical Show favourites including Summertime, I feel Pretty and Somewhere over the Rainbow. Ellie’s powerful voice will also lead the audience in the rousing finale including Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.

Ellie began her vocal training at Birmingham Conservertoire having completed a degree in Music at Birmingham University. She is also a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and is currently Associate Artist of Classical Opera. She has performed important roles with many of the great opera companies and orchestras in the UK. Ellie was described by The Guardian as having a ‘gleaming’ voice, while Opera Today has praised her ‘full, rich soprano’.

Marian Livingstone, Chairman of MKCO, commented: “Ellie is excited to be working with us, she has a beautiful voice and will bring a vivacious performance to Proms in Cambell Park. We are delighted to work in partnership with The Parks Trust presenting this final concert in our season celebrating MK50. We have delighted our audiences with quality soloists, such as Ellie, at every concert this season.”

David Foster, Chief Executive of The Parks Trust, added: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming this special event back to our park this year. We organise over 200 events in our parks each year, and this one is certainly a favourite for many – it’s a real highlight of the calendar.

“Proms in Campbell Park couldn’t take place without the generous support of local companies, and we are all extremely grateful to this year’s sponsors so far: Handelsbanken, PJ Care, Geoffrey Leaver, Yamaha and CS2. We hope to see as many people as possible enjoying the event this August.”

Tickets can be purchased through www.theparkstrust.com and £19 for an adult, £9 for a child, and £49 for a family.

For more information, please visit www.theparkstrust.com or www.mkco.org

Back to Blog

Blog

Employer deadline for providing P60s

The deadline for employers to provide employees with a copy of their P60 form is 31 May 2017. A P60 must be given to all employees that were on the payroll on the last day of the 2016-17 tax year (5 April 2017).

The P60 is a statement issued to employees after the end of each tax year that shows the amount of tax they have paid on their salary. Employers can provide the P60 form on paper or electronically. Employees should ensure they keep their P60s in a safe place as it is an important record of the amount of tax paid.

In addition, a P60 is required in order that an employee can prove how much tax they have paid on their salary, eg:

  • to claim back overpaid tax;
  • to apply for tax credits;
  • as proof of income if they apply for a loan or a mortgage.

Employees who have left their employment during the tax year do not receive a P60 from their employer, as the same information will be on their P45.

Most payroll software allows employers to print P60’s. If your payroll software doesn’t automatically produce P60s they can be ordered from HMRC.

For up to date financial news visit http://keens.co.uk/news/

Back to Blog

Blog

Skills shortage is top risk facing manufacturers, survey finds

New statistics, taken from a manufacturing industry survey by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, show that recruiting and retaining talent is a top risk for the sector.

According to the results in RSM’s UK Manufacturing Monitor, almost half of the respondents confirmed people risks (49 per cent) and skills shortages (43 per cent) are a major challenge impacting manufacturers. All areas of the business are affected, particularly attracting the right production; sales and marketing; and research and development skills.

This issue is magnified due to the ageing workforce within the sector, with the majority (75 per cent) of respondents flagging this as a key concern. The average age of manufacturing staff has increased as many organisations struggle to recruit younger workers – highlighting a long-term challenge for manufacturers.

Despite the critical need to attract younger workers with future-fit skills, nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of manufacturers didn’t think the new Apprenticeship Levy, introduced by the government in April 2017, would have an impact on apprenticeship numbers.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Blundell, RSM’s head of manufacturing in the Central region, said: “The sector is facing a perfect storm when it comes to skills. It has an ageing workforce of experienced workers who are vital to the ongoing success of each business but a difficultly attracting younger talent - highlighting a major gap in the transfer of knowledge. Unless action is taken now, the skills could effectively be lost.

“In addition, Brexit will only increase recruitment and retention threats as any changes to freedom of movement rules following exit negotiations could reduce the supply of young, trained workers further. To tackle this issue head on, manufacturers need to be brave and adopt new ways to recruit top talent, whilst engaging their workforce to ensure they retain them.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Ballyhoo PR celebrates one year in business

Ballyhoo PR is celebrating its first birthday.

The company, which operates out of Corby Enterprise Centre and provides PR and copywriting services, has good reason to celebrate too.

During the last year, Ballyhoo PR has carried out work for around 40 different clients across a wide range of industries, winning PR coverage in trade, regional, national and international press.

Emma Speirs, Director of Ballyhoo PR, has also spoken at various business events to educate business owners on how they can use PR to raise their profile and grow their business, helped to launch the Corby Business Network networking group, and held free one-to-one consultations for start-ups wanting to learn more about PR.

“I have always been passionate about sharing the stories of small to medium-sized businesses,” says Emma.

“We have so many hidden gems in Northamptonshire – and the wider UK for that matter - in terms of fascinating business characters, success stories and innovative products, but so many of them don’t publicise their activity for fear of doing it wrong or thinking that PR is a luxury only afforded by large corporates. I set up Ballyhoo PR with the vision of making PR affordable and championing the successes of smaller businesses. Local businesses in particular have really embraced this, as well as a handful of companies outside of the county.

“The last year has been jam-packed. I have supported some micro businesses with ad-hoc press releases, brochure-writing and web content and worked on some big PR campaigns and events for regular retainer clients.

“The bulk of the work has come through referrals too, which tells me that Ballyhoo PR is doing something right!”

For more information on Ballyhoo PR and the services it provides to SMEs, go to www.ballyhoo-pr.co.uk, email info@ballyhoo-pr.co.uk or call 01536 682800.

Back to Blog

Blog

Launch of Chamber’s centenary celebrations

An organisation which represents more than a third of Northamptonshire’s workforce launched its centenary celebrations with a glittering occasion at Barton Hall.

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce began the 100 day countdown to its 100th AGM in October with a special reception for long-standing members, Business Alliance partners, past presidents, board members and staff yesterday.

The event gave invited guests the chance to look back on a century of partnership between the Chamber and the county’s business community and to find out about the activities the Chamber will be running during the remainder of the 100 day countdown.

Northamptonshire Chamber chief executive Paul Griffiths said: “We were delighted to see so many of our long-standing members and supporters at the launch of our centenary celebrations.

“We looked back at the foundations of the Chamber and paid tribute to all those who have played an instrumental role in the Chamber’s development.

“The launch was just the beginning of our celebrations and was the first of 100 activities we are running in the 100 working days leading up to our AGM.

“We are one of the most respected and proactive Chambers in the UK and overseas British Chambers of Commerce accredited network and the activities that are taking place over the next few months will showcase the diversity of the Chamber’s offering to its members.

“The current Chamber is still underpinned by the principles of the original Chamber – a member focussed organisation, bringing businesses together to lobby government and other public bodies with a united voice, and to promote economic prosperity, international trade and the advancement of skills levels within the local workforce.”

To find out more about Northamptonshire Chamber’s centenary activities follow @NorthantsCoC or search for #NChamber100 on Twitter.

Back to Blog

Blog

Anpario Successfully Exhibits at China Feed Expo

Anpario recently exhibited at the China Feed Expo in Fuzhou, which was held from 18th -19th April and is one of the largest feed industry shows in China. Mr Yuan Zheng, the General Manager of Anpario (Shanghai), together with the Shanghai Technical and Sales teams, were present to welcome visitors to the stand and discuss the rebrand and new product categories. Feedback from visitors was extremely positive, with the re-brand gaining a lot of attention.

On 18th April, the Vice General Manager of Anpario (Shanghai), Dr Pengbin Xi, gave a presentation on ‘Nutrition Solutions for Managing Gut Health in AGP-free Pig Production’. This was well attended and resulted in many new enquiries on Anpario’s product range.

China Feed Expo is an important platform to share industry news, trends and promote new technologies and developments, with over 400 exhibitors from both local and overseas
corporations. Overall the show was a great success and incredibly valuable for Anpario to reinforce the new branding, product portfolio and meeting with valuable customers.

Back to Blog

Blog

Increase to Insurance Premium Tax

Are you ready for the increase to Insurance Premium Tax?

The rate of insurance premium tax is increasing from 10% to 12%. This new rate will take effect on Thursday 1st June 2017.

It was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in last year’s Autumn Budget and will apply to all insurance polices, including motor, property and liability to name a few.

For further details or a discussion about your insurance arrangements, please contact Daimler Insurance Services on 01908 697372.

Back to Blog

Blog

Get Boosted to help IREEMS Ltd boost their online presence

Chamber members Get Boosted and IREEMS Ltd are working together to make improvements to IREEMS’ website – ireems.co.uk.

The work will initially look at integrating the site with data services that will help identify potential areas for improvement and monitor current performance. Waleed Montasser, MD of IREEMS Ltd said: “After meeting Christian at a Chamber networking event. We met again to discuss the improvement of my website. Thereafter, I felt confident that Christian could help me raise the profile and effectiveness of my website.

“The website itself is something I put together using Wix, and whilst it satisfied my desire to have a website, I also knew that it could be much improved. I’m excited and intrigued to see just how much it can be improved following Christian’s work and recommendations.”

In addition, Christian Jeyes of Get Boosted said: “Working with website builders such as Wix is something I generally advise against, but as with every skill in life - the tools you use are irrelevant if you’re lacking the skills and knowledge required to get the most out of them.

“Therefore, in addition to improving the online presence of IREEMS’ website, I also hope to further Waleed’s knowledge so that he can make better-informed decisions about the future of his business’ website.”

