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Advocates for the world outside the M25


Introduction When you pick up a national newspaper or watch the news, you are soon aware that our media is dominated by London and urban issues. Yes, the camera crews will travel out to report on crime and public disorder/protests, when it fits the news schedules; however, the issues that directly affect those who live and work outside the M25 and our principal industrial cities, but have an impact on all our lives, often go unheard. Middlemarch is a new agency that wants to bring the best in political and community communications to the issues that are exercising our provincial, rural and coastal communities. When you look at local newspapers, you read about the conflict and stress that these communities are confronted with plans for new homes, renewable energy projects, worries about the future of employment and failing traditional industries. Too often these pressures are exacerbated by poor consultation and dire communications.

“After 25 years of leading political campaigns, my team and / are ready to take on the issues that are standing in your way. We aim to help you make a difference to the places you work in. From house builders to developers, from retailers to renewable energy developers, parents who want a free school or schools that wish to expand their facilities, from farmers to fishermen, from tourism operators to showmen, Middlemarch look forward to talking to you, and then working with you to turn your plans into reality.�

We do not pretend to have all the answers. We do though have passion which drives us and experience that informs us to help find a way to bring people together, to unlock the solutions which are often desperately needed.

Village of Icomb, Cotswolds

Mike Dolley Managing Director


Farming in Norfolk

About Middlemarch Communications

Planning

Inspired by George Eliot’s classic novel, famously described as a “study of provincial life�, Middlemarch focuses particularly on the regional and more rural communities of England and Wales.

Planning in this country can be tricky. That is, shall we say, putting it politely. Depending on who you talk to

We can assist you with your planning proposals and applications, renewable energy developments and regeneration projects in provincial, rural and coastal areas. We want to help you tell your story in a manner that is understood by opinion formers and in turn decision makers at local and national Government level.

opinion or it is beholden to, and bedevilled by, one or two local objectors hijacking an agenda which was

the planning process is either too easily open to abuse, and dirty tricks, from big developers railroading local designed to benefit the wider community. In short, we are all well aware of occasions when the planning system has simply broken down and fails those it is designed to serve.


We believe that there is a much better way. Rural communities are understandably cautious of any development that they perceive to threaten their way of life. Therefore early, honest communication is key - so is listening. Developers need to be sympathetic to the concerns of residents in small, tightlyknit neighbourhoods and work honestly and openly with them to overcome obstacles. Local people need to be reassured that developers are not evil and also convinced that their communities need to develop, albeit sensitively, in order to remain attractive to future generations, and indeed to better serve the interests of existing ones. We are proud to work in an industry that helps communities face up to the challenges of the modern world and supports developers providing solutions. Too often planning is seen as a process of inevitable confrontation. Here at Middlemarch we think that all involved can work together to find a better way. This is the guidance we give all developers: 1. First get to know your audience. 2. Meet and listen to them. 3. Share your vision, learn and adapt.

4. Promote your vision and, when necessary, CAMPAIGN. 5. Win support. Secure the permission.

It sounds simple but at Middlemarch we know that every stage of the process requires dedication, time and skill to understand the complexities of each particular locality, and to navigate the local politics that shape everyday life in villages, towns and cities up and down the country.

Halnaker Windmill in Chichester, West Sussex

We make sure that everyone who wants to participate in the planning process can, and that they always feel reassured that they have been listened to. Decision making Councillors will feel emboldened when they know that their residents have been genuinely engaged with rather than excluded from the planning process. Rural communities can be close knit and politically complex; it is important that developers (or ‘outsiders’) are always honest, approachable and respectful. Our rural and coastal regions desperately need inward investment. Development, implemented correctly, in these areas can revitalise places and positively change lives. It can bring jobs back to a dwindling High Street, tourists back to a struggling seaside resort and it can re-ignite prosperity where the local economy is failing. It is rarely easy. Middlemarch Communications can help guide you through the often confusing and frustrating landscape of ‘very’ local politics.


Renewable Energy Our country landscapes are at the cutting edge of the renewable energy revolution. As our energy generation moves from the traditional carbon sources of coal and oil to new technologies, communities up and down our country are being challenged by the proponents of wind and solar farms, biofuel, biomass and energy from waste plants. Our coastlines are also seeing the emergence of tidal power plants and offshore wind farms. All of these innovations in clean energy cause debate, fear and concern. It requires time, understanding and communication to respond to the questions raised.

“So far, we are impressed by Middlemarch’s open and honest approach. We need consultants to anticipate and plan for issues on the horizon rather than simply react, and Middlemarch are delivering this. Their political nous is also invaluable as is their willingness to get out from behind their desks and muck in on the ground.”

