The Insider - Business Bulletins
Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber
Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber
Thanet & East Kent Insider
12th November 2011 Issue No.: 174
1. Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited Thanet yesterday, putting a new focus on two development projects which can now claim royal patronage. The Turner Contemporary received the ultimate blessing when our sovereign unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit. Spirited applause and smiles from the audience must have warmed the hearts of Cllr Mike Hill, Cllr Paul Carter, Turner Chairman John Kampfner and gallery Director Victoria Pomeroy who saw all their hard work crowned with success as the royal couple followed in the footsteps of over 300,000 others who have visited the gallery since its opening last April. Chamber member Hartsdown Technology College fell under the appreciative royal gaze in the Clore Learning studio. The royal party had landed at Kent International Airport proving again that Manston is at the centre of developments in East Kent.
2. Remembrance In Kent
It is calculated that at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th month of this year 2011, the royal party was flying over Dover, which is a fitting tribute to this country’s premier passenger port as the White Cliffs of Dover provided the final vista for many soldiers departing for the trenches in WW1 and was at the front line in WW2. A young Princess Elizabeth trained as a driver and mechanic in the ATS in the final year of the last war. Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and served throughout the conflict with great distinction before ending his career as a Commander in 1952.
3. Department For Transport
The Thanet & East Kent Chamber in liaison with our sister body in Dover accepted an invitation from the Department of Transport to brief the government on the local economy in the East Kent coastal business community. The Chamber Chief Executive spent just under two hours last Thursday at the DfT Headquarters at Great Minster House in London in discussions with the Director and Deputy Director of Maritime Commerce and Infrastructure. The views of Chamber members were communicated in detail together with an outline of proposed reforms to boost East Kent businesses.
4. Managing Our Ports
We are continuing to receive excellent reports of our Business Networking breakfast at the Fayreness Hotel which featured the genial Chief Executive of the New York-based Global Institute of Logistics, Kieran Ring. Delays at our ports add cost and reduce the competitiveness of British companies seeking to take advantage of currency advantages and buoyant niche markets overseas. The Chamber Chairman, Dr Bill Moses, advises that sometimes we overcomplicate the management strategies required to ensure that our ports are efficient and reflect best practice. He advises that there are three key factors in port operations which should remain central to all management decisions: Speed, Cost-effectiveness and Safety. Isn’t that the truth? Or as Aleksandr Orlov the Russian meerkat might say: “Simples”.
5. More On Margate
There is more to Margate than sand, sea and the Turner Contemporary. The Embroidered & Printed Clothing Company continues to lead the way as one of the country’s leading suppliers and manufacturers of promotional clothing and workwear. Over the last twelve years, the company has refined its production and upgraded its technology to the point where it can compete with domestic producers throughout the UK and Europe. If you are looking to give your employees an edge in the marketplace or are considering some seasonal gifts to reward your employees, follow the example of happy customers Vodafone, VW, Coca Cola and Jaguar and make that call to the The Embroidered & Printed Clothing Company sales team; tel: 0845 180 1008. A full range of products can be viewed on-line at www.embroidered-printed clothing.co.uk .
6. My Big Kent Weekend
7. New Salon In Broadstairs
The Chamber Co-president, Laura Sandys MP, Broadstairs Mayor Cllr David Saunders, accompanied by his charming wife Cllr Mave Sanders, and the Chamber Chief Executive were all guests of the Indulgence Health & Beauty Salon last Friday evening to celebrate its grand opening at 135 High Street, Broadstairs. Salon Manager Stacy Shearer and her team have transformed these premises to a high standard for clients who wish to be “relaxed on the inside and radiant on the outside”. Responding to a growing market in and around Thanet, the salon is offering a “Pre-Christmas Pamper” where the cheaper of two treatments is offered free of charge. The Indulgence Health & Beauty Salon is open from Monday to Friday from 0900 hrs to 1900 hrs and on Saturdays from 0900 hrs to 1730 hrs. If a waxing, manicure or pedicure is your fancy or you want to know what is meant by “a Hollywood eyelash extension and a minx and trendy wrap”, give Stacy a call, tel: 01843 586236. As a qualified beauty therapist for 13 years, she knows how to “relax, restore and revive” you. So far as we know, Stacy has not been invited to the current discussions over the Euro. We suspect her skills could be very useful in reviving the spirits of the Greeks or in sharpening the nails of the Germans.