Next up will be optimising the website and using the functionality available to its fullest extent in order to boost performance and create more visitors and ultimately, more enquiries.

Stay tuned for follow-up updates further down the line.

Back to Blog

Blog

100 activities in 100 days

Back to Blog

Blog

2-for-1 on Klood Academy courses

Back to Blog

Blog

Six simple ways to attract traffic to your blog

Back to Blog

Blog

Celebrate your Special Occasion at Chicheley Hall

Fantastic celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries, christenings and special occasions - Chicheley Hall can cater for all.

We have an inclusive package, starting from only £25.00 per person which includes: a welcome drink, buffet dinner or afternoon tea, table centre pieces, black chair covers and 5 standard bedrooms for the night of the event.

With our purpose built Wolfson Centre or traditional Manor House to choose from, enjoy a perfect celebration at Chicheley Hall.

Minimum numbers of 50 apply, maximum of 150 guests can be catered for.

Enquire now: lauren.willingham@chicheleymiltonkeynes.co.uk

Back to Blog

Blog

Updated 2017 price list now available from Master Abrasives

Following 3M’s review of pricing across the range of Standard Abrasives products, we now have a new price list available for download which is valid from 1st June 2017.

All regular Standard Abrasives customers have been contacted by a representative from Master Abrasives to discuss these changes and how they affect customer pricing.

Download our updated 2017 price list with revised pricing on Standard Abrasives products from our website: http://www.master-abrasives.co.uk/news/2017/5/updated-2017-price-list-now-available.aspx

Back to Blog

Blog

Veterans Choosing A Career

Back to Blog

Blog

Top 10 Tips for First Time Exporters

Back to Blog

Blog

25th Anniversary

Good Afternoon Fellow Members, DACT will be celebrating its 25th year of existence in 2018!

DACT has developed co-ordinated services to address the growing transport/mobility needs through the following services in the mainly rural Daventry District.

1) Community Minibus Scheme operating seven fully accessible minibuses currently serving 185 affiliated voluntary/community groups consisting of childrens, youth, elderly, disabled, visually impaired, mentally ill, and many other non-profit making community groups. (4,625 members). Over 80% of our services are for the elderly and disabled.
2) DACT Dial-a-Ride – A shopping Service on Tuesdays & Fridays for elderly Daventry residents to come to the local Market for their shopping needs. (312 members)
3) DACT Days Out – Excursions to places of interest for the Club’s members who are often elderly and lonely, enabling them to join together for great social interaction from Pub Lunches to coastal trips.(1200 members)
4) Village Travel Clubs Essential door to door travel for rurally isolated passengers who have no public transport option.
5) MiDAS Minibus Driver Training – helping volunteers to gain the nationally approved certificate valid for a 4-year period. (328 drivers on our database)
6) Volunteer Car Scheme – taking qualifying passengers to any medically related appointment. (15,296 trips were undertaken in year 2016/17) - 1,671 members
7) Shopmobility scheme – hiring powered scooters and wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs to those with temporary or permanent disabilities.. (136 members)
8) DACT Pitstop – DACT’s very own mobility scooter and wheelchair one stop service centre. We have 7 volunteers who carry out vital repairs and maintenance for members of the public who own their mobility scooter or wheelchairs. Typical work carried out includes fixing minor faults, repairs from general wear and tear and accidental damage, tyre punctures, fitting new batteries and carrying out a full annual service to mobility scooters. We also recycle pre-owned mobility equipment for re-sale at very keen prices. This service is vital in keeping people mobile and independent.
9) DACT Mobility Shop New & refurbished (ex- DACT Pitstop) mobility equipment of all kinds supplied which includes Scooters, Wheelchairs, Zimmers, Stairlifts etc. This service helps to fund other DACT services that run at a deficit.
10) Volunteer Opportunities All our services are delivered by Volunteers.
If you are celebrating your 25th year at the same time, why not get in touch.

Back to Blog

Blog

OASIS Group Acquires Removal Services Scotland

OASIS Group, the fastest growing records and information management (RIM) company across Europe, have confirmed yet another vital acquisition. In a deal finalised on May 15th, the company acquired the RIM business of Removal Services Scotland, Ltd., based just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Entering the Scottish market for the first time in December 2016, this purchase confirms their commitment to the area and validates their intended expansion plans to better serve their clients. Allowing for a solid presence in Scotland, this deal enhances the reach and additional services OASIS can provide their new and existing clients.

“The Scottish market has always been an intended goal for us. To add to our initial presence so quickly is something we worked very hard on. Our clients are our top priority and we hope they will see this addition as a commitment to them”, states Brian Connolly, Chief Executive Officer of OASIS Group.

“This acquisition provides us with a great location which in turn allows us to expand on the ever increasing and wide range of services we offer our clients”.

This transaction marks the 27th successful acquisition for OASIS Group.

Back to Blog

Blog

Less than 1 in 5 UK managers support ‘hard Brexit’

  • With the general election less than three weeks away, the UK’s 3.2 million managers make their priorities for a new government clear
  • Brexit is at the forefront of their minds, with just one in five (19%) UK managers favoured a so-called ‘hard Brexit’
  • Over two third of managers (71%) think a deal that secures access to the single market and/or freedom of movement of people would be the best outcome of upcoming Brexit negotiations
  • Two in five (37%) have said decision to call a general election has had a negative impact on their organisation and caused more uncertainty
  • Year of political and economic uncertainty has taken its toll on UK’s managers: 41% are feeling more stressed, 48% have more work to do, and 32% are working longer hours than 12 months ago

In advance of the general election, UK managers have made clear what they want to see from a new government. With Brexit on the horizon, just one in five (19%) managers favour a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, according to new research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Of the 801 UK managers surveyed by CMI, over two third of managers (71%) think a deal that secures access to the single market and/or freedom of movement of people would be the best outcome of the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Managers’ top five priorities from a new government are:

  1. Securing trade deals with non-EU countries (66%)
  2. Maintaining access to EU talent by guaranteeing the rights of existing residents (58%)
  3. Investing in capital infrastructure (53%)
  4. Maintaining investment in the Apprenticeship Levy (30%)
  5. Promoting UK higher education as an export (27%)

Just 19% called for a reduction in corporate tax to be a top priority.

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, commented: “Political leaders looking for a strong mandate from this election must consider the views of UK’s 3.2 million managers, who are key drivers of the UK’s productivity. Managers have serious concerns about continued access to skilled workers, and this is motivating the desire for free movement of people Post-Brexit. All parties should focus post-election on the need to build an internationally competitive economy based on a world-class skilled workforce.”

Commissioned to gauge the sentiment of managers after the surprise general election was announced, the research reveals a significant number have already been affected by the snap election. Just under a fifth (19%) said it had made decision-making more difficult in their organisation, while a similar number (18%) said that it had caused more uncertainty among employees.

Perhaps as a result of the uncertainty, more managers (36%) of managers think the decision to call the election will have a negative impact on their organisation over the next 12 months, than those who think the effect will be positive (26%).

The research also sought to uncover what impact the past 12 months of political and economic upheaval has had on managers. Over a third (34%) said their quality of working life has declined, a similar number (32%) are working longer hours, and 48% say they have more work to do. As a result, there has been a sharp rise in the number of managers who say they are more stressed (41%) and less motivated (35%) than they were 12 months ago.

Ann Francke continued: “The Brexit referendum has clouded the UK economy with uncertainty, and this has had a massive impact on the effectiveness of managers to deliver strong business performance. The quality of working life and health of managers is important, and uncertainty and stress is a productivity killer. We ask our political leaders to give UK managers clarity and invest in the skills they need to deliver.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Celebrity Chef Tom Kerridge Officially Opens the Claire Clark Academy at Milton Keynes College

Among a crowd of professional chefs, including the holder of three Michelin Stars, Pierre Koffmann and Chef Patissier Benoit Blin MCA, and some well-known local faces, such as Reece Collier, Head Pastry Chef at The Grove Hotel and Daniel Richardson, Head Chef at Hartwell House Hotel, Milton Keynes College proudly opened its exciting new Patisserie Academy on 18th May.

The Claire Clark Academy; centre of patisserie excellence, which is a joint ambition of both Milton Keynes College and Claire Clark, will nurture the next generation of pastry chefs in the UK.

Milton Keynes College’s Principal and CEO, Dr Julie Mills, is excited about the launch of the Claire Clark Academy. She said: “The launch event marks a significant development for Milton Keynes College and our provision of first-class, technical catering and hospitality study programmes.

“We’re delighted to be able to work in partnership with Claire Clark and her team, bringing a unique level of expertise and experience to Milton Keynes College and helping to inspire the next generation of expert pastry chefs.

“At a time when interest levels in pastry and patisserie – from home bakers to professional experts – are as high as they have ever been, the launch of the Academy allows Milton Keynes College to be at the cutting edge of this exciting, innovative and enjoyable industry.

“Working alongside globally recognised industry names such as Claire represents a huge honour for the College and helps underpin our goal of delivering excellence in education, while inspiring learners to achieve and surpass their ambitions.”

The newly-formed Academy is for students, professionals and enthusiastic home bakers and will start with part day, one day, evening and weekend courses for home bakers and professionals. The doors will open for the first short courses this week, and applications are now being taken for the Level 2 Diploma in Bakery and Patisserie, which will commence in September and can accommodate 14 full-time students.

