It’s been a torrid night at the elections. We look at some early views and opinions from business support organisations.
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, of the CBI said:
“This is a serious moment for the UK economy. The priority must be for politicians to get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy.
“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.
“For the next Government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.
“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.
“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.”
The Forum of Private Business
is calling more loudly than ever for the UK’s politicians to recognise
that the economic strength of the UK is reliant on the country’s five million
Chief Executive of the Forum, Ian Cass said: ‘The voice of small business has been completely ignored during the election campaign, with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both demonstrating that they have no real understanding of the critical role played by businesses to the importance to the UK, both in economic contribution and job creation,’
Facing a period of increased instability and uncertainty that a hung parliament will once again bring to the business community, Ian Cass is pushing for business to be put at the heart of government, with a Small Business Minister sitting at the Cabinet table and having teeth.
‘Businesses are tired of being paid lip service to. We have over five million business leaders in this country. Young and old, North and South, Remain and Leave, who have their feet firmly on the ground and need, once and for all, to be taken notice of, as the negotiations with Europe are progressed’
The Forum’s ‘Get Britain Trading’ campaign welcomes Members of Parliament into Forum member businesses so that they can truly understand what is needed to make the British high street great again.
‘With such a divisive split in the UK political scene, it is time for business to take control of the Country’s future,’ adds Ian Cass, ‘Not just big business with their sights purely on shareholder value, but small businesses who live and breath common sense survival in a changing world. In pushing for a proper, long term, Small Business Cabinet Minister, the Forum stands ready to support the government and its members in creating a strong and stable future UK. This will not come from politicians throwing verbal stones at each other and trotting out sound bites. It will come from a sensible and calm business approach,’ emphasises Ian Cass, a business owner in his own right.
‘The politicians have a choice. Listen and take note of the business voice, or continue sounding the ‘mayday’ siren,’ concludes Ian Cass.
Sophia Haywood, Policy Manager at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce: “These results place even more uncertainty on our local business community, who have already persevered through recent years of political and economic turbulence. Businesses are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit. It is vital there is a swift formation of a functioning government to build business confidence and our wider economic prospects ahead of the EU negotiations. Just as businesses come together in difficult times, so should our politicians.”
By Ian Mean, director for Gloucestershire, Business West
With a hung Parliament today - no overall majority for the Conservatives - business will be very concerned about more and more uncertainty and delays in the Brexit process.
When you think that Theresa May had committed us to start the initial Brexit talks in just over a week’s time, the political earthquake that has now erupted puts a big question mark over the whole Brexit negotiation.
Will the opening Brexit talks actually go ahead on Theresa May’s timetable?
Will she even be prime minister by the end of today? Or even in a few days? There are already calls this morning for her to resign.
Our Business West members have told us in our recent survey how frustrated they are with the lack of information on the ongoing Brexit process.
They will be even more annoyed that our government’s standing will be at rock bottom with the EU now that Theresa May’s credibility has been shattered by the General Election result which she totally focussed on Brexit.
Calling a snap election with just eight weeks to give herself a stronger hand in the EU talks was a big gamble which the British people rejected.
Never underestimate the electorate is an old adage used by experienced politicians and today they have confounded expectations.
For many months now, companies I have talked to in Gloucestershire have been doing their best to ignore the “noise” generated by politics in order to focus on their own operations and ensure they retain good relationships with their export customers.
So, what will happen now?
More frustration for these businesses who now face the prospect of those initial Brexit talks being further delayed, because we might now have a Tory Party leadership election on our hands.
If Teresa May does resign, that delay in the talks could be as much as three months, and on top of that she will not be in charge of the Brexit process.
How can she retain any credibility with the EU, having had her wish for a stronger mandate for Brexit well and truly torpedoed?
For many companies in Gloucestershire where the strength of the pound is a big issue to make them more competitive, the lack of urgency created by a hung parliament could well affect their profitability for quite a period.
The key word here for companies is: confidence.
From day one when David Cameron committed us to an ‘in or out’ referendum, confidence has been the key issue for business.
In my experience in Gloucestershire, few companies have had any confidence in the government’s secretive Brexit process and during the Prime Minister’s election campaign, it became no clearer at all.
And at the heart of the government’s poor showing in the election was that the British public rejected the Prime Minister’s hard-line focus on getting the best deal for Britain.
