The Insider - Business Bulletins
Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber
Thanet & East Kent Insider
6th August 2011 Issue No.: 167
August 2011. Clients of OFP will be quietly confident that this firm will not be found wanting. Among the hundreds of satisfied buyers in the last few years is developer Keith Beavers who was quoted recently as stating: “Over the last 4 years we have successfully completed more than a dozen schemes with OFP ranging from 2 to 50 units in size. In my dealings with OFP Ltd it is very clear that they have a passion for their business that emanates from the very top of the Company.” To check if you were right about PEFC or BBA, see the website at http://www.ofptimberframe.com. This is a company that cares for its clients, cares for the environment and cares for its local community. Before you ask, OFP is of course a member of the Thanet & East Kent Chamber.
2. Sandwich & Deal Happy
Last Monday, Southeastern Railway Company made a public announcement of details of new high speed services from Sandwich and Deal to London St Pancras to start from 5th September 2011. Journey times will be slashed to 90 minutes from Sandwich and 84 minutes from Deal. Three weekday early morning trains will operate leaving Sandwich at05:50, 06:18 and 06:50. There are two high speed return trains scheduled to leave St Pancras at 17:40 and 18:40. Additional high speed trains at weekends from Faversham, Margate and Dover mean that train passengers can content themselves with some good news about our rail links. Kent County Council will be funding the new timetable for a year as part of its support programme for the East Kent economy.
3. Chamber Praises Rail Company
Southeastern Railway Company was the subject of congratulations last Monday from a variety of quarters. The Chamber Co-President, Laura Sandys MP warmly welcomed the new high speed services and emphasised the incentive provided to start up companies. As she put it: “Businesses considering setting up in the region – particularly on the Pfizer site – will realise that East Kent is not only a superb place for their employees to live, it is accessible and within easy commuting distance from London”. Building on our links with our good friends at the BBC, we also added our support on Radio Kent, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00j8frlfast forward to 0:51:40, available for the next four days.
4. Business Networking Breakfast
Our next Business Networking Breakfast is scheduled for Friday, 9th September 2011. Details will follow in future editions of the Thanet & East Kent Insider.
5. Hartsdown Highlights
We have just received at the Chamber copies of the Hartsdown Flyer of September 2010 and Spring 2011. What amazing magazines. Published by Hartsdown Technical College, the pages are full of lively articles of interest to the casual reader as well as to dyed-in-the-wool educationalists. Did you know about the end of school prom last year which saw school leavers arriving at Hartsdown in apparel which would have graced the Oscars? You would have done if you had seen the BBC South East’s Inside Out programme which featured four of the Hartsdown students preparing for the big night, all beautifully pictured in the Hartsdown Flyer. Some of the vehicles that brought the students to the prom would have brought envious glances from the presenters of Top Gear, especially the Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin. Now that is class. The magazine’s pages reveal a wide range of visitors during the term such as X-Factor finalist Ben Mills and Chamber Co-President Roger Gale MP as well as Kent Police Chief, Ian Learmonth and Margate’s Police Community Support Officer, Tony Morris. News about IT Teacher Nicki Maddams winning £36,000 of computer technology from Microsoft sits alongside stories of students visiting, Italy, France and Kenya. Margate Mayor Cllr Mick Tomlinson appears as often as anyone, proving again what a dedicated and hard working front man he is for Margate. It is easy to see why the government places Hartsdown Technology School on its list as one of the fastest improving schools in the country. One of the keys to this success is involvement with the community, as evidenced by the solid support for the Dreamland Trust and the New Year Parade. Principal Andy Somers writes: “Everything we do has one central goal – to raise our students’ aspirations, to help them get the most out of their education and their lives.” Like the Marlowe Academy, St Lawrence College, Dover Girls Grammar School and Canterbury Christ Church University, Hartsdown is one of a growing number of educational establishments seeking to work ever more closely with the East Kent coastal business community. That’s what local companies want to hear, want to see and want to read. We wish all these Chamber members continuing success in the future.
6. Saving Fuel Costs
Regular readers will acknowledge that this Chamber has consistently highlighted the sharp rises in gas, electricity and petrol prices. Since the launch of our Broadstairs Petrol Index in 2008, we have also raised awareness of the Thanet Surcharge, a grossly unfair addition to the financial burdens on our firms and residents. Last Thursday, motorists in Thanet buying a litre of unleaded petrol at Tesco Extra or Sainsbury in Broadstairs were obliged to pay 2.2p a litre more than customers at Asda in Canterbury. We have found no valid reason for the Thanet Surcharge which varies from 2p to 4p a litre. There may be some good news on the horizon for companies looking to reduce their fuel costs. We are grateful to Martyn Young of Atlantic Business Resources and our friends at the Federation of Small Businesses for the latest updates on a grant of up to £1,000 available to businesses which seek to cut travel costs by adopting new initiatives. Unless a franchisee of a national chain, SMEs trading in East Kent can take advantage of the funding provided by the European Regional Development Fund through the South East ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013. Grants will only be approved for activities that will have a significant impact on CO2. To see if you qualify, fill out the application form to be found at http://www.sustainableroutes.co.uk/applyor have a quiet word with Martyn Young, tel: 0781 353 7456 who will be pleased to advise. Information on how to reduce your gas and electricity costs is also available from Chamber members David Batten, tel: 01843 581322 and Jeremy Bailey, tel: 01843 588776. The price of one telephone call could you save you a packet and bring that dream of a Morgan Plus 4 a little closer.
7. Review Or Repent
Reports from Bradstowe Chartered Surveyors of Broadstairs suggest that many local companies have not reviewed their commercial insurance cover in the last few years leaving them open to significant risks in the event of a fire or serious damage to their property. Rising reinstatement costs and inadequate insurance make for a dangerous combination for established businesses as well as for start ups and successful companies moving to new leased premises. In an exclusive email to the Chamber, Bradstowe’s Jeremy Parkin writes: “If Chamber Members rent or lease premises, or intend to, they should ensure they do not pick up liabilities for repairs from previous tenants or occupiers. They can achieve this by having a condition report prepared, which can then be attached to the lease, and will cover the tenants in the event that the landlord or his surveyor prepares a schedule of dilapidations. Although the benefits are not immediately apparent financially, at the end of the lease, such a report could save thousands of pounds.” We could not agree more and we are happy to recommend the services of Jeremy who can be contacted by telephone to 01843 603325. All types of insurance cover are available from the Chamber’s own insurers, Millards Insurance. Phil or David in the Sandwich office would also welcome your call by telephone to 01304 613072.
8. More On Planning
Since we reported on the rejection of the proposed hi-tech, all seasons Golf Academy at Manston by the planning committee of Thanet District Council, we have been besieged by emails and telephone calls on other planning matters. We regret that we cannot support or comment on issues raised by companies which are not members of the Chamber. We are nonetheless happy to have received a copy of the speech made by the Leader of the Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Peter Wood on 9th June 2011. His words are reproduced verbatim: “In terms of tools, the Council’s planning policies, and the Council’s attitude towards planning issues, are of critical importance – especially so given the harsh economic climate that we currently face. Consequently, I declare here and now that while planning may be regarded as an esoteric art form in some Council, were it ever so in Ashford, then that is certainly no longer the case. Henceforth, in Ashford planning and planning policies are merely tools that serve the prosperity of Ashford Borough and the wellbeing of its residents. To that end we will adopt flexible, pragmatic and, above all, sane policies that serve that objective.” We like the phrase “merely tools that serve the prosperity of Ashford” and note that more start up companies survive five years in the Ashford district than in any other area of Kent.