These sorts of misconceptions come from “the end of rainbows” and when you are confronted by them it is sometimes hard to remember that the majority of the UK population are actually in favour of renewable energy solutions. At Middlemarch we spend time in the local area combatting misconceptions as well as identifying supportive elements. We can help you demonstrate to Councillors the numerous, varied benefits that these projects can bring to local people, thus giving them the reassurance they require that raising their hand in favour of your development is not a vote loser.

Ian Lawrence, REG Windpower:

No other applications are less understood, or attract quite as much misinformation as renewable energy. You have heard them all before: “Turbines cause brain cancer and can be heard for miles.” “Solar farms are inefficient and mean that land cannot be farmed for generations.”

Wind turbines in Cornwall


Rural and Coastal Communities The focus of policy makers is all too often London centric as they are driven by the desire to meet the needs and demands of the more densely populated cities and conurbations across the UK. The issues that affect the quality of life in more provincial and rural locations are often missed. Consequently we welcome the attention paid to Broadband for example, which has been high on the agenda of the last two Governments. However, at Middlemarch we are aware that it is every aspect of rural life that needs a voice.

Industries such as fishing, tourism, food production and forestry continue to have huge value and employ thousands. They have all faced the harsh realities of the changing world economy since the 1970s and are at the mercy of legislation not just from the UK Parliament, but the European Union as well. Middlemarch has the skilled and experienced team necessary to help these industries make their case to those in power, both elected and unelected, who can literally make or break them.

Our team know how to campaign: they are led by people who have done so at the very highest level. To frame the debate we will help you devise a strategy, create the narrative and drive home your message to those in power. In a world of instant communication being heard in London or Brussels can be easier than ever before. But being heard is not enough – Middlemarch will help you make sure you are listened to as well.

Lynmouth Bay, North Devon


Tourism Visitor attractions and the holiday industry are fundamental to the economic well-being of our rural and coastal communities. Whilst many of these have demonstrated a remarkable resilience, many proprietors will tell you that they battle against an ever shortening season in which to generate the income needed to take them through the leaner months. But the holiday industry matters and it remains one of the major employers across much of provincial Britain. Yet it can be perilous, at the mercy of the weather, the wider economy and even the entirely unforeseeable, such as the disastrous outbreak of foot and mouth. While the streets of London may attract millions of visitors, for many tourism focused locations it can be more challenging. Who speaks for the businesses that drive the economy of these communities? In the Middlemarch team we have people with experience in the marketing and management of visitor attractions and the entertainment business; some have worked in the heart of the conference business and we understand the pressures on those who own, work and rely on the tourist economy outside London. Over regulation and unfair competition, generated by the inconsistent application of legislation, often lie at the heart of the problem for those in the leisure and tourism world. Campaigns to challenge these inequities can make a real difference. Legislators need to understand the real impact of their actions. That is where Middlemarch’s campaign focused approach can make a real and meaningful contribution - we will help you fight your battle.

Tenby, Wales


Lighthouse in Happisburgh Norfolk

Complementary Services EVENT MANAGEMENT

RESEARCH CAPABILITY

We have the ability to host events anywhere in the UK and overseas thanks to our unique in-house capability to stage events of all sizes, including those requiring full theatrical staging.

We have a dedicated research team that leaves no stone unturned.

Recent events we have organised include several public exhibitions and a two day public consultation workshop at a stately home.

We offer a research service that specialises in the kind of research needed for effective communications that reach, engage and persuade. Knowledge is power and its importance cannot be underestimated.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

DESIGN AND PRODUCTION SERVICES

Our team of seasoned communications professionals has vast experience in preparing executives for media interviews, implementing an interactive program that provides clients with applicable, real-world scenarios to test the effectiveness of their messages.

Our team have the talent, skills and experience necessary to translate your messages and objectives into convincing visual communication. So whether we are designing a new identity, an annual report, a website - or anything in between - you can be sure we have your future success in mind and will deliver outstanding materials for all your business needs.

Our media monitoring and analysis services allow our clients to understand the impact and reach of campaigns, benchmark performance, optimise PR spend and ultimately make better decisions.

The Middlemarch Team

MIKE DOLLEY

BEN SHERREARD

KAT MARRIOTT

KEVIN DAVIS

CHRIS REYNOLDS

Managing Director

Director of Planning & Renewable Energy Communications

Head of Research

Director of Rural Affairs

Head of Business Development


team@middlemarchcomms.co.uk www.middlemarchcomms.co.uk Bristol Office Leigh Court Business Centre Abbots Leigh, 01275 370 936 Bristol, BS8 3RA Maidstone Office 26 Kings Hill Avenue Kings Hill Maidstone Kent, ME19 4AE

01732 424 025

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