The areas covered will include chocolate, sugar work, bread, pastry work, modern desserts, classic desserts, plating desserts and more. Specific times of day will be focused on, such as the ever popular afternoon tea and the constantly growing trend for baking fresh bread.

Claire explained her excitement about the new Patisserie Academy at Milton Keynes College: “I’m delighted that we are now launched. It’s been an incredible journey and I look forward to nurturing the talent of the future. Thank you to everyone involved.”

For further information and course enquiries visit http://www.mkcollege.ac.uk/subjects-we-offer/hospitality-and-catering/claire-clark-academy; email andrea.ruff@mkcollege.ac.uk or telephone 01908 684444. And don’t forget to follow @CClarkAcademy on Twitter for all of the latest news and updates from Claire and the Academy team.

Back to Blog

Blog

Volunteers benefit from our Effective Teaching Course

From January to March 2017, ANSS delivered the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE) Effective Teaching Course for 15 participants from our member supplementary schools.

This course provided tools for volunteer teachers to effectively manage and run lessons. The course covered lesson planning, class management, the English Education System, assessment and learning styles.

All participants had to prepare a micro lesson and deliver it to the other participants and also complete course work. Course work is currently being assessed and we will announce the results when they have been published.

Back to Blog

Blog

East Midlands housing experts unite to solve the housing puzzle

Housing experts from throughout the East Midlands gathered for the first time as a region at a major summit to discuss solutions to the housing crisis.

Futures Housing Group’s ‘Solving the Housing Puzzle’ event brought together more than 60 housing professionals from social housing, local government, development, construction, legal and finance.

Chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the Lyons Housing Commission which advises the government on housing, the event saw experts discuss a series of issues from land reform and investment to creating a rent-first culture.

The event was held at the National Space Centre in Leicester and included a stellar line-up of speakers including Sir Michael, Observer journalist Sonia Sodha, finance expert and media commentator Justin Urquhart-Stewart, East Midlands Chamber’s Director of Policy and External Affairs Chris Hobson and Futures Housing Group’s Chief Executive Lindsey Williams.

Lindsey said: “We weren’t able to solve the housing puzzle in a morning, but it was a great opportunity for leaders and influencers to discuss issues.

“Our speakers offered different insights into the housing crisis and sparked debate which I hope will support the work of local government, housing associations and house builders to work together to provide the homes people need.

“Housing can be complex, but if we think of it as a people issue we can make it simpler.”

Sir Michael said: “What we concluded at the end of a very lively session is that organisations in the region should not wait for the government to change. They should do what they can locally to make the difference.”

Delegate Vladimir Epuri from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see a mix of people from different fields exchanging knowledge of the nuances in the housing market place.

“As a Local Enterprise Partnership we work with partners to address housing growth and other issues across our area of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We can’t solve the housing problem on our own, no one can so it would be good to have more events like this.”

Futures has ambitions to build 1,000 new homes by 2020 to help ease the crisis, but acknowledged it will take cooperation from across housing and beyond to further support the housing market.

Back to Blog

Blog

Marsden Fire Safety has a new look

After months of hard work and dedication, Marsden Fire Safety are delighted to announce the launch of our new look website, which can be found at www.marsden-fire-safety.co.uk.

Our aim was to merge together Marsden Fire Safety’s existing ecommerce website - www.mfs-fire-extinguishers.co.uk and consultancy website – www.masden-fire-safety.co.uk, onto a single platform and create an improved user friendly browsing experience for our valued customers and visitors. So what have we done?

Firstly, we have redesigned our logo to better capture the essence of the business and help us to become more identifiable as a company.

In addition to bringing together our products, consultancy services, training services and well used technical resources; we have also given the site an aesthetic makeover introducing a simplified design and easy navigation options.

All of our content has been carefully re-written to bring it up to-date. Product categories and the menu structure have been refined for simplicity of use, and the design and layout of the product information pages have been drastically updated. The website is now fully responsive, enabling it to be viewed on any size device and with its fast loading pages it’s now perfect for browsing while on the go. Our purchasing system has also been updated and simplified for an enhanced user experience.

The edition of a news and events page and integrated social media buttons, means that the company are now able to keep visitors updated with helpful information, articles, blogs, and company announcements.

The website has a fresh and modern feel and the team have worked hard to make sure that it is easy to use and contains valuable information and products to assist users with their fire safety needs.

We hope you like it!

Back to Blog

Blog

User experience and creativity - the art of the possible

Klood Digital is holding another of its popular Klood Bytes events on Thursday 15th June at 6.30pm.

This free-to-attend event is ideal for small business owners and marketers, and will be hosted at Klood’s bespoke on-site Academy over drinks and canapés.

Guests will be provided with digital insight and skills needed to optimise your site’s user experience to ensure visitors are more likely to complete your desired goals, whether that’s to purchase a product, make an enquiry or simply sign up to a newsletter.

Topics covered on the night will be:

User Experience - taking users from A to B as intuitively as possible
Luke Brason, Klood Digital’s Head of Design and Development, will focus on what UX is, why you should care about it and some essential UX tools and techniques

The Impact of Creativity on Decision Making
David Sweeney, Creative Director at Grass Roots, will look at how creativity and idea generation impacts on the decision making process.

Spaces are limited, so to find out more and book a place for the event, please visit https://kloodbytes3.eventbrite.com

Back to Blog

Blog

Northamptonshire businesses asked to feed their views into latest QES

Businesses are being encouraged to share their experiences in the latest Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) which is now live.

The Chamber is asking businesses – members and non-members - in Northamptonshire for feedback on Q2 of 2017 to obtain a clear view of the local economy.

The results from the online survey are crucial to generating an understanding among local authorities and decision-makers of the conditions that companies are trading in.

They are fed to the British Chamber of Commerce along with the other Chambers nationwide to gain a national picture of the economy.

The national QES, the largest business survey of its kind in the UK, is then used and quoted by the media, politicians, and economists alike. It is also used by the Bank of England and can influence the Monetary Policy Committee on interest rate decisions.

The survey will remain open until Monday 12 June, and will only take a few minutes to complete. To take advantage of this opportunity to voice your opinions, click on the following here.

Back to Blog

Blog

QES header MK

Back to Blog

Blog

Milton Keynes businesses asked to feed their views into latest QES

Businesses are being encouraged to share their experiences in the latest Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) which is now live.

The Chamber is asking businesses – members and non-members - in Milton Keynes for feedback on Q2 of 2017 to obtain a clear view of the local economy.

The results from the online survey are crucial to generating an understanding among local authorities and decision-makers of the conditions that companies are trading in.

They are fed to the British Chamber of Commerce along with the other Chambers nationwide to gain a national picture of the economy.

The national QES, the largest business survey of its kind in the UK, is then used and quoted by the media, politicians, and economists alike. It is also used by the Bank of England and can influence the Monetary Policy Committee on interest rate decisions.

The survey will remain open until Monday 12 June, and will only take a few minutes to complete. To take advantage of this opportunity to voice your opinions, click on the following here

Back to Blog

Blog

Chamber Awards

Back to Blog

Blog

Northamptonshire businesses defy Brexit uncertainty with fifth year of growth

Despite the uncertainty over Brexit, Northamptonshire businesses continue to prosper increasing turnover, profitability and employment for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new report published today.

The Northamptonshire Limited study, conducted by financial and business advisers Grant Thornton, each year analyses the performance of the 100 largest, privately owned companies in the county to provide a recognised barometer of the overall health of Northamptonshire’s economy. The report also includes a Growth Index, highlighting the 20 companies with profit increases in excess of 35%.

The 2017 report findings, unveiled to more than 100 local businesses at a special breakfast event hosted by Grant Thornton, revealed that combined turnover of the top 100 companies increased by 9.5% from £5.48bn to £5.99bn. Profits (measured by EBITDA - Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) also grew by a healthy 13.5% from £336 million to £381 million.

The top 100 businesses also continued to invest in new staff with an 11.8% increase in employment to 35,132 people and, after last year’s fall in average wages, salaries rose by just under 1% to an average of £28,553.

Mike Hughes, from Grant Thornton’s Northampton office, who presented the findings said: “From Britain voting to leave the European Union to the subsequent fall in the value of the pound, it has certainly been an interesting year for businesses.

“The economy was predicted to take a major hit but actually grew in the period following the referendum with a similar positive picture here in Northamptonshire. The county’s 100 largest companies have seen continued growth in turnover and profits, strong investment in new employees and significant M&A activity.

“In the period covered by the report, it is clear they are continuing to enjoy a healthy and robust trading environment and despite political uncertainties ahead, are looking confidently to the future.”

The survey also showed that the county’s large businesses (turnover greater than £50m) achieved more than double the rate of turnover growth than SMEs – 11.6% compared to 4.9% – reversing last year’s trend. Profit growth remained similarly high for both groups at 13.1% (large) and 14.1% (SMEs). Large businesses invested significantly more in fixed assets than SMEs, possibly indicating they were less cautious on future prospects following the Brexit vote and were quicker to recover confidence in growth.

The Northamptonshire Limited report also analyses the performance of the top 100 companies by sector.

