Policy groups get new blood

The Leadership Groups in each of our three areas have all had new blood installed in recent weeks.

Elections on to the groups took place over the summer, and now Bradford, Leeds and York & North Yorkshire have all brought into new representatives onto their main policy groups.

In Bradford, James Mason ( Bradford City), Mark Cowgill (Exa Networks) and Mark Viner ( Guyson International) were all welcomed.

In Leeds, Amanda Beresford (Shulmans), Marcus Mills (thebigword) and Nik Pratap (Brewster Pratap) were all elected, while Hanif Malik OBE (Hamara HLC) was co-opted.

For York & North Yorkshire, Andrew Digwood (Rollits) and Graham Usher (Best Western Monkbar) both joined the group.

Election meetings took place as part of annual meetings in the three areas that all re-affirmed the positions of current Presidents and Vice-Presidents.

SSP Costs to Small Businesses

HMRC Changes

As we move through another year of employment the effects of the HMRC reforms on SSP that came into force on 6th April 2014 are still trickling through to small businesses.

Originally under the Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS), employers were able to recover the cost of SSP via the HMRC.

Post these reforms employers are now in a position of having to bear the full cost of absenteeism.

The Effect on Small Businesses

When businesses find out about the changes they are tempted to look at the viability of an employee on long term sick in a much shorter time frame. The problem with this outlook is that employers can be exposing themselves to a much wider risk and higher cost claims at an Employment Tribunal.

We have found that many members calling the ChamberHR advice line believe the employee has no right to unfair dismissal if they have under 2 years service and this will protect them from Employment Tribunals. This is an incorrect assumption because if the person on long term sick has a disability then this can then result in a protection under the Equalities Act 2010 from day one of employment. The claim for discrimination can then lead to an unlimited award at a tribunal.

Knee jerk reaction to the prospective cost of a long term absence is not advised. The burden of £88.45 for 28 weeks (total cost £2476.60) should be considered against a claim that can be unlimited and will almost certainly be greater than the total SSP paid.

This does not mean that a business can never lose a member of staff who has long term sickness issues, but it makes it important to take advice to ensure things are done in a correct and lawful way.

What to do

For the correct guidance and to reduce risk call the ChamberHR advice line on

01455 852037.

Bradford on Exhibition short-list

Bradford and Sheffield are among four shortlisted cities to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

The Exhibition will showcase the creative, cultural and design sectors across the North, with the government contributing £5m towards the cost, and a further £15m to a legacy fund.

Blackpool and Newcastle-Gateshead are also still in the race.  Nine bids were submitted from Halifax, Harrogate, Scunthorpe, St Helens and Whitehaven, as well as the shortlisted venues.  Halifax has now said it will throw its support behind Bradford.

Sir Gary Verity, chairman of the Great Exhibition of the North Board, said: “The Great Exhibition Board look forward to meeting the teams to hear their exciting proposals in person. This is an incredible opportunity to really showcase the creativity and culture we have here in the North and I know whoever wins will thoroughly embrace that vision.”

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “The Exhibition is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England.  I am determined we democratise the arts and celebrate the best in every part of our nation.  What’s more, cultural investment can bring enormous benefits for communities – it drives regeneration, promotes tourism and increases life chances.

Chamber Director in radio interviews on rail links

West & North Yorkshire Chamber Director and Bradford President, Andy Caton, appeared on two local radio stations today (Thursday 28 July).

Andy discussed transport connectivity and the case for high-speed rail infrastructure on Radio York and Radio Leeds breakfast shows.  The York interview focused primarily on why Northern Powerhouse Rail (HS3) should come through the city, while the Leeds piece was more about HS2.

Both clips are available online for around 24 hours.

Radio York link below – scroll to 01:50:49 for start of segment.


Radio Leeds link below – scroll to 02:07:56 for start of segment.



Leeds and Bradford in ‘top cities’ list

Leeds and Bradford have both made it onto a list of the UK’s top 20 towns and cities in which to work.

The report, compiled by job research website ‘Glassdoor’, places Leeds at 4 and Bradford at 8; top of the list is Cambridge.

Criteria for determining the list included: measuring how easy it is to get a job, how affordable it is to live there, comparing salaries to house prices, and job satisfaction among employees.

Neither London nor York – the other major city in the Chamber’s patch – made it onto the list.

More details – including Glassdoor’s methodology – can be found here.