9. Business Advice Clinics
10. Make Money From Disability
Companies that ignore the spending power of disabled citizens may be missing out on a potentially lucrative market. Preliminary research by this Chamber finds that in one sector alone, the disability equipment market, UK sales in 2008 amounted to just under £1.6 billion, up from £1.43 billion in 2004. This accounts for 0.5% of total UK retail sales in 2008, see Equipment for the Disabled Market Report, Executive Summary, Key Note 2009. Key Note also predicts that: “The UK market for equipment for the disabled is likely to grow at well above the pace of inflation over the next 5 years”. Local activist Lynne Sutton has drawn our attention to the number of disabled people in the UK, just under 10 million according to the Employers’ Forum on Disability. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia There are clearly advantages to many companies in having registered disabled in their workforce. Certainly, E.On Energy Solutions, part of the E.On group that is backing Chamber member the London Array, has a well defined strategy summarised by its HR Director, Sue LaVerne who writes in the Department for Work and Pensions press release of 27th July 2011: "At E.ON each of our employees - whether they are disabled or not – brings enthusiasm and dedication to the role they do, so we see no reason why our disabled employees should not have the same opportunities and career progression as their non-disabled colleagues." Such statements must be music to the ears of the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller and James Partridge, Chair of the DWP Disability Employer Engagement Steering Group. James Partridge is quoted as saying: “"We, as employers, should not judge a person’s suitability for a role based on their disability. We should instead look at each individual’s ability and focus on what they can bring to our organisations if we provide the support, which in most cases is just about being flexible." The Thanet & East Kent Chamber will continue to monitor and report on the opportunities for companies to work with disabled people.
11. Jobs Fair
12. Holiday Time
Due to staff holidays, there will be no edition of the Thanet & East Kent Insider next week. Any vital news or important messages will be sent to members by email as a Newsflash.
13. News From Dover
The prospect of Dover People’s Port Trust acquiring control of the Port of Dover moved a step closer last Monday with the publication of the Secretary of State for Transport’s revised criteria applicable to the sale of a trust port under the Ports Act 1991. The first element in the new guidelines is Community Participation. The very first paragraph of the ‘Essential Criteria’ begins with the words: ”The Secretary of State will not approve an application for the sale of a trust port under the 1991 Act unless the sale is considered likely to deliver an enduring and significant level of community participation in the port”. We interpret that to mean that selling off the UK’s busiest passenger port to any overseas investor with a few bob in his pocket is not an option. We also interpret the statement to mean that the DPPTL plan backed by 97.5% of voting local residents, the main union, all the major ferry operators and the majority of the local business community might have a chance. What do you think?
14. More About Getting It Right
Knowing of our interest in getting it right first time, one overseas reader of the Thanet & East Kent Insider chastises us gently for insisting on correct spelling. We all make mistakes, of course we do, but do we want them printed on our letterheads, websites and business cards? He writes that grammar is much more important than spelling and insists that the odd spelling mistake is not important. Recently returned to France from the USA, his email declares: “For example the sign I saw in a lift in my Hotel in America: 'Don't use elevator in case of fire' means the lift is highly dangerous and liable to burst into flames. ‘Dont use the ellavater if theirs a fire' would have been much better.” He’s probably right about that. But we think: ‘Don’t use the elevator if there’s a fire’ is better still.
15. Hungry & Forlorn
A Chamber member of some distinction contacted our news desk last week with an account about a wealthy friend of his. We have our doubts about this story, but we leave it to readers to judge for themselves. As our esteemed member put it: “He made his money in the housing boom of the 70s did our Jack and he’s lived the life of luxury ever since. Anyway, around 18 months ago, at the height of the recession, Jack was driving through one of the poorer, rural areas of Kent. As you know the downturn in farming and the increasing use of technology has left traditional farm labourers hard-pressed. Those without the skills to transfer were finding it difficult to keep heart and soul together. Not that that bothered our Jack, he bought a new Rolls Royce every four years and barely noticed the dent in his wallet. Anyway, as he was motoring serenely at the wheel of his latest pride and joy, he saw a man ahead next to a lay by grabbing a handful of grass and appearing to eat it. Intrigued by this, he stopped his limousine, got out and said: ‘Are you really eating grass? What’s this all about?’. The rather bedraggled rustic said: ‘Times is hard sir. Since we was made redundant from the farm, that’s all we has to eat, grass. You gets used to it. We all do.’ ‘Not to worry’, said Jack, ‘Get in the roller and I’ll take you to my place just down the road and you can really tuck in to a good meal’. ‘That’s very kind of you, sir, but I has my wife and three children down the road and I can’t leave, them can I.’ ‘Of course not,’ said Jack. ‘The more the merrier. Bring them along’. In double quick time, the hungry family eagerly piled into the back of the gleaming Rolls-Royce and within a few minutes they arrived at the imposing gateway that marked the beginning of Jack’s mansion driveway. Jack stopped the car and pointing to the lawn in front of his house, he said; ‘As you can see, the grass here is three feet high. That should keep you going for weeks. Bye’”.
© David Foley, August 2011
Thanet & East Kent Insider
25th June 2011 Issue No.: 161
1. Latest On Pfizer
Following the Chamber’s broadcast appeal to Pfizer, see last week’s edition of the Thanet & East Kent Insider ref BBC Radio Kent News of 17th June 2011, we are pleased to note that the company has reacted to the points made by ourselves, our Chamber Co-President, Laura Sandys MP and others and has decided to retain 350 workers on site in Sandwich at the newly named Discovery Park. As our good friends at the BBC reported: “The company said it hoped its retained presence would attract new investors and occupants.” To many of us in the East Kent coastal business community, the hasty withdrawal of Pfizer seemed to be putting at risk the excellent reputation the American parent had acquired for its community-sensitive policies and investment strategies. As Laura Sandys put it in a BBC news broadcast on 16th June 2011 “Pfizer is exiting or creating redundancies too quickly for us to be able to secure that finance and that investment from private sector companies”. The change of heart by the world’s largest bio-medical company has been welcomed by Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, as a “step in the right direction”’ and by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science who said: “This decision will provide extra time for complex commercial negotiations with potential investors so that a long term future can be secured for the site at Sandwich." There is clearly still a long way to go to replace the hole in our economy from the loss of so many well-paid jobs. This Chamber will continue to work with our elected representatives to promote inward investment in support of our local companies.
2. Chamber Website Maintenance
The Thanet & East Kent Chamber website and email service will be undergoing its annual maintenance on Tuesday 28th June 2011. We expect full service to be resumed by 1100 hrs at the latest. Our telephone lines will be operating normally throughout the period. Please communicate any messages requiring urgent attention between 0830 hrs and 1100 hrs next Tuesday by telephone to 01843 609289 .
3. Kent Contemporary Campaign
4. Worried Wordsworth
The poet William Wordsworth believed that our lives were richer and more fulfilled if we lived in beautiful surroundings with countryside that inspired our thoughts and made us kinder and more understanding of our fellow citizens. Although he lived much longer than most of the romantic poets of his day, he lost much of his inspiration as he got older and produced few memorable works in later life. It must have upset him privately that all those around him spoke enthusiastically about the great poets who had all died young; Byron, Shelley, Keats and Chatterton. There he was in 1850, Poet Laureate at the age of 80 years and yet a daffodil was now a flower in the garden and no longer an inspiration. How happier his life might have been if he had been able to write on a desk supplied by David & Lynda Lawrence of Antique Desks. If a lovely scene from a window can inspire, so can a lovely desk on which to plan how your profits can grow as well as your daffodils, see item 5 below.