Half of the eight sectors grew turnover and six reported an increase in EBITDA, highlighting a more mixed picture across the board. The standout sector was Property and Construction which saw the highest increase in turnover of 40.4% to £1bn and reported a growth in EBITDA of 51.6% to £64.2m.

The Food, Drink and Leisure sector continued to struggle, partly fuelled by reduced consumer demand following the devaluation of the pound, with turnover falling by 1% and profitability remaining the same.

Mike Hughes concluded: “Overall, Northamptonshire businesses are performing strongly. Two thirds of the top 100 are on a real growth curve which bodes extremely well for the future. Whilst undoubtedly further uncertainty lies ahead as we negotiate our exit from the EU and the full impact of currency revaluation will not be seen until next year’s report, the county’s businesses have a solid foundation upon which to build.”

The findings were presented at Northampton Saints Rugby Club and this year included a panel discussion between Guy Schanschieff founder of Bambino Mio, Roz Bird from Silverstone Park and Debbie Foster from Faccenda Foods.

For a full copy of the Northamptonshire Limited report, please contact eve.moore@uk.gt.com.

Back to Blog

Blog

User experience and creativity - the art of the possible

Klood Digital is holding another of its popular Klood Bytes events on Thursday 15th June at 6.30pm.

This free-to-attend event is ideal for small business owners and marketers, and will be hosted at Klood’s bespoke on-site Academy over drinks and canapés.

Guests will be provided with digital insight and skills needed to optimise your site’s user experience to ensure visitors are more likely to complete your desired goals, whether that’s to purchase a product, make an enquiry or simply sign up to a newsletter.

Topics covered on the night will be:

User Experience - taking users from A to B as intuitively as possible
Luke Brason, Klood Digital’s Head of Design and Development, will focus on what UX is, why you should care about it and some essential UX tools and techniques

The Impact of Creativity on Decision Making
David Sweeney, Creative Director at Grass Roots, will look at how creativity and idea generation impacts on the decision making process.

Spaces are limited, so to find out more and book a place for the event, please visit https://kloodbytes3.eventbrite.com

Back to Blog

Blog

Continuum - Part 1

See the different sectors using our fully managed portable internet service, Continuum, and read how we’ve enhanced our award-winning offering, bonding 10 mobile connections to ensure high-speed, consistent connectivity!

Using 4G and SDN technologies, coupled with a high capacity core network, we are delivering ultra-fast internet of up to 800Mbps for businesses unable to access fixed-line infrastructure.

Now, our platform allows the bonding of up to 10 lines of aggregated 4G connectivity, a doubling of capability. The move has been driven by customer demand for connectivity in a number of marginal signal areas, where multiple cellular connections are needed to guarantee consistent, high quality internet.

By bonding several lines of mobile connectivity to create a single IP connection, business networks are protected against the impact of a service provider outage which ensures Quality of Service and User Experience.

Delivered as a ruggedised, plug and play ‘office in a box’ product, Continuum allows businesses to connect to enterprise grade internet in a matter of days when, due to circumstances beyond their control, their usual internet connectivity fails to deliver.

Both SMEs and multinational corporations alike depend on Continuum for high-speed, portable and quick to deploy internet solutions. Our customer base spans a wide range of industries including manufacturing, construction, education, distribution, automotive, public sector, offices and events.

Here are some examples of the situations in which Continuum is being used and some of our clients feedback!

RETAIL AND MANUFACTURING

Continuum has clocked up some mileage being delivered to retailers and manufacturers across Europe.

“Comms365 Continuum is a very reliable and robust solution in the absence of a fixed-line connection,” comments Tim Ager, IT Director at award winning hair detangling brand Tangle Teezer. “Continuum got us out of a big hole. It meant that we could continue to operate immediately, with the solution being implemented within a day; proving extremely valuable to our business.”

CONSTRUCTION

Continuum units in 3 or 5 bond configuration are often used as primary connectivity for building sites and are then re-deployed to other sites.

“We needed a solution that would work effectively in different environments,” comments Graeme Cross, Business Systems Director at leading utility service provider, Morrison Utility Services. “Comms365 was chosen due to its ability to interpret the needs of the business and turn them into practical services.”

To speak to our team about Continuum and how it can help your business, contact us 01234 865880 or via email at sales@comms365.com.

Keep a look out for our second blog on Continuum, where we highlight how it is supporting businesses within managed office spaces and at events. We also provide details of our rental services!

Back to Blog

Blog

Last chance to make a splash at the Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 25th June!

In a few weeks’ time Willen Lake in Milton Keynes will reverberate to the sound of beating drums and there is still time to get your team together and join in the fun!

The Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival celebrates its 16th anniversary on Sunday 25th June and around half the teams that take part each year are new - so why not join them on the start line next month? The 2017 event promises to be extra special as it will be one of numerous events happening across the region to help Milton Keynes celebrate its 50th birthday.

As Festival Charity, Age UK Milton Keynes is urging every team to help reduce loneliness and isolation among older people by raising vital funds for them. The local charity has been encouraged by the speed at which the 10 Gold and Silver entry packages sold out this year, but they need to raise £15,000 from sponsorship and donations. Every penny raised supports the crucial services Age UK Milton Keynes provides.

Action Express, Blum UK, BSH Home Appliances, Calverton Finance, FibreFab Ltd, SMC Pneumatics, Topdril, AC Flooring, De Vere Horwood Estate and PJ Care have all opted for the enhanced entry packages and will be joined by over 30 standard crews who have already booked their place on the start line.

Finding the right name for your crew is essential – Lohmann Technologies have plumped for “LOH Mann Left Behind”, whilst Forticrete Ltd’s two teams are “Fortiover” and “Fortiunder”. Unsurprisingly “Landmark Whole Sailors” belong to Landmark Wholesale.

The dragon boats, qualified helms and all racing equipment are provided by organisers Gable Events and each crew is guaranteed a minimum of three races. No previous experience is needed to take part in the dragon boat racing, just plenty of team spirit and enthusiasm. Medals and trophies for the top three crews, top mixed crew and the ‘best dressed’ crew are up for grabs. The top fundraising crew will also receive a fabulous £350 voucher towards a delicious celebratory meal at Zen Garden Oriental Buffet restaurant in Milton Keynes – a great incentive.

As well as the dragon boat racing, crews and their families will be able to enjoy a whole variety of bankside entertainment including a funfair, inflatables, food stalls - and even a
special flypast by a Dakota aircraft, one of the most iconic aircraft from military history.

Back to Blog

Blog

Survival Spanish - at the hotel

En el hotel

Short breaks, holidays and business trips might take you to visit hotels in Spanish-speaking countries. Our short guide will help you learn useful phrases to communicate needs and enquiries with Spanish-speaking staff.

With the help of our recommended video this week, you will learn how to ask for room availability, types of rooms, breakfast hours, hotel amenities and locations. You can check your progress by completing the online practice we have selected for you in our blog with activities that include a question-answer task similar to the conversations carried out in the video. Copy the following link on your browser to access the tutorial directly:

http://www.mkspanish.com/blog/nivel-a1-en-el-hotel-video-actividad.html

Back to Blog

Blog

15% OFF our 6-week course Spanish for tourism

Back to Blog

Blog

Superfast Broadband - a shot in the arm for firm

A business which operates within the tattoo and piercing industry has received a shot in the arm courtesy of the introduction of business grade broadband which has transformed the way it operates.

MDS Medical, based in Weldon North Industrial Estate, Corby, supplies a wide range of autoclaves and sterilisation equipment to businesses working within dentistry, veterinary, chiropody and tattoo and piercing industries. After years of battling slow internet connections, the Northamptonshire firm has seen its productivity transformed after engaging internet service provider (ISP) WarwickNet to install superfast broadband.

Mandy Grantham, office manager at MDS Medical, said: “Our previous internet service was absolutely diabolical. We were averaging 1MB download speed and we were only able to send two photos at a time by email as the internet service couldn’t cope with anything larger than that.

“As a company conducting a lot of business over email, it was becoming a major issue. Even things such as accessing the Google calendars for our engineers’ appointments could be difficult at times.”

After signing up for an entry-level business broadband service from WarwickNet, the business has flourished on the back of downloads of 40 Mbit/s and 5Mbit/s uploads. Matt Trueman, senior business development manager at WarwickNet, said: “MDS Medical is a company which relies heavily on its online arm and was really struggling with such a slow internet connection.

“We were happy to help them get up to speed with a broadband service which every business should be able to access in this day and age.”

Thanks to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technologies, businesses on Weldon North, as well as nearby Willowbrook East, Corbygate and Earlstrees Industrial Estate can benefit from broadband download speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s, gigabit leased lines with unlimited data transfer allowance and Voice over Internet (VoIP) solutions.

To find out more about connectivity options across Corby and Northamptonshire, visit www.warwicknet.com.

Back to Blog

Blog

Penalties for late filing of Self Assessment tax returns

Taxpayers that have not yet filed their 2015-16 Self Assessment returns will have already been charged an automatic £100 penalty for late submission.

The penalty applied from 1 February 2017, even if no tax was due or the tax due was paid on time.

However, taxpayers who were meant to file online by 31 January 2017, and have still not filed their 2015-16 return, are reminded that they will face far greater penalties.

A daily penalty of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900 (90 days) is being charged from 1 May 2017.

Further penalties then apply if the return is still outstanding for more than 6 months after the 31 January 2017 filing deadline.