First invest in low emissions

An investment of over £5m in 25 brand new low emission buses by First West Yorkshire is set to introduce a step change in air quality on the Leeds Bradford transport corridor from this week.

The order by First West Yorkshire, which feature new WrightBus StreetDeck double deckers, underlines its commitment to delivering high quality services for its customers and partners which fit hand-in-hand with local authorities targets to improve air quality for local communities.

All the new buses feature luxury e-leather seating, with complementary on board Wi-Fi providing passengers with free internet access. First Bus customers are already benefitting from Smart ticketing options and Real Time Information, while all customers can use their mobile phones as bus tickets through the company’s m-Ticket option.

The investment by First West Yorkshire is part of a package of improvements that will see frequency doubled on the X6 service which will provide a new limited stop service between Leeds & Bradford every 10 minutes Monday – Saturday daytime with a striking new livery and USB charging points for customers. The 72 Leeds – Bradford service will operate with new double deck buses providing nearly 50% additional seating capacity.

The new buses, which are manufactured by WrightBus in Northern Ireland are all Department for Transport ‘low carbon certified’ and will save an estimated 250,000 kgs* of CO2 per year. All the 25 new buses are fitted with the latest Euro VI engines, which produce 95% less oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions compared to buses with Euro V engines and as a result will help improve air quality across the region and help meet the shared vision of our local authority partners in cutting carbon emissions and air pollution.

Oliver Howarth, Business Director at First West Yorkshire
said the launch was great news for customers and for local communities, “This investment of over £5m in low emission, high quality bus journeys gives customers luxury, high-tech travel with increased frequency and increased capacity. These new buses are amongst the most eco-friendly on the market and reflect our commitment to working with our partners to reduce emissions and improve air quality for the region.”

The introduction of the new buses was celebrated with West & North Yorkshire Chamber’s Chief Executive Sandy Needham.

Sandy Needham said, “Buses play a significant role in supporting our local economies and communities and I’m delighted to see this investment in modern, clean and comfortable buses. The new features including USB charging points will be welcomed by the thousands of people who travel between Bradford and Leeds.”

Pictured is Sandy Needham of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce with Oliver Howarth of First West Yorkshire

*New vehicles reference above have been independently certified as producing 30% less green house gas emissions (eg CO2) than an average euroIII bus. The above estimate is calculated from fuel consumed and assumes the introduction of the new vehicles displaced operational mileage which would otherwise have been undertaken by either EuroIII buses or by buses of equivalent efficiency.

DfT Transport Technology Funding Announcement

The latest round of the Department for Transport’s Transport Technology Research Innovation Grant (T-TRIG) – opening Monday 25 July – consists of three separate calls for research that could lead to development of successful new transport products, processes or services:

  • an open call for novel and innovative ideas focused on transport
  • a targeted ‘Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)’ call
  • a targeted ‘Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS)’ call

This scheme requires a fast turnaround: the entry deadline for all three calls is Monday 22 August, for projects scheduled to run from 19 September to 12 December 2016.

Fast responses will be rewarded: successful applicants will be offered fully-funded grants of up to £25,000 for the open call. There’s a budget of £150,000 to fund three to six projects for the Intelligent Transport Systems targeted call and £300,000 for the Aviation projects targeted call.

Register and view more here.

Skills shortages under the microscope

Can technical schools answer Bradford’s skills shortages? That’s the question now being considered by the local business community.

Some of the businesses in Bradford are now being asked to consider their current and likely future skills needs in order that a strategy can be developed to help support them.  University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are an idea growing in strength and support in recent years and now, through the Chamber’s help, a desire to create one in Bradford is being explored in more details.

Jack Rickard of the Baker Dearing Trust, the independent education charity led by former Education Secretary Kenneth Baker, visited the Chamber in July to speak about the work of UTCs, and to sound out firms on whether or not they feel such a development would help locally.  The Chamber played a vital role in securing a UTC in Leeds, due to open in September, and has brought this experience to discussions in Bradford.

The schools, for 14-18 year olds, focus on one or two technical specialisms, charge no fees and typically have around 600 pupils. The curriculum blends an academic education with technical and practical learning. If Bradford were to push forward for a UTC, it is expected that manufacturing and engineering would be the focus.

For the Chamber, Mike Cartwright said: “The Chamber feels that any plans for a UTC must complement existing education provision locally and that in order to succeed we must be able to articulate skills demand from employers and demonstrate how they could be delivered through the UTC.”