She failed with a lacklustre election campaign where she almost hid from real voters - as opposed to party activists. This was the case particularly when she made a whistle stop tour to Cheltenham this week.
Most voters did not understand her Brexit argument in my view. They were more interested in domestic matters like the so-called ‘dementia tax’ and the NHS.
By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn ran an old-fashioned people-focused election campaign meeting everyone he could possibly meet.
Despite his obvious political shortcomings and a vicious right-wing press campaign against him, his anti-austerity ticket resonated with the public - particularly young people.
Business has been largely ignored in the election campaign.
That has to change and quickly.
Whoever now leads the country has to understand that the whole Brexit process will not be successful unless companies are regarded as important passengers on the journey - they must not be left standing on the platform
The Corsham (Institute) Augmented and Virtual Environment brings together research, innovation and reality in an area designed to optimise thinking.
This technology is currently used in a variety of sectors; at MTC it is used by architects and constructors to formulate building plans; at BP it is used to train for oil platform usage. At Welsh Water it is used for touring sites using Google Earth, and at the University of Brighton, VR is used for sports training – timing starts and analysing performance.
In our CaVE there’s a work zone with a conventional set up, where a group of people can plan and deliberate. The adjacent tech zone provides a space that has projections on three walls, so that visitors are surrounded by a different reality. Although the space is for one person, others can see in, interact and make suggestions from the outside.
There is also an HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset.
The Corsham Institute says it is creating a real eye-opening experience to encourage out of the box thinking and dynamic discussion and is hoping to work with developers on projects that will deliver Corsham Institute’s vision of a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society.
Corsham is a southern Cotswold market town in Wiltshire. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence consolidated its core communications and ICT activities onto a single site in Corsham to form the Global Operations and Security Control Centre and in 2016 the Government announced that a further £40 million would be spent on a new Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) centred on Corsham.
This activity has been mirrored by investment and development by the private sector with secure data centres located in Corsham and clusters of SME digital activity, making Corsham of strategic importance to the UK’s digital economy.
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Dyson has announced plans for a second technology campus, near to its Malmesbury global headquarters. The 517-acre site, on former Ministry of Defence land at Hullavington, Wiltshire, will increase Dyson’s footprint in the UK ten times over, says the company.
The new campus will enable Dyson to continue creating high-skilled jobs in Britain while boosting UK exports. Dyson has more than tripled its UK headcount in the past five years and currently employs 3,500 people in the UK, half of whom are engineers and scientists. Dyson is the UK’s largest investor in robotics and the company is realising ambitious plans to develop new technologies such as solid state battery cells, vision systems, machine learning, and advanced intelligence (AI). It has 40 live technology projects with UK universities including Imperial College London, Cambridge, Warwick and Newcastle.
Sir James Dyson said: “After 25 years of UK growth and expansion globally, we are fast outgrowing our Malmesbury Campus. The Hullavington Campus is an investment for our future, creating a global hub for our research and development. It will enable us to continue creating world class products and jobs right here in the Cotswolds.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Dyson’s exporting strength and commitment to creating jobs in Britain is a real success story that demonstrates the opportunity that our plan to create a truly global Britain can present.”
Dyson has already committed £250 million to its existing 56-acre Malmesbury headquarters which will also become home to the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology from September. Site preparations for phase one of the Hullavington Campus have begun and restoration of the WW2 hangars will begin this month for occupation from the end of the year. Dyson has committed £2.5 billion to investment in future technologies and currently spends £7 million a week on research and development.
The South West Rural Productivity Commission has been established as a partnership by four LEPs in the south west of England: The Heart of the South West (HotSW LEP), Dorset LEP, Swindon & Wiltshire (SWLEP), Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly (CIoS LEP) to explore the issues around rural productivity and growth.
These south west LEPs recognise the importance of rural growth, productivity and prosperity being tackled alongside urban growth, to ensure that improvements impact on all parts of the economy.
The commission is set up to hear and review evidence from a range of sources and stakeholders, and aims to:
- Frame the south west response to the Industrial Strategy and forthcoming DEFRA 25 year plans for ‘food, farming and fisheries’ and ‘environment’
- Draw out the opportunities for the south west and individual LEPs to drive rural productivity improvements
- Understand the wider economic functioning between rural and urban to identify opportunities to drive growth across the whole area
- Secure Government support for specific initiatives in the 2017 autumn statement
- Influence national and local policies where appropriate to improve rural productivity
The commission will report to the chairs of the four LEPs that have committed to the process, and it will be chaired by David Fursdon, Chair of the SW Rural and Farming Network and supported by nominated representatives from each LEP area.See Business & Innovation Magazine’s May issue for article on The Productivity Puzzle.