5. Cheer Up William, Get An Antique Desk
Here is a company that has embraced internet trading with enthusiasm, attracting customers from across Europe and the USA. Antique Desks is located at Lakeside, near Canterbury. Export antipathy is totally absent as the firm takes full advantage of the favourable exchange rates with the Euro and the continuing appetite around the world for traditional craftsmanship. Through astute management of costs, David and Lynda Lawrence are able to offer reasonable prices on a wide range of desks, chairs and library furniture of interest to anyone who wants something inspiring on which to write, or sit or place their cherished objects. Third party endorsements have come flowing into the company from the USA: “Table is beautiful and arrived in perfect condition without any issue. I won't hesitate in recommending you to others” and Germany: “Desk is amazing - your restorer did a fantastic job”. How wonderful it must be for any retail or wholesale business to hear your buyers say how anxious they are to come back for more, as this lady from England wrote: “The desk is here and I am using it now - it is quite lovely and perfect for our room so thank you very much indeed - now need the antique chair our modern chair just does not look right now”. Antique Desks is offering a large Mahogany Partners Desk at £5,900, a reduction of over £1,000 on the list price. A Victorian Mahogany Pedestal Desk is available at £1,595 with free delivery. David Lawrence tells us that this piece of furniture has been with the same family for over 100 years. For more details, see the websiteatwww.antiquedesks.net. Smaller pieces such as a delightfulAntique Victorian Walnut Stationery Box priced at £275 can be viewed at www.antiques4cottages.com. For an informed discussion on your needs, give Lynda or David a call, tel: 0560 175 2007 or 0754 564 1953. When William Wordsworth wrote “And much it grieved my heart to think / What man has made of man’, he obviously was not thinking of a beautiful desk from Lynda and David or he might have cheered up a little.
6. What Do You Think?
Following our request last week for comments on the current state of the economy in the districts of Thanet & Dover, below is a selection of views received to date.
Andrew Hunter of C G Hibbert Ltd, East Kent’s largest distributer of wines and spirits, said: “We require better access routes to Dover and improved train journey times. Vehicles over-nighting in laybys and roads around Dover cause problems for residents and inhibit the free movement of goods.”
Simon Crowley of Tersons Estate Agency said: “What we need is housing of a quality that will attract the users of the fast train link to London, HS1. This is the cornerstone of any other improvements. If we can improve the housing stock, quality shops and retail outlets will follow”.
Internet & Broadband
Paul Cowham, Managing Director of Sota Solutions, said: “As Kent’s leading independent provider of network infrastructure and Internet connectivity, Sota is well aware of the potential benefits of efficient and reliable digital communications covering all regions in the UK. A meaningful engagement with Government is long overdue and desirable.”
Diana Pelley of A&S Self Storage said: “There are too many yellow lines in the town discouraging people to stop and shop. Adequate parking arrangements close to retailers is essential. Dover Castle is inspiring, but people need to stop in the town in order to appreciate what is available, not go dashing past.” We have received many similar comments from traders in Margate and Ramsgate who find the parking charges excessive. One report reaching the chamber was particularly scathing: “I was just over ten minutes late getting back to my car parked on Margate Harbour Arm. As a result I was fined £50 and told it would be £70 if I didn’t pay immediately. I wrote to the parking company in London but to no avail.”
Terry Morrison of A. R Adams & Sons (Printers) Ltd, said: “Start-up companies require finance which is essential to inward investment in the town and a healthy economy. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia If the banks won’t take a risk, neither will inward investors. We must make access to finance easier.”
More On Banking
Janet Cousins of Mowll & Mowll Solicitors said: “The banks are at the root of everything. In a recent case, a well-managed company with an unblemished trading and finance record had its loan called in by a major bank for no apparent reason other than it was ‘national policy’. Attempts to make the bank see sense in the interests of the business community were met with the statement ‘We want our money back.’ Well-run companies with sound management and good prospects are being badly served by the some of the major banks.” The Thanet & East Kent Chamber welcomes the recent initiative from Lloyds TSB to work more closely with Chamber members. We look forward to making an official announcement shortly.
Planning, Transport & Manston
Adecco Recruitment is the world’s largest HR company and in an official statement declared: “Adecco feel that the following issues pose some barriers to trade opportunities. Firstly, Fast Track Planning is required for companies of all sizes. This means that start-up companies should receive prompt assistance in establishing their operations and established firms should not have to wait long for a response on official reaction to expansion initiatives. Secondly, more funding is required for regional transportation projects. An improved transport link with Manston Airport would encourage inward investment, whilst a faster train link with London would enable greater access to the region for city businesses.”
7. What Does the Chamber Think?
As we have often stated, our assumptions are less important than the views of our members. Following many discussions with the members of the Thanet & East Kent Chamber and the Dover District Chamber of Commerce, we make nine recommendations. It should be noted that these recommendations are from the two largest business support organisations in the East Kent coastal business community.
Recommendation One: Fast Track Planning. Any commercial proposal that creates 5+ jobs should receive a preliminary response within 5 days and a decision within 28 days.
Recommendation Two: Abolition of Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007. Eric Pickles was quite right when he described the pernicious consequences of this attack on property investors: ‘Empty rates will stifle what hope there is for an economic recovery’. Michael Gove was equally adamant about this ‘wicked and ungodly Act’. It is still there. Let’s put it in the same parliamentary dustbin as the so – called Red Flag Act which required motorists to keep to a maximum of 4 mph and to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag. It’s time for our commercial property market to be speeded up. Let’s get rid of the red flag of Empty Rates.
Recommendation Three: Export, Export, Export. The Euro is just above parity with the pound sterling. Let’s support Kent manufacturers in selling their wares in Europe. Many of the products manufactured in East Kent can have a 20% cost advantage over their French counterparts. We are the closest to the Eurozone, we should be selling more.
Recommendation Four: Improve Broadband Coverage. The Internet highway is the autobahn of the 21st Century. Many of our rural communities are deprived of modern communication links. Improving broadband speeds will stimulate economic growth outside our cities and towns. We currently have a shameful provision in comparison to some our competitors in developing countries that have leapfrogged our technology.
Recommendation Five: Focus on Skills. The expansion plans of some companies are hindered through the lack of an adequate skills base. Some of our schools, colleges, and universities work closely with their neighbouring companies. Many do not. Business and education chiefs need to work together. A prime example of this cooperation is our Chamber Business Networking Breakfast scheduled for Thursday 30th June 2011 which brings together the enlightened senior management of the Marlowe Academy, Dover Grammar School for Girls, Hadlow Technology College and Thanet College.
Recommendation Six: Manston Parkway Station. The recent draft report from York Aviation forecast over 3,000 jobs following the granting of permission for night flights to Manston Airport. A direct line to London from a Manston Parkway Station would make Manston a genuine alternative to the London Airports and provide a huge vote of confidence in East Kent as a whole. Let’s stop talking. Let’s start building. Let’s start flying.
Recommendation Seven: National War Memorial on Dover’s Western Heights. The National War Memorial represents a clear opportunity to boost in-bound tourism to East Kent and to take advantage of the 13 million passengers who currently pass through the port of Dover each year but rarely stop. We estimate an input to the local economy in excess of £30 million a year following completion of the project which will appeal to almost every family in Britain and to many in the 50 Commonwealth countries that will be represented. Let’s get this project started before another part of the country takes John Pegg’s brilliant design for 1.7km of white granite walls engraved with the names of every serviceman and woman killed in the service of this country in WWI and WWII.
Recommendation Eight: Housing & Banking
Any house building projects should first take into account the jobs available to future residents. More social housing without realistic job offers available will not stimulate economic development. High Street banks should devolve more decision-making to local bank managers who know their business community. We want more bank managers to say: “Yes because I know you” and fewer remote computers to say “No, not a chance enquiry number 276549.”
