Airport gets Dusseldorf route

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has today (1st June 2017) announced an expansion of its 2017-18 Winter schedule with a brand new route to Dusseldorf from Leeds Bradford Airport that offers a choice of up to six flights a week.

Seats are available for booking now at with one way fares from £34.99 including taxes and charges and available for travel from 29th October.

Dusseldorf is a thriving business destination located on the Rhine, with a bustling foodie scene and world-famous night life.

Flybe’s Chief Revenue Officer, Vincent Hodder, comments:

“We are pleased to add Dusseldorf to our expanding schedule from Leeds Bradford Airport this winter. This route is another example of Flybe’s commitment to providing convenient connections for business and leisure travellers from regional markets, providing added opportunity for customers to travel direct from their local airport.”

Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at LBA, said:

“Leeds Bradford Airport welcomes the introduction of Dusseldorf onto the Flybe schedule from Winter 17. This gateway to the Rhine-Ruhr economic region is so important for business travellers across the Leeds City Region. In addition, the flight will offer convenient access to the many attractions along the River Rhine, a beautiful area of Germany that has plenty to offer leisure travellers. Dusseldorf also attracts weekend break visitors to events such as the famous Christmas Market.”

Flybe also offers flights to Belfast City and Newquay with full details of schedules available at

Going Underground: How Sunbridge Wells Happened

From dungeons in the 1700s to an unlicensed nightclub during the swinging 60s, Sunbridge Wells has had what can be called an ‘interesting past’ – and now businesses have the chance to find out all about it.

The developer of one of Bradford’s most interesting building projects is to speak to businesses in the city.  Graham Hall of Sunbridge Wells will speak at the Chamber of Commerce Property lunch in Bradford on 23 June.

Sunbridge Wells is Bradford’s latest retail and leisure complex, built underground in the heart of the city.  It is based in a series of tunnels that have been disused and forgotten about for years, but now hosts a number of shops, bars and stalls.  The site is becoming a tourist attraction due to its unique features and history behind the tunnels.  The scheme is a labyrinth of passages and tunnels, making it unique to the city and beyond.

What Graham has done to bring this scheme to fruition is amazing, given all the hoops he has had to jump through; along with his ‘wing man’ Clinton Fitzpatrick, he will share this interesting tale of how Bradford’s underground leisure development happened.

The scheme is to be formally opened by Princess Anne a few days after the Chamber lunch.

Event details:

When: 12 – 2pm; Friday 23 June 2017

Where: Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford BD5 8HW

What: Sunbridge Wells – How it Happened

Who: Graham Hall & Clinton Fitzpatrick

Cost: £25 (inc. VAT) – Chamber members; £35 non-members

To book: call 01274 206660 or email and quote ‘23/6 lunch’

Election Blog 3: Give businesses certainty on Brexit

The UK’s decision last June to leave the European Union has enormous consequences for all of us – for businesses this means leaving an institution that has been the cornerstone of our trading relationship with the European continent for over 40 years. Whilst business communities across the UK have shown a remarkable resilience to grow, invest, trade and recruit since the European referendum, they are uncertain about the future as the UK embarks on the process of dis-entangling itself from the EU.

Chambers of Commerce have been in deep consultation with local business communities across the UK since the referendum and the key priorities of business are clear. They want the next government to secure an EU trade deal that minimises costs and trade barriers. Currently there are no tariffs on the movement of products among EU member states, but if a deal isn’t reached in the negotiations, reverting to WTO rules could result in tariffs of up to 10% being imposed on the export of cars for example, creating huge costs and complexities for integrated cross border supply chains.

However, it is the non-tariff barriers that often carry a greater cost to businesses. Areas that will need to be resolved include the mutual recognition of standards, contracts and qualifications, the sharing of data, and rules of origin. Negotiations on these areas will be complex, but need to be successful to keep costs and regulatory burdens to a minimum.

Businesses have consistently expressed concerns about their ability to source the talent they need to grow. Current levels of low unemployment and an ageing workforce have meant that foreign labour has been a critical part of business recruitment. The uncertainty over the status of EU nationals currently living and working in the UK has already had a negative impact on the retention and morale of employees. The next government must provide immediate certainty for businesses on the residence rights of their existing EU workforce, not contingent on any other aspect of the UK negotiations with the EU-27. A future UK immigration system must allow businesses to access workers from the EU in sectors where there are acute labour shortages with minimum bureaucracy, cost or barriers.

The publication of the Great Repeal Bill white paper in March 2017 was a positive step in providing regulatory certainty for business on the day that the UK leaves the EU. The bill aims to convert existing EU law into UK law; give Ministers the power to amend these laws using statutory instruments to reflect new institutions and legal jurisdictions in the UK; and repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. Further work must now be undertaken to develop future customs procedures at the UK border, clarifying tax systems and arbitrations processes, and the development of a funding system to replace the EU funded projects and schemes that support higher education, research, infrastructure development, regeneration, skills programmes and business support schemes.