8. Supplier to Vattenfall
Chamber members seeking to access the £15 million pound budget of Vattenfall earmarked for local suppliers to the Kentish Flats Extension off the coast of Whitstable are advised to complete and return the attached Expression of Interest Form, if they have not already done so. Chamber member Vattenfall is serious about using local suppliers. Please ensure that you state your ‘Business Category’ with the exact wording of one of the categories listed below. Return the completed form to the email address indicated on the form using the subject line “EoI Form Kentish Flats TEKC”.
9. Vattenfall Supplier Categories
The following categories are recognised by Vattenfall for its supplier list: Accommodation Business and Personnel (Hotels and B&Bs); Building and onshore site maintenance; Car/bus hire; Cable installation companies. Cable joint suppliers; Cable Jointers; Caterers; Cleaners; Composite material suppliers; Condition monitoring systems; Couplings and fasteners; Courier services; Cranes; Divers; electric/fibre optic cables; Electrical equipment suppliers; Environmental response service and materials; Equipment /tool hire; Equipment hoists and lifting gear; fall arrest system services; Facilities management; Fire and ; security protection systems; Fork lift truck suppliers and maintainers; Handtool suppliers (For rigging etc); Hazardous waste collection; Health and Safety equipment – onshore, offshore; equipment and lifting equipment; Helicopter Services; HSE training providers; HV and LV electrical engineers; Hydraulic equipment suppliers; Industrial rope access suppliers; Jointing systems incl specialist adhesives; Lift servicing; maintenance and inspection; Lifting equipment suppliers; logistics/haulage; Lubricant suppliers; Marine Engine Workshops; Marine facilities - harbour; bunkering; general supplies; Marine logistics and consultants; Marine operations and management; Marketing/PR agencies; Materials and tool suppliers; Mooring and navigation system suppliers and installers; Noise monitoring specialists; Office supplies including communication; Paint and protection systems; Portside logistic support and haulage; Printers; Recruitment- office admin; general and offshore operatives; Recycling collection; Safety equipment suppliers and workwear; Scaffolding; Security Services; Shackles and lifting tackle; Sign makers; Slings; Standby generator suppliers; Steel suppliers; Tools (general); Training- offshore; first aid and health and safety; Transport - airport transfers and local area; Vessels; workboats and barges; Waste management services; Welders; Workwear suppliers; Workwear Laundry services.
10. Changes at Pfizer
The latest developments at the Discovery Park, the former Pfizer site, were examined in some detail in the BBC Inside Out South East programme broadcast on 7th November 2011. It featured the Chairman of the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force, Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter, who promoted the opportunities available for inward investors. He was joined by a somewhat geeky academic, Dr Tim Leunig, who gave a rather brutal assessment stating that “jobs are basically ugly” and that Kent must choose between being “beautiful and bucolic” or sacrifice the countryside “in order to provide lots of industrial premises”. The academic rather ignores the extensive brownfield sites currently available in Kent. He is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. Paul Carter emphasised the hi-tech facilities in Sandwich and pointed to the success of the former ICI site at Runcorn where there are now more people employed than when ICI was in residence. Dr Leunig disagreed, but when asked the question: “Have you been to Runcorn, Tim?” had to admit “I have not been to Runcorn for many years”. This suggests that the academic is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. The programme continued in a similar vein covering Enterprise Zones, intellectual capital, Regional Growth Fund, Infrastructure and Manston Airport. When the discussion turned to education and skills, Dr Leunig informed the audience that he had attended Oxford University but many children in Kent schools from poor families underperform. On green technology and wind farms, he suggested that the case for job creation is weak, perhaps not realising, as Paul Carter pointed out, that Kent has “the longest coastline regions of any county in the country”. The academic is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. See for yourself at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016yvj1/Inside_Out_South_East_07_11_2011///www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016yvj1/Inside_Out_South_East_07_11_2011/
11. News From Dover
Plans for a National War Memorial on Dover’s Western Heights received a boost this month with the launch of a website at www.nationalwarmemorial.co.uk and a film posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiInhoAmFfE. Older Chamber members will have noticed increased respect in the last thirty years for those who died in the two largest conflicts of the twentieth century. The objective of the National War Memorial is to provide a permanent physical reminder of the names of the 1.7 million people who died in the service of our country in WW1 and WW2. The proposed white granite walls sitting on the White Cliffs opposite Dover Castle total 1.7 kms in length. Thus, each pace of one metre will represent 1,000 deaths. As visitors pass by seeking their own surnames, there will be an increasing realization of the losses sustained by Britain and the Commonwealth. If we are to demonstrate to young people the human cost of war, then a trip to the National War Memorial could provide a much needed reality check to a generation raised on computer simulations of war games and the hero-worshipping of X-factor contestants. As one Lieutenant-Colonel, a veteran of Northern Island and the Falklands, said last week when visiting the Chamber: “War is not glorious”.