From 1 August 2017, taxpayers will be charged the greater of £300 or 5% of the tax due. If the return is outstanding one year after the filing deadline, further penalties will be charged from 1 February 2018.

HMRC has been taking a more pragmatic approach to penalties in respect of taxpayers that file a late return. However, this only applies to those that have a reasonable excuse for filing a Self Assessment return late and file as soon as practically possible.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs | 04-05-2017

For up to date financial news visit http://keens.co.uk/news/

Back to Blog

Blog

Centenery banner

Back to Blog

Blog

Neves ad

Back to Blog

Blog

Mazars looks to overseas markets with “educational” export event

The Milton Keynes office of international accountancy and advisory firm, Mazars, partnered with national organisations at a Department of International Trade event which attendees hailed as “very educational”.

The Department of Trade Going Global event took place at MK Dons Stadium inside the Export Hub Truck, which converts into a seminar room.

David Sayers spoke for Mazars on international tax and establishing a business abroad - particularly focusing on the Chinese market. David said: “These are interesting times for UK exporters, with the challenges and opportunities brought forward by Brexit foremost in most business owners’ minds.

“Many local businesses are already working in international markets or working on their strategy to grow their business, but there is the potential to achieve more, for both B2B and B2C.

“The Going Global event was essential for examining what exporters want in a post-Brexit world, and I was delighted that we could talk to so many local businesses. I’d urge any other business owners looking towards the export market who couldn’t make this event to get in touch to discuss opportunities overseas.”

The event was hosted by The Department for International Trade (DIT) South East, together with Mazars, the China-Britain Business Council and Barclays who arranged a high quality, interactive event to help exporters understand how their business can achieve sustainable growth through exporting and finding new markets.

David added: “Feedback throughout the day was very positive, with attendees telling me ‘I will be able to do some new thinking based on what I have heard today,’ while another said the event ‘certainly provided some good areas to focus on’.”

Back to Blog

Blog

Our members getting involved

Back to Blog

Blog

Founder of C&C Empathy Training Carolyn nominated for TED talk by customer

The Founder of C&C Empathy Training Carolyn Cleveland has been nominated to do a TED talk by a customer Keir Gill, Senior Manager, Compliance and Improvement, Arts Council England, who originally saw Carolyn present at a Public Sector Conference in London last September, talking about the role of empathy in complaints, difficult conversations and well-being. He was so taken aback by the emotive and insightful way that Carolyn engaged the audience, that he booked her for a full days training at the Arts Council where he worked and the involved the Big Lottery Fund, Sports Council and Heritage Fund.

Keir had already been kind enough to provide a testimonial for Carolyn about her presentation and subsequent training….

Throughout a twenty year career in handling difficult conversations I have never felt as inspired as I did hearing Carolyn speak. Her ability to create an environment where we can fully understand the power of empathy and its effects on both us and our service users is both exceptional and important in equal measure. The perspective, understanding and skills I have gained from this training will be used to enhance our organisational approach to handling difficult conversations and improve how we respond to the emotional needs of our users. Carolyn’s training combines significant professional and academic expertise with a truly delightful personality set against the backdrop of heart breaking tragedy. I feel confident in saying that we can all learn something deeply important from her both professionally and personally. I am incredibly grateful to have crossed her path.
Keir has decided not to stop there though and has just nominated Carolyn for TED talks.

Says Carolyn….“I could not feel more honoured. My presentations and training comes from one of the most challenging and difficult times of my life and to be nominated by Keir is a huge honour”.

To find out more about Carolyn’s training and speaking roles see C&C Empathy Training website www.empathytrainingltd.co.uk
carolyn@cc-et.co.uk

Back to Blog

Blog

Our Centenary

Back to Blog

Blog

Product Spotlight: Chamber Stationery

Back to Blog

Blog

Woodway UK identified in London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’

Woodway UK has been identified as one of London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSEG) 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. The report is a celebration of the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

To be included in the list, companies needed to show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years, significantly outperforming their industry peers. More detail on the methodology can be found in the report online at www.1000companies.com.

Woodway UK have grown over nearly 40 years from selling a range of packaging materials to local businesses, to supplying major high street retailers, ecommerce retailers and third party logistics companies with all their packaging requirements.

Jason Inwood, Managing Director, Woodway UK: “This is the third year Woodway UK have been recognised by the LSEG and we are delighted to have been selected again as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.

“In 2014 we were selected as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain and last year as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe, so to receive this recognition again, highlights the continued success Woodway have had through our dedicated team.

“We have seen growth year on year and with this we have invested back in the business by employing more staff, developing the skills of existing staff and investing in our products and services to our customers. On 30 December 2016 Woodway UK were acquired by Bunzl plc, the international distribution and outsourcing Group. We view this sale as essential to continue this rate of growth whilst still being able to enhance our customer proposition.

“To be recognised in the prestigious LSEG report is testament to all the hard work of the Woodway Team over the years.”

Xavier Rolet, Chief Executive, London Stock Exchange Group said: “Four years on, LSEG’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ report continues to highlight the dynamic, entrepreneurial and ambitious businesses across the country that are boosting UK productivity, driving economic growth and creating jobs.

“The strength and diversity of these companies are readily apparent with a broad mix of UK regions and sectors represented. These companies are the very heart of an ‘anti-fragile’ economy: more robust; more flexible and less prone to boom and bust. We must ensure we continue doing all we can to support high growth potential businesses like these.

“London Stock Exchange Group is fully committed to supporting and implementing initiatives which improve access to and cut the cost of finance for growing companies. We welcome the Government’s focus on supporting SMEs as part of its Industrial Strategy and await the outcome of its review into long-term patient capital.”

The Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “I want to congratulate the 1000 companies from across the UK featured in London Stock Exchange Group’s pioneering 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report. Championing high growth innovative SMEs is crucial for the continued success of the UK economy and a country that works for everyone. We are committed to ensuring that companies of all sizes can access finance to grow, scale-up and create high quality well-paid jobs across the country.”

A full searchable database of all of the companies along with a downloadable pdf of the publication can be found online at www.1000companies.com

Back to Blog

Blog

Our Centenary

Back to Blog

Blog

Chroma and Glide at Clerkenwell Design Week 2017

A unique range, stylish finish and innovative design - ABL’s fantastic Glide Monitor Arm and new Chroma modules will be making its appearance at Clerkenwell Design Week 2017, 23 -25 May, within Flexiforms showroom!

Glide Monitor Arm

The Glide dynamic arm offers a full range of adjustability allowing the user to position their screen at the correct eye level which in return helps reduce strain on their neck and back!

The Glide Monitor arm is available in five energetic colours including white, white/silver, black, black with blue inserts and finally black with green inserts. The innovative design allows the end user to mount the arm onto their desk effortlessly, thereby freeing up more space! Not only can the arm hold between 1.8kg and 9kg, but can also be positioned in a variety of different heights between 170mm and 430mm. Compact. Curved. Colourful.

Chroma

A sleek new power module featuring colour, new clamping mechanisms and rapid smart charge makes the Chroma power module stand out from the crowd! The new range of power modules developed from the DTK range offers power when you need it via its smart charge and power socket ports.

Additionally Chroma, supplied with data and media connections allows the end user to connect a variety of devices easily. Each and every one of ABL’s power modules are also equipped with a spare fuse, making their products unique and bespoke!

Glide and Chroma will be making their appearance within Flexiforms showroom at Clerkenwell Design Week, 23-25 May, where a fantastic range of new products will be revealed, and talks and demonstrations will take place via virtual reality experience. There is also a chance to win some fantastic prizes including a luxury hamper, cases of wine and an incredible driving experience.

Flexiform invest back into the local community

This year Flexiform’s Clerkenwell Design event is in support of Kirkwood Hospice. They have a number of fun games over the three days with some unique prizes. Win a super car experience, a GB cycle team signed Asgard bike shed, meals at Browns restaurants, cases of wine, an Orangebox Do chair, a home office desk and more.

Check out http://www.flexiform.co.uk/cdw17 for more information.

Follow us on Twitter for updates: @ABL_UK. We look forward to seeing you at Clerkenwell Design Week!

Back to Blog

Blog

Replacement Domestic Item Relief

The wear and tear allowance that allowed landlords to reduce the tax they paid on furnished property lets was withdrawn at the end of the 2015-16 tax year.

The 10% deduction was available to landlords regardless of whether furnishings in their property were replaced or not.

The wear and tear allowance was replaced by a new relief known as the Replacement Domestic Item Relief from April 2016. The new relief is restricted to claims for tax relief when they actually replace furniture, furnishings, appliances and kitchenware.

The allowance is available for the cost of domestic items such as movable furniture, household appliances, kitchenware and furnishings such as curtains and carpets.

The amount of the deduction is based on:

  • The cost of the new replacement item, limited to the cost of an equivalent item if it represents an improvement on the old item (beyond the reasonable modern equivalent); plus
  • The incidental costs of disposing of the old item or acquiring the replacement; less any amounts received on disposal of the old item.
  • The rules do not apply to: furnished holiday lettings as capital allowances continue to be available or to the Rent a Room scheme.

HMRC’s guidance has recently been updated.


Source: HM Revenue & Customs | 11-05-2017

For up to date financial news visit http://keens.co.uk/news/

Back to Blog

Blog

Central Foods proud to announce it’s a ‘no trans fats’ zone

Frozen food distributor Central Foods has confirmed it’s a ‘trans fats free’ zone.