Wiltshire family brewery Arkell’s is celebrating achieving 100% Cask Marque accreditation for all its 94 pubs across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Hampshire.
Since 1997 Cask Marque has been ensuring that cask ale in pubs is served in perfect condition. Each year its 45 qualified assessors make over 20,000 visits to pubs in England, Scotland, Wales, Europe and even the U.S to check the temperature, appearance, aroma and taste of Britain’s favourite drink.
The Cask Marque scheme is operated by the Cask Marque Trust. Pubs that join the scheme are visited unannounced by an independent assessor at least twice a year. In the first year, they are visited twice in the first three months and in subsequent years they are visited once in the summer and once in the winter.
The assessor checks all cask ales on sale for temperature, appearance, aroma and taste.
Roger Clayson, National Account Manager at Cask Marque, said: “For the pub to pass, all the beers must reach the required standard and it then receives a plaque, framed certificate and merchandising material to inform its customers of the award and their rights. This is a great achievement by Arkell’s and each of its individual landlords and sets the standard for the pub estates of other breweries.”
One Arkell’s pub was so good that Tim O’Rourke, Cask Marque assessor for Gloucestershire thinks it sets the standard for the whole country.
The Mason’s Arms at Meysey Hampton, near Cirencester particularly impressed him.
“It is always a pleasure to come across a ‘Top League’ pub and pub manager who took real pride in not just the quality of the beers available, but the entire customer experience”, said Tim. “The beers at The Masons Arms at Meysey Hampton are well kept and carefully presented.
“They represent an excellent example of what the trade needs to aspire to, achieve and maintain to face a challenging future with confidence.”
Arkell’s has made a significant investment in cellar management training over the last three years, and it’s paid off. Head brewer, Alex Arkell, said: “This is a team effort between us at the brewery, our landlords to make sure that every pint they serve to customers is top quality and the Cask Marque team to give our landlords the final seal of approval. We’re thrilled that we’re leading the way.”
10000 pubs in the UK have the Cask Marque plaque for the quality of their beer and the plaque is recognised by 56% of Cask Ale drinkers. Cask Marque pubs can be easily found using their free the Caskfinder App.25000 consumers have joined the World’s Biggest Ale Trail. Find further details by visiting the Cask Marque website on www.cask-marque co.uk
Good Energy Group PLC has signed an agreement with Danish energy company DONG Energy which will see the UK AIM-quoted renewable electricity supplier and generator source offshore wind power for its customers for the first time.
The deal secures 12% of the output of the 210MW Westermost Rough Wind Farm operated by the Danish energy group in the North Sea, enough renewable electricity to power more than 26,000 average homes.
The agreement is for an initial period of 12 months but is likely to be extended for the longer term as part of the wider co-operation between the two companies. It is also intended that the volume of power purchased by Good Energy from DONG will increase over time.
Juliet Davenport OBE, founder and chief executive of Chippenham-based Good Energy, said: “We’re delighted to be working with DONG Energy to bring offshore wind power to our customers for the first time.
“This agreement will help us meet ever-increasing demand for 100% renewable electricity as our customer base continues to grow.”
She added: “Offshore wind is a huge British success story and so we’re pleased to be playing our part by buying power from Westermost Rough.
“Offshore wind will complement the other renewable technologies in our energy mix, such as onshore wind and solar, so this agreement is a great fit for Good Energy and a good deal for our customers.
“DONG Energy is a world leader in offshore wind who shares our passion for innovation in renewable energy, so we’re really looking forward to working together to build on this initial agreement.’
Søren Scherfig, Head of Trading & Portfolio Management at DONG Energy, added: “We have an ambition to support the energy transformation in UK and become one of the UK's leading energy suppliers to industrial & commercial customers and independent retailers. We want to supply sustainable, reliable and affordable energy to our customers.
“This agreement with Good Energy is an important milestone as it’s the first time a domestic supplier in the UK will buy energy from a specific DONG Energy offshore wind farm.”