Recommendation Nine: Business Support
The Business Advice Clinics offered every month to business of all sizes trading in Thanet have been fully booked since their launch last April. The Thanet & East Kent Chamber receives no financial support of any description from Thanet District Council (TDC) or any public body. A few years ago, TDC doubled the rent paid by the Chamber for its Broadstairs office at the Kent Innovation Centre and has increased the rent every year since. TDC may have a reduced budget but it has influence, patronage and control over many factors that could be used imaginatively to create jobs and boost the local economy. The people of Thanet deserve more and it is for those in local government who preside over the district to stimulate business for our companies, create jobs for our residents and provide a future for our youth. The Chamber's recent marketing trip to France has shown what can be done to create new opportunities in the Eurozone. It is surely time for the Council to back such efforts and to match its fine words with the appropriate actions in support.
8. News From Dover
Our sister Chamber in Dover, the Dover District Chamber of Commerce, will be hosting a Business Networking lunch on Friday 29 July 2011 which will feature Dover People’s Port: The Story So Far. Following the spectacular referendum result that produced a 97.5% vote in favour of a transfer of the port to DPPTL, the Dover People’s Port Trust Ltd, the government has called for a consultation, as reported in last week’s edition. One City insider whose season is regularly punctuated by Henley, Wimbledon and the Lords Test remarked to the Thanet & East Kent Insider that: “We are unlikely to hear a government decision before the St Leger”. Nevertheless, DDPTL is sensing that the wind is blowing in its favour and will be able to give a full briefing on developments. East Kent companies will have a particular interest in the promised £50 million regeneration fund which will immediately follow a transfer to DPPTL. A similar sum for investment is earmarked to follow in the ensuing few years. More details will follow in next week’s edition. As always in these matters, priority will be given to Chamber members.
9. Precious About Language
Most of us are much more careful about what we write than about what we say. Although our legal advisors may tell us that an oral contract is just as valid in law as a written one, it does makes sense to pay particular care before committing ourselves and our companies to a formal statement that has transferred from the keyboard to the printer without a stopover at the brain. We have probably all been guilty of a precipitous remark about which we might have earned us a yellow card from a referee. Not all of us have the quick wit of one Chamber member whose words were featured in a previous edition of the Thanet & East Kent Insider. Regular readers will recall when his music teacher turned round and found this young student pulling a face, the teacher said: “When I was young, I was told that if I pulled an ugly face and the wind changed, the face would stay with me all my life”. To which the young boy replied: “Well, sir, you can’t say you weren’t warned.” This resulted in a red card and no music lessons for a month. Getting it right first time is the ambition of all quality manufacturers but in our everyday speech we must surely be allowed the odd mistake. One Chamber member, recently returned form the USA, has informed the Chamber of an exchange at Harvard University. We have our doubts about this story, but we leave it to readers to decide for themselves. “A freshman from a backwoods town in Tennessee arrived at Harvard University for his first day at this prestigious university that has furnished eight US presidents and looked after 75 Nobel Prize winners. On exploring the campus with a growing sense of awe at the magnificent buildings and world-class research facilities, he asked one of the passing members of staff: “Excuse me sir, can you please tell me where Dudley House is at?” After some hesitation at being addressed by a lowly freshman, the distinguished Professor finally responded. “At Harvard young man, we don’t end our sentences with a preposition.” The freshman replied: “Do excuse me sir, please tell me where Dudley House is at, jackass?”
© David Foley, June 2011
Thanet & East Kent Insider
Issue No.: 157
1. Doing Business With France
Are our East Kent companies missing a trick? The continuing advantageous exchange rate with the Euro suggests that there is now a wonderful opportunity for local firms to break into the French market. After all, is not East Kent the closest point to France? With these points in mind, the Thanet & East Kent Chamber Chief Executive will be visiting France shortly on a whistle-stop tour to locate and secure the services of one or more French agents specialising in promoting British firms throughout mainland France. To qualify an agency will need to have at least one employee with English of native-speaker standard, experience of promoting British products, the ability to create multi-lingual websites and a deep understanding of the cultural niceties that need to be addressed in ensuring that East Kent firms reach the customers they need with the profit margins necessary to sustain a successful export trade. We will keep Chamber members posted on the results.
2. Win A Car
3. Suppliers Wanted
4. Increasing Turnover
Successful companies change with the times. They boost their turnover through wise planning and quality training for their staff. As the tastes and preferences of their customers change, so do the products on offer. The really clever guys anticipate the trends or, as in the case of the Sony Walkman, Apple iPad and Facebook, create a market for themselves because what they offer is too tempting to resist. Paul Crocker, big boss at Chamber member MacDonald’s in Thanet, has written to the Thanet & East Kent Insider, with news of his forward-thinking strategy to open an outlet at Minster Services. The anticipated growth of Manston Airport is creating increasing demand for commercial and retail properties in the vicinity of the airport. It is worth recording that Paul employs around 300 people. The success of Paul’s operations is of no surprise to the workers he trains and sponsors. Several of his staff are now working towards their GCSEs in Maths and English on an in-house scheme and he has an enviable record in providing Modern Apprenticeships. Most of the managers on the staff started as members of the crew and now find themselves running multi-million pound businesses. There is no evidence of ageism in the staff profiles as some employees are celebrating 29 years with the group; the oldest worker can justly claim 80 candles on his next birthday cake and is still as keen as the mustard that goes on the burghers. Chamber members will take note that supplies are bought locally wherever possible and all the beef served is native to Britain and Ireland from forequarter and flank cuts with only a light sprinkling of seasoning added.
5. More About McDonalds
This year saw McDonalds appear for the first time in the Sunday Times list of “25 Best Companies to work for in the UK”. Rated as the 22nd best big company in the rankings, the recognition follows the results from extensive employee questionnaires which praised management for the quality of its leadership, career development, wellbeing and corporate social responsibility. As Paul Crocker indicated, the company takes training seriously. Since 2006, McDonald's has introduced a series of progressive training and development programmes for its 85,000 UK employees. These include a Foundation Degree in Managing Business Operations. Last year, over 12,000 employees gained nationally-recognised qualifications through McDonald's and another 16,000 are currently working towards a qualification. Not every firm can link the turnover of burghers on the hotplate to the turnover in its year end accounts, but there is no doubt that most successful companies provide progression routes for their staff and accredited training programmes. Do you? If not, contact one of the following Chamber training organisations for advice; Canterbury Christ Church University of Canterbury and Broadstairs tel: 01227 782196; Independence Support Services (ISSLLP) of Manston tel: 01227 822508; Fire Strategy Company Ltd of Manston tel: 01843 826282; K B Occupational Health & Safety Services Ltd of Ramsgate tel: 07702 951175; Maximus Employment and Training UK of Ramsgate tel: 01843 808410; Profile Development and Training Ltd of Broadstairs tel: 01843 609300; Saint John Ambulance of Maidstone tel: 01732 876417; TNG (Avanta Enterprises) of Ramsgate tel: 01843 570250; Training Solutions At Thanet College At Work, Through Work For Work of Ramsgate and Manston tel: 01843 821580; Venedo Ltd of Ramsgate tel: 01843 591791; YMCA Training of Margate tel: 01843 298625.