12. Kent For Business
Last Wednesday, Locate in Kent organised a seminar at Darwin College Conference Centre at the University of Kent on the theme “Kent as Business Location”. Delegates were asked to consider what attracts investors to Kent and what might deter them. The general conclusion was that Kent is indeed attractive to companies. Being at once close to London and at the same time benefiting from its proximity to EU, which despite its currency problems, represents the largest market in the world, Kent has many advantages over its competitors elsewhere in the UK. Although Dr Tim Leunig might not agree, see item x above, Kent schools are generally perceived as providing a good education preparing students well for with a wide range of choices in Further and Higher Education. As so much of our exports and imports pass through Kent, this Chamber proposed a slogan “Kent Is Crucial”. We also suggested that unlike the crowded cities elsewhere in England, there are plenty of brownfield sites available where expansion can be accommodated much more easily than in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester or Glasgow. With wage costs at a reasonable level in the East Kent coastal business community, we also suggested “Fashion Your Future In Kent”. Copywriters will know that the word ‘Kent’ is delightfully short and lends itself to alliteration in phrases such as “Kent Can Do”.
13. More On Manston
Whatever the linguistic niceties, ambitious companies looking at East Kent will take account of the infrastructure developments in our road, rail and air connectivity. The future of Manston Airport will play a large part in these considerations. The night-time flying policy proposed by Manston recommends a limited number of flights between 2300 hrs and 0700 hrs; fewer than two flights per night on average during the restricted period. This level of activity would represent less than 3% of the arrivals and departures during the year and must represent a reasonable offer that might safeguard the airport’s future and the 150 jobs currently directly dependant on its operations. Of the 110 staff employed at the airport, two-thirds live In Thanet and receive the majority of the £2.2 million annual salary bill. If the Airport is to reach its target of over 2 million passengers a year by 2018, it will need to attract an international airline. An enlightened response by Thanet District Council to the night-flying proposals could be of significant value in stimulating the economy and encouraging firms to locate in East Kent. The full text of the proposals can be seen at http://www.manstonairport.com/userfiles/files/Night-flight-policy/Night-time-Flying-Policy-Submission-271011.pdf
A mild October following a warm September has produced an equitable balance of supply and demand for energy. Lower prices for gas have contributed to lower electricity costs and a more encouraging outlook for companies heavily dependent on power. Uncertainties over European economies may drive down prices further, although prices for oil continue to rise in the short and long term. The year on year price increases for all the main power sources are having a negative effect on trading margins and must remain a key source of concern in efforts to reduce both the CPI and RPI indices of inflation. We are again grateful to Martyn Young of Atlantic Business Resources for supplying the latest Market Report from E.ON which is summarized below. Now that October is behind us, the new annualized prices are based on April 2012 start dates.
15. Commercial Energy Costs
Oct 2010 – Oct 2011
Average front month power contract price
Average front month gas contract price
Average front month oil contract price
Average Annualised power price
Average Annualised gas price
16. Yet More About Manston
The Chamber is delighted that an international Airline is taking a close interest in establishing links with Kent International Airport at Manston. The success of the recent Open Golf Championships and the publicity surrounding the 2012 London Olympics have put a new focus on Manston's prime location near London. Easy access to the Channel ports and the award of Enterprise Zone status to the Discovery Park at Sandwich have confirmed Manston’s status as a viable alternative to the overburdened points of entry at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The encouraging visitor figures at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate and the promise of additional attractions opening in the next few years should produce a sustained increase in incoming tourists. Business traffic will benefit from the turnover growth at Hornby, Cummins, Fujifilm Sericol and Silent Gliss. Better access to more international destinations will encourage companies to locate in this part of the UK where logistical advantages for exporters to the continent complement a currency advantage against the Euro which has grown by over 20% since 2007.