It is important that the UK government reflects the priorities of our business communities across all the nations and regions of the UK. This is particularly acute in Northern Ireland, which is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with the EU. Businesses want no return of a hard border on the island of Ireland, so that we can maintain free trade and people flows across the border and limit any new bureaucratic arrangements.

Both the main UK political parties have set out their wishes for a comprehensive agreement with the EU that delivers a smooth, orderly Brexit. The business community is a willing partner in ensuring this outcome, and that the UK emerges from this process ready and able to take advantage of future opportunities for prosperity and growth.

The Policy & Representation Team

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Election Blog 2: The Importance of Devolution

It’s often the case with public policy that the jargon which surrounds it starts to obscure what’s really at stake. That is certainly true with devolution, where terms like ‘growth deal’, ‘functional economic area’ and ‘strategic economic plan’ can distract from the important issue at hand. In reality, besides Brexit, devolution is arguably the great cross-cutting theme of British politics.

The current problems with the UK’s devolution policies can be illustrated with a simple business analogy.

Imagine a sales manager in a regional office of a large, multi-national consumer product firm. The manager meets with prospective buyers and distributors, but when it comes to selling has zero flexibility to negotiate price, can only supply a fixed quantity of goods on a take-it-or-leave it basis, has no marketing material suitable for the local market, and the goods can’t be adapted to suit the needs of local customers.

How successful do you think this company’s sales department would be? A firm so rigid that it is unable to capitalise on opportunities and provide customers with what they want stands little chance of prosperity. Yet, incredibly, that this often how the relationship between central and local government functions in the UK.

The trend in recent years has been towards more local control – national parliaments and assemblies, elected mayors – but in many ways devolution fails to correctly address areas of business-critical policy. Budgets – in absolute terms and in relation to one another – are fixed centrally, mandatory service levels are stipulated centrally, the rules are set centrally, and the freedom to experiment or provide localised solutions is restricted.

The result is that much-needed investments in infrastructure go unfunded, businesses can’t access the skills they need because local colleges don’t have the means to provide them, and local property taxes never come down because councils are restricted in the ways they can raise funds.

The essence of a sensible ‘devolution’ from central to local government is really the same as a sound business re-organisation: ensuring that the right people, at the right level, are empowered to make the necessary calls, and are incentivised to do so.

There is a consensus across all major political parties in favour of more decentralised decision-making in government, which is welcomed by business communities across the country. But as in business, there is a balance to be struck: it’s always easier to devolve responsibility for decision-making than it is to devolve accountability for when things go wrong. Increased devolution also means greater distance from what happens at ground-level for those at the top. For this reason, it is essential that as more and more elements of the business environment are decided in town halls and mayors’ offices, businesses have a strong voice in the decision-making process – whether it be on infrastructure, tax, skills provision or land use.

Successful companies listen to their business customers – so should local decision-makers as they seek to improve their local economies.

The Policy & Representation Team

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Election Blog 1: Creating a competitive environment

For UK businesses to the deliver the jobs, growth and investment needed to secure our long-term economic future, they need a competitive environment here at home. However, as we approach yet another General Election, the UK continues to lag behind its international competitors.

While corporation tax is decreasing, businesses remain disappointed at the lack of action on the high up-front taxes and costs of doing business in the UK. Companies continue to face unacceptably high input costs which weigh heavily no matter the stage of the economic cycle, company performance or ability to pay. The new tax year saw firms hit with a raft of changes adding to the upfront cost of doing business, including the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, Immigration Skills Charge, and a new National Living Wage.

Despite some improvements, the fundamental unfairness of the business rates system remains, with firms across the country continuing to pay the highest business property taxes in the developed world. In its current form, the business rates system creates a number of perverse incentives for business location, property improvement and plant and machinery investment. Businesses also continue to face significant difficulties in hiring staff with the right skills. The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and most authoritative private-sector business survey – confirms that the proportion of firms reporting recruitment difficulties remains close to a record high.

Business communities are therefore calling for the next government to commit to no new up-front business taxes or costs until the end of the next Parliament in 2022 and further, more radical, reform of the broken business rates system. This must include the removal of plant and machinery from business rates valuations which does so much to undermine business investment.

The new government must also do more to protect the long-term health of the UK jobs market, including improving the transition from education to business by guaranteeing universal ‘experience of work’ in all schools for under 16 year olds, and delivering a future immigration regime based on economic need – rather an arbitrary migration target.

Tackling these longstanding issues has come even more pressing with the UK economy set to enter a more challenging period. The first estimate of UK GDP growth indicated that the UK economy suffered a loss of momentum in the first quarter of 2017. With inflation rising it is likely that the Q1 slowdown is the start of a sustained period of weaker growth, as the UK’s over reliance on consumer spending becomes increasingly exposed.