6. Preparing For Profit
Chamber President Laura Sandys MP joined Charles Buchanan Chief Executive of Manston Airport, Paul Willoughby, Flybe Sales Manager for Midlands & South East, and the Thanet & East Kent Chief Executive for the launch last Thursday of Flybe’s new three-times-a-week service to Belfast. Business travellers from East Kent will welcome the huge cost and time savings now available to them as well as the legroom on all seats, which is greater than on any other low cost airline flying from the UK. Flybe tell us also that: “The craic is legendary here, making our cheap flights to Belfast a must for weekend travellers, hen parties, stag dos and anyone in search of a good time.” Many readers with family connections to Northern Ireland will be wanting to reserve seats well in advance to obtain the best prices. At the time of writing, a single flight to Belfast from Manston on Sunday 5 th June 2011 can be bought from the website at www.flybe.com for under £30.00, which is cheaper than the train fare on the same day from Ramsgate to London St Pancras. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
The Sandwich Economic Development Task Force published its second report to HM Government last Wednesday. Under the Chairmanship of Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, the report pulled no punches. Although the team remains optimistic over the future of the Sandwich site, the proposals in the first report for a Research, Innovation and Technology Zone have not led to the action requested, provoking Paul Carter to write: “We are disappointed that as yet, Government has not backed our proposals. In particular, immediate uncapped rate relief for an extended period of time that could help the regeneration of the facilities at Sandwich for business use and avoid the demolition of the site is crucial”. This Chamber has led the fight against the pernicious Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007, see Property Week of 31 st October 2008, and we are not surprised that more of the UK’s commercial infrastructure is under threat of demolition. The first page of the Executive Summary gives no cause for celebration: “it has been disappointing that the government has failed to support our proposals for growth and investment in recent announcements”. Paul Carter is keen to emphasize the importance of speedy action and adds: “The next month will be critical to the future of the Pfizer site at Sandwich”. Salvation will surely depend on the results of a bid in the second round of the Regional Growth Fund. Local Enterprise Partnerships have been invited to submit proposals by the end of June 2011 with a response from government expected during the following month. With no public funding of any description, this Chamber is continuing to provide free advice and support to Pfizer employees at all levels of management through our regular Business Advice Clinics.
9. More On Manston
East Kent’s major airport at Manston is approaching a critical phase of development. An independent report has just been published by York Aviation which sets out the economic benefits of implementing the airport’s Master Plan. Key to the sustainability of the airport and its future development is a night flying policy. The global slowdown has not reversed the growth at the BRIC Economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China where York Aviation sees “the greatest market opportunities”. The report concludes: “The ability to handle aircraft movements between 23.00 hrs and 07.00 hrs would be necessary for Manston to attract a low-cost airline with planes based at the airport, as well as handle greater levels of freight from around the world.” It is worth considering how the East Kent economy could be linked to the development of Manston. What are the key facts behind the development? The benefits bill for Thanet is currently of the order of £180 million a year [Growth Without Gridlock, KCC, 1 Dec 2010]. Unemployment in Thanet stands at 5.6%, the highest in Kent and more than double the South East average. In the last 12 months, unemployment in Thanet has increased by 2.2%. The latest figures show Thanet as the only Kent district not to register a year-on-year fall. The number of Thanet workers registered as unemployed stands at 4,382. [All unemployment data from NOMIS and reproduced under the terms of the Click-use License no. C2010000980]. If Manston can deliver its Master Plan, York Aviation tells us that by 2018 it would lead directly to 2,070 new jobs with another 1,035 jobs created as a result of the expansion of the airport. There is understandable concern across the political spectrum on the environmental aspects of night flights, but surely a satisfactory agreement can be reached. If not, can anyone please inform this Chamber of any other proposal in Thanet to create 3,000 jobs? We would like to know.
10. Jean Can Help
Jean Murton is the director of the Belmont Centre for Hypnotherapy UK. She has helped countless people in East Kent to combat their addictions such as smoking and excessive drinking or as she puts it “change also rans into winners”. A Master of Neuro-Linguistic programming, Jean is also a practising hypnotherapist with a string of letters after her name as befits a founder member of the UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy and the official training officer for the British Association of Therapeutical Hypnotists (est. 1951). Among the many patients who have responded positively to Jean’s treatments are sufferers from phobias, compulsions, addictions, anxiety, panic states, irritable bowel syndrome and lack of self esteem. For more details, see the website at www.belmont-centre.co.uk or telephone The Belmont Centre in Ramsgate, tel: 01843 87929. You are guaranteed a kind answer.
11. Marketing News
12. Countryside Greeters
We are grateful to Delphine Houlton of Maxim PR of Tunbridge Wells for news of a new Countryside Greeters initiative from Visit Kent. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia This will be of interest to “Walking and cycling enthusiasts prepared to share their passion for the Kent countryside and coast”. The Kent Countryside Greeters will be volunteers happy to meet visitors to the county who share similar interests. The Countryside Greeters will talk to visitors about the many different walks and cycle routes available to suit different levels of ability and interests, and then join them for a local walk or ride. The Countryside Greeters project for coastal Kent is being launched at The Pines Calyx, St Margaret’s Bay, on Tuesday, 7 th June 2011. Anyone interested in joining the team will be given a short introduction to the Greeter programme and a walking tour of the area followed by discussions and a sandwich lunch. Kerstin Andrews, of Visit Kent, said: “No-one knows the best walks and cycle routes better than local people. Meeting a Countryside Greeter will give visitors a chance to find out about all the opportunities and enjoy a walk or a cycle ride with them.” She adds: “Kent is expecting lots of new visitors in the run-up to the 2012 Games and beyond. We want to ensure that our guests enjoy a great welcome”. So say all of us.
13. Kent Graduates
Grads Kent was one of the exhibitors at the Pfizer Open Day, see Thanet & East Kent Insider of 21st May 2011. We thank Sam Ewing and Nadia Lawes of Grads Kent for answering our questions about the background to the organisation. Research by Kent County Council has identified that of the 11,000 graduates who leave Kent Universities each year, just 30% secure a job in the county. Of course, incoming graduates redress the balance to some extent but local companies appear to be missing the opportunity to recruit aspiring career-minded professionals with the local knowledge to enter management with a flying start. Based on data quoted by Personnel Today, Grads Kent maintains that employers “can expect a return of between 500% and 800% when they hire new graduates.” Any additional costs are justified by the Return On Investment produced by the high level skills available including: “Written and oral communication, Problem-solving, Presentation, Organisation, Data analysis”, Grads Kent adds that self-motivation and the ability to work harmoniously in a team are attributes that undergraduates acquire during the years of study at university. More information is available at the website www.GradsKent.com or by telephone to 01622 696242. Chamber members who offer a quality route to recruitment can save you enormous time in sifting through CVs and interviewing unsuitable candidates. For a professional solution to your recruitment needs, contact one or more of the following Chamber members: 247 Recruitment (Kent) Ltd tel: 01843 294004; Adecco Recruitment of Broadstairs tel: 01843 609292; Connexions Partnership Kent & Medway Ltd of Maidstone tel: 01622 607578; Direction Recruitment of Ramsgate tel: 01843 598694; Maximus Employment and Training UK of Ramsgate tel: 01843 808410; TNG (Avanta Enterprises) of Ramsgate tel: 01843 570250; YMCA Training of Margate tel: 01843 298625.
14. Turner Contemporary Workshops
Art of all kinds is on offer from the Turner Contemporary over the next few months. Budding authors will be interested in the Let’s Get Critical Workshop on 4th June and 2nd July 2011. Participants will be guided on how to make their own film through animation using drawing, paper cut-outs and claymation at the Between the Word and the Image Day on 11 th June 2011. Book-making, story telling, floristry and how to paint in a wide variety of media also feature on the Turner Contemporary timetable of workshops between now and 20th August 2011. Full details are available on the website at www.turnercontemporary.org/whats-on/category/courses and by telephone to 01843 233 000
15. Third Sector
During last week, the Chamber was represented at the Princes Trust Awards at St Paul’s Community Centre and the AGM of the Thanet Voluntary and Community Sector Forum. Space permitting, reports will appear in the next edition of the Thanet & East Kent Insider.