17. Care Home of the Year
We are grateful to Cllr Clive Hart for drawing our attention to the Key Retirement Solutions’ Your Caring Stars of the Year Awards. The winner of the Care Home of the Year for 2011 is Yoakley House in Margate. Michael Yoakley was a Quaker businessman from Margate who made his name and fortune trading with the newly discovered America. The charity in his name was established in 1709 with the proceeds from the kindly man’s will. Executive manager of Yoakley House and the 46 surrounding almshouses is Julie Wickenden who said: “We treat all the residents as if they were members of our own family.” Clive adds: “It really is a wonderful place, an oasis of peace and tranquillity right next to the QEQM that most people wouldn't even know was there. Lovely homes surround beautiful gardens where elderly residents can live securely and in peace and quiet. Good news for Margate!” Good news indeed and another feather in the cap of Margate which has been uncommonly blessed in the past few weeks.
As stated in previous editions of the Thanet & East Kent Insider, legislation concerning compulsory pension arrangements will come into force in October 2012. Initially targeted at large companies, the full provisions will be introduced over the following few years. Penalties for non-compliance are severe ranging from up to £50 per day for companies with 1 – 4 employees to £10,000 per day for firms with 500 or more workers. The Chamber will be organising briefings on the new arrangements with a view to keeping members fully informed of their obligations and the options available.
19. The Venerable Elvis & The Euro Crisis
In times of trouble, the Thanet community turns to the one person whose advice has guided successive generations throughout the isle. When the fate of Britain was in the balance through inadequate funding for Wellington’s forces during the Napoleonic Wars, it is reported that it was the Venerable Elvis who directed the government towards the Rothschild brothers whose loan financed the campaign that ultimately defeated the French and preserved our freedom to drink beer in pints and drive on the left. With the financial stability of Europe currently in question, we turn our attention again towards Thanet’s celebrated hermit who lives in a secret dwelling between the disused power station at Richborough and the abandoned limestone quarry at Manston; his whereabouts known only to the Thanet & East Kent Insider. Thus being careful to ensure he was not being followed, our staff member braved the early morning mists last week to make his way to the cave where the great man lives and ponders. The source of the Venerable Elvis’s remarkable knowledge of modern business and current affairs has always been a mystery, but his words continue to inspire leaders in every field. Mindful of Bloomberg’s comment this week that: “Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis stirred political turmoil across the region” and The Guardian’s headline: “Osborne describes situation in Europe as ‘dangerous’”, our reporter asked the Venerable Elvis for his thoughts on where a local businessman could find development capital in these troubled times. After stroking his long grey beard in silent contemplation, Thanet’s spiritual leader finally commented in his thin, aged voice: “Always borrow from a pessimist, he isn’t expecting to be repaid”. We are indeed blessed to have such a sage in our midst.
© David Foley, November 2011
Thanet & East Kent Insider
3rd September 2011 Issue No.: 169
1. Business Networking Breakfast
2. Herald Of Free Enterprise
The East Kent coastal business community was represented on 26th August 2011 on the BBC in the programme The Reunion, repeated several times on Radio 4. The broadcast brought together some key figures from the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster of 6th March, 1987. Many of our members will recall the chilling developments as news seeped through during the following few days to reveal 193 fatalities from among the passengers and crew. The Chairman of Thanet & East Kent Chamber, Dr Bill Moses MBE, speaks movingly of the effect on the surviving seafarers, many of whom could never again go to sea. Bill also chairs Dover Counselling Centre which continues to minister to the families who lost loved ones on that terrible night. Presenter Sue MacGregor handles the panel discussion with great sensitivity and insight. The recording lasts 45 minutes and can be accessed by clicking on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b013fk5s, fast forward to 0:2:20. Any Chamber members new to the area may find that the broadcast will give them an insight into an event that that is still very much in the minds of anyone in East Kent at the time. The subsequent inquest under the expert direction of Kent Coroner Richard Sturt returned verdicts of unlawful killing. The sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise led to significant developments in maritime safety and was a significant factor in subsequent public liability legislation and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
3. Sue MacGregor And The Facts
In The Reunion broadcast featured above at item 2, Sue MacGregor says: “This was the worst British peacetime maritime disaster since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912”. It wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t if you consider that the First World War ended on Armistice Day on 11th November 1918. On 1st January 1919, HMY Iolaire sank off the coast of Stornaway with the loss of 205 lives, mostly servicemen who had survived the horrors of the Western Front or the U boats that menaced the Atlantic convoys, see www.adb422006.com/iolaire.html. It can be argued that WWI did not formally finish until the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on 24th July 1923. Sue MacGregor, one of the brightest stars of Radio 4, is excused; after all, her father did serve with the 14th Army in Burma. Chamber members will have their own corporate policy on whether to allow their workforce to respect two minutes of silence at 1100 hrs on Friday, 11th November 2011. It is worth remembering that 1.7 million people died in the service of Britain in WWI and WWII. Two minutes of our time is not a lot to ask, is it SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia ?