If you are an engineering or manufacturing company facing skills challenges we really want to hear from you, please email us here..

Referendum weighs heavy on the minds of business

The latest Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey (Q2 2016) released this week shows that in the run up to the EU referendum, uncertainty about the future was influencing key decisions. Despite these internal challenges, manufacturers were a little more upbeat than their service sector counterparts, reporting increases in domestic sales, small increases in investment and increasing confidence around profitability over the next twelve months.

The number of companies reporting growth in export sales fell but nevertheless remains positive.  This is an area of significant interest for the Chamber given the role we play in supporting manufacturing exporters and we will be working with Government on this agenda moving forward.

The next twelve months will no doubt be challenging but the UK remains a strong economy and we must press to ensure clarity and certainty over our future trading arrangements both inside and outside of the EU. Similarly we need to hear commitment from Government that planned investment into the region’s infrastructure will continue unchanged.

The Chamber will continue to bang the drum on your behalf and ensure politicians and policy makers have access to regional business sentiment. A copy of the full report, analysis and comment can be found at here.

Yorkshire law society triathlon challenge – The race is on!

For the first time ever, The Yorkshire Law Society is organising a Triathlon Challenge to raise money for York Against Cancer.

The event will take place on Saturday 23rd July at Castle Howard and Peter Kay, Senior Director of Ware & Kay Solicitors and President of the Yorkshire Law Society has invited members to take part in a ‘Super Sprint Triathlon’.  It comprises a 400m open water swim in Castle Howard’s Great Lake, a 23km cycle and a 4km run through the Estate with the Howardian Hills providing the backdrop.

The challenge is for the participating relay teams to beat Peter’s Champion, William Kaye from Harrowells.  William who is a serious triathlete has agreed to compete instead of Peter for this great cause.  Peter pledges to pay £1 to his chosen charity York Against Cancer for each minute that William beats the relay team. Peter is also hoping that the relay teams will match his pledge and raise money from their friends and supporters too.

Six teams made up of members from the Yorkshire Law Society are looking forward to taking part and are now in serious training.  Marie Horner, Abbas Khan, Martin Thorpe from Harrowells will form a combined relay team.   Andrew Jackson has registered a team consisting of Richard Hoare, Sally-Anne Neal and Oliver Hall.  David Hyams, Charles Stent and Gill Wilkinson will be the relay team for Ware & Kay.  Mark Todd, Hannah Middleton and Hayley Crossman-Shaw will join forces and form the team for Quality Solicitors Burn & Co.  There will also be two teams from Dere Street Chambers: Rachel Landin, Debbie Adcock, Karen Lennon and Crispin Oliver Edward Legard, Tom Dodson.

Peter said “The reason I am supporting this is to raise money for York against Cancer, a small independent local charity.  The money raised is to help and support cancer patients and their families.  I am delighted that the members of the Yorkshire Law Society are backing it.  There will be a huge turnout at the event and whether they are elite competitors or complete novices, all participants have been guaranteed a warm welcome.  This challenge encompasses everything great about the outdoors, embracing the scenery, terrain and hopefully no shortage of ice cream afterwards.  One of the great things about triathlon is the camaraderie amongst the triathletes and the people that support them.  William and the teams are also doing it for a great charity making it doubly worth all the effort.  It is going to be tough but they are all up for the challenge”.

William Kaye said ‘‘I am delighted to be involved in this exciting challenge, especially as it is all for such a worthy cause. It’s going to be a tough day out with all the teams chasing me but I will do my very best to make the event as expensive for Peter as possible!’

Richard Hoare, head of private client services at Andrew Jackson Solicitors commented, “York Against Cancer does a tremendous job in supporting local people affected by cancer. It’s a sad fact that we all know someone affected by this disease, which is why we wanted to get involved and help to raise as much money as possible. Our three-strong team  will be swapping suits for lycra as we take on the challenge to race – and perhaps beat! – Yorkshire Law Society President Peter Kay’s Champion, as we aim to raise even more money for the charity through the ‘Beat the President’s Champion’ challenge.”

Francine Clee, Communications Officer at York against Cancer said: “It is so brilliant that Peter has chosen to support our charity. We know lawyers like a challenge, so it would be great to see lots of teams taking part!  Good luck to everyone who signs up.”