16. Olympic Contracts
17. Say It With Flowers
We are grateful to one Chamber member for an account concerning a local florist. We have our doubts about this story but we leave it to readers to judge for themselves. A new shop opened recently at Westwood Cross. The proprietor received a number of cards from well-wishers as well as some small gifts to make him feel at home in his new business. Halfway through the first morning of trading, a large bunch of flowers arrived with a card that stated simply “Rest In Peace”. Angry at receiving such condemnatory words on what should have been a happy occasion, he immediately went to his office and telephoned the florist demanding an explanation in no uncertain terms. After some careful checking, he received a fulsome apology with the words: “It seems that the card to accompany a wreath for a local funeral was evidently mistakenly exchanged with yours. We are very sorry. But before you get too upset, you might like to reflect that as we speak somewhere at a funeral service near Margate, there is a large wreath with a note that states: ‘Congratulations on your new location’”.
Thanet & East Kent Insider
25th April 2011 Issue No.: 153
1. Energy Costs More Shock Horror
We last reported on energy costs in the Thanet & East Kent Insider of 8th January 2011 when we listed the energy price rises for the previous year and stated that ‘some of the monthly figures quoted are alarming’. We continued that ‘Monthly fluctuations may normally be of interest to speculators more than the rest of us who have longer term trends in mind, but when the pace of rises is increasing so sharply, it suggests that anyone who does not review their energy costs now might have serious cause to regret it in the near future.’ That near future now appears to have arrived. We are again grateful to Martyn Young of Atlantic Business Resources, tel: 0781 353 7456, for bringing our attention to the E.ON Market Report of April 2011 which gives a detailed breakdown of the gas, oil, coal and carbon markets for the period March 2010 to March 2011. The huge earthquake off the coast of Japan on 11th March 2011 and subsequent tsunami provoked a sharp rise in UK power prices last month. The reason is that power plants using fossil fuels will be required to contribute to the shortfall from the 10GW loss from Japanese nuclear plants. The abrupt closure of seven German nuclear plants will also impact on UK energy costs. During the month of March 2011 alone, the power and gas prices rose by 10% and 13% respectively. A monthly rise in oil prices of around 1% was not helpful, as anyone with a car, van or lorry to run will confirm. There is no disguising that the rises in energy contract prices over the last year and, in particular, the last month are frightening as the table below shows.
Year Mar 2010 – Mar 2011
Month Mar 2011
Average front month power contract price
Average front month gas contract price
Average front month oil contract price
Average Apr’11 Annualised power price
Average Apr’11 Annualised gas price
2. What Can Be Done About Energy Costs?
The global strategy is one for governments. We will certainly be raising the matter on your behalf with our Members of Parliament and with the Bank of England. On a local level, the sharp rises mean that it is more important than ever to get the best possible deal on your energy supplies. If you have not recently reviewed your energy costs, we strongly advise that you do so without delay. The following Chamber members are recommended: Martyn Young of Atlantic Business Resources tel: 0781 353 7456; David Batten of Auditel (UK) Ltd tel: 0797 349 6411; Jeremy Bailey of Auditel tel: 01843 588 776.
3. Your Money, Hadlow College, SEEDA and BBC
Many Chamber members have commented on the impact of public funds on the regeneration of East Kent. The consensus seems to be qualified support for strategically targeted spending on infrastructure developments such as improved transport links, a Manston Parkway Station, faster rail times to London and investment in better school and college buildings. As a general rule, our Chamber members prefer to keep their earnings rather than have them taken way by any remote body which thinks it can spend it better than they can. Is that surprising? Perhaps not, but as a Chamber we are duty-bound to reflect those views as we did last week on the BBC Radio Kent breakfast show; click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00g1xxz/Breakfast_with_John_Warnett_and_Clare_McDonnell_21_04_2011/and fast forward to fast forward to 1:23:40. The recording is available until 28th April 2011.
4. Turnover Is Vanity, Cash Is Sanity
5. Bank of England
6. What Does the Bank of England Say About Business Conditions?
7. Turner Contemporary Update
The Turner Contemporary gallery on Margate’s seafront has received extensive coverage on national television, UK and regional newspapers, radio networks and indeed in the pages of the Thanet & East Kent Insider. There have been many doubters in the last seven years and it may be no surprise that critics, fewer in number than before, nevertheless are still keen to talk down Margate, rubbish East Kent and generally spread misery to all those who will listen to their comments or read their views. We prefer to concentrate our efforts on putting money in the pockets of our members and their employees by working with the media in supporting the growth of our local economy by attracting inward investors and by encouraging visitors to appreciate the attractions around us. Not everyone may agree with our assertion see http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2011-1/april/19/turner_visitors_disappointed.aspxthat the Turner Contemporary is 'Innovative, fresh, clean, exciting, good-looking, enterprising, regenerative and in the news’ , although it must be difficult to claim that it is not ‘in the news’, but we see little point in telling the world not to come here. The Thanet & East Kent Chamber will be cooperating fully with an independent economic impact study which is due to be completed before the end of the year. We confidently expect it to show positive benefits for the East Kent coastal business community.
8. Charity And The Law
Our experience with lawyers in East Kent has been wholly positive. Indeed, we are fortunate to have such well-known and respected legal firms in our membership. One Chamber member has been less fortunate and recalls a story from his time in London. We have our doubts about this account, but leave it to readers to judge for themselves. ‘One weekend, I was collecting money for the Mayor’s charity in our borough of North London when it occurred to me that the lawyer living around the corner reportedly earns over a million pounds a year. In all the years I had been collecting for various charities, to my knowledge he had never ever contributed. Determined to change this lamentable injustice, I went to his substantial residence, noted the three luxury cars in his large garage and rapped determinedly on the door. He came to the entrance with a gin and tonic in his hand and an aggressive look on his face. I explained politely that I was collecting for the needy and disadvantaged in the area and asked him for a contribution to the community in view of his considerable wealth. He replied: ‘I don’t know who did your research. Clearly, you are not aware that my mother is seriously ill with medical bills of many times her income.’ I mumbled something along the lines of ‘No er-r-r I didn’t.” He continued: “Or that my younger brother, a disabled serviceman who was injured in the war in Afghanistan in the service of his country, needs expensive specialist equipment in his house to make his life bearable.’ Again I just stammered: ‘Sorry, I had no idea’. He added: ‘And my poor sister and her husband died in a car accident last month leaving three children without their parents and all alone in this world’. Embarrassed now beyond measure, I conceded with a humble apology and turned to leave. Sensing his complete victory, the lawyer added finally to my retreating back; ‘And so if I don’t give a penny to them, why on earth should I give anything to you?’.
Thanet & East Kent Insider
16th April 2011 Issue No.: 152
1. The Big Story
There has been one major story in Thanet in the past week. It concerns business and art. There has been quiet from those who sit back and complain about the representatives they have elected, who moan about the environment in which they live and who always ask what Thanet can do for them and not what they can do for Thanet. There has been a huge noise from those who believe in our democratic system, who cherish the community where they reside and who are prepared to support the future of East Kent. The story is of course the opening of the Turner Contemporary. For the Chamber’s view, click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00fxwlh/Breakfast_with_John_Warnett_and_Clare_McDonnell_15_04_2011/ and fast forward to 0:48:20; available until next Friday. Our good friends at BBC Radio Kent put together a superb programme that proves again how blessed we are to have BBC Radio Kent, Academy FM and KMFM all covering local issues on our airwaves. Clare McDonnell and John Warnett, assisted by that consummate professional and ex-Radio Caroline star, Graham Cook, put together a superb broadcast live from the new gallery. As you will hear from the recording, they did not shirk the difficult questions but they did not miss the glory and the joy at the opening of this world class gallery on Margate‘s seafront.
