Election candidates quizzed in debate

Business leaders from West and North Yorkshire have taken part in a ‘Question Time’ election debate.

Candidates from five political parties pitched to members of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce at a ‘hustings’ event ahead of the General Election on 7 May.  The debate was also joined by the presidents of Bradford and Leeds Chambers, both part of the regional Chamber group.

Speakers were asked to focus on what they and their parties can do for business growth and economic development within the region; the focus was on the business policies contained in party manifestos.  The event was chaired by BBC Yorkshire’s Political Editor, Len Tingle.

Paul Mackie, President of Bradford Chamber, said afterwards: “This was an event to try and drill down into the policies the parties would implement, if elected, to support businesses in Yorkshire.  I think the jury’s still out on which party, overall, business should vote for.  The parties – and the next government – should avoid headline-chasing for political point-scoring and concentrate on the long-term stability of the economy.  That can be assisted through sound policies such as a simple tax system, boosting international trade, supporting young people into work, and letting the market work better.”

Leeds President Gerald Jennings added: “All the speakers, even the Green candidate – often portrayed as anti-business – were able to demonstrate some support for business, but nobody was able to deliver a knock-out punch or even change the minds of those present on who they planned to vote for.  We stressed to the candidates that businesses want to see certainty, clarity and consistency from government , and that is now all up in the air in this election campaign.  That’s a worry for business.  However, the debate was lively and the candidates left better informed about business than when they arrived due to some good points made from the floor.”

Issues raised during the debate included reform of the European Union, productivity and wealth creation, how to tackle late payment to small firms, the UK’s prospects under a Labour-SNP pact, the Coalition’s record and Britain’s debt crisis.

The event took place at Yorkshire Building Society’s Broadgate premises in Leeds.  The candidates were:

Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Elmet & Rothwell)

Rob Butler (UKIP, Huddersfield)

Shan Oakes (Green, Harrogate & Knareborough)

Steve Clapcote (Labour, Shipley)

George Grant (Conservative, Bradford West)

Speaker Profiles & Manifesto Commitments here

President comments on Hustings event

Housing group launches new apprentices search

Incommunities is this week launching its 2015 recruitment drive to find seven talented apprentices.

The trainee vacancies cover joinery, electrical, gas plumbing, plastering and bricklaying.

The apprentice opportunities are open to anyone aged 16 and over who is looking to build a construction career with one of the north’s leading social housing providers.

Incommunities offers a high quality structured training programme which combines college-based learning with on the job training working alongside Incommunities’ experienced trades people.

To make an online application go to: www.incommunities.co.uk and click ‘home page’ banner.

Delroy Beverley, Director of Incommunities – Propertysolutions, is responsible for managing Incommunities building and construction division and the group’s apprenticeship programme and said: “We are delighted to be launching our 2015 recruitment drive.

“Everyone involved in the programme is committed to investing in a diverse and highly skilled workforce and encouraging all our apprentices – from school leavers to people looking to take a new career path – to fulfil their potential.

“We are proud of our inclusive approach to recruiting and are keen to attract applications from under-represented groups and women who are looking to build life changing careers.

“In return we offer a rewarding training programme which leads to a minimum NVQ level 3 trade qualifications.”

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group Chief Executive, said: “We have a strong track record of investing in apprenticeships and see this form of training as extremely important to building a skilled and inclusive workforce.

“Over the last 12 years we have been at the forefront of the drive to promote apprenticeships and successfully recruited and trained over 100 trainees to build successful careers.

“If you think you have what it takes to join our 2015 intake then get in touch now.”

For any more information on apprenticeship opportunities with Incommunities ring 01274 257051.The closing date for online applications is Sunday, 31st May 2015.

GDP estimate understates true momentum

  •  GDP growth in Q1 2015 was 0.3%, down from 0.6% in Q4 2014
  • Services output rose by 0.5% in Q1, while construction fell by 1.6% and production eased by 0.1%
  • GDP in Q1 2015 was 2.4% higher than a year earlier, and 4.0% higher than the pre-recession peak in 2008

Commenting on the GDP figures for Q1 2015, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“Although we expected a slowdown in GDP growth, following weak construction and production figures, the scale of the decline estimated by the ONS understates the true momentum in the economy. It is likely that the services sector rose by more than 0.5% – in particular we are sceptical that business and financial services output was broadly flat in the quarter. It would not be surprising if this estimate was upgraded in due course.