4. Thanet District Council
The Chamber Chairman and Chamber Chief Executive enjoyed a full discussion at a meeting last week with Thanet District Council’s Cllr Bob Bayford and Sue McGonigal. The matters under review covered a wide range of subjects including planning and support for local business. It was agreed that the meeting between Thanet’s largest business support body and TDC’s Leader and Chief Executive had been most useful. Both the Chamber and TDC look forward to future meetings where support for local business will again be at the top of the agenda.
5. Hornby Hobbies
The Chamber was a delighted guest of Hornby last week and treated to a personal guided tour of its latest development at Westwood, Margate by its inspiring Operations Manager and Monckton Parish Councillor, Nick Cole. Anyone who doubts the commitment of Hornby to Thanet’s economy should see the new Visitor Centre in Margate. The stunning displays on offer will delight visitors of all ages, from the grandparents who will recognise the toys of their youth to the youngsters who will relate to models from their favourite films and television programmes. Make no mistake; this is a world-class company that posted a turnover in the last financial year of £63.4 million. Readers will be familiar with many of its proprietary brands such as Scalextric, Corgi, Humbrol and, of course, Hornby. Less familiar to those who do not scan the Financial Times or European toy catalogues are Electrotren, Riverossi, Joeuf, Lima and Arnold. Spotting the differences in manufacturing processes between the models of the toy makers in the Hornby group is one of the joys for the visitor. An unexpected delight for many will be the Cathedral Models Exhibitions. Constructed on a scale of 60 feet to one inch, they were built at the behest of royal composer and organist Sir Herbert Oakley (1830-1903) by the somewhat mysterious architect, William Gorringe. If in the next six months you are not able to visit Lincoln, Exeter, Chester, Hereford, Westminster Abbey, Cologne, Rome’s St Peter’s or any of the twenty other cathedrals on display, then you should see this magnificent collection while it is still at the Hornby Visitor Centre. Proving its community credentials to a wider audience, Hornby restored and refurbished the Cathedral models prior to an exhibition at the Sir John Sloane’s Museum in London. It is not only the owner of the collection, Canterbury Cathedral, that is grateful to Hornby for its exemplary commitment to East Kent. A wide variety of schools, community organisations and charities have benefited from this Chamber member’s patronage. As one American conglomerate departs from Sandwich, we should perhaps learn to appreciate more the contribution being made to our local economy and to our in-bound tourism sector by this famous British brand.
6. Visit to Copy Shop
7. Chamber Planning Symposium
Recent decisions by the Thanet District Council Planning Committee have been the subject of much concern among local companies looking to attract inward investors or to expand their business. Chamber Co-President, Roger Gale MP, made his position clear with customary decisiveness in his popular Roger’s Views. Although not a golfer himself, he understands how important it is to support the development of leisure facilities in Thanet where the appropriate environmental concerns are addressed and the transport links are in place, see http://www.rogergale.com/content_manager/page.php?ID=103213&dbc=0a245c51e92fe251a3ea49ec1dbbdcae. The rejection of the Golf Academy has caused some potential investors to turn their thoughts towards locations which offer a more welcome reception. With the words of the North Thanet MP firmly in mind, the August Chamber Planning Symposium brought together some of the key figures involved in supporting more business-friendly policies in Thanet. ‘Planning delayed is planning denied’ was a phrase that often occurred in the discussions that united local companies, land owners and surveyors in Thanet. Submissions from frustrated investors highlighted the need for a more enlightened planning regime along the lines of neighbouring councils where creating jobs and opportunities for school leavers take greater precedence in planning decisions.