2. What’s So Special About Turner?
As a Chamber of Commerce, we celebrate the economic impact of a £17.5 million investment in the future of Margate, but we must not forget the artist whose name the gallery bears. Anyone with the middle name Mallord deserves respect, but Joseph Mallord William Turner is one of Margate’s own who lived spent his youth in Margate. His house stood on the site of the new gallery. Arguably, he remains Britain’s best loved painter as evidenced by his Fighting Temeraire winning the title of ‘the greatest painting in Britain’ in a survey by the BBC in 2005. To give a measure of the competition, Constable’s Hay Wain came second and Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère was third. If any name can bring the punters in, it must be that of Turner.
3. Curtain Raiser
If there were doubts before the Turner Contemporary was built, there were no doubts during the evening curtain raiser last Wednesday evening when an invited audience was treated to a preview of the building and its paintings. The formal speeches provided a neat framework to the unbridled joy of the VIP audience which included self-confessed Kent immigrant Dr David Starkey, who was in fine form, and familiar faces in the business world such as Lord Howard and Rod Douglas, Chairman of the soon to be defunct Seeda. Amanda Cottrell, the much praised Chairman of Visit Kent, could hardly contain her enthusiasm for this prime addition to the tourism offer. In a speech to the assembled great and good, Pam Alexander, Seeda Chief Executive, echoed the thoughts of many in emphasising the role of the gallery as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of East Kent which will ‘shine like a beacon’ to attract visitors. Introducing the speakers was Chairman of the Turner Contemporary, John Kampfner, who must have been delighted with the success of the building programme and the words of praise from Cllr Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council and Cllr Mike Hill also of KCC who has administered constant medical care to the gallery from its embryonic state and near still-birth to its present healthy arrival as a bouncing regeneration baby. Cllr Bob Bayford, Leader of Thanet District Council, paid tribute to his predecessor, Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, and explained that the money for the gallery was available only for arts regeneration and would not have been available for any other pet project. Also enjoying the evening was Cllr Clive Hart, Leader of the opposition at Thanet District Council, who was immaculately dressed and accompanied by his elegant wife, the relatively newly elected Councillor Sandra Hart. Political discussions were off limits for the evening as all those with Thanet’s best interest at heart were thoroughly enjoying the occasion and keen to see the whole of the East Kent coastal business community make the most of the commercial opportunities the gallery will bring.
4. The Turner Gallery Opening
The countdown to the formal opening of the Turner Contemporary earlier today was voiced by Jools Holland with the delightful participation of the students from Tracy Emin’s former school, Trinity & St John’sCEPSchool, who will doubtlessly remember the day for the rest of their lives. Known by many as the presenter of television’s ‘Later with Jools Holland’, this former pianist of The Squeeze may not always be at his best for morning engagements at the weekends, but he is now the UK’s most celebrated jazz pianist with a worldwide reputation for excellence in popular music. In his capacity as a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Jools Holland said: “I can genuinely say that Her Majesty the Queen wishes you the best and the best for this museum of Kent”. Nobody seemed to mind too much that Jools had rechristened the gallery as a museum. Tracy Emin rose to the occasion in fine style and said: “This really is a tremendous, fantastic, important day, not just for Margate but internationally and for the world’. Her poise and measured delivery suggest that she might have a future in public life beyond her sometimes controversial art exhibits. Smiling broadly in the morning sunshine, the audience certainly responded warmly to her words. When she added: “Margate is going to be one of the truly fantastic places to have a day out, to have some fish and chips, have some sea food, to see some art. It’s just going to be brilliant”, she voiced the feelings of the vast majority of the huge crowd gathered in front of the gallery. John Kampfner and Victoria Pomeroy must have been thrilled with the reaction to the opening of the Turner Contemporary. The Thanet & East Kent Chamber wishes this Chamber member every success. We leave the last words on the subject to Tracy Emin who, like JMW Turner, is one of Margate’s own: “Art is going to be the best and the strongest thing that is ever going to happen to this town”.
5. Think Global, Act Local
The title of this item is a much used phrase that has its origins before WWI. At this Chamber of Commerce, we want it to mean that public bodies think about spending their money on suppliers in East Kent before they look elsewhere. Our long-running campaign has had some successes of which the most gratifying is the magnificent response of ThanetCollege. Under Principal Graham Razey and enterprising senior staff, notably Anne Leese, Karen Evans and Karen Pilgrim, ThanetCollege is continuing to redirect an increasing percentage of its spending on non-pay related services towards Chamber members and local companies. From a 2009/10 base of 22% of budget, at the end of the three-month period to 31 October 2010, this had risen to 34%. We are delighted to report to Chamber members that this has now risen still further to 38% for the last reported quarter. In the first six months of the financial year, the total spend on local suppliers reached a figure of £436,000. This is a superb performance that shows that a predominantly publicly-funded body can understand the needs of its local business community and respond in the best possible way, by becoming a large spending customer. We understand that service levels to ThanetCollege students and trainees have not suffered in any way. The developing warm relations with local business were a key factor in establishing ThanetCollege’s new Business Solutions training centre at Manston. We have the permission of ThanetCollege to quote the percentage increases in the local spend in the different departments. The following figures refer to the percentage of budget at the end of January 2011 followed by the previous figure for the period ending on 31 July 2010; Capital 31%/21%; Catering 59%/59%; Equipment and Consumables 13%/15%; Marketing 94%/61%; Professional Fees 38%/19%; Repairs & Maintenance 67%/56%. The Thanet & East Kent Chamber is continuing its campaign with other public bodies in the area and will report to members on our progress.
5. Five Hundred Pounds Is Waiting For You
6. More About Energy
7. Pfizer Update
8. Yet More About Pfizer
Job Centre Plus’s Rapid Response Team is now located on the Sandwich site and is accessible to all Pfizer staff. An initial awareness session is scheduled for 20th April 2011 ‘at various locations on the Sandwich site’. More information on the service can be obtained from your local Job Centre office.
9. A Charity Too Far
One Chamber member has contacted us with news of an interesting sidelight on collecting for charity. We have our doubts about this story, but we leave it to readers to judge for themselves. “I lived in Paris in the early seventies. It was a great time in France after the ’68 reforms; young people were still in their element and many of them were living the high life in more ways than one. I was studying at home in my flat one afternoon when the doorbell rang. When I opened it, there was a young couple there with some sort of official badge on their lapels. I asked them what they wanted and they said that they were collecting money “for the widow of the Unknown Soldier”. That seemed like a worthy cause and I duly gave them ten francs. Remember this was before the Euro arrived and you could get an excellent bottle of wine for 10 francs in those days. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia I returned to my books feeling very pleased with my generosity and then I started thinking. ‘Just a minute, the Unknown Soldier was buried in the Arc De Triomphe around 1920. Surely, his widow could not still be alive and if she was, wouldn’t the French state be looking after her?’ Then it struck me good and hard. How on earth can you collect money for the widow of an unknown solider? If he is unknown, the widow must be unknown too. Realising I had been fooled like a complete idiot, I determined to put it down to experience and promised myself never to be fooled like this again. It was some five years later that I read that this particular couple had been arrested. In the meantime, they had accumulated a considerable fortune. Either the victims had not realised that they were being conned or perhaps they were too embarrassed at their own gullibility to admit it publicly. This Chamber member learned his lesson well and is happy to pass on his experience to others. If a couple with French accents knocks on your door asking for money for the family of the Unknown Soldier, please direct them to the Thanet & East Kent Chamber. We have reserved some special words in French with which to welcome them to Thanet.