“This is great news for all of our customers, and for their customers too,” said Central Foods managing director Gordon Lauder.

“The issue of trans fatty acids, or artificial trans fats, has been high on the health agenda in recent years after links to heart disease and strokes. We’ve carried out a very detailed check of more than 400 products that we supply to wholesalers and food service operators, and we are proud that none of the products we supply has trans fatty acids as an ingredient.

“As a leading frozen food distributor, Central Foods prides itself on offering high quality products, working in partnership with the best food manufacturers, and this news illustrates our commitment to excellence.”

The US Food and Drug Administration is banning trans fatty acids from 18th June 2018, and last year, the EU adopted a resolution to start an assessment of the impact trans fatty acids have on public health and to devise policies after an earlier preliminary report by the European Commission suggested that setting a legal limit for industrial trans fats content in foods would be the most effective measure in terms of public health and consumer protection.

New York, which banned trans fatty acids in restaurant food in 2007, has seen a 6% drop in hospital admissions for heart attacks and strokes compared with counties without bans, according to a study by Yale University.

Trans fatty acids, known as hydrogenated fat, can be used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods, commonly to make them more solid.

In recent years, many manufacturers have voluntarily removed trans fats from their products through reformulation. Offering a one-stop shop to the foodservice sector, Central Foods sources products from around the world and the UK, supplying more than 400 different lines, ranging from meat, bakery items and canapés through to buffet products, desserts and puddings.

The Northamptonshire-based business is one of the UK’s leading frozen food distributors, supplying more than 220 independent wholesalers, as well as larger national and regional wholesalers. It also supplies to foodservice caterers across the entire foodservice industry, including pubs, hotels, restaurants, staff canteens, schools, hospitals, coffee shops, football grounds and universities.

Back to Blog

Blog

The Perfect Customer Avatar – Nail Who We’re Connecting With

I’ve customer avatar on the brain and I look over a few of his blog posts and I say:

So - who’s your target audience, who do you want to connect with on his blog, what’s your perfect reader look like?

The answer I get is - ” anybody who wants to learn about weight loss!”

And therein lies the problem…

“If you’re not marketing to somebody you’re marketing to nobody! “

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about customer avatars, it’s maybe something you haven’t heard of before, since understanding the concepts, I can see how it is completely essential to create your avatar, and not write content for everyone if you want to succeed online.

I often referred to the article ‘Avatar Marketing: Sell to Carol’ over on a smart bear, http://blog.asmartbear.com/avatar-marketing-sell-to-carol.html
where Jason Cohen gives a good overview of the avatar and discusses why some companies often cast a net that’s far too wide to catch the actual fish they’re after.

I’ve paraphrased a snippet from that awesome post. I it sums up why you’re bound to make more sales if you decide to sell your products to Carol…

Carol is literally custom-built to be blown away by your product

Now the question is: What would a website, Google Ad or blog post be like so that Carol would immediately understand that you are what she’s looking for?

Remember, you get only 3 seconds to grab her attention and another 5-10 to convince her that your product is better than sliced bread!

Can you make it clear in a picture?
Maybe a before - after she can relate to?
Will describe 3 features make it plain?
Will pointing out your USP make her weep for joy?
Can you ask a provocative question, something she identifies with?
Is there a phrase shed laugh out loud at because that’s so true?

You only get a few seconds, so a paragraph is too long….

You have to communicate in a picture and a few words. The good news is you only have Carol to please, and you know Carol. You even know she’ll genuinely be thrilled to find you ...

What does an avatar look like?

When you first begin to the concept making an avatar, they may look something like the first okay-ish example (a) below. You may think that casting a larger net to catch a wider audience makes sense, however as Ramit Sethi says, you wouldn’t give the same dating advice to a 24 yr old woman as you would to a 54 yr old woman would you?

If you can’t connect with your readers, if they don’t relate to your message and voice there’s little chance of them getting as far as following a call to action further down the page.

When you completely understand and ‘grasp’ the concept you’ll have a much clearer view of your avatar, something more like avatar (b)- and yep, you’ll probably even name them at this stage too.

This enables you to write posts as if your ideal customer was sitting across the table from you. It lets you use language that is instantly recognizable. You hit it off discussing matters that are uber important to her and most importantly - she trusts you.

When it comes to decisions, she’ll hold your opinion in good regard… as you understand her better than most!

Okay-ish Avatar (a)
The customer avatar is a man, he’s between 30 and 50 years old probably works in an office.He has a decent job with good money.He is married he’s got two children and has a mortgage, and he wants to learn about making money online.


Much better Avatar (b)
Steven is 49, separated from his wife for 6 years and has 2 daughters 11 and 17 yrs old. Jane the 17 yr old is keen to go to Uni next year when finished with her A Levels.

Steve is, however, facing early redundancy at his local graphics design firm. He’s been there 18 years and earns 43K a year. Yet with new pressure from the board, he knows that he’ll soon be replaced with 2 graduates, able to do double the work that he does, for the same money or less!

He hasn’t told his wife of the pending redundancy, they been planning on paying for Uni for Jane for years and he doesn’t want to risk disappointing Jane. Steve is looking at how he can earn extra money on the side online in his last couple of months at work.

Now It’s Time to Connect

Do you think you can talk to Steve in a completely different tone of voice, connecting at all the right places,knowing his personal pain points, and being aware of his particular situation?

You’re damn skippy you can - you can talk and connect 500% better with Steve. That’s what comes from building avatar you can actually relate to, put a face and even a name to.

I got turned on to the idea and the specific concepts by Andre Chaperon, but there are many others that have spread the word long before I cottoned on.

A Few Customer Avatar Evangelists

Marie Forleo

https://youtu.be/9u7ikTjcnKA

I reckon bringing the idea to mainstream marketers was this yummy lady(along with Ramit Sethi). Actually, it was Ramit that brought it, but it’s Maria’s show… right! Anyway - Ramit nailed it when he introduced this:

Paraphrased - How would you sell relationship advice to a 24 yr old woman differently to a 54 yr old woman? They both have very different takes on love and relationships don’t they?

This is from Maria’s Q and A Tuesday where Ramit tackles the question.

“Why is my product/service not selling?”

You really should watch this ‘Sell More” video and I do hope you ‘get it’. It’s less than 12 mins and the niche comment Ramit at the very end is golden!

The key 2 questions are:

1) who are you targeting?

2) who are you not targeting?

Even though we all want to help everyone, it’s not great business practice trying to appeal to everyone in the marketplace. You’re trying to appeal to the “right” people. https://youtu.be/9u7ikTjcnKA

Shae Baxter

has a great post about how to create your ideal customer avatar. “It needs to be specific and focussed.

http://shaebaxter.com/ideal-customer-avatar-attract-new-customers/

You may however find yourself in a niche where you don’t personally know your customer avatar traits as yet. A good way to get to know their pain points and frustrations, identify the language they use and specific terms would be in forums.

Help in creating your ideal customer avatar profile “When creating your customer avatar if you search for your “niche keyword +forum” in Google you’ll be able to connect with people who will help you build ideas for your customer avatar

A common mistake many people make is to create a customer avatar that is too broad and general.”- I couldn’t agree with her more - and isn’t the name Shea awesome!

“Walk in his shoes, see life with his eyes and feel his emotions, write a story as him, not as YOU.”

Shae creates a customer avatar called Lisa. She’s about to go on holiday and these are some thoughts she’ having:

She definitely wants to visit some of the islands in Thailand and spend some time relaxing on the beach. Lisa will be traveling on her own, yet she doesn’t want to spend all of her time sunbathing, and is open to something adventurous.

There is a lot more to Lisa’s story, which when you read, you really do begin to understand who she is and what she’s be looking for whilst on vacation. A smart diving Company or even a beginners fishing expedition may take advantage of writing specifically for a girl like Lisa.

Kate Erickson

http://www.eofire.com/defining-your-avatar/

shares a great easy to understand examples of what a really good avatar looks like. I really like Kate’s dig into the ‘finding your avatar and actually getting into a conversation with them giving really valuable insight. Her post over onwww.eofire.com is great reading.

Talking about EOFire I’m note sure if you know John Dumas but he engaged with his perfect customer avatar in a rather awesome way that you to can use.

In the explainer video below, John walks through the daily routine of that is ideal customer avatar. He even slots in how to make time to get the ideas to inspire them to other things.

In this short video he not only identifies his perfect customer, he offers the perfect solution - his podcasts, he also slips in that there are expert aha moments with ideas on implementation.

Quite brilliant customer avatar video -John Dumas

https://youtu.be/7C3UiQdDrfM

Have you come across marketing to your target avatar before? Do you have an avatar already? Will you build one now?

If you have one already - will you be tweaking it? Take a peek at those links. These ladies also have templates to help you build your own avatar!

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject, so please drop me a line anytime.

https://www.raisingstatus.com/get-in-touch/

Tony B

Back to Blog

Blog

Walking for a good cause

In just two weeks’ time, Janette Weedall, Sales Manager of the Holiday Inn Corby will be doing a charity 100k walk from London to Brighton.

Raising money for Bob Champions Cancer Trust, Janette has been on a strict training regime.

She mentions: “Today I did a 50km training walk ahead of the 100k on Saturday, 27th May.