8. Live Theatre
Forget the video. Switch off the telly. Leave your iPod at home and get out to the theatre. That must be the message from two of our Chamber members who offer live theatre for your entertainment. Michael Wheatley-Ward and his team at the Sarah Thorne Theatre Club in Broadstairs report a 20% increase in bookings this year for its Summer Repertory programme; a great result, Michael, of which Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright would have been proud. Coming up on the weekend of 17th and 18th September 2011 is a production of Dick Barton Special Agent when thehero of the BBC’s 1940s radio meets his arch enemies, Baron Scarheart and Marta Heartburn. Just like a day in the office? Give the theatre a call and find out, tel: 0845 262 6263 between 1000 hrs and 1400 hrs. The much-loved Theatre Royal in Margate is the venue for a production of West Side Story which opens on Wednesday of this week and has an extra afternoon performance on its final day, Saturday 10th September 2011. Billed as “an unforgettable tale of young love set against a backdrop of 1950s American gang culture”, the show offers dancing and singing to warm the coldest heart. Invite your stern aunty and see the miraculous change at your next birthday. Make sure you book first, tel: 0845 130 1786.
9. News From Dover
We are grateful to Howard Holt, formerly Head of Corporate Affairs at Dover Harbour Board and now head of his own maritime consultancy, Seeports. Howard has focused attention on the campaign by the UK Cruise Ports Alliance to uphold the conditions of a £20 million public grant to Liverpool to build the City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal (CLTC). A condition of the funding from the EU and the British tax payer was that CTLC would not operate as a turnaround port, i.e. where cruise ships start and end their journeys, but would be a port of call. It is understandable that the ports operator at Liverpool, Peel Ports, together with Liverpool City Council should seek to change the conditions of the funding. It is very much in their interests for this to happen. But, in these times of public sector cuts, it is difficult to accept that the shareholders of Peel Ports should receive such a gift when deprived areas of our community in East Kent suffer. The offer to repay £5 million of the funding over 15 years is somewhat derisory. How many companies can borrow £20 million and pay back just a quarter over such a long period? The government rejected a previous attempt in 2009 with the words: “To allow the change of use would have an unfair and adverse effect on competition with other cruise terminals”. Businesses in and around the top two UK cruise terminals, Southampton and Dover, are following events closely. A petition has been raised at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/ukcpa. The issue is likely to feature in next week’s television and radio news. In our view, it is unlikely that the Treasury will sanction the dodgy financial dossier being put forward by Liverpool. This is not a case of “We can work it out”. The government may well decide that Peel Ports should pay back the full £20 million of development capital rather than allow it to divert custom unfairly from its Southern competitors. The view from this corner of England is that the Treasury should follow the advice of those most famous Liverpudlians and just “Let it be”.
10. Empty Rates
Owners of commercial property in our area will be interested in a useful overview of the current provisions of the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 which can be added to the extensive documentation produced by this Chamber over the past four years. Written by Charles Partridge of Lambert Smith Hampton, which has 27 offices in England, the article quotes chapter and verse on business rates liability and changes in the thresholds for rate relief, see www.estatesgazette.com/tenant-advice/business-rates/relief-for-businesses/. We understand from an article dated today by Nick Whitton of the Estates Gazette that: “The latest CLG figures also show that there are now 269,000 non-domestic empty properties in the UK - equivalent to 16% of the country's total stock.”
11. A Sign Of The Times
We have often commented on the curious signs that seem to flank our everyday movements as we travel around East Kent and beyond. In the past, Chamber members have generously sent their own particular favourites. We very much welcome further contributions. Here is the latest offering from one Chamber member who recently took his first trip on the High Speed train service from London St Pancras. “When wandering through this magnificent station, a picture of modernity in a 19th century frame, I noticed a sign on the escalator between the East Midlands platforms (1-10) which go down to the underground gallery. If any of you are ever there, please could you send me a photo of it. It reads ‘Stand on the right and walk on the left’. I tried this and fell over. So much for health and safety.” He does have a point, doesn’t he?
© David Foley, September 2011
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?’.