M O N T H LY R E G I O N A L B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E
BUSINESS w w w . l d p b u s i n e s s . c o . u k July 2012
Factories move into top gear
Spotlight on city region’s carmakers: Pages 7-12
Growth in the pipeline United Utilities chief executive aims for happier customers
● Big build: Central Village takes shape ● Legal advice: Law firms urged to get sharper ● Safety first: Simian goes east 1
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Chester man takes the helm at luxry apartments firm
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How the carmakers are driving growth in the Liverpool city region
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Steve Mogford, chief executive of utilities giant, United Utilities
21 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Arew the glory days coming back to New Brighton?
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26 HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
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Wirral hotel doubles its capacity and slashes its heating costs
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Health and safety specialist targets Middle East for growth
Health researchers head to LIverpool Science Park
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How Central Village is giving Lewis’s site a new lease of life
35 BUSINESS LUNCH
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All the key dates for your diary
Alistair Houghton hobnobs with the brightest and the best
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38 SOCIAL DIARY
Carolyn Hughes out on the town
IT’S an action-packed edition of Post Business this month. Our Big Feature takes a look at the remarkable vitality of the region’s car industry. It seems a thing almost impossible to say, but the total number of people employed at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood plant and Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory has doubled over the past couple of years. They will shortly employ 8,000 staff. For very different reasons, both factories are moving to three shifts a day. Halewood is ramping up production to cope with surging sales of the Land Rover Evoque in China and other emerging markets, while Ellesmere Port has benefited from
BILL GLEESON General Motors’ capacity-cutting consolidation of its factories in Europe. Somebody else’s loss has been our gain. That fact takes some of the shine off the Astra plant’s good news, but let’s not get too upset about it. Remember how the jobs traffic used to be all the other way a couple of decades ago. If, back in the 1970s and 1980s, there were plants to close, they would have been British, not
German. To those of us who can remember that anxious era, the idea that British car plants are more efficient than their German peers is hard to take in. Also in this edition, we ask whether, six months after its completion, the £70m regeneration of New Brighton has worked for those that earn their livelihoods in the town. On a recent visit there, I was struck by the way it has changed. I remember visiting the town in 1984 to get a good view of the tall ships on the River Mersey. I recall being
traumatised by the derelict condition of the properties lining some of the town’s main streets. To think that this was a place people spoke so nostalgically about. The little seaside resort had a higher imitation Eiffel Tower than Blackpool, not to mention its own ballroom. How grand. By the time of the Tall Ships event, however, such memories seemed to owe more to fable than fact. While the glory days of the British seaside resort are gone forever, the fact is that New Brighton now looks a lot
better than it has for many a decade. We also take a look at an interesting evolution in the life of our region’s water company. United Utilities’ chief executive, Steve Mogford, is trying to drag its customer service standards into the 21st century. Some might think that’s a tall order, but do read what he has to say. He appears to be making progress. The firm faces other modern day challenges, too – not least how does a company that is meant to sell water encourage us to conserve it? United Utilities needs to make money for its shareholders, while, at the same time, it finds ways of reducing water consumption.
Fan’s soccer idea wins Startup Liverpool glory
Chris Roberts – scored a big hit with judges
FOOTBALL fan Chris Roberts, 29, has won Startup Liverpool, the city’s first three-day event to help budding entrepreneurs develop and launch their business. He has developed a business plan that helps amateur footballers arrange five-a-side matches and enables sports centres to maximise their football pitch bookings. Mr Roberts, from Mossley Hill, was one of 15 enterprises competing in the Startup Liverpool Challenge which kicked
off the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in the city this March. Competitors were given 60 seconds to pitch their business idea in front of a panel of business experts and mentors. Mr Roberts, an e-business technology management graduate, believes the event provided an outstanding platform and opportunity for Liverpool talent. He said: “The event was one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered.”
Impressed investor accepts CEO position CHESHIRE businessman was so impressed with the business model of a property investment firm that he has agreed to become its chief executive. Self-made millionaire, Iain Johnston, originally got involved with The Hideaways Club as an investor. The company specialises in acquiring high-end villas, ski chalets and city apartments around the world. It then invites wealthy individuals – or companies – to invest one-off sums – up to £250,000 – to buy into a growing portfolio of properties throughout Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Far East and Caribbean. For a further fixed annual sum, members can then have exclusive access to any of the villas, apartments and chalets for their own personal or corporate use for up to eight weeks. Chester-born Mr Johnston, who has been involved in the development of firms including GB Group, Alterian and InternetQ, was so taken with the concept that when he was offered the top job, he accepted. He said: “It seemed a good investment. The portfolio of properties has increased in value year-on-year despite the global financial downturn, so I decided to join. “I enjoy travel and everyone likes luxury living when they get the opportunity, so it ticked all the boxes. “And then suddenly we got talking about their need for a new CEO, and I realised it was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. “My background is in fast-growing young internationally-connected businesses and I am very ambitious for this company.” The Hideaways Club was started just five years ago and last year it enjoyed growth of 50%.
Michael Sandys, Partner, QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter DELAY to the control of copyright piracy BACK in 2010, the last Labour Government passed, during its dying days, the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The legislation was aimed at controlling copyright piracy, especially in the digital age where copyright infringement on the internet has become rife. The Act became law by a slender minority and is viewed by those who are hostile to such legislation as a step towards greater censorship. Two years later, and the DEA has still not come to fruition. Delays have occurred during the last 24 months or so as a result of numerous bodies bringing actions against the legislation, primarily by way of judicial review. This has been the case in particular with BT and Talk Talk, who very recently lost their judicial review action in March this year. The controversy is highlighted by ISPs on the one side, who oppose the DEA because it forces them to police behaviour on the internet, and the rightsholder representative bodies (such as the film, games and music industry) on the other side, who highlight the fact that the delay in implementing the DEA is: “To the detriment of almost 2m workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because their creative content is stolen on a daily basis,” (attributable to Christine Payne – Chair of the Creative Coalition Campaign). The current coalition government seem, at best, lukewarm with the legislation and the delay is now welcomed by the Internet Service Providers Association. This is being seen as evidence that the DEA is unlikely to yield control over the internet to the extent that was originally envisaged. The DEA contained a number of provisions for regulating digital media, which included sending
letters to suspected illegal downloaders, with the threat of a potential disconnection. Repeat offenders would have their internet connection cut and it was the responsibility of ISPs to ensure that certain measures were implemented. BT and Talk Talk attempted to persuade the Court of Appeal recently that the DEA was incompatible with European Law and, in particular, the E-commerce directive. The Court of Appeal, however, rejected their claim that the DEA breached data protection and privacy law. The Government now has the green light to proceed with the implementation of the DEA, although the Court did rule that the Government could not make ISPs pay a proportion of the case fees arising from ISP customers bringing appeals against warning letters received from infringing copyright. Rightsholders are now keen to progress matters, with the British Phonographic Industry confirming that the recent litigation has caused detrimental delay and harm to British musicians and creators who need protection from illegal file sharing. It is now a case of “watch this space” as to whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will take a grip on matters and press ahead with the protection that rights-holders argue for. If that is the case, then ISPs will have to share some of the costs going forward in helping to police and protect intellectual property rights and, in particular, copyright as a result of online infringement.
‘The green light has been given to proceed with the DEA’
■ For further information, email Michael Sandys at QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter: michaelsandys@ qualitysolicitors.com or telephone 0151 702 8747. ■ IN ASSOCIATION with QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter
It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist – Iain Johnston, chief executive of The Hideaways Club
In Business for your Business
With Michelle Morgan, commerce and technology specialist at law firm Hill Dickinson LLP
AS A business owner, where do I stand in relation to the ownership of social media accounts used by my employees for work purposes? What measures can I put in place to ensure my business retains ownership of the content and followers of such accounts?
IN THE run-up to May’s London Mayoral election, it was reported that Boris Johnson had been criticised following the decision to transfer the Mayor of London Twitter account (@mayoroflondon) into his own name (@Back Boris2012team). This meant that the 253,000 people on Twitter who followed the Mayor of London account were transferred to follow Mr Johnson’s account. The decision provoked criticism from Twitter users, and an official complaint by the Labour party to the Greater London Authority’s Standards Committee, alleging that the Twitter account was set up and maintained by the Office of the Mayor of London and therefore did not belong to Mr Johnson personally. It is easy for Twitter users to change their username. When a user changes their username their existing followers are automatically transferred to their new user account. This can create difficulties, for example, where an individual uses their personal Twitter account for work purposes. There is a risk that, in the event that the employee leaves their employment, the employee can change the account’s username and take the account’s list of followers, and any goodwill associated with the account, with them. Although, generally, any intellectual property created by an employee in the course of their employment is the property of the employer, with social media accounts (which may blur the personal and professional spheres) it is not always clear who owns
the content and followers of the account. This issue has been raised by a recent US lawsuit filed by PhoneDog (a US mobile news website) against their former employee, Noah Kravitz. While he was employed by PhoneDog, Mr Kravitz tweeted under the username @Phonedog_Noah. When he left the company, he changed his username and took the account’s 17,000 followers with him. Mr Kravitz claims that, although the Twitter account bore the PhoneDog name, the account was maintained entirely by him personally and the company had given him permission to continue to use the account after he left their employment. However, the company claims that the list of followers is intellectual property belonging to the company and it is now seeking damages of $2.50 per user for each month since Mr Kravitz left the company – a total of $340,000. This case is likely to set a precedent in the US (which will be persuasive in the UK courts, though not binding in any way) in relation to the ownership of social media accounts and, potentially, the value of each Twitter follower to a company. As UK businesses continue to recognise the potential value of social media for marketing purposes, employers are advised to take proactive steps to address the issue of ownership of social media accounts and their content to best protect their business. The implementation of a workplace policy on social media is highly recommended. And, while employment contracts commonly contain clauses restricting the ability of employees to use intellectual property after employment ends, we recommend that employers also ensure that use of social media is covered in restrictive covenants.
‘Employers need to address social media ownership’
■ Email: Michelle.Morgan@ hilldickinson.com ■ IN ASSOCIATION with Hill Dickinson
Ronan Dunne – urging firms to offer more opportunities for young people to get into work
Time to give the young a chance
By Ronan Dunne, chief executive of mobile phone giant O2 UK, which employs 1,700 people near Runcorn
T IS a tragedy that youth unemployment appears to have now settled above the 1m mark – with figures showing that there were over 157,000 young people in the North West not in work, education or training in the first quarter of 2012. But I do believe there is some cause for optimism. That’s because young jobseekers have a skill that large swathes of workers don’t – digital literacy. The blogger, the social media manager, and the app developer – three buzz careers that didn’t exist 10 years ago and are now employing people across the country. Now is the time for young people to capitalise on the fact that they have grown up in a digital world. It’s also time for businesses to wake up and realise the untapped wealth of skill and knowledge that young people possess.
There is a fundamental irony in the UK today that, at a time when growth depends on the digital economy, we’re excluding from the workforce the very people who have digital skills in abundance. These young workers have the skills that we need to help drive innovation and make Britain digital – two components that are absolutely vital if we are to recover from the recession as quickly as possible. So what needs to happen to give young people opportunities? First, businesses need to take some responsibility for helping young people into work. Whether it’s providing quality work experience, mentoring opportunities or apprenticeships – we all can play our part. In our business, a fifth of our employees are under the age of 25, so we’re privileged to see first-hand the benefits that young people
bring to our workplace. This is why we are doubling the numbers on our apprenticeship programme throughout this year. We’re also giving young people the chance to build on their skills by participating in activities that make a difference to their local community through Think Big, our European-wide programme that supports young people from education to adulthood. We want to see more businesses giving young people opportunities to capitalise on their latent digital skills – every opportunity counts. It’s about providing quality opportunities that young people can use to prepare themselves for the world of work and can be as simple as giving advice on what to wear on your first day, what to take to a meeting or how to apply your strengths and skills to a role. And that’s something that all employers can play a part in.
THE BIG FEATURE
Driving a new era
Jaguar Land Rover’s Merseyside-produced Evoque model, which is proving a hit across the world
BY NEIL HODGSON
After surviving several recessions and intensely fluctuating global markets, the region’s two car plants are celebrating a significant milestone, with confidence now riding high at both.
THE BIG FEATURE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 NEMPLOYMENT on Merseyside was rising and traditional skills were being lost, and, in a bid to stimulate the local economy, the Government worked with the private sector to arrest the decline and foster economic growth. Sounds familiar? But this was 53 years ago and the measures taken in 1960, when motor giant Ford bought a 346acre site in Halewood, led to the creation of a new industry for the region which is, perhaps, even more relevant today than in the early 1960s. Three years after work began to clear 2m tonnes of earth to build its motor manufacturing site, the £30m Ford plant began production of its Anglia model in March, 1963, followed a year later by the opening of a neighbouring £8.5m transmission plant making gear boxes for cars and vans and providing jobs for about 11,500 workers at full capacity at a time when unemployment in Merseyside stood at 27,000. Staff training took place in an aircraft hangar at nearby Speke Airport. Fifty years since the first Anglia rolled off the Halewood lines, the car plant, now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, employs 4,500 in its own right, with the neighbouring transmission shop, a jointlyowned venture between Ford and German gearbox manufacturer Getrag, providing work for about 600 staff. The transformation over those 50 years has been remarkable, from mass production for the UK market to top-of-the-range models renowned worldwide for their quality and sophistication with a growing demand as far away as Russia, China, Brazil, India and America. Industrial relations are also light years away from the early days when, even while the plant was being built, it was riven by problems with stoppages by construction workers. In January, 1963, Ford predicted its first Anglia would appear by the end of February, with a company spokesman quoted as saying: “At the moment, there is industrial peace on the site, and the end of February is the firmest date we have ever given for production to start.” The first Halewood-built car, a lime green Anglia 105E De Luxe, left the plant’s production line on March 8. Work on the transmission plant had been postponed by Ford chairman Sir Patrick Hennessy after he criticised labour troubles at the site. However, by September, 1963, a truce broke out after Sir Patrick described the Halewood factory as the finest in the world, adding: “The labour there is as good as anywhere. They are excellent. We are delighted.” Confidence extended to the award of a new model in October that year when Halewood, which had hosted a visit in June, 1963, by Henry Ford II, grandson of the founder, was confirmed as the home of the new Corsair. The site’s importance to the region was emphasised in November during its first year, when it was revealed that 30,000 wives and families of staff had
The Jaguar Land Rover plant has seen many changes over the last few decades and can now look forward to the future with confidence. Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata meets workers at the factory, inset, right
toured the factory, with 60,000 still to follow. By 1966, Halewood had built 1m Anglias and the plant’s roll-call now features some British motoring classics, including Zephyrs, Zodiacs, Cortinas, Orions, the big-selling Escort introduced in 1968, and the sleek Capri awarded in 1969. By 1969, Halewood had built its one millionth car and had smashed production records, racking up total earnings of around £70m, while staffing stood at 15,000. However, industrial disputes were also a regular feature of life at Halewood, and a three-week strike in autumn, 1969, had cost the company £36m in lost production,
on top of £60m the previous year, prompting some commentators to ask why Ford stayed in Britain. For years after that, newspaper cuttings told a familiar tale of pay disputes, strikes and walk-outs. In 1995, Ford’s worldwide chairman, Alex Trotman, revealed that the company’s American bosses had seriously considered shutting Halewood in 1985 due to its catalogue of low efficiency, poor quality, high costs and a legacy of industrial strife which put a huge question mark over the plant. The early 1990s had seen shorttime working and jobs cut in their hundreds at Halewood, as the effects of a recession and a slump in the European motor industry
20% over capacity took effect. In 1993, in retrospect perhaps fortuitously, Ford awarded Halewood the panel pressing business of Jaguar, which it had bought three years earlier. But, in 1997, it seemed the writing was finally on the wall for the Knowsley plant, after Ford announced it was shifting production of its next-generation Escort, the UK’s best-selling model, to Spain. A desperate rescue bid began as unions scrambled to fight the case for the plant. At one stage, it was considered as a manufacturing centre for a new people carrier. But, after intense lobbying at boardroom and government level,
Ford announced Halewood would produce its new Jaguar X400 after a £43m aid package from the Government. Staff training to lift the quality standards of the plant’s finished product to at least match the two Midlands Jaguar Land Rover sites began, and resulted in some of the best-quality Escort cars and vans to leave the plant throughout their manufacturing history. Production of the “baby” Jaguar X-Type, the company’s first “affordable” luxury car for the masses, began in 2001 and continued until 2009 when JLR ceased production after less than spectacular sales. But by then Halewood had won the New Freelander 2 model from
THE BIG FEATURE
The first Ford Anglia model rolls off the Halewood production line in 1963, top, as the Lord Mayor DJ Lewis looks on; and, centre, the plant produces its last-ever Ford Escort in 1980, watched by the then Ford Europe chairman, Nick Scheele. Below, the Evoque is the latest model to be produced by workers at the factory
JLR’s Midlands sites, which was proving a big seller, while the plant had improved beyond measure to become the most efficient and quality-conscious of Ford’s global empire. In 2008, JLR changed hands in a £1.15bn deal with Indian industrial conglomerate Tata, which has invested in new models and modernisation, leading to a reversal of losses under Ford to record sales and pre-tax profits. And even though Halewood provides knock-down Freelander 2 components for re-assembly in Pune, India, and JLR is proposing a Chinese car production factory, the plant is now probably about as secure as it has been in years. Richard Else, operations
director at Jaguar Land Rover Halewood. said: “Fifty years of history at Halewood has brought many celebratory occasions, but the past 18 months have arguably been the most exciting period in that half century. “The global launch of the multiaward winning Range Rover Evoque in 2011 has resulted in one of the busiest periods at Halewood in decades. “We have trebled the workforce here to almost 4,500 in less than three years, and we will be increasing production volume during the summer of 2012 and moving Halewood to a 24-hour operation over three shifts. “All of this highlights the desirability and demand for the
two vehicles we build here on Merseyside. “In our 50th year, we will also pass some significant milestones, including the production of the 300,000th Freelander 2, and later in the year we will make the 100,000th Evoque. “We have been producing Jaguar Land Rover vehicles at Halewood since 2000, and this year we will pass the threequarters of a million production milestone for the company.” He added: “I’d like to thank the entire Halewood workforce for their hard work, flexibility and commitment to ensuring Halewood continues to be a centre of manufacturing excellence with a bright future ahead.”
THE BIG FEATURE
Vauxhall flying high again
From an RAF airfield to hosting the Cheshire Show, Ellesmere Port’s history is one of diversity N AUGUST 2, 1960, the Minister of Housing and Local Government announced that, following a four-day inquiry, Vauxhall Motors had been given permission to build a £30m car plant at Hooton Park, in Wirral. The Government admitted that, in considering the application, the Minister had been impressed by the urgency of the economic factors, mainly “the high and persistent unemployment on Merseyside”. He said, in the “exceptional” circumstances, he had decided that it was right to grant the permission sought. It is reasonable to suggest that
similar “exceptional” circumstances were cited by Business Secretary Vince Cable when he lobbied Vauxhall parent company General Motors (GM) earlier this year to save the Ellesmere Port plant from closure, in a shake-up of its loss-making European division. However, his plea would have benefited from a 50-year reputation the plant has amassed as one of the group’s most efficient and productive sites, even in competition with the rise of rival – less costly – sites in some of Europe’s emerging economies. Since the first Ellesmere Portbuilt Vauxhall Viva rolled off production lines on June 1, 1964, the factory has delivered a succession of top-selling family vehicles and today is the “home of the Astra”. And, having escaped GM’s
cost-cutting axe in May, the plant is now bidding to stake a claim for its future by winning production of GM’s new electric model, the Ampera, which could take it well into its next 50-year life cycle. The Ellesmere Port plant can trace its history back to the Norman Conquest, when it was owned by Saxon land owner Tochi, who was of Danish descent and at one time possessed a vast estate of almost 12,000 acres. Hooton Park had been in the hands of the Stanley family for 500 years until 1848 when the land and hall were sold to a Liverpool banker, RC Naylor, and in 1913 its eastern section was opened to industrial development. The estate was requisitioned by the Government for Army training in World War I and included RAF hangars. Liverpool Aero Club set up its
headquarters in the park after the war, but the RAF returned again in 1938 and it became an operational station in October, 1939, and home to 610 Squadron before finally being relinquished by the RAF in 1957 when it reverted to agricultural use, hosting the Cheshire Show several times. The first announcement regarding the site’s conversion to a motor manufacturing plant was on February 5, 1960, after protracted talks with the Board of Trade. It was chosen by Vauxhall, whose UK links go back to 1903, due to its proximity to key transport routes and the availability of labour in Wirral and Liverpool. Construction on the 400-acre site began in October, 1961 – and the first 36 staff started work
there in November, 1962. Components were produced at the plant at first and on June 1, 1964, the first factory-built HA Viva rolled off its production line, priced at £527, with car tax, or £566 for the De Luxe model. By the end of the year, it had become established as the top-selling British car in Canada. Further versions followed with a “super luxury” SL model in 1965 and an HB Viva in 1966, followed by a Viva estate car a year later, and GT and four-door saloon versions in 1968. By 1971, the plant had built 1m Vivas, with comedian Ken Dodd driving the milestone model off the line. The Viva was also the first car to be driven through the new Liverpool to Wallasey Mersey Tunnel, which opened that year. Then, in 1975, a new range was
THE BIG FEATURE
The three pictures, far left, show the Vauxhall plant’s different models from the first Viva in 1964, top, to the Chevette, centre, and the Astra, bottom. Business secretary Vince Cable at the Ellesmere Port plant in May, above, as the announcement about the seventh-generation Astra is made. Right, the popular Sports Tourer model, outside Hooton House
– but its future is now more assured after surviving General Motors’ cost-cutting cull this May introduced to Ellesmere Port with the three-door hatchback, saloon and estate Chevette. A year later, five new model Chevette saloons, a new Chevette Estate and the Chevanne launched and in 1979 the last Viva left the Cheshire site. The 1980s helped shape the plant’s future, with the introduction in 1981 of the first Astra. The factory has produced all variants since, and is known as “The Home of the Astra”. Astra’s success led to £750m of new investment in automation and robotics and a new engine plant, leading to the introduction of a third manufacturing shift in 1998 which coincided with the fourth-generation Astra and saw the plant employing more than 5,000 staff by 1999. In 2002, Ellesmere Port celebrated its 40th anniversary and was awarded production of
the Vectra, alongside its increasingly successful Astra. During the Noughties, the plant concentrated on Astra production, jettisoning the Vectra and engine manufacturing. Production of a new Global Compact Vehicle Sports Tourer, the sixth-generation Astra, began in 2010, and, a year later, the 100,000th Sports Tourer had been despatched to the showrooms after less than a year in production. Although GM had allocated Astra production to Ellesmere Port in 2007, the site’s long-term future was never taken as read. Its existence was in question after GM filed for bankruptcy protection in America, in June, 2009, after disastrous losses caused by falling sales and high pension and pay deals in its North American plants almost brought
the corporation to its knees and kicked off the biggest industrial insolvency in US history. By September, it had indicated its intention to sell its European arm, including Ellesmere Port, to a Canadian-Russian consortium in a bid to cut its losses. But, at the last minute, GM pulled back and halted the sale process in November, opting instead to include Europe in its group recovery strategy, having emerged from bankruptcy after a multi-billion dollar bail-out from the US and Canadian governments. In 2010, GM’s recovery was complete after it returned to the stock market in one of America’s biggest independent public offerings. Europe remains a loss-making division, but Ellesmere Port’s future prospects were bolstered in
May this year when GM awarded the plant sole production of the seventh-generation Astra, leading to around 800 new jobs and a third production shift. Someone familiar with the ebb and flow of fortunes at the Cheshire site is Vauxhall Motors managing director and chairman Duncan Aldred. He was first associated with the plant in 1990 as an undergraduate, before graduating from Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, in 1992, with a BA Hons in Business Studies, sponsored by Vauxhall. He has experience across a range of functions, including sales and marketing, before his appointment as retail sales director in 2004, followed by roles in Budapest as director, sales, marketing and after-sales for GM South East Europe before moving
to Russelsheim, in Germany, in April, 2009, to take the role of sales operations director, GM Europe. In his current managerial role, he took great delight in confirming Ellesmere Port’s survival in May when the plant, along with several European sites, was on the verge of closure with the loss of 2,100 jobs and 700 further supply chain roles. He said: “Being allocated manufacture of the next generation Astra as the lead plant is certainly a great achievement. “I am particularly proud to have witnessed the plant’s competitiveness and success since I first started over 20 years ago as an undergraduate at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, and I am confident that this new groundbreaking achievement will give us the prospect of many future car generations to come.”
THE BIG FEATURE
Fighting for future of new generation How the region’s car plants managed to ‘stay in the game’ and ensure ongoing survival
ONY WOODLEY is as familiar with the fluctuating fortunes of both the region’s car manufacturing plants as anyone in the past few decades, having first worked on the Ellesmere Port production line and then represented the workforce at local and national level at the negotiating table. Mr Woodley rose from an Ellesmere Port shop steward to become joint General Secretary of Unite the Union, one of the UK’s biggest and powerful trade unions. He led the battle for survival at Halewood when its future looked bleak in 1997, and most recently was tasked by the union, in his words, to “deal with the implications of plant closure” at the Vauxhall site as owner General Motors (GM) imposed its own terms and conditions in return for its retention and the survival of 2,100 direct jobs and 700 associated supply roles. He revealed to Post Business the absolute seriousness of both situations: “I have no doubt Halewood was going to close in 1997.” And he added: “I have never doubted the importance of a car plant – or car plants – to the economy of Merseyside. “It is massive. “But my philosophy, as a Merseyside man, has always been very simple: to stay in the game, you have to be in the game. And that was the tactic in 1997 and 2011.” He also revealed that it was his own suggestion that Halewood produce a luxury Jaguar model after the plant lost its mass-production Escort, which paved the way for a new future as a top-quality car producer. “There was a lot of opposition to Halewood shifting to Jaguar production from the Escort. But the thought of Jaguar was an idea I had. “People said I was mad. “But the X-Type was built on a Mondeo platform and the plant was big enough to produce it. “Staying in the game in 1997, to suggest that we move to Jaguar a few short years later, led to what we have today – neither a Ford, nor Jaguar, but great Land Rovers and Range Rovers.” Turning to Vauxhall’s Cheshire car plant, he said: “The Ellesmere Port plant has been under threat more than once, but this time, no more so. “There are two GM plants closing, one in Germany and one in Korea. The Korean Chevrolet is being brought to Europe to be built in Poland. “But my legacy to have played a role in keeping both of these plants open is a tremendous honour for me.” And he admitted: “The enormity of the Vauxhall plant didn’t strike me until I was sat in my office and saw the headlines on Sky News that morning about Ellesmere Port being saved, and it didn’t hit me about what we had done to keep this open until I heard that headline. “It choked me up a bit, because it is so close to me. The significance of our people and our families and their kids is something I am very, very proud that those two plants will now outlast my working life.”
Tony Woodley, of Unite the Union, who worked at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, and helped save it and Halewood
OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE AT REGION’S CAR PLANTS SHOULD HELP WEATHER THE STORMS AHEAD LIVERPOOL knows how volatile the motor industry can be, and has 50 years of experience with Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Jaguar Land Rover at Halewood to reflect upon when contemplating what the future holds for the next generation of workers at these two stalwart plants The immediate prospects are better now than for many years, but will the plants endure beyond the initial euphoria of the latest investments? Few would deny that the economic challenges are immense. In Europe, there is a gathering sense of foreboding as the “crisis” lurches from one phase to the next with politicians apparently unable to prevent it, and with the motor industry in the heart of the maelstrom.
Lecturer in logistics and operations management at Cardiff Business School PETER WELLS, an expert in the automotive industry, assesses the prospects for JLR’s Halewood factory and Ellesmere Port’s Vauxhall plant against a difficult economic background Across the EU, the warning signs are there as chronic over-capacity is confronted with stagnant demand. In Belgium, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, France and even Germany, plant closures are under way or under discussion. The market in America, a major destination for JLR exports, remains volatile and uncertain. Farther afield, the new growth markets that are so important for JLR and, to a lesser extent, Vauxhall, are also struggling to maintain recent growth rates and are themselves starting to feel the scourge of overcapacity – and soon are going to be
exporting their cars to the UK. The latest generation Nissan Micra, previously built in the UK at Sunderland, is now assembled in India and is a portent of things to come. The environmental challenges are immense also. By 2020, manufacturers selling in the European Union will need to achieve a fleet average of 95 g/km CO² emissions or pay penalties. Yet this challenge is also the key to the next generation of work at both Halewood and Ellesmere Port. Halewood is booming on the basis of the ‘baby’ Range Rover Evoque: downsized and with
vastly improved fuel efficiency compared to other Range Rover models, the Evoque is only the first step on a technological revolution of vital importance to the whole JLR Group. Under the shelter of Tata Group, and with the required investments apparently forthcoming, JLR can only continue to prosper in the market segments it serves if it can meet the environmental challenges. At Ellesmere Port, while the Astra tends to grab the investment headlines, it is the beguiling Ampera plug-in hybrid that represents a vital component of the long-term future – both for this plant and for the motor industry as a whole.
For both plants, operational excellence now should help weather the economic storms ahead, so that they are well-placed to prosper on the innovative technologies of the future. Despite a complex corporate landscape at the global level, the UK motor industry has been one of the hidden success stories of recent years with major investments from Toyota, Honda, BMW, Nissan and, of course, JLR and Vauxhall. Who knows, perhaps Halewood and Ellesmere Port will be celebrating again 50 years from now” If they do, it will be down to the successes of the workforces of today.
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With Peter Mooney, head of employment law at ELAS
MOST of my staff have asked for time off this summer to go to Ukraine, the Olympics or Wimbledon. I said “Yes” to those wanting to go to the football, but Wimbledon falls during a much busier time – can I say “No” to people who want time off then?
THE summer of 2012 is undoubtedly going to be a fantastic one for British sport, but for small businesses it can cause a real headache as they try and manage requests for time off. Ultimately, you just need to make sure your annual leave system is fair. Staff who ask for time off are invariably annoyed when the answer is “No” and they might look at other employees who had their leave approved and consider it unfair. The simplest way is to use a “first come, first served” approach for annual leave requests. If you have a minimum notice period for annual leave requests, make sure staff know about it. Likewise, if there is a maximum number of people able to be off at any one time, staff should know this. You are within your rights to refuse leave requests if it would cause the business problems, so you should be able to turn down the Wimbledon requests if you can show that you expect to be too busy to cope on a smaller team. Of course, the next problem you could encounter is staff throwing sickies on the days they had asked to be off. Around 15% of all sick leave is bogus, and often occurs on days that had previously been refused as annual leave.
Make sure that staff are aware of the company’s position on absenteeism, and be prepared to take action against those who falsely take sick leave. Additionally, keep an eye on staff watching the sporting events online at their desks. While all staff are entitled to breaks, if you feel their productivity is down then you should say something. It is broadly the same as staff shopping online at their desks, or spending their time browsing the internet, and you should be prepared to manage it. The most straightforward solution is to ban access to sites which are streaming the events. While it might seem a little severe, it’s the simplest way to stop staff wasting work time watching the sport. Most contracts now include a clause about use of business services and a reminder of the staff ’s obligation to work during work hours can be very effective. As with annual leave, however, the key is to be consistent and not leave any employees feeling they have been singled out. Make your policies on annual leave, sickness and internet use very clear in advance of the sport tournaments this summer – and be prepared to stick to them.
Use a ‘first come, first served’ approach for annual leave
■ FOR further information, please call the ELAS Advice Team on 0161 785 2000. Also visit the website: www.elas.uk.com. For daily news, advice and employer information, please follow us on Twitter at: twitter.com/ELAS or visit the ELAS Facebook page. ■ IN ASSOCIATION with ELAS
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Approaching their 200th year, Morecrofts Solicitors GET big, get niche, or get out, is the message from Liverpool legal practice Morecrofts Solicitors. The Tithebarn Street-based firm, with offices in Birkenhead, Crosby and Woolton, speaks with 199 years of experience behind it, with its 200th anniversary approaching next year. Donal Bannon, a partner with Morecrofts’ litigation department and a member of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals and the Insolvency Lawyers Association, says the firm, despite its longevity, still needs to react swiftly and position itself appropriately to keep pace with today’s fast-changing markets. He said: “2012 will be a momentous year. Morecrofts solicitors is almost 200 years old, but is still re-inventing itself, and I dare say that’s the case for many others in the legal profession, too.” He added: “I predict, without being too bold about it, that those assisting us and others with the branding of specialised legal work, will have to give more thought to the fact that we are, among other things, no longer a typical litigation firm. “We have, in fact, for some time been a provider of risk-management and dispute resolution solutions. “It’s a more pro-active solution for business, given the climate, and it’s also very much the future for law firms, ie, it’s about getting out there and offering niche products.” Firms, nowadays, have to provide the right type of services and products for clients, and even tailor those services and products to hit their target. Mr Bannon said: “Our ‘Before-The-Event Contract Dispute Cover’ is one example of such products and, of course, we’ll be watching to see how the market for niche legal products develops while launching more of our own through the remainder of the year. “I’ve always been an advocate of helping businesses protect themselves by looking at underwriting the risk of losing.” Morecrofts has established a reputation over the years for expert employment advice, backed by insurance from Albion Legal which meant, faced with a claim, firms were relieved of the worry of Tribunal costs or any award. Mr Bannon said the knowledge of cover is imperative for clients: “Legal firms will have seen an increasing number of clients in the past 18 months seeking advice and assurances that their legal contracts and policies are robust and minimise the risk of any claims. “Ultimately, we’re trying to help clients to reduce the contractual dangers to their business and to improve their
Donal Bannon, left, pictured with his Morecrofts colleague, solicitor Mark Fergusson
prospects of success in the event of a dispute.” He added: “As is always the case with law, it’s about the small print, and, in this instance, reviewing client contracts to ensure any weaknesses are identified and, where possible, rectified.” He believes the move to
designing niche products will cause many businesses to view the legal profession with fresh eyes. “We welcome that. “Under our Before-The- Event Contract Dispute Cover scheme, the insurance product is optional, but it does provide security and certainty to
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
say firms must tailor their services if they are to survive
Nigel Hibbert, Partner at Cheviot Asset Management, Liverpool NIGEL HIBBERT compares the eurozone’s woes with gains to be made from Chinese prosperity EVERY decent story has its opposites – hero and villain, rich and poor, good guy and bad guy. Many would like to believe that the problems currently wracking the eurozone are fiction, but the reality of its contrast with China’s prosperity alongside its BRIC counterparts (Brazil, Russia, India and China) makes for a best-seller. There’s no doubt that a collective sigh of relief took place when Greek voters handed a majority to parties supporting the country’s economic bail-out. But, even with the political situation looking up in Greece, debt is still topping the agenda and there is little respite coming through in European shares and the single currency. China, on the other hand, is on track to become the world’s biggest economy within the next decade. The country, which is home to almost 1.3bn people, is still achieving an eye-watering 8% growth and remains absolutely key to global GDP, with the US showing signs of slowing. Its growth may have slowed a little, but previous levels of growth simply couldn’t be sustained year in year out – and it doesn’t take away from the recently aired notion that China’s growth rate creates a new economy the size of Greece every 11 weeks. McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that two new cities the size of Chicago will be expected to appear every year for the next two decades in China and, by 2025, its building market is expected to become a $2.5 trillion industry. Its low debt to GDP and current account surplus
demonstrate the strength of China’s net foreign assets and export operation. But, as always, times are changing and the Chinese government is working hard to encourage domestic consumption as they switch from being export-driven to self-supporting for the next chapter of its expected growth. Success, in itself, brings challenges and China has plenty of issues which need addressing and cannot be overlooked when assessing the overall investment case. China is not a western democracy and vast numbers of the population are not participating in the prosperity. The polar opposites of economic prosperity and depression (and, of course, everything in between) provide a variety of circumstances that can be a lucrative playground for astute fund managers and their clients. The key to taking advantage of it is about balancing risk with the opportunity. For all their attraction, developing economies do bring additional risk with less stringent regulation and corporate governance. But it’s not all or nothing. While regions can be specifically targeted, investors can also access opportunities by proxy through a western company – for example, by buying shares in companies who are deriving their sales and profits from emerging markets. Stories, by their very nature, have a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s fair to say that the current global economic situation is set to be a long story, but there’s no reason why the middle can’t bring with it some good times for the savvy investor.
‘China is achieving 8% growth and is key to global GDP’
businesses who wish to manage their risk and financial budgets. “Cover for claims is extensive, including commercial contractual claims, intellectual property claims, property disputes, personal injury, Data Protection Act claims, taxation disputes and professional body investigations.”
Mr Bannon said: “In conjunction with my industry peers, I think success in the market for legal services in 2012 and beyond is very much based on a business strategy of get big, get niche or get out. “The quality of a legal practice is increasingly being measured by how consistent they are in
■ IN ASSOCIATION with Cheviot Asset Management
helping clients in changing times. “What the client wants today is minimal distraction from the complex and costly disputes affecting profitability of their business . “That’s where niche expertise comes in, so they can focus on what they do best.”
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Online www.echoarena.com By Phone 0844 800 3680 In Person** At ECHO Arena Box Office Tickets cost £15.00* * Booking and handling fees apply. **Fees do not apply when paying cash in person at the box office. All profits go to Liverpool Unites.
THE BIG INTERVIEW
Service with a smile BY BILL GLEESON
One year into the job as chief executive of United Utilities, Steve Mogford has made it his top priority to improve customer service standards.
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . STEVE MOGFORD CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 HEN I met United Utilities chief executive Steve Mogford last month, I quickly found myself telling him an anecdote about the time I tried to call his company about a problem I was having with my water pressure. The pressure was so low it was impossible to take a shower in what was a hot and sticky few days, in July, 2006. "The phone rang out for 30 minutes and your engineers didn’t fix the problem until the next day,” I told him. I was so upset by the experience, I wrote about it in my column that week. When the phone was eventually answered, the woman on the other end blamed hydrant abuse at a location 10 miles away when it turned out the low pressure had been caused by mechanical failure at a United Utilities pumping station. In contrast, I said, whenever I call the RAC, they answer the phone within three rings and their people are out to me within the hour. One was the benchmark for excellent customer service, the other was the worst I have ever come across. To my surprise, Mr Mogford didn’t do what most chief executives would in such a circumstance and deny the validity of the anecdote by claiming it was a one-off and had never heard of anything like that before. Instead, he rather candidly agreed that United Utilities had traditionally been dreadful at customer service. He even had figures to prove it. He explained: “If you look at the way we are measured by our regulator, Ofwat, we have service incentive mechanisms measured over the middle three years of the five-year period that essentially awards you points against the other 21 companies in our peer group. When we started this journey, we were 21st out of 21 and we were way below number 20.” However, he says the company wants to be in the top quartile for service standards and has already taken big strides to improve its Ofwat rating. Mr Mogford said: “There was a very strong desire by management and the board to focus on water and waste water and to focus on how to improve those businesses. “We have an executive team that focuses on customer satisfaction. “We need to recognise we are a service provider. They (customers) want a continuous supply of clean water and they want their waste water taken away and treated. “It’s actually very straightforward. We have been looking at the company from the outside in and asking what are customers’ expectations.” He also said that they weren’t necessarily going to judge good customer standards by reference only to what passes as acceptable within the water sector. One of the customer service targets that United Utilities has
Water worry: The massive water leak that caused major problems in Huyton in March, above; water testing at the Lingley Mere laboratories in Warrington, left; and sewage treatment plant construction work at Sandon Dock, Liverpool, right set itself is to try to get a job done properly at the first time of asking, and to make the resolution to any problems as painless as possible. Mr Mogford says that, as well as measuring themselves by reference to other utilities, the company, headquartered at the Lingley Mere Business Park, in Warrington, wants to be seen as one of the best customer service providers of any type by the people of the North West. That involves making comparisons with banks, insurers, the RAC
and others. However, what does this mean in practice to the lives of the people of the North West? Water, explained Mr Mogford, is a big and vital part of daily life. “We are one of the first services people touch in the morning. They use the loo, they make a cuppa and take a shower and we are probably the last at the end of the day, when you clean your teeth, for example.” One thing the company has done to improve service standards is to bring back on-shore a service
centre that was previously located in Manila, creating about 240 jobs in the company’s call centres in Whitehaven and Warrington. Mr Mogford said: “That’s what people wanted. They also wanted to talk to somebody so we switched off the IVR (voice recognition software often used to answer phones). They didn’t want to talk to a machine. “We also looked at the rate of abandoned calls. When people put the phone down on us, we phone them back to ask them why they
were trying to call us, but that has spooked some people. But this ring back option is a way of saying we really do want to solve the problem.” Part of the problem, explained Mr Mogford, is that United Utilities was, a couple of decades ago, a public sector organisation and a monopolistic supplier to a captive market place. He said: “I read some of the letters we sent out. It was a bit like getting a letter from a government organisation. I
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . STEVE MOGFORD
wanted letters that my mum could understand. So we have done stuff around plain English. “Over the last two years, we started from being 21st out of 21 and we have improved our score by 44% and 49% in each of those years. That only took us from 21st to 16th on qualitative scores. “We want to be in the upper quartile so we have a lot of work to do still to get to the top five.” Mr Mogford has been the water company’s chief executive since April last year. He took over a
business that has effectively come full circle since the days it was led into a multi-utility strategy by the then executive chairman Sir Desmond Pitcher. The idea behind Sir Desmond’s plan was to create a business that could grow shareholder value by diversifying into a range of unregulated activities. This included creating process and asset management businesses that had more freedom to set their own prices. A billing operation that handled 2m accounts was bound
to be less efficient than one that handled 10m. The multi-utility strategy was born in order to create higher volumes of process work. As a result, North West Water, as it was called at the time, merged with the region’s electricity distributor Norweb to form United Utilities. Broadband and telecoms businesses were also created, as was the billing business, Vertex. The problem was everybody else had the same idea and so nothing
came of it. Vertex took years to start winning big accounts from non-group businesses. As a result, the share price under-performed the utilities sector and Sir Desmond was forced to step down by unhappy institutional shareholders. Over the following years, the spin-off businesses were sold off, a process that was only really completed in the autumn of 2010. Mr Mogford, who was not part
of the multi-utility strategy, said: “When you look at it postprivatisation of the water sector, a number of companies looked at expanding their non-regulated activities. You have seen the whole sector return back to regulated water and waste water. “We completed that exercise in 2010. We are the purest water company now. Only 1% of our revenue comes from nonregulated business. It’s very much our primary business now.” While the group has retrenched back to water, the venture into diversified businesses hasn’t proven to be completely without benefit. Mr Mogford said: “It was evident that these businesses have greater synergies belonging to bigger groups. We have returned £1.5bn to shareholders. You create shareholder value by disposing of those businesses after building them up into something attractive that somebody else wants.” One of the biggest challenges facing the water industry today and in the future is the need to respond to environmental concerns and climate change. Cleaner water and better management of waste water is a public health issue. The River Mersey, for example, has received considerable investment to make it cleaner over the last couple of decades. United Utilities is currently engaged in a £200m construction project at its Liverpool treatment plant at Sandon Dock. It’s a facility that had become notorious with nearby residents due to the foul smell coming from it. Construction work on a new, presumably odourless, facility is in progress. At the time of writing, the next-door Wellington Dock has had its river gates closed for the first time in 50 years and has been emptied of the water and silt. Instead, it has been lined with 200,000 tonnes of sand, which will form the basis for construction work. Last month, the company held a barbecue for some of its workers on the freshly installed sand. Mr Mogford said: “Sandon is a critical plant for Liverpool. We are treating 11,000 litres of waste water per second in Sandon.” Turning to general market conditions, Mr Mogford said: “Our business is largely driven by patterns of consumption. We can see revenue affected by take-up of meters, for example by people trying to better manage their bills. “People who live on their own in a big house can benefit from a water meter. “Big families who don’t want meters can pay by a fixed annual charge. “Over time, we will see the use of meters increase, but in the North West it is a relatively slow process because there are lots of disadvantaged people who like the regularity of rateable bills. About 30% have meters now, but it will be many years before we get to relatively high coverage.” The economic cycle has had some effect on United Utilities.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . STEVE MOGFORD
On tap: Lake Vyrnwy, in North Wales, from where United Utilities sources water for its North West customers
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 Mr Mogford said: “Industrial consumption has slowed. “There is a seasonality with pubs and hotels, for example. They are normally quiet in January and February. That quiet period went on longer this year. We have looked into it and the economy is having an effect.” Another key challenge is debt collection. How do you collect outstanding arrears without cutting off a vital service? “It’s a big issue for us,” says Mr Mogford. There are two categories of bad payers: those who can but won’t pay and those who face genuine hardship and can’t pay. “Obviously, we seek to recover payment, but in the North West unemployment has grown faster than in other parts of the country and we see that in the number of people struggling to pay. “These are often people with no
history of not paying and we are looking at how we can help with some empathy to get them back into payments,” he said. United Utilities places £5m a year into a trust fund to disburse to people to help them get back into payment. About 70% get back into regular payments. “It’s a dignity thing, nobody wants to be there,” said Mr Mogford. The more empathetic approach has also paid dividends for the company. Two years ago, its bad debt level was 2.5% of turnover. A year ago, it was 2.1%. “It’s now 2.2%. Given conditions, that’s a good result,” said Mr Mogford. The Government’s recently published Water for Life White Paper has highlighted some interesting challenges facing the sector in the years ahead. “Climate change is coming down the pipe,” said Mr Mogford. “Those issues are going to cause
us to look very carefully at how we address climate change.” The white paper looks to 2025 and beyond and asks how is Britain going to provide enough water for its people, agriculture and industry. Mr Mogford warned: “It’s going to get harder. “Two years ago, we were in drought in the North West. There is a drought in the south of the country this year. “Also, seasonal weather patterns are going to change. It will rain at unexpected times of the year and when it does rain it will do so far more than it used to. That’s going to cause problems for our sewers, which are not designed to cope. “We need to ask how do we develop new water sources. At the moment, most of our water comes from uplands, the Lake District and North Wales, but we are going to have to look at more bore holes.” He foresees the day when there
will be water trading with the south of the country. He asked: “How can we get water from the North to the South? “Can we use the canals?” He pointed to the emergence of retail competition between utilities for commercial customers. This could be particularly beneficial to companies that trade nationwide, beyond the borders of a single water company’s geographical reach. The new arrangements might mean that commercial customers could be billed by a single service provider. Mr Mogford said: “There are some back office benefits for the likes of Asda from being able to deal with one provider, rather than 21. It’s already implemented in Scotland. “Scale is going to be relevant when it comes to being as efficient as you can be to do that. “In Scotland, they have seen
very little switching – 90% of customers are still with their original provider. “It’s an exciting growth area for this sector. We can engage with customers on how they use water.” Referring to the environmental challenges, Mr Mogford said that the region had the benefit of one of the best water and waste water infrastructures in the country, in part due to the investment in public water services that was instigated in the Victorian era, including investment in both extensive urban sewer systems in Liverpool and Manchester and fresh water supply from sources such as Lake Windermere, in Cumbria, and Lake Vyrnwy, in North Wales. Mr Mogford said: “We have one of the best improved environments. “The Mersey was an open sewer, but has now become a much cleaner river.”
Has it all been worth it?
A relaxed resort . . . New Brighton beach, with Fort Perch Rock in the background
Bill Gleeson finds out the difference New Brighton’s £70m regeneration has made to the town HE opening of a Morrison’s supermarket last November marked the completion of Neptune’s £70m Town Square regeneration scheme in New Brighton. On walking down the hill from New Brighton railway station, the first impression of the visitor coming to the town for the first time in many years is of a place that has been physically transformed, particularly its main streets and waterfront promenade. It looks much better than it has for decades. The question is, however, six months on from the completion of that regeneration work, what difference has all this investment made to traders and the people who live in the resort?
Key protagonists in the arguments that flared during the planning stage of the development were Doug Darroch and his family. The Darrochs own Fort Perch Rock museum, located between the newly-built Morrisons and the lovingly restored Floral Pavilion theatre. The Darroch family spent a small fortune opposing aspects of Neptune’s original plan, but Mr Darroch professes himself supportive of the revised scheme. He believes, now that the scheme has had time to bed in, that the town has indeed benefited. He said: “There’s an increase in footfall and takings, more especially from local people.” Mr Darroch explains that,
while local people know about New Brighton’s regeneration, visitors from further afield don’t know about it until they get there and see it for themselves. Built in 1829 as a defence against invasion from the sea, Fort Perch Rock is now a museum displaying an eclectic range of artefacts, including some from HMS Thetis, a submarine that famously sank off the coast of Anglesey at the start of World War II, an engine from a Spitfire that came down in Birkenhead Park, a collection of marine radios as well as Elvis meets The Beatles, Titanic and Lusitania exhibitions and a Jail House. Fort Perch Rock’s website boasts that it “offers splendid all-round views of
the River Mersey.” Mr Darroch said: “We (the Darrochs) have been here since 1976, through the bad times. “We objected (to the original plan) because it would have spoilt the view of two listed buildings and the balance did not seem right.” The Darrochs were fortunate to be able to get their way by exercising a legal right granted to the property’s owners under very different circumstances from those prevailing today. In the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, Fort Perch Rock was granted a covenant stipulating that no buildings could be erected within the line of fire of the its cannons.
Almost two centuries after Napoleon was exiled to St Helena, the covenant was used to defend the attractiveness of the property to 21st-century day-trippers. It meant that Neptune couldn’t build on the adjacent Marine Lake, which has now been preserved as a central feature of the town. “It cost us a lot of time and money to defend that right. It’s sad that we had to spend so much time to convince them of that. “I think New Brighton is the greatest place to live on earth. It’s on a great river with a great skyline and there are great views of North Wales’ mountains. People moan about the weather,
CONTINUED ON PAGE 22
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT NEW BRIGHTON
New Brighton fights to win back the seaside tourist trade with events like the recent Mersey Pirates Muster; inset, above, Doug Darroch, of Fort Perch Rock CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 but I say just put on a coat.” Referring to the plans for the new cruise liner terminal on the opposite river bank, Mr Darroch said: “Great ships will be passing by here.” Pointing to Peel’s agreement with Chinese investors to develop a trade exhibition hall at Birkenhead and to General Motors’ decision to keep its Ellesmere Port Vauxhall car factory open, he expresses optimism about Wirral’s improving prospects. So much of what is said about the town is founded on nostalgic ideas, which exhibit mythic proportions, about its past. “New Brighton was always the real playground of Liverpool. Some say it was Southport, but really it was New Brighton. The only thing missing is the ferries,
but I think they are committed to making that happen.” Outside Fort Perch Rock, on the immediately adjacent beach, the late spring sunshine had encouraged a handful of parents to bring their pre-school children to paddle in the water, play with their buckets and spades or enjoy a kick-about with their dads. Ships ploughed up and down the river on their way to Garston Docks or the Manchester Ship Canal. The full extent of the vista stretched from Liverpool’s World Heritage waterfront, a few miles to the south, along the north shore coast up towards the sand dunes of Formby Point 10 miles to the north. Beyond was a blue expanse where, on this day, the azure of the open sea met cloudless skies. However, there was one enormous elephant in the room. Right bang in the middle of that vista, almost directly
opposite New Brighton, was European Metal Recycling’s infamous scrap metal mountains glinting impishly in the sun. Infamous, that is, for having deterred cruiseline companies from berthing their ships at nearby Langton Dock. “It’s a bit of an eyesore,” admitted Mr Darroch. “But there’s always other activity on the river that takes your eye off it.” Fort Perch Rock currently attracts 25,000 paying customers a year. Admission costs £4 for adults, but children enter free. It can also be hired for private parties and events. In common with all other British seaside resorts, New Brighton’s fortunes declined sharply in the 1960s with the growth of the Mediterranean package holiday trade. Nor was Neptune’s Town Square scheme by no means the
first attempt to re-invigorate the town. A string of proposals from the 1970s onwards, including one by the Merseyside Development Corporation, came to nothing. “They failed to attract major investment, but they laid the foundations. You have to compliment Wirral Borough Council and Howard Mortimer, who have worked hard to attract developers. They stuck with it. We all had a great belief in New Brighton. We look forward to the next phase. The future of New Brighton is more secure and we are proud of what is already here,” said Mr Darroch. “The original proposal was to build a Brighton of the North. We need to believe in ourselves as a tourist industry, not just as a bedroom for Liverpool,” he added. Mr Darroch argues the council needs to do more to market the
town. He cited the example of how the local McDonalds features a rack full of tourist attraction leaflets for places in Cheshire and North Wales, rather than local attractions. He said: “We are a major venue in the North West. We need to learn to compete.” He pointed to the early afternoon collection of rubbish and the failure to clear sand from the car park. He said: “It’s nice to have a parking problem in New Brighton. It’s the right sort of problem to have.” Helen Robertson, who owns the longstanding Seaside Cafe on the seafront, close to the new Morrisons, is ambivalent about the scheme. She said: “More people are coming here, but that doesn’t mean more business for us because that business is spread out between more restaurants and cafes than before.”
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT NEW BRIGHTON
Frankie Deary, of Total Energy Installations REDUCE your carbon footprint without footing the bill
New Brighton’s new Morrison’s supermarket, above; and, below, how it used to be – post-war donkey rides on New Brighton beach
THE Government is set to launch an initiative this October that will help homes across the region improve their carbon footprint. Called the Green Deal, property owners can claim up to £10,000-worth of energy efficiency work to their property without any up-front cost, loans or advanced finance. Frankie Deary, managing director of Total Energy Installations explains: “The Green Deal will help revolutionise the energy efficiency of properties in the UK that fall below set Carbon emission levels. The Department of Energy and Climate Control (DECC) is establishing a framework to enable private firms like ourselves to offer consumers energy-saving improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses, without the individual having to foot the bill! “The Government will fund the work and recoup payments through a charge paid in instalments through the owners’ energy bill.” First proposed to Parliament in December, 2010, as the centre-piece of the coalition Government’s Energy Bill, the Green Deal will allow private energy firms to provide domestic and commercial customers with superior double glazing, loft and wall insulation, together with many other structural improvements – designed to boost the energy efficiency of their buildings, thus substantially reducing heating bills and carbon emissions as a result. A scheme set to be the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War. Frankie continues: “This initiative is very much a winwin. The homeowner can have major improvements made to their property, all designed to make the home more thermally dynamic without the need to fund the development up-front. “Therefore, the individual recipient benefits from a warmer home with reduced energy bills and, as a consequence, the Government helps to fulfil its objective of
reducing the nation’s collective carbon footprint. The monthly energy savings in effect are paid back to the Government as repayment on their investment.” Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, recently announced the approval of £200m to be used as an incentive for the public to pick up the eagerlyawaited flagship Green Deal scheme when it becomes available for homeowners from October 1, 2012. A £150 cash rebate will be made to any property owner who takes up the scheme early. And experts predict there will be even more advantages to the initiative. The Government estimates that, in the long term, the scheme, if successful, will create 65,000 new jobs and lead to £13bn in new investment from the private sector. Additionally, energy companies are mandated to assist with energy improvements for low-income households. Frankie concluded: “We at Total Energy Installations are very conscious about energy saving and have structured our portfolio of products to meet the demand for greater energy regeneration. “We see this as the future. Consumers are now so much more aware of environmental issues and the consumer’s decision to purchase a particular product is now more regularly influenced by its environmental performance and efficiency level as by quality and price. “It’s a trend we applaud and continue to move our business towards. So much so that we now have our full management team currently undergoing rigorous Green Deal assessment accreditations! “Helping consumers take full advantage of government incentives like Green Deal is what we are all about and we will continue to offer products that are at the technological forefront of environmental and energy efficiency.” ● For more details about the benefits of Green Deal,talk directly with Frankie Deary on Freephone 0800 9777 111 or visit: www.totalenergy installations.com
‘Green Deal will improve the energy efficiency of properties in the UK’
These newcomers include a Starbucks coffee shop. She added: “It’s a disappointment to us. It’s not what we were promised. With Home Bargains, a cinema and casino, it’s more like a retail park than a seaside town. Other than the cinema, there is not an awful lot of leisure. “We were meant to have an open-air pool. We are now going to get only the smallest pool imaginable, but that has yet to happen. They used that as the carrot all along to get the people to agree. They said it would be covered in the winter to be an ice rink, but that has not happened. “It’s not possible to swim in the marine lake because of the pedaloes, etc. “I feel it’s been lost to the retail giants. “I don’t believe shopping at a supermarket mixes well with the
seaside.” Nevertheless, in terms of her business’s trade, Ms Robertson said: “We’re roughly where we were. New Brighton has always been good for us.” Husband and wife Ian and Karen Forber have owned a greengrocers and floristry shop on the town’s Victoria Road since 1980, though the premises have housed a greengrocers shop since 1890. Victoria Road used to be a busy thoroughfare, with trams passing up and down it. Mr Forber said: “I was in favour of the development, but the immediate effect was a drastic reduction in the food we were selling. We lost 50% on food. “Others say the same, but the Co-op and us are the two nearest to Morrisons. It has had a direct impact and we have been making a note from the day it opened. “But we’re still here. We have
good, loyal, regular customers who make the effort to do their shopping here still.” Mrs Forber, who runs the floristry side of the business, said her work hadn’t suffered from the arrival of Morrisons, though there had been a reduction in sales of bunches of flowers. She added: “If you’re going to survive, you have to diversify. We are trying to bring other things in for gardening and DIY, the sorts of things Morrisons doesn’t concentrate on.” The shop was displaying eggs sourced from nearby West Kirby. Mr Forber claimed his shop has the advantage over Morrisons when it comes to local produce. He said being close to the St John’s Hospice charity shop also generates footfall, but the competition for food sales is
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24
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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT NEW BRIGHTON
Spoiling the view – scrap metal mountains on Liverpool’s north shore . . . just across the Mersey from the visitors who pour into New Brighton CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23 tremendous and the margins are tiny. Mr Forber said: “We are fighting back. “The council hasn’t spent too much on New Brighton, it’s all been private and MDC money. We can carry on for as long as we make a profit. At the moment, we are holding our own, but there is not much profit in food and people are just not cooking either.” New Brighton councillor Pat Hackett was an advocate for the scheme. Wirral Borough Council executive member for regeneration, Cllr Hackett has been involved in the planning talks since 2001. He said: “With all of the ups and downs, it has been a fantastic success. “In a time of recession and winter, all the businesses are above target, so we are very
hopeful for the summer months. We need to build on this momentum. We need to be proactive. It’s no use waiting for market to revive. We have other businesses coming in, the likes of Wetherspoons, for example.” Cllr Hackett outlined a vision of cruiseline passengers alighting from their vessels at the Pier Head and then taking a ferry ride from Liverpool to New Brighton. “That would mean people from all over the world getting on the ferry and coming to New Brighton,” he said. “We are also looking at linking up Victoria Road with the waterfront. The council wants to improve the high street, creating a town square with markets, bookstalls and festivals.” Referring to Neptune’s development, Cllr Hackett said: “They will benefit local people, giving them a lot more facilities.
This is just the start.” As well as the physical regeneration, Cllr Hackett believes the redevelopment has addressed crucial economic and social issues. He said: “The initiative has created in the region of 700 jobs at Morrisons, the restaurants and the casino. “A lot of those jobs went to local people.” New Brighton resident Joy Hockey, an architect, conservationist and member of the New Brighton Residents’ Action Group, has been very keen to ensure that traditional aesthetic standards were upheld. She said: “I always objected to the heights of the buildings during the public enquiry on behalf of Wallasey Civic Society.” She was always against the Morrison store: “It’s inappropriate for a seaside development. It was supposed to be a leisure
development from the beginning, but it’s now leisure and retail. “They said they would retain views down Rawson Street and Portland Street towards Liverpool Bay, but the view down Rawson Street has gone.” She said it had been obliterated by the development of a twostorey high sailing club. However, Ms Hockey concedes the scheme has good points. “It’s a great improvement on the first scheme. I like the development at the west end of the lake. The Travelodge hotel is doing well,” she says. “The apartment blocks were taken out of the final plan and there’s no petrol station. “There has been an increase in traffic and shoppers going to Morrisons. “The casino is always very quiet. There has never been any trouble.”
However, she objects to the way the casino, open 22 hours a day, leaves its car park lights on through the night. She continued: “There were only five places in the North West with the best beaches and New Brighton was one of them, with its open views and ships going to Liverpool.” She continued: “They said there would be safeguards against height, but that hasn’t happened. “Quite a few residents in Portland Court have lost their view and some of the views from Wellington Road have been impaired over Liverpool Bay.” Ms Hockey doesn’t seem to be disturbed by the scrap heaps, saying: “They blend in with the dock-scape.” The appearance of the town is much improved. Surely, though, it is time to move those heaps of scrap metal from such a prominent position on the river . . .
If you are considering relocation for your business, or expanding your company, Wirral offers accessible, user-friendly information that saves you time and enables faster, better informed decision-making. You will find specialist advice and assistance from finding sites and development partners, through to recruiting and training quality staff and developing new supply chains. A full package of location advice and business support is available designed to give your company a competitive advantage.
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Mark McManus and Lorna Tyson, at the Mere Brook House Hotel, near Thornton Hough; and, inset, the refurbished cottage
Hotel’s cottage project saves energy
Mere Brook House doubles its capacity and installs green hot water system A WIRRAL hotel has spent a six-figure sum on an expansion project, and has installed an energy-saving heating and hot water system. The owners of Mere Brook House Hotel, near Thornton Hough, have converted a dilapidated four-bedroom cottage in its grounds. This will provide meeting facilities and four extra bedrooms for guests. Mere Brook is a converted Edwardian country house and the cottage project will double its
room capacity. Owners, Lorna and Donald Tyson, brought in renewable technology specialist Stiebel Eltron UK to design a costand energy-efficient heating and hot water system for the scheme. Alongside plumbing and heating firm Parr One, Stiebel Eltron came up with an air source heat pump system, which will meet the fluctuating hot water and heating needs of the hotel. Ms Tyson said: “The converted cottage needed everything gutting and renovating, and we have spent a lot of time and money to
create an extra four bedrooms and luxury meeting and lounge rooms. “We have created a boutique offering, blending traditional design and furniture alongside contemporary themes. “We have invested a substantial amount of time and effort, putting a lot of attention into detail while retaining the need to be costeffective, and are delighted with the results. “When we started looking at the refurbishment, we also wanted to be as efficient as possible with our energy
consumption. Through our long-standing relationship with Stiebel Eltron and managing director Mark McManus – who has used the hotel for conference facilities for the past few years – we decided to look at using green energy technology. “Mark and his team worked very closely with us to design a system which was quick, efficient, reliable and also discreet. “The air source heat pumps are now up and running, and we are very happy to be saving money, but also to be able to demonstrate
our eco-friendly credentials. The hotel used to run on LPG oil and the prices have rocketed recently – this will minimise our outlay on bills and help to increase our bottom line.” Mr McManus added: “Lorna showed a lot of confidence in our expertise, and we are delighted to have played our part in this stunning renovation project. “We originally looked at ground source heat pumps, but decided in the end that air source heat pumps would be the best solution.”
Bus firm aiming to invest in fleet of eco vehicles BUS operator Cumfybus is moving to a new depot and garage facility in Aintree, after securing a funding package from Santander Corporate Banking, supported by EIB finance. The cost savings generated by the move will now allow the firm to invest in a new fleet of environmentally friendly eco buses. The deal will see the
company relocate from separate sites in Liverpool, Wirral and Knowsley to single larger premises. Cumfybus is refurbishing the premises to include maintenance capacity for its fleet. The company was founded in 1986 by husband and wife team, Marshall and Patricia Vickers, after Mr Vickers bought his first bus to run as a school bus.
Their daughter, Penny Lyon, now manages the day-to-day running of the business, which runs a number of routes. Ms Lyon said: “This funding package from Santander and the EIB helps support the next stage of our development. “Being based in one location and cutting down on rental costs will enable us to focus on our two
priorities – developing an environmentally friendly fleet and providing a customer-focused service.” Neil Tweedle, relationship director at Santander Corporate Banking, in Merseyside, added: “Having got to know Penny and the management team, I believe they are well-placed to take advantage of the new opportunities this will open up for them.”
Neil Tweedle, relationship director at Santander
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Energetix takes a big step forward ‘Green tech’ firm to trial energy-producing boiler in homes
Keith Rimmer, inventor of the EcoPod
EcoPod scoops clutch of prizes Energetix chief executive Adrian Hutchings – says prospects for the boiler are ‘stronger than ever’ CHESHIRE green technology group Energetix has secured unit verification from the British Standards Institution for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) version of its power generating boiler. The firm’s Energetix Genlec subsidiary produces the Kingston microCHP Delta unit which uses the heat it produces to generate electricity in the home. Capenhurst-based Energetix has been working with Calor Gas to develop an LPG variant. To date, trials in the company’s laboratories have shown that the LPG appliance operates as expected and is very similar in performance to the original Kingston microCHP Delta production engineered units which run on natural gas. The next stage in the development of a commercial LPG version of the Kingston boiler is to commence field trials in homes to
assess the performance of the appliance in off-gas grid homes. Initially, four LPG units will be used in the field trial. Unit verification has been received for the first LPG unit with certification of the remaining units expected to be completed shortly. Installation of the trial units will then take place in time for the next heating season, beginning in September. The LPG variant of the Kingston boiler will be able to generate a proportion of the household’s electricity needs in the home, which could enable Calor Gas to have a real competitive advantage in the off grid energy supply market both in the UK and Europe. Energetix chief executive Adrian Hutchings said: “Unit verification is an important step as we work with Calor Gas to commercialise an LPG version of the Kingston boiler. “With ever-increasing fuel bills,
strong demand for greener and cleaner energy, and increased regulatory support for microCHP products the prospects for our Kingston microCHP boiler are stronger than ever.” In March, Energetix said it planned to raise £4.6m through a share placing to help it develop its boiler technology and to become “a major energy supplier”. It said it would use the funds from the placing to launch new company, Kingston Energy, to supply Kingston microCHP boilers. The company will provide free boilers to its customers “in return for a commitment to purchase gas and electricity for a fixed period”. In a statement, Energetix said: “The directors believe the Kingston Energy proposition is unique and represents a substantial opportunity to use the Kingston boiler appliance to become a major energy supplier.”
AN ENERGY-SAVING heating system, which is designed to alleviate fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions in high-rise tower blocks, has landed another industry award. The EcoPod, which was designed by Keith Rimmer, managing director of the Warrington-based Belfry Group, won Product Of The Year at the Housing Excellence Awards. This latest accolade completes a hat-trick for Mr Rimmer and the Belfry Group, after they had scooped awards for Most Innovative Use of Renewable Technology at the Housing Innovation Awards, and Innovator of the Year at the North West Business Masters. Mr Rimmer said: “When I first came up with the idea for
EcoPod, I never expected it would lead to awards like this. “It all started with a kettle. Several years ago, I was visiting a high-rise social housing block in the North West where, to my horror, I discovered an elderly resident boiling water to wash because she couldn’t afford to use her immersion heater. “I thought to myself ‘this is terrible and we must do something to help’. “Being a mechanical engineer by trade, I went away from that visit determined to find a solution that could be used on high-rise tower blocks, especially in the social housing sector. “The result was the EcoPod, which uses solar panels and cascade boilers to provide heating and hot water.”
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The government is encouraging the use of nonpolluting energy through the Feed-in Tariff scheme. The level of incentive payments are currently under review but currently stand at 43.3p* for every kilowatt hour of solar energy that your system produces. These payments attract no tax and are index linked.
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Solar electric systems use Photovoltaic (PV) cells that are mounted into the panels you commonly see on rooftops, they convert daylight (not sunlight) into the electricity you use around your home. The benefits of solar are significant, both financially and environmentally. Take a look at these facts:
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The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is an independent accreditation that certifies microgeneration products, suppliers and installers in accordance with their high quality control standards. It is designed to provide a level of protection and assurance to consumers as well as a sign of quality. Total Energy Installations are proud to be MCS Certified.
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Directors Ian Fyall, left, and Simon Hughes are reaping the benefits of establishing a Dubai training facility more than a year ago
Eastern promise offers framework of growth for safety group Simian United Arab Emirates region offers potential in petrochemical and construction sectors
SIMIAN Risk Group, the Warrington scaffolding health and safety specialist, is targeting the Middle East petrochemicals sector for future growth. The firm set up a training centre in Dubai last year which has enabled it to establish a presence which is attracting increasing awareness. Directors Ian Fyall and Simon Hughes launched Simian Risk Group in 2005. With more than 40 years of combined experience in the scaffolding industry, the business specialises in providing health and safety consultancy for work at
height. In 2010, the partners split the company into two divisions – Simian Risk and Simian Skill, taking on two new directors, Dave Randles and David Abraham, for the respective divisions of the company. Dave Randles became a shareholder in 2011. Dave and David also brought more than 40 years of experience. The business has now grown to a turnover of £1.5m in the past financial year and the directors are looking to the Middle East markets to expand further and are being courted by authorities and oil and gas firms across the
region to deliver seminars, presentations and guest talks, as well as provide retained and ad-hoc consultancy services for major building, renovation and maintenance projects. Mr Fyall said: “Simian was unknown in the Middle East a year ago, but Simon and I have worked hard to build a strong presence in the region. “We established a training centre in Dubai last year which is going very well and through the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) – of which we are both members of the Middle East branch – we have been
building a network of business contacts in the region’s health and safety, petrochemical and construction sectors. “We are now working with some of the major players and governments in the region and have been presenting at a range of conferences to get our business on the map.” He added: “Simian is working on a range of high-value developments with global clients such as Shell and Southern Oil company in Iraq, Al Futtaim in Dubai and Orascom in Abu Dhabi, as well as smaller companies.” Mr Hughes said: “The Middle
East oil and gas sector offers some great opportunities, and this is a very niche market that we have been able to capitalise on. “It is still within scaffolding and working at height, just with a more industry-orientated focus, rather than construction. “The construction sector is slowly picking up in the Middle East after the global recession, and we are working hard to get our name recognised for when the bigger developments start again, as we suspect they will.” Simian also has a 15,000 sq ft scaffolding training centre at its Warrington base.
KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY Liverpool Science Park, located next to the city’s Catholic cathedral; and, inset, LSP chief executive Chris Musson, left, with Professor Jonathan Wastling, from the University of Liverpool
Researchers move to LSP
Liverpool Science Park hopes to attract more academic research and development facilities MORE than 50 researchers will move to Liverpool Science Park (LSP) as part of an investment by the University of Liverpool in its Institute of Infection and Global Health. The researchers, who are studying animal and human infectious diseases, will occupy more than 8,000 sq ft of laboratories and offices at LSP’s ic2 facility, in Brownlow Hill. And the park’s chief executive, Chris Musson, hopes that more academic R&D facilities will eventually move onto the site. The university says the Institute “is an international centre of excellence dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of humans and animals”.
Its partners include UK research councils, the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Pfizer and Novartis. Professor Jonathan Wastling, head of the institute’s Department of Infection Biology, which is moving to the science park, said: “The Institute brings together scientists, vets and medics. “The quality of the space and facilities in LSP provide a superb environment for the type of interdisciplinary work that is essential for success in today’s increasingly competitive scientific environment. “The park’s proximity to and connections with commercial
science and knowledge-based entities both at the park itself and the neighbouring universities, increase the opportunity for crossover work.” He added: “Liverpool has always had a strong reputation in veterinary infectious disease research, and this development reflects those strengths by providing a major investment into high-quality research facilities. “These new custom-designed laboratories will further strengthen our position and maintain veterinary infectious disease research at the heart of the city campus.” Sir Howard Newby, vicechancellor of the university and chair of the LSP’s board, said:
“Both Liverpool Science Park and the University play key roles in Liverpool’s commercial knowledge economy, and this new partnership takes us a step closer to achieving the long-term plan to make this area of the city recognised for its expertise and knowledge in the life science and technology arena.” Mr Musson said: “Securing this commercial letting is an important milestone for the park, as the co-location of university R&D facilities on science parks reflects global best practice. “As the universities’ science park, we would hope in the future to secure further world leading R&D facilities on site to help drive forward the city’s knowledge
economy.” LSP’s first phase, in the shadow of the Metropolitan Cathedral, was opened in 2006. Its second phase, ic2, was opened in 2009. This year, work will start on LSP’s £8m ic3 building, which will include 42,000 sq ft of offices and laboratories. The life sciences sector is seen as key to Liverpool’s economic growth, but a lack of lab space in the city has forced some companies to move elsewhere. LSP hopes ic3 will encourage more growing firms to stay in or move to the city. LSP’s three shareholders are Liverpool City Council, Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool.
With Derek Gawne, branch manager of Charles Stanley, in Liverpool IS LEADERSHIP a quality and a skill that a person is born with? Can leadership be learnt and can good management inspire someone to learn it? IT IS a famous and often quoted mantra that there is no “I” in Team – but every successful team must have a leader. It is interesting to note that, in Euro 2012, Stephen Gerrard has more confidence in “captaining” his country because he now knows that he is the manager’s choice – not just a fill-in while others are ignored. But is he a “born leader”, now that he has been given the job and is getting on with it? Are leaders born or made? This is the most basic and most often-asked question about leadership. To cut to the chase, the answer is: mostly made. The best estimates offered by research is that leadership is about one-third born and twothirds made. The job of leading an organisation, a football team, or a nation, and doing so effectively, is fantastically complex. To expect that a person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead just doesn’t make sense, based on what we know about the complexity of social groups and processes. Peter Drucker, the writer and management consultant, famously said that: “Management is doing things; leadership is doing things right.” Great leaders possess dazzling social intelligence, a zest for change and, above all, vision which allows them to set their sights on what truly matters. Management inside any organisation is about nurturing future leaders and encouragement. Effective and successful leaders tend to be
inspirational, visionary, and serve as positive role models for their colleagues. But the very best leaders also care sincerely about their staff, their well-being and their personal development. At the Liverpool Post Regional Awards, last week, Brian Barwick fondly recalled the role models that he had learned skills from that made him an effective leader in his role at the Football Association. He highlighted the inspiration that was Bill Shankly, the enthusiasm of Bobby Robson, the decency and practicality of his old headmaster and many others. His leadership skills, while inherent in him, had been nurtured and encouraged by the people he had worked with. All managers should have an impact on their business to ensure success – but are you mindful of the effect you can have on others around you? Space and responsibility should be given to those around you to allow them to blossom. Are you offering them yourself as a good role model to ensure that your team are given every opportunity? I hope that, in future years, I will have given some measure of encouragement and inspiration to others that may be recalled by them as they look back on their career. Do you have that hope or are you simply getting on with the job in very difficult times? Keep one eye on your team, include them and lead them, and hopefully your business will have been very successful. But you may also have achieved something that cannot be measured in terms of success – to be fondly remembered.
‘Leadership is about one-third born and two-thirds made’
Move linked to veterinary school investment
THE University’s decision to move the Department of Infection Biology into Liverpool Science Park forms part of a £10m investment in its veterinary science facilities. The department, which is partly based in the existing veterinary science building, is to move to the science park in July. The School of Veterinary Science has
undergone a major redevelopment and now boasts a larger teaching suite, new facilities for the university’s small animal practice and enhanced research facilities at Liverpool Science Park (LSP). The university’s Thomson Yates Building has been redesigned to provide a “social learning zone for students” and an events space. A new Veterinary
Teaching Suite will provide a practical teaching space for up to 150 students, as well as technical areas and a new clinical skills area. Professor Susan Dawson, Head of the School of Veterinary Science, said: “We’re really excited about the move to the new teaching suite – the facilities are superb and will give our students a modern and flexible learning space
designed to support world-class veterinary education. “The move increases teaching capacity, which will enable us to meet growing demand for courses.” A new and improved “first opinion” small animal practice for clinical teaching is being built close to the site of the existing practice and a new pathology suite is being created at Leahurst, Wirral.
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Out with the old as Central
£160m Liverpool city centre regeneration project starts to take shape with the former LEWIS’S department store was such an integral part of the fabric of Liverpool life that, when it finally closed for good in 2010, many people could not quite take it in. In truth, sad though its demise was, Lewis’s closure felt inevitable. The department store of the type immortalised in the 1970s sitcom, Are You Being Served, had become very much part of Britain’s retail past. The Lewis’s building, on the corner of Ranelagh and Renshaw Streets, is one of the most magnificent in the city centre,
and thankfully it is to find a new lease of life as a key part of one of the city’s biggest regeneration projects. Central Village is a spectacular £160m mixed-use scheme stretching right across from Lewis’s to Bold Street. Backed by £4m of European Regional Development Fund cash, the project comprises: ● Three properties in Bold Street which Merepark completed in 2009. Tenants include Costa Coffee and Drome; ● A 459-space, Q-park multistorey car park, bounded by Bold
Street, Renshaw Street and new public space, Heathfield. The contractor, McGee, is already on site and work will be completed in 2013; ● The refurbishment of the nine-storey Lewis’s building to include a 126-bed Accor apartment-hotel, 75,000 sq ft of office space and additional retail and leisure units; ● The 75,000 sq ft Boardwalk building with new public plaza and water feature and the creation of 20,000 sq ft of additional retail and leisure space on three floors above
Liverpool Central Station; ● The part refurbishment of the Watson Building (adjacent to Lewis’s) to accommodate the Millennium Hotel; ● The new-build Copthorne Hotel. The refurbishment of Liverpool Central railway station, in the middle of Central Village, is also well under way and is due for completion later this year. Earlier in June, the developer behind Central Village, Merepark, held an official launch for the 75,000 sq ft of refurbished office space that is to be made available
for occupation in the former Lewis’s building. Merepark claims The Department is currently the second-largest speculative office scheme in the North west. The refurbishment of the L-shaped Grade II-listed building will provide an Accor Adagio Apart Hotel and the office space, separated by a six-storey atrium. The building will provide four main floors of office accommodation. Merepark Construction is undertaking the refurbishment works and practical completion is
A computer-generated image of The entrance to The Department office space, in the former Lewis’s department store, pictured below, right; and, inset, above, Neal Hunter, of Merepark
How Liverpool Central railway station will look when work is completed later this year; and, inset, top left, the boardwalk area of the scheme
Lewis’s iconic store building right at its heart
due by the end of November. DTZ and CBRE are the letting agents and are marketing the space at £15.50 per sq ft. Neil Hunter, from Merepark, said securing pre-lets had been key to their success in getting funding for all the elements of Central Village. Odeon will be the cinema operator and a number of restaurant brands have signed up including Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s and Coast to Coast. Neal Hunter, from Merepark, added: “Central Village is an extremely complex scheme and
after several years of hard work we are delighted to see both the hotel and offices taking shape. “Liverpool can be proud of what is taking place at Central Village if you look at the calibre of tenants we have attracted. “For some of the operators, these are their first outlets in the north of England – it is a real vote of confidence in the city.” Mr Hunter said work was well on track with the car park just weeks away from completion and work set to begin on the main boardwalk building later this year. And he acknowledged the
development will bring a greater balance to the city centre after the success of Liverpool One. “I think what has been achieved at Liverpool One has been fantastic,” he added. “There was a concern for some people that Liverpool One would just shift the city centre in a certain direction, but I think the way it has been integrated with what was here already has worked out really well. “I think what we are doing on this side of the city centre will be complementary and will prove to be really positive.”
E V I D Y K S in aid of
Daredevils wanted to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet in aid of Liverpool Unites. Date: Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September 2012
Visit www.liverpoolunites.co.uk or call 0151 285 8400 for an information pack
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BUSINESS LUNCH Alistair Houghton travels to Daresbury for lunch with Robert Wakeling, of tech firm Wadaro ARESBURY’S Science and Innovation Campus (SIC) is a North West Wonderland of hi-tech companies – and Wadaro founder Robert Wakeling is taking some of that Daresbury magic to the world. Lewis Carroll, creator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was born in Daresbury. More than 100 years after his landmark work was published, the landmark concrete tower that dominates the Cheshire countryside was erected at the Daresbury Laboratory. And more recently still, the Science & Technology Facilities Council teamed up with Halton Council and developer Langtree to create the SIC, which is now home to more than 100 hi-tech firms, and where the March Hare couldn’t throw a Mock Turtle without hitting an innovative entrepreneur. And if Wakeling and his fellow tenants ever wanted to hold their own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, then they have a couple of venues to choose from: the small Waterside Cafe and the larger nearby venue, called – with a distinctly unCarrollesque lack of imagination, The Restaurant. And over a couple of tasty meals in that spacious eatery, Wakeling explained how his company, Wadaro, is helping mobile phone companies around the world improve the service they offer to customers. Wadaro puts software into SIM cards that allows the network operator to see how their network is performing and where phone signals are weak or non-existent. That way, they can patch gaps in their network to ensure customers get better reception and fewer dropped calls. Wakeling had already spent several years working on software related to mobile phones, and became intrigued by how companies measured the performance of their networks. He said companies measured their network performance in two ways – core network probing and drive testing. With probing, networks analyse selected data from their central database. And, said Mr Wakeling, “with drive testing you literally get a vehicle with special equipment and drive about the countryside listening to radio signals.” He added: “It struck me as nonsensical that you have to look at autonomous equipment on a network or a bank of clapped-out cars to see if the network operators are giving you service.
“If you phone up a network operator and say ‘I don’t have coverage’, they’ll look at their system and say they do. They sample from their data and extrapolate it to the whole country. “So how do you measure service to the individual? Get the handset to do it. So, therefore, we put software inside the SIM card in everybody’s handset. “It tells the network operator about its performance. “It’s a bit like crowdsourcing. We aggregate the data. It takes the guesswork out of it.” Wakeling and I headed to the restaurant for a late lunch. It was quiet by then, but luckily as we approached the serving area of the cafeteria we could see there was still plenty of food to choose from. Wakeling debated the Malaysian special before choosing a Quorn Chilli with nachos. I had a tasty steak and kidney pie, with a side order of wedges and veg. I could have had some complimentary tea and coffee, but went for a water instead. “This place used to be like something out of the Jetsons,” said Wakeling, telling me it had recently been refurbished. Now it’s an airy, open space, with a view over the canal and the Cheshire countryside. On warmer days, you can even sit on the terrace outside and soak in the sun – though the weather was a bit too variable the day I visited. It offers simple cafeteria-style food, but on this evidence, good simple food. Its menu, which includes vegetarian options and even an occasional “chef ’s theatre” choice, changes daily, giving tenants variety. And it’s reasonably priced – our two meals came to under £10. Mr Wakeling, whose father worked for BP, was born in the West Indies and spent some of his childhood living in Colombia before moving to the UK, aged 10. After his A-Levels, he decided to take a break before university – a break that stretched to some eight years. “I spent a lot of time travelling – motorcycling mainly,” he
The outdoor seating area at The Restaurant – one of two places to eat and drink at Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus; and, inset, right, the interior restaurant area said. At 27, he enrolled at the University of York to study computer science before moving into the computing industry in a career that has encompassed designing software for surgical lasers and working on billing systems for early smartphones. He moved to his wife’s home county of Cheshire to start a family. In 2000, he joined mobile phone software giant Magic4, in Warrington, becoming chief technology officer in August, 2003. In 2004, it was sold to Silicon Valley communications company Openwave for more than £47m. “Magic 4 was a real rollercoaster ride,” he smiled. “It was great fun. “We gave 3i and Philips Venture Capital a five times return on their investment. That’s opening a lot of doors for me from venture capitalists.” In June, 2005, he launched Wadaro, securing seed funding for its R&D work. There are only a handful of SIM card companies globally, making it a tough market to get into, but Wadaro eventually secured a partnership deal with Morpho. Wakeling said: “They’re one of the four biggest SIM card vendors in the world.”
In developing countries, where infrastructure is being developed, Wakeling says Wadaro’s solution is simply more practical than other testing options. “For example,” he said, “in Nigeria, when it rains, the roads disappear. You cannot do drive testing. “We have a focus on emerging markets.” Wadaro has already sold to Kenya and the UK. Now it is in talks with operators in Angola, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East. Wadaro can monitor the performance of any world network from its Daresbury base. Wakeling said: “I had a conversation with a network operator in Somalia, where even they won’t go out after dark. “But we can do business in Somalia from here in the UK and it doesn’t require us to go there. “We meet people at trade shows, enable their networks, they send out SIM cards, and voilà. We can monitor the network, and they can look at it on a web browser.” Wakeling is seeing increasing interest in his technology as mobile phone operators prepare to invest again after retrenching during the recession. “From 2009 to 2011, the market was depressed,” he said. “The whole industry has been quiet. “I’ve been going to the Mobile World Congress for 12 years now. “I went two years ago and some
stands were vacant, which is exceptional because it’s the biggest trade show in the world. “This year it was rammed. The industry is picking up.” The company has a team of four, with three board members, But Mr Wakeling says its partnership with network operators and SIM card companies means “our sales and marketing department is about 200 people”. He added: “I used to travel a lot, meeting network operators, networking and meeting a lot of people. I’ve probably got close to 10,000 people in my Outlook address book now. “I’ll talk to people about anything. You never know where a conversation is going to go.” At Daresbury, with its network of entrepreneurs and a restaurant at its heart, that kind of conversation is easy to strike up. “This is a brilliant place to start a business,” said Wakeling. “There’s a lot of support and networks. If I was going to start another business, I’d do it here.”
DETAILS The Restaurant Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus WA4 4AD Tel: 01925 607000 www.daresburysic.co.uk
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THE BUSINESS LIST Tuesday, July 3
Export Documentation: Procedures and Payments is a course designed for those who have to produce or check the procedures and documentation associated with international trade in exporting companies. It is recommended for personnel in sales, logistics and accounts, as well as small business owner managers. The speaker is Tony Brown, whose background is in international sales and marketing, with extensive experience selling computer and communications systems in Western and Central Europe, North and South Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, China and Australia. His current role is that of International Trade Advisor with ChamberLink, in Manchester. The event takes place at the Old Hall Street offices of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce between 9am and 5pm and costs £100 for Chamber members and £150 for non-members. Visit http://www. mychamber.co.uk/liverpool/ event/view/id/2935#book to book.
FRIDAY/SATURDAY, AUGUST 10/11/ LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL ANNUAL ABSEIL EVENT
Tuesday, July 10 Entrepreneurs and small business owners can get the chance to learn DIY PR skills at a workshop this month. Award-winning journalist Mary Murtagh is running her “How to Do Your Own PR” workshop in Chester. Liverpool Cathedral is offering brave souls the chance to support their chosen charities through a charity abseil The training is aimed to help participants generate new MERSEYSIDE Time slots are sold colleagues can abseil be able to book a stall Foundation, which customers and business leads businesses are being by the hour (20 together, and the abseil in a community supports the Cathedral by getting coverage in the urged to support their participants) or half is open to anyone over marquee to display in its work and helps media. chosen charities by hour (10) with no upper the age of 18, in a good literature, host keep entry free to Each participant will get onetaking part in Liverpool limit; companies can state of medical and collection buckets, sell visitors. to-one help with creating ideas Cathedral’s abseil. choose their preferred fitness health. No prior charity merchandise or ■ Contact 0151-702 Participants will take slot on a first come, experience is hold demonstrations. 7226 or email rebecca. for their own press release, and on a 150ft freefall drop first served basis. necessary. Businesses can also bentham@liverpool learn simple ways to get the above the Cathedral’s Two ropes are Each company’s opt to abseil in aid of cathedral.org.uk for media’s attention and introduce West Doors. available so that chosen charity will also the Liverpool Cathedral details. their business to thousands of potential new customers. The training includes how to the guests can join the party the best for their business out of business ahead of your spot stories in your day-to-day from 7.30am for breakfast, with competitors in a recession.” work and advice on the best way the media. morning coffee, newspapers and She said the workshop is Ms Murtagh said: “This is a to approach journalists. official draw sheets with order of useful for any social enterprise, great way of putting your Participants leave with a play. charity, public sector simple tool kit of PR skills to get There will be a Champagne organisation, or business, reception and a complementary however big or small. No bar throughout the day. previous experience of working There is also business centre with the media is required. access, live TV screens and The workshop, which costs video replays, as well as an £99, runs from 10am to 2pm at outside relaxation area, should Lumisi, Westminster Chambers, the weather hold. The day 7 Hunter Street, Chester. finishes at about 7pm. To book, contact mary@ Tickets for a full day's marymurtaghmedia.co.uk hospitality are normally £500 Mary Murtagh +VAT, but the Chamber has Saturday, July 21 secured a deal costing £250 for Taking place at the Prestige Liverpool Chamber of members and £350 for nonCommerce invites golf fanatics Hospitality Village, the Chamber members. Visit http://www. advises that golfing aficionados to the penultimate day’s play mychamber.co.uk/liverpool/ of The Open championship at should be there for the first teeevent/view/id/2888#book to off at 6.30am, while the rest of Royal Lytham. book. Tiger Woods at Royal Lytham
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ALISTAIR HOUGHTON . . . in which we don black ties for tales of business success, sporting icons, boat races and branded desserts
USINESSES like a straight line”, said Professor Brian Barwick, “not a wiggly line”. I looked around and considered that several attendees would be making a very wiggly line home if they kept drinking wine at that rate. It was June, so it was time for the Post’s Regional Business Awards – not only the year’s biggest business awards do, but surely the only one with branded desserts. In the cavernous surroundings of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral – surely one of the best events venues in the country – hundreds of business leaders donned their black ties or smartest dresses to find out who our judges named the best of the best. It was a particularly special night for guest speaker and former Football Association chief executive, Prof Barwick, who won a round of applause when he revealed it was also his birthday. “Thanks to my wife, Gerry, for organising this,” he smiled, looking at the hundreds of smartly-dressed folk lapping up his every word. “I was expecting a nice curry and a pint. This is much grander.” N ARRIVAL, most guests gathered in the chasm of the nave, beneath an illuminated Range Rover Evoque. I was able to sneak off to the VIP reception in the ornate Lady Chapel
at the liturgical east end of the great church, to vacuum up mini lamb kebabs while chatting about the business world. But then we moved through our tables, gathered candlelit beneath the great stone vaults, to hear from Prof Barwick. His speech was all about leadership, and the importance of certainty in business – hence that remark about straight lines. And, being a former FA chief executive and a former head of sport at the BBC and ITV, he had plenty of first-hand examples of inspirational leadership to share. From his Liverpool youth, he remembered the inspirational teaching of William Pobjoy, his headmaster at Quarry Bank High School. And he recalled how Bill Shankly always took time to chat to fans at Liverpool FC’s Melwood training ground. He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson – “nothing great in life is ever achieved without enthusiasm” – to illustrate the success of Sir Bobby Robson, the ever-smiling former England, Barcelona and Newcastle manager. And leaders should also, he said, be prepared to accept occasional failures as they battle their way to success. As Evander Holyfield said, “a setback paves the way for a comeback”. Prof Barwick also recalled how, under his leadership, ITV won the right to broadcast the Boat Race. But his attempts at humour during
At the Regional Business Awards, even the desserts are on-brand
the bidding process almost backfired. Asked whether ITV would bring any innovations to the coverage, he told organisers – “po-faced committee members”, as he called them – that he wanted to bring in a third boat. He added: “I chanced my luck a little further, and said I’d like to take the race to other rivers in England. “Two committee members hit the floor. I had to explain I was trying to lighten the mood.” EXT came the awards themselves, hosted by the event’s long-standing compere Peter Sissons. And that meant it was time for me to leave my table. Despite what my colleagues might think, the awards aren’t just a festival of drinking. For the Post team, it’s a school night. So I dashed backstage, ready to greet the winners as they arrived with their trophies ready for their celebratory photographs. When you write about these awards so often, it’s easy to become a little blasé. But when you actually greet the winners immediately after they leave the stage, their excitement reveals just how much these awards mean to them. Some of the winners were people I’d interviewed in recent weeks. In at least one case, they’d tried to get me to tell them whether they’d won. I couldn’t – I deliberately avoided seeing the results in case I let it slip. So it was a pleasure to meet the teams from Byotrol, Chargepoint and Halewood International with their trophies in hand. The most emotional reaction came from Halewood. The company, most famous for Lambrini and Crabbie’s ginger ale, was rocked last year by the death of its inspirational founder, John Halewood. But the company remained in family hands and has ploughed on with its investment plans. Deputy chairman Peter Eaton – Mr Halewood’s brother-in-law – told the audience that the KPMG Business of the Year Award would have made the company’s founder “very proud”. And backstage, his pride was clear to see. Between the two halves of the ceremony, I was able to sit down and enjoy a tasty four-course dinner – including a dessert with the Liverpool Post logo elegantly stencilled onto the plate in chocolate powder. Recession-hit firms have a lot on their plates right now. But, at times like this, it’s even more important to celebrate your success at awards events like the RBAs. Not everyone loves black tie dinners. But, if you’ve got success to shout about, why not don your bow tie and tell the world?
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SOCIAL DIARY THE NETWORKER
Jim Hancock, Frank McKenna, Victoria McKenna and Lucy Brown soak up the atmosphere at the Calderstones Liverpool International Tennis Tournament
Roger Jonas keeps tabs on events at the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament
LIVERPOOL International Tennis Tournament took place from June 21-24 at Calderstones Park. Local businesses used the opportunity to entertain clients and treat staff. Downtown Liverpool in Business enjoyed the fantastic hospitality at this year’s event with guests including ex-Granada Reports political reporter and Post columnist, Jim Hancock, and Head of Marketing at Liverpool Community College, Dave Scanlan. ■ THE Red Door, in West Kirby, was packed for Rob Lamberti’s George Michael Tribute Night recently. Rob is acknowledged as being
one of the best tribute artists in Europe, and has worked alongside George Michael for Sony Music. ■ GUSTO Heswall hosted this month’s Wirral Food & Drink Partnership meeting. Delegates were treated to croissants and coffee while they discussed recent and upcoming events in Wirral and the North west. ■ RADIO City presenter Pete Price was on hand to promote the stunning Turner Monet Twombly exhibition at Tate Liverpool this summer, which brings together the works of three of the most distinguished and prolific artists of their times.
Natasha Hayward, Dave Wainwright, Guy Anderson and Tom Rowlands, enjoying the refreshments and the music at the Red Door, West Kirby
Downtown Liverpool In Business chairman Frank McKenna, with Victoria McKenna, at the Calderstones tournament
Gusto Heswall business development manager Laura-Jane Hall, with Wirral Council destination marketing manager Juggy Landay and Amanda Willams, from Wirral Council, at the Wirral Food and Drink Partnership meeting
Mandy Molby and Gillian Kearney at the Red Door, West Kirby, for the George Michael Tribute Night
Pete Price – with Monet umbrellas and cushions – helps promote the Turner Monet Twombly exhibition at Tate Liverpool
Charlotte Whitehead and Sarah Lees, at the Red Door’s George Michael Tribute Night concert
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