“It took me 7 hours and 10 minutes! Quite pleased with that. Am I aching? Oh yes, but I am not a quitter!”

There is also a raffle being drawn live on that day by Bob Champion himself when he meets Janette at the half way point at West Sussex. Bob will also walk a couple of miles with Janette from this point.

Prizes include:

1. A half day Land Rover Experience at Rockingham.
2. Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Holiday Inn-Corby for two.
3. Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie in Leicester.
4. 2 x tickets for the opening of the Grand National Day-Aintree Racecourse on Thursday 11th April 2018.
5. A set of Acrylic Nails at Ahora - Uppingham.
6. A set of Gel Nails Ahora - Uppingham.
7. Four Ball Golf at Stapleford Park.
8. A ladies Cut and Blow Dry at Good Hair Days Uppingham.
9. 4 x Tickets for Wind in the Willows Christmas Show at the Corby Cube in December.
10. 2 x tickets to Cheltenham for the showcase event this October.

11. 2 x Gift Vouchers for Aqua Park at Rutland Water to the value of £40 each.

It is £5 per ticket to be paid to the BCCT fundraising page, and there’s an additional 25% if you are a taxpayer at no extra cost to you.

Quote GOOD LUCK JW and you will be entered into the draw. More than one ticket may be purchased.

So go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Janette-Weedall to sponsor Janette for an incredible cause.

Back to Blog

Blog

triad test article

Back to Blog

Blog

CMI: Slow progress for workers’ rights has prompted Conservatives to up the ante

In response to Theresa May’s announcement on new employee rights, Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), argues that slow progress for workers’

rights has prompted the Conservatives to up the ante.

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, said: “We know that giving workers greater job flexibility can help build trust and boost workplace productivity. Allowing people to take time off to work can undoubtedly help those who need to care for family members. And although it is best when employers extend these rights voluntarily, the slow progress of some in this area has clearly prompted the Conservatives to up the ante.

“Rebuilding trust in business and promoting a more responsible capitalism are understandably high on the political agenda. Measures that actively improve the quality of work and boosting workers’ rights will be a key first step in this area.”

Back to Blog

Blog

FREE consultation/online demo: Online Payslip Solution

Back to Blog

Blog

Staff changes at Master Abrasives

We’ve made a few changes in the Master team recently to support our growing business.

Read on to learn about the developments concerning four of our employees here at Master Abrasives!

After working in the marketing department for three years, Abigail Charlton has been appointed Marketing Manager. In this role, she will take full responsibility for developing the company’s marketing strategy and will additionally be responsible for Suzanne Balogun’s day to day activities.

Suzanne Balogun, who returned from maternity leave last year, has moved into a Sales & Marketing Support role. She will now report to the Marketing Manager and continue to carry out proactive sales calls as well as provide marketing support, such as arranging our quarterly MASTER promotions.

We’re pleased to advise that Kiri Silk recently returned from maternity leave and has taken up the new role of Power Tool Service Centre Administrator in our Master Tool Services department. We all wish her well in supporting this growing department!

Jade Cotton has recently joined us permanently in the administration team. Jade was originally brought in on a temporary basis last year to cover Kiri’s maternity leave, so we’re pleased to have her join our team permanently as Office Administrator.

Back to Blog

Blog

C&C Empathy Training ’empowering’ and changing culture

C&C Empathy Training Ltd, held one of their thought-provoking training days A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy, on Friday 12th May, at Stevenage.

The course was attended by NHS Provider Complaints Managers/Staff, Branch Managers for a Private Nursing Provider, CCG Complaints Manager/Staff, NHS Resolve NHSR (previously NHS Litigation), and a CaMHS practitioner.

As company founder as well as facilitator of these sessions, the feedback and impact that the training has on individuals is very significant. As companies, both small and large, strive for a healthy happy workforce and retention, good customer experience and develop a productive and ethical culture, training that challenges thinking through authentic human connection and empathically focused thinking is vital.

Read the full article here:
https://empathyenvoy.com/2017/05/15/cc-empathy-training-empowering-and-changing-culture/

Back to Blog

Blog

Vision 29 helps Ipsos Retail Performance

Ipsos Retail Performance, a retail analytics company, needed two events organising quickly. Whilst discussing the events, Vision 29 was invited to take a fresh look at the full marketing and PR mix.

The Brief
Develop a marketing strategy and plan to build on the company’s strengths and introduce new ways to further enhance market position and improve lead generation. Deliver two exhibitions in the UK and Germany within a 6 week period.

The Solution
Vision 29 created a detailed marketing strategy and plan after a full analysis was carried out of key business areas such a market positioning, competitors, USPs, customers, channels to market and more. It was clear that lead generation, market exposure and brand recognition were key objectives as were introducing effective product lifecycle and management processes and improving employee satisfaction and engagement.

Vision 29 organised two industry events in London and Germany, taking care of all logistics, pre-show, on-site and post-event marketing and training the team on how the get the most out of exhibiting at an industry event. Guidance was provided on lead classification and an effective follow-up process.

Vision 29 introduced a specialist PR partner to manage all PR and social media presence. The main brief to them was to amplify the company’s existing market position through quality thought leadership, impactful press coverage and extensive social media exposure.

Vision 29 created a brief and worked closely with a specialist website design partner to provide a new, responsive website that presented a modern look, design and functionality. SEO was an important factor, as was future-proofing the site.

The Results
360 percentage increase in website visitor numbers over an 11 month period
1318 percentage increase in twitter traffic in a 9 month period
632 percentage increase in LinkedIn traffic in a 3 month period
98 leads from 2 events

“Jo was great, she really kick-started our new approach to marketing and gave us the tools to become self-sustaining in the marketing area going forward. I really enjoyed working with Jo as she always challenged us which has made us better.”
Peter Luff, President, IPSOS Retail Performance

Back to Blog

Blog

Message from National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

Since the global coordinated ransomware attack on thousands of private and public sector organisations across dozens of countries on Friday, there have been no sustained new attacks of that kind. But it is important to understand that the way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks.

This means that as a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale.

Our national focus must therefore be on two lines of defence.

The first is to limit the spread and impact of the attacks that have already occurred. Due to broad government and partner efforts, a variety of tools are now publicly available to help organisations to do this. This guidance can be found on our homepage – ncsc.gov.uk – under the title Protecting Your Organisation From Ransomware: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

We know already that there have been attempts to attack organisations beyond the National Health Service. It is therefore absolutely imperative that any organisation that believes they may be affected, follows and implements this guidance. We have set out two pieces of guidance: one for organisations and one for private individuals and SMEs which can be applicable regardless of the age of the software in question. It will be updated as and when further mitigations become available and we will announce when updates have been made on Twitter (@ncsc) and elsewhere.

Secondly, it is possible that a ransomware attack of this type and on this scale could recur, though we have no specific evidence that this is the case. What is certain is that ransomware attacks are some of the most immediately damaging forms of cyber attack that affects home users, enterprises and governments equally.

It is also the case that there are a number of easy-to-implement defences against ransomware which very considerably reduce the risk of attack and the impact of successful attacks. These simple steps to protect against ransomware are not being applied by either the public or organisations as thoroughly as they should be.

Three simple steps for companies to undertake which are also set out on our website (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware) and can be summarised as follows:

Protecting your organisation from ransomware - NCSC Site

www.ncsc.gov.uk

How does ransomware infect your system? Computers are infected with ransomware via a number of routes. Sometimes users are tricked into running legitimate-looking ...

1. Keep your organisation’s security software patches up to date

2. Use proper anti-virus software services

3. Most importantly for ransomware, back up the data that matters to you, because you can’t be held to ransom for data you hold somewhere else.

Home users and small businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

1. Run Windows Update

2. Make sure your AntiVirus product is up to date and run a scan – If you don’t have one install one of the free trial versions from a reputable vendor

3. If you have not done so before, this is a good time to think about backing important data up – You can’t be held to ransom if you’ve got the data somewhere else.

In the days ahead, the NCSC, working closely with the National Crime Agency in support of their criminal investigation, and with international partners in both other governments and the commercial sector, will continue our round-the-clock effort to get ahead of this threat. We would like to reassure the public that resources from the Government, law enforcement and public and private sector organisation are working together to manage further disruption from the current attack and to increase protection against any further attacks in the coming days. The country’s security and law enforcement agencies are working round the clock to protect the public. Private sector efforts have made a very significant contribution to mitigate the cyber attacks so far and to prevent further disruption.

We will provide further updates as and when appropriate.

Back to Blog

Blog

Message from National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

Since the global coordinated ransomware attack on thousands of private and public sector organisations across dozens of countries on Friday, there have been no sustained new attacks of that kind. But it is important to understand that the way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks.

This means that as a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale.

Our national focus must therefore be on two lines of defence.

The first is to limit the spread and impact of the attacks that have already occurred. Due to broad government and partner efforts, a variety of tools are now publicly available to help organisations to do this. This guidance can be found on our homepage – ncsc.gov.uk – under the title Protecting Your Organisation From Ransomware: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

We know already that there have been attempts to attack organisations beyond the National Health Service. It is therefore absolutely imperative that any organisation that believes they may be affected, follows and implements this guidance. We have set out two pieces of guidance: one for organisations and one for private individuals and SMEs which can be applicable regardless of the age of the software in question. It will be updated as and when further mitigations become available and we will announce when updates have been made on Twitter (@ncsc) and elsewhere.