Yet you wouldn’t really know this from reading the various party manifestos that have just been published with political posturing largely put ahead of the need to create the best possible conditions for long-term economic growth. While there were some bright spots, notably promise of further action on business rates and improving digital and mobile connectivity, these were largely offset by proposals for higher personal and business taxes, significant market interventions and cuts in immigration. While business confidence remains relatively strong this may not last if such short-term political thinking is put ahead of securing our long-term economic future.

Tackling these fundamental concerns will help ensure that our economy successfully navigates through a world full of turbulence, both political and economic, and crucially remains a great place to do business through the Brexit process and beyond.

The Policy & Representation Team

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Leisure scheme gets royal attention

Bradford’s newest retail and leisure scheme is to get the royal seal of approval next month (June 2017).

Sunbridge Wells is to be officially opened by Princess Anne on 28 June, just five days after the developer of the project speaks to a Chamber audience.  The underground scheme opened in December 2016, with bars and retailers, and there is nothing else like it in the city.  A second phase is due to open later this year.

Sunbridge Wells can be accessed from the rear of Centenary Square (behind Lloyds No 1 bar), Sunbridge Road and Upper Millergate (between Ivegate and Sunbridge Road).  The developer, Graham Hall, will speak at the Chamber Property Lunch in Bradford on Friday 23 June, revealing the trials and tribulations he had bringing the project to fruition.

Graham Hall said: “As you can imagine, this is a truly historic day for Sunbridge Wells and Bradford.  There is a good buzz here that Princess Anne is visiting. This could put us on the map.  We will give her a tour of the development and she is expected to be here for an hour. It has gone really well in its first six months.”

Sunbridgewells’ second phase, with an entrance on Ivegate, includes the Rose & Crown pub. An original wooden sign for the Rose & Crown Inn, dating back to the 1870s, was found during work to create the underground complex.  The sign, hand-painted by Bradford artist Thomas Forrest, was found in a loft last year.

Phase two was originally expected to include a second site for The International restaurant, based in Morley Street. A vacant unit, previously a Toni & Guy hair salon, was to have been converted into a 60-seater restaurant. But those plans were revised.

The complex’s first phase includes bars and 14 shops, selling goods including sweets, coffee and women’s fashion. More shops are due to open later this year, when five lockable stalls begin trading.

Ransomware Seminar 19th May

09.30-11.30 aql HQ Leeds

Ransomware is now one of the biggest threats to industry, charities, health and citizens.

aql® as part of their planned programme of events supporting the NCSC Cyber Information Sharing Partnership for Yorkshire and Humber are working with the Police Regional Cyber Crime Unit had planned an event this Friday with expertise from Kasperky, the police and also Leeds University to help businesses understand how to protect themselves against ransomware attacks.

Over the weekend a global ransomware attack has caused considerable challenge to many organisations not least the NHS in the UK. These attacks demonstrate the real need to stay ahead and to be informed about ransomware. Ransomware can affect business, charities, health and any organisation connected online.

We still have some spaces available at the seminar on Friday.
If you wish to come along please pre-book through the Eventbrite site.

Message from National Cyber Security Centre

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 – – under the title Protecting Your Organisation From Ransomware:

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 ( and can be summarised as follows:

Protecting your organisation from ransomware – NCSC Site

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.

First Bus gets into gear with new uniform

  • First Bus has launched a new driver uniform in West Yorkshire following feedback from its drivers
  • New uniform includes tailored blouses with modesty buttons for female drivers, a “sholo” (shirt meets polo) and bodywarmer, to help provide comfort for drivers

First Bus drivers across West Yorkshire will be seen travelling the roads in a brand new uniform after the company received feedback from employees that it was in need of a refresh to suit both male and female drivers.

The company recognised the need to update its uniform and provide all its drivers, females, in particular, with a more modern and comfortable wardrobe. It held a consultation with employees from across the country to find out how the uniform could be improved and female staff in particular commented on the need for an additional shirt.

In response to employee feedback First Bus has introduced an entire new wardrobe for its drivers, with top pieces including; tailored blouses for female drivers, body warmers, new “trainer” style shoes and an innovative “sholo” (shirt meets polo) top, with First Bus thought to be just the second company to introduce the new garment in the UK. The updated blouses for female drivers now includes hidden modesty buttons, which aim to help female drivers feel more comfortable.

Paul Matthews, Managing Director at First West Yorkshire, said: “Our drivers are our ambassadors, so it is important that they look the part. We have listened to feedback and we’re proud to be unveiling the new driver uniform, which has already been trialled in depots across the UK and has received positive feedback from drivers. Bus travel has changed dramatically in recent years and even more so in the diversity of drivers that can now be seen transporting our customers around the region, so we’re pleased that we have been able to update our uniform so that it can suit the needs of all our drivers.”