Thanet & East Kent Insider
26th February 2011 Issue No.: 145
1. Manston Airport
Last week, the Thanet & East Kent Chamber was invited to a meeting with senior staff from Flybe to discuss the local economy and the airline's plans for expansion. There is no doubt that the daily flights to Edinburgh introduced last year have been a great success with bookings exceeding expectations. The addition of Manchester last September increased the attraction of the airport as a departure point for businesses in the South East seeking to increase sales in the North West region. Having seen the sales figures, the Thanet & East Kent Chamber can understand why Flybe is seeking to build on its success by offering more routes from Manston with connections for international flights. As mentioned in the Thanet & East Kent Insider of 5th February 2011, one of the keys to growth is matching the travel wishes of residents and workers with the dates, times and destinations available. With this in mind, Flybe offered readers of the Thanet & East Kent Insider the opportunity to state their preferences. If you have not already completed the on-line survey, please do so now. It takes just a few minutes. If you do not, then you can hardly complain if any new low cost flights from Manston go to Alicante, Belfast and Newquay rather than to Lyon near your posh brother's place with its extensive cellar and swimming pool or to Faro where your neighbour has offered you the free use of his holiday villa. This is your opportunity to tell the airline where to go. The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/MSEchamber
4. A Greener Economy
Augustine House in Canterbury was the venue for a conference and exhibition last Wednesday organised by our good friends at Canterbury4Business. Skilfully chaired with good humour by Clive Relf of Reeves & Co LLP under the tile "'A Greener Economy: Time for Change?", the morning brought together expert speakers who outlined their views of a sustainable economy where green issues were at the top of the agenda. John Atkins, of CE Murch, scorned the use of PowerPoint but gave a fascinating account of how he converted from conventional farming to being a producer of woodchips for use as biomass in commercial boilers. The resulting Combined Heat and Power systems have been adopted by Amery Court and Canterbury City Council. Keith Gwilym of Canterbury Christ Church University explained some of the principles that guided the university's construction of Augustine House on the site of the former Clarkson Insurance premises in Canterbury. Geo-thermal power supplies 25% of the heating and cooling needs of the building. In brief, this system is based on piles driven deep into the ground that have a constant temperature at their base, let's call this 'C Temp'. When the building is hotter than C Temp the heat is transferred below which thus cools the building. When the building is colder than C Temp, the reverse occurs. Clever stuff. The presentation from David Reed of Canterbury City Council showed why he has a first class degree from the University of London; delegates knew that already as it was printed in the programme. Adam Lacey of Streetcar said that his company runs a successful scheme for short term car hire that reduces pollution, costs and congestion. The minimum car hire period is just 30 minutes. Streetcar has been particularly successful in London and Cambridge and now has two sites in Kent, both in Maidstone. Green credentials feature strongly in the company's publicity which states: "Every Streetcar on the road replaces, on average, 26 privately-owned cars." Vattenfall's Project Director, Goram Loman, gave an elegant and concise account of the environmental and engineering qualities of his company's installations at Thanet Offshore Windfarm and at Kentish Flats. He outlined the plans to add to the 30 turbines off the coast of Whitstable which together with the 100 turbines now off the coast of Ramsgate make a major contribution to the government's target of 15% of UK electricity to be generated from renewable sources by the year 2015.
We are grateful to Marie Hamm of East Kent LSP for sending details of a social enterprise event entitled Financing A Sustainable Future to be held at The Pines Calyx at St Margaret's Bay on 9th March 2011 from 1000 hrs to 1600 hrs. The sessions will focus on the current and future financing models available to companies. Speakers will include representatives from Big Invest, the Charity Bank and the Community Development Finance Association. Tickets at £25 each and further details are available from Marie Hamm by email to marie@eastkent;sp.org.uk.
7. Fair Fuel
Roger Gale, Member of Parliament for Thanet North, is one of a growing number of MPs to be listed as supporting the campaign for fairer fuel prices. Regular readers of the Insider know that the Thanet & East Kent Insider has long campaigned to end the Thanet Surcharge of at least 3p on a litre of unleaded petrol which residents and workers in Thanet are obliged to pay and their counterparts in Canterbury do not. The additional surcharge on petrol is an unfair cost that cannot be justified. The current petition at www.fairfueluk.com is targeted at raising support at Westminster for the planned April fuel duty increase of up to 5p a litre to be scrapped.
The Office of National Statistics has revealed that Consumer Price Index for annual inflation rose from 3.7% in December 2010 to 4.0% in January 2011. Fuels and lubricants are listed in the official report as being a major source of the rise due to "increases in VAT, fuel duty and in the price of crude oil all contributed to prices increasing between December 2010 and January 2011 by more than between the same two months a year ago. The price of petrol stood at £1.27 per litre in January 2011, a record high". Not all prices rose. Consumers benefited from lower prices on CDs and DVDs. Reduced overdraft charges from many banks and building societies also provided some mitigation. Sadly, pubs, clubs and restaurants, a significant sector in the East Kent coastal business community, suffered a record monthly price increase of 1.4%. Alcoholic beverages sales were also hit by the VAT increase leading to another record monthly price rise of 6.7%, whisky and vodka suffering particularly badly.
10. News From Dover
A town meeting has been called at Dover Town Hall on Thursday 3rd March 2011 at 1800 hrs. The supporters of Dover People's Port Trust Limited (DPPTL) will present their case to the people of Dover as to why the citizens of the town should back DPPTL's current offer made to the government to purchase the port of Dover. A referendum will follow later in the month at which Dover residents will be invited to back or reject the proposal. A partnership is promised between the town, port and ferry companies resulting in an immediate £50 million being available for regeneration and investment in Dover.
11. The Things They Say
Footballers are not renowned for their fluency or philosophical insights. Nevertheless, a few managers have distinguished themselves with illuminating comments on the human condition. The pages of the Thanet & East Kent Insider have featured in the past contributions from Brian Clough, Bill Shankly and others. The Insider's most closely monitored team, Doncaster Rovers, does not have an entry in the Oxford Book of Quotations, although its current manager, Sean O'Driscoll, got half way there when lamenting another loss. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia He said in a post match interview: "I'd go home and kick the cat if I could – but I haven't got one". He may not always choose the best tactics, but you cannot fault the logic. Grim reality is the cause of some pithy statements such as that of Paul Jewell, another lamenting manager:"Up front we played like world beaters, - at the back it was more like panel beaters". Sometimes the basic instinct of British managers to 'cut out the fancy stuff and just kick the ball or the man as hard as you can' surfaces in their criticism of foreign players. George Graham, hard talking, tough-guy manager from Bargeddie in North Lanarkshire was not overly impressed by the Swedish player Tomas Brolin whom he found on the club's payroll when he arrived as manager at Leeds United. This is a club whose fans had been treated to the simple approach of Norman Hunter and others of "Get your retaliation in first". It was no surprise when George Graham said of Brolin: "I can't imagine him jumping for the ball. One of his false eyelashes might come out". But perhaps we should leave the last word to one of the greatest managers of British football, Bill Shankly. When he was having his hair cut in his beloved Liverpool and the barber asked; "Anything off the top, sir?", he replied simply: "Yes, Everton.".