Secondly, it is possible that a ransomware attack of this type and on this scale could recur, though we have no specific evidence that this is the case. What is certain is that ransomware attacks are some of the most immediately damaging forms of cyber attack that affects home users, enterprises and governments equally.

It is also the case that there are a number of easy-to-implement defences against ransomware which very considerably reduce the risk of attack and the impact of successful attacks. These simple steps to protect against ransomware are not being applied by either the public or organisations as thoroughly as they should be.

Three simple steps for companies to undertake which are also set out on our website (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware) and can be summarised as follows:

Protecting your organisation from ransomware - NCSC Site

www.ncsc.gov.uk

How does ransomware infect your system? Computers are infected with ransomware via a number of routes. Sometimes users are tricked into running legitimate-looking ...

1. Keep your organisation’s security software patches up to date

2. Use proper anti-virus software services

3. Most importantly for ransomware, back up the data that matters to you, because you can’t be held to ransom for data you hold somewhere else.

Home users and small businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

1. Run Windows Update

2. Make sure your AntiVirus product is up to date and run a scan – If you don’t have one install one of the free trial versions from a reputable vendor

3. If you have not done so before, this is a good time to think about backing important data up – You can’t be held to ransom if you’ve got the data somewhere else.

In the days ahead, the NCSC, working closely with the National Crime Agency in support of their criminal investigation, and with international partners in both other governments and the commercial sector, will continue our round-the-clock effort to get ahead of this threat. We would like to reassure the public that resources from the Government, law enforcement and public and private sector organisation are working together to manage further disruption from the current attack and to increase protection against any further attacks in the coming days. The country’s security and law enforcement agencies are working round the clock to protect the public. Private sector efforts have made a very significant contribution to mitigate the cyber attacks so far and to prevent further disruption.

We will provide further updates as and when appropriate.

Back to Blog

Blog

Training Young People to Achieve Real Outcomes

When choosing the next steps for a young person’s development what key factors should be at the foremost of our mind? Ofsted rating, history, ethics, ethos, success rates, satisfaction results, enjoyment and progression opportunities?

In the coming weeks, those in years 11, 12 and 13 will be making the final decisions about the next stage in their life, where they will be studying and how the next phase of learning will impact on their career development.

NITAL Training and Development is a not for profit specialist technical, engineering and manufacturing training provider. Established in 1969 NITAL have been responsible for training thousands of individuals within the engineering and manufacturing sectors across Northamptonshire and continue to do so.

Following an Ofsted inspection in December 2016 NITAL maintained their Good rating and were encouraged to focus on the continued development to achieve an Outstanding grade. Running alongside a strong Ofsted inspection NITAL are proud of high achievement rates in both apprenticeships and full time programmes which are well above local and national standards.

The quality of learning at NITAL remains an absolute priority and is achieved in a number of ways, specifically the engagement with our learners. NITAL are able to achieve maximum contact time with our learners due to smaller groups and additionally all work based apprentices are supported with training and assessment every 4 to 6 weeks at their organisations.

It is essential to maintain regular contact with our learners and ensure strong pastoral guidance in conjunction with thorough assessment, progress tracking and training delivery. This is reflected within our learner satisfaction rating of 94.2% the highest in the County http://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fe-choices-performance-indicators

NITAL have very strong links with employers across Northamptonshire and support the development of apprenticeship opportunities. In addition to the apprenticeship opportunities, there are places available on our Level 2 engineering full time programme which runs for 26 weeks and incorporates work experience within a suitable engineering and manufacturing environment.

Significantly of those who completed the full time programme, 82% secured an apprenticeship and following support, advice and guidance from NITAL, 18% chose to follow a different pathway.

Learners are always encouraged to achieve their potential and there are opportunities to participate in the World Skills events competing against other apprentices across the UK, possibly representing the UK at the European Skills Championships and also World Skills Championships as our medal winning Apprentice’s have in the past.

We also encourage personal development and wellbeing through weekly sporting activities, raising money for local charities and the possibility of a residential outdoor pursuits team building trip.

To apply for an apprenticeship, full time programme, find out more or book a place at the next open evening on 31st May 2017; or call us on 01536 408188; or email: info@nitaltrainme.org.uk. Website www.nital.co.uk

Back to Blog

Blog

Bhangals is appointed QS for £2m Sikh temple in Northampton

We’re pleased to be the Quantity Surveyor on a new £2 million Sikh temple.

The Sikh temple in St James Mill Road, Northampton, will replace the existing building on St Georges Street and will include a gym, community centre and 120 parking spaces.

It’s a fantastic project for Northampton. Not only will it create jobs, revenue for local construction firms, but more importantly, it will provide much needed community services for a range of ages and community groups.

We are currently at the tendering stage and construction is set to get underway in June 2017.

The project is due for completion in early 2019.

Back to Blog

Blog

Milton Keynes Draft Economic Development Strategy – share your views

Following a period of engagement with representatives from business, education and the community and voluntary sector, the draft Economic Development Strategy 2017-2027 is out for public consultation. We now need your views.

The Economic Development Strategy seeks to build on the current economic success of MK, to capitalise on potential future opportunities and to address the challenges the city faces. The aim of the strategy is to secure strong and inclusive growth which benefits businesses and residents, and to sustain the reputation of MK as a prosperous, innovative and culturally vibrant place.

It outlines a number of actions and activities based on four key priorities:

Brand – embedding a brand that makes MK a special place with the foundations to build upon MK’s environment, leisure and cultural strengths

Connections – working in local, regional, national and international partnerships to advocate for the city and secure physical and digital infrastructure and other investment to support inclusive growth

Enterprise – closer engagement with business and ensuring MK continues to be a place where businesses prosper and grow

Skills – ensuring residents and businesses can gain the skills they require to create a prosperous city

The consultation will be open until Friday 09 June 2017. The Economic Development Strategy will direct the Council’s approach to economic development in Milton Keynes over the next 10 years.

It is vital that it reflects the needs and aspirations of our businesses and residents and identifies the most appropriate and effective actions and activities.

We would welcome your thoughts and comments. The draft Economic Development Strategy can be found at https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/consultations/410

To comment or for further information, please email Donna Wilkinson, Economic Development Manager at: donna.wilkinson@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Back to Blog

Blog

2017 calendar of events

Every Monday throughout the month of May - Quiz Night
The Barge Inn, MK15 0AE. 8pm

For £1.00 a head, you can take part in this wonderful quiz for a chance to win both kudos and prizes, whilst supporting our wonderful charity!

Every Monday throughout the month of June - Quiz Night
The Slug & Lettuce, MK9 3PU, 8pm

Think you can beat your friends with your general knowledge?
Every Monday in June the Slug and Lettuce MK will be hosting a quiz night in aid of Milton Keynes Hospital Charity.
£2pp.

16 June Lions Club Golf Day
Beadlow Manor Golf Club, SG17 5PH, 1pm

18 holes, a two course meal and a prize presentation. All in aid of charity.
£40pp - 4 to a team

25 June Dragon Boat Race
Willen Lake, MK15 0DS

Up to 16 people paddle each 40 foot boat with a drummer at the front beating time and a helm at the tail steering a straight course. No previous experience is required, just plenty of team spirit!
£55 joining fee + sponsorship

8 July Newport Pagnell Carnival
Riverside Meadow, MK16 9DA, 12pm-6pm

The annual carnival will be full of over 50 stalls, with Milton Keynes Hospital Charity being one of them.

2 August MK Play Day
Campbell Park

A fantastic family day with lots of exciting activities to get involved with. Milton Keynes Hospital Charity will have their own stall. So do pop by and say hello!

15 September Afternoon Tea
Woburn Sculpture Gallery, 2pm

Join us at the home of afternoon tea for an afternoon of decadence.
£35pp, tables of 10 available

21— 25 September Extra Mile Challenge
Brittany, France

This cycle ride covers around 500 miles for teams of 4, riding in relay through beautiful countryside on the European continent. The ride takes place over a couple of days in September with each rider typically covering 45 - 50 miles per day in 4 or 5 stages.
£250pp + sponsorship

31 October Halloween Dress Down Day
MK Wide

We are encouraging organisations to come to work dressed in their most spooky Halloween attire.
£1 entry

24 November Big Quizmass Party

Put your team to the test at our Quizmass Party.
More details coming soon!

7 December Christmas Jumper Day

Raise funds for the hospital charity. Pay £1 and wear your christmas jumper to work! Tweet and facebook us your photos - there’s a prize for the whackiest jumper!

For more information, tickets to events or volunteering opportunities, please email fundraising@mkuh.nhs.uk or call 01908 997316

Back to Blog

Blog

Work Begins on Rooftop Family Space

The development to convert a redundant rooftop space into a unique and inspiring outside learning environment in Northampton town centre has started on site.

In 2013, using GSSArchitecture’s innovative design, Stirling House was transformed from unoccupied three storey office accommodation into a contemporary learning environment for Abington Vale Primary School. The development has provided a range of flexible teaching facilities and increased the opportunity for a creative curriculum, which will be further enhanced by the new rooftop space.

The new rooftop conversion will allow local groups from the arts, drama, music, sports and the environment, working both independently and collaboratively, to support the social, emotional and personal development of children and families in Northampton.

Back to Blog

World Pay Logo