“Despite these disappointing figures, economic output is almost 2.5% higher than a year earlier and 4.0% larger than before the recession. However, there is no room for complacency. The incoming government must work to foster the growth aspirations of businesses, helping the UK economy achieve sustained growth.”

David Bharier, BCC Business Insight Manager said:

“The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) has historically been an accurate indicator of future movements in GDP growth. In Q1 2015, the QES manufacturing sales index anticipated the slowdown in the GDP growth rate. However, not at the size of today’s estimate by the ONS.

“The manufacturing sales balance fell from +36% in Q4 2014 to +30% in Q1 2015, while GDP growth fell from 0.6% to 0.3% in the same timeframe. Similarly, the service sector sales balance eased by four points to +34% in Q1 2015, but still remained higher than the manufacturing sales index.”

The Harris Partnership recognised for architectural excellence

Wakefield head quartered architects, The Harris Partnership, have won a prestigious RIBA Yorkshire Award for architectural excellence’ from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The awards, which recognise outstanding new Yorkshire buildings, was made for the firm’s designs for The Blackburn Wing; a wing shaped conference-events venue suspended in the woodland canopy on the listed Bowcliffe Hall estate near Wetherby where it serves as the centerpiece of a master planning and restoration scheme by estate owners the Bayford Group.

In a double-celebration at the prestigious awards ceremony held last Thursday 23 April 2015, the Bayford Group CEO, Jonathan Turner, won the RIBA Yorkshire Client of the Year Award in recognition of his vision and passionate commitment to making the Blackburn Wing a reality.

Emma England, Director for RIBA Yorkshire and 2015 Awards Lay Assessor said:

‘There’s a huge diversity in the range of award winners this year, from the first direct arena in Leeds, a boutique tree top events space (The Blackburn Wing) and two stunning private houses, showing that good architecture is possible at many different scales.  I’m especially proud that six out of the eight winners are architects from the Yorkshire region.’

The Blackburn Wing will now be considered for a highly-coveted RIBA National Award to be announced on Thursday 19 June and has also been nominated in the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors 2015 building awards.

LEP hubs can help you find an apprentice

If you’re a small or medium-sized business based in Leeds City Region, the LEP Apprenticeship Hubs and Apprenticeship Training Agencies provide independent and impartial support free of charge.

Located in each local authority area within the Leeds City Region, they respond to the needs of local businesses, helping companies to understand Apprenticeships and find the right recruits.

Visit their website for further details.

#Yes2Apprenticeships

Finance Yorkshire backed business set for record growth

A £430,000 funding package from Finance Yorkshire has helped boost the fortunes of West Yorkshire business The Rosehill Polymers Group.

The company is at the forefront of innovative polymer technology with its products and systems deployed across many global industries including oil and gas, rail, and sports and safety surfacing.

Its leading-edge technology featured in public areas around the Olympic Park at Stratford, London and at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Based in Sowerby Bridge and employing almost 100 people, projected sales for Rosehill Polymers for 2015 will be in excess of £30 million.

Finance Yorkshire has provided two Business Loans to the company totalling £430,000 which have been invested in new plant and machinery and contributed towards the improved efficiency and optimisation of Rosehill’s production lines at its headquarters.

Group Managing Director Alex Celik said: “The investments from Finance Yorkshire have helped us not only improve the efficiency of our production line but enabled us to look at new ways of producing some of our materials.

“The business is doing extremely well and this will be a record year for us – in 2005 the business was at £6m turnover and for 2015 our projected turnover will be in excess of £30m.

This is a result of entering more and more new markets and deploying our technology in new territories.”

More than 50 per cent of Rosehill’s business is international trade with markets in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe.

Finance Yorkshire Investment Manager Jonathan Craig said: “Over the last two years Rosehill Polymers has grown its business exponentially and is thriving as it continues to innovate and invest in research and development. It is a great example of the type of business Finance Yorkshire supports in its ambition to achieve year-on-year growth and success.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, UK Government and match funding from the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Finance Yorkshire, please visit www.finance-yorkshire.com  or call 0300 030 6060.

Cream of the Crop as West Yorkshire Business Sows Seeds for Growth

Easymoss Products Expands with Funding from Barclays

Barclays Business, the small business arm of the global financial services provider today announced backing for West Yorkshire based business Easymoss Products.

Easymoss products was established in 1994 by entrepreneur Roger Jackson who saw a gap in the market for hanging basket liners. The business is based at Hoyle Head Mills, Earlsheaton, Dewsbury, and now produces and supplies the liners wholesale to garden centres across the UK.

New funding from Barclays has enabled them to diversify and package products for a third party and it has also provided a stable platform for them to review their finances and increase funding to support new sales lines and explore potential new markets.

Roger Jackson, owner of Easymoss Products said: “Barclays funding and advice has enabled us to weather the recent economic downturn, restructure our finances and expand with new sales lines and third party packaging. With Barclays help, we’ve had a complete economic review to see how we can operate more effectively and free up cashflow. It’s taken a lot of hard work on all sides but we have fully restructured our finances and we’re now confident we have good processes in place to secure the future of the business for the next generation.”

Easymoss Products has increased its staff by four recently to now employs fourteen locally and has an annual turnover in excess of £500k.

Keith Waddington, Business Banking Manager at Barclays said, “It’s been a challenging environment for many businesses and it’s been very rewarding seeing Roger progress his new strategy plans. For any business to operate a diversified business successfully for twenty years is a fantastic achievement and great that we can support our longstanding customers through the good and tough times.”

Devolution backed by businesses

A new survey from the British Chambers of Commerce shows that businesses based in England want more decisions taken in town halls – rather than Whitehall.

The results from than 1,300 firms show that 42% believe greater devolution to their local area would have a positive impact on their business; a quarter think it would have negative consequences.

However, businesspeople remain sceptical about tax-setting powers being handed to councils.  A third expect their tax bills to rise if set locally, while 18% expect to pay less tax.  SMEs are more likely to expect to pay additional tax, compared to large organisations.

Simplifying local government (58%) and giving ratepayers a vote on local economic strategies (51%) are seen as the most effective methods of increasing accountability and the effectiveness of Councils.

Key findings:

Appetite for devolution

  • 42% say handing more powers to local government will have a positive impact – 26% negative

Sceptical about local tax-setting

  • 30% would expect to pay more tax – 18% who expect to pay less
  • 34% support paying higher taxes if the money is retained and spent locally

Efficiency and accountability to improve

  • Simplifying local government (58%) and giving ratepayers a vote on economic strategies (51%) are seen as best for increasing accountability and efficiency of local government
  • The majority of businesses surveyed anticipate the greatest positive impact from devolution to be on transport investment (67%), and apprenticeship funding and delivery (58%)

To ensure businesses are placed at the heart of local growth, the BCC’s Business Manifesto is calling for the next government to:

  • Guarantee a business ratepayers’ vote on local economic strategy, including a vote on any proposed changes to local business taxation – ensuring that plans for an area’s future include input from business.

John Longworth, Director General of BCC, said:

“Businesses don’t support devolution for devolution’s sake. They support greater local-decision-making if it means greater efficiency, greater accountability and better results. A ratepayers’ vote on economic strategies and funding relies on support from the business community.  As various parties’ election manifestos have acknowledged, boosting the growth prospects of England’s cities and counties must be a priority for the next government. Yet devolution must work for business if local areas are to see sustainable growth and job creation for years to come.”

Rail developments update – 13 May

Businesses are being invited to find out about the latest rail developments for West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority is hosting an informal half-day ‘drop-in’ session, 2-6pm, on Wed 13 May in Leeds.

Recent developments include:

– New Northern and Transpennine rail franchises

– Establishment of Rail North

– HS2 Review and Leeds station location

– HS3 and Transport for the North

– the creation of West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Call 0113 251 7276 or email here for details.