Business MK January 2022

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Business MK Incorporating Business2Business

January 2022


In print and online, Business MK is published in Milton Keynes and North Bucks for the area’s business community


Commitment to equality earns care specialist a top diversity award. P5


Imagine having no one... Campaign calls for business support. P11

Businesses in Buckingham have again illustrated their close ties with the town through their support for a new sports campus at the Royal Latin School. Pictured are representatives of sponsors ek Robotics - whose name the campus carries - and Vitalograph with head teacher David Hudson and former Olympic medallist Professor Greg Whyte at the opening ceremony. Read how business helped the vision become reality: Page 3.


MKBLP chairman Nicholas Mann looks forward to 2022. P15


The latest appointments and promotions. P17

Firm wins £0.75m funding + all the Bedfordshire business news: P19-22

Growth plans accelerate as property consultancies join forces


ommercial property specialists Kirkby Diamond and Brown & Lee have completed a merger deal. The new business begins this month, when Brown & Lee’s operations in Milton Keynes and Bedford including partners Andrew Dudley, Richard Last and Steve Magorrian join the Kirkby Diamond property team. Luke Tillison pictured, partner and head of practice at Kirkby Diamond, said: “The acquisition of Brown & Lee’s Milton Keynes and Bedford operations strengthens our position

in the region and is a key ingredient in our plans for more growth in the future. “We know the guys at Brown & Lee in Milton Keynes extremely well and I am delighted that we have been able to bring on board four highly experienced and well respected p r o p e r t y professionals to complement the Kirkby Diamond team.” Last year, Kirkby Diamond acquired

property management and asset management specialist Granby Martin Surveyors. The move gave the property management arm of Kirkby Diamond an extended client base of more than 400 tenants, located largely in London and the South East but also throughout the UK, operating mainly in the industrial, offices and retail sectors. The firm also has offices in Luton and Borehamwood.

Brown & Lee partner Steve Magorrian said: “The merger with Kirkby Diamond gives Brown & Lee the opportunity to work with people we have known for decades, to be part of their strong team and to add our experience and expertise to their dominant market share. “Therefore, this move makes sense for both the firm and our clients.” Mr Tillison added: “We are a highly ambitious company and we are determined to grow the business by adding significant experience and expertise across all the sectors in which we operate.”

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January 2022

raining videos to help the chefs of the future as they begin their career are part of a new resource created by a commercial cooking equipment supplier and Milton Keynes College. The move is part of a campaign to encourage more young chefs into the profession, which is suffering from a shortage of new blood due to the impact of Brexit and Covid. The Grande Cuisine Academy is home to dozens of instructional videos, mostly produced by the chefs who teach at the college and showing how to carry out skills like filleting a flatfish or making the perfect hollandaise sauce. The videos are part of the training resource created by the college and cooking equipment supplier Grande Cuisine, based at Lodge Farm business centre in Castlethorpe. “You only have to watch Masterchef to see how popular sous vide cookery is becoming,” said Steve Hobbs, managing director of Grande Cuisine. “It will only be a matter of time before students are expected to have that skill and there will therefore be a need for top quality instructional videos to show them what to do.”

The site is free for anyone to use but is specifically aimed at students in UK FE colleges. Maria Bowness, executive head of 16-19 provision at Milton Keynes College, said: “Rather than students coming to a lesson to learn something from scratch, they can watch their own teachers doing it first or use it for revision if there is something basic they have forgotten. It could save a great deal of time in the classroom and really give them the opportunity to hone those skills as they can go back over the films again and again.” Grande Cuisine builds cooking suites for chefs from Michelin star

restaurants down to the smallest private establishments. “We have noticed in recent years our customers are getting older and there is not the young blood coming through,” says Mr Hobbs. New content is going up on the site all the time, with the first goal being to cover the current student curriculum. Mr Hobbs said: “The combination of Brexit and Covid has created a massive shortage of people to work in the industry and it is vital for everyone that we train up plenty of new people to fill those gaps. We hope to encourage those culinary stars of the future without whom the sector will struggle to grow.”

Matt Reynolds, founder of It's What's Next IT, argues that a new era is dawning on the internet, one when the creators of content will wrest control of their work back from the social media networks.

Power is shifting away from networks


y top prediction for 2022 is that we are all going to be hearing much more of the term Web 3. And because we are on the ball over here at Business MK, here is a primer explaining what exactly Web3 is. Firstly, there are no two identical definitions of Web3. It is so new that we in the IT industry have not decided what it means yet. Secondly, if you have heard of Bitcoin, or maybe even dabbled in some investment/speculation, you are already familiar with one of Web3’s central concepts: decentralisation. Web3 implies the existence of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, and yes, Web3 follows on from these two. The IT industry has a habit of splitting itself into different eras that are kickstarted by one technical innovation or another. Go back far enough and only large companies had one massive computer. Then the PC was invented and now companies had scores of PCs, one for each desk. Then we get the internet that saw the PCs networked together, and finally the modern era where the dominant platform is the smartphone. These changes in eras are hugely disruptive and present huge opportunities. Web 1.0 (1993-2004) saw the internet being used to wrestle control away from publishers by having people set up their own website and self-publish whatever they want. You no longer need a book or magazine deal or a TV or radio interview slot to get your voice heard. Web 2.0 (from around 2005 to now) saw the rise of social media. The issue

that Web 1.0 and its self-publishing model had was that if you build a website, it is very hard to build an audience for it and where is the motivation in writing something/recording a video if no one is going to watch it? The point of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and now TikTok is that they work as 'aggregators', bringing people and content together so that now all you as the creator has to do is make your post and now someone will see it. Aggregators build your audience for you. The main issue of Web 2.0 in the context of this discussion is that all its power is in the hands of the network, not in the hands of you, the content creator. The network owner has a narrow fixed set of motivations for running the network – specifically, they are trying to make money – and the only thing they have to use to make money from is your data. For example, you are on Instagram and see a picture of someone’s holiday in Jamaica. You double tap to like the photo. Later you see a picture of someone’s holiday in Mauritius. You comment "Looks amazing!". Instagram now assumes that you like exotic beach holidays and can now 'sell' that fact to advertisers. So in your feed you start seeing ads for exotic holidays. All you have done is sit on your sofa chilling with Instagram, but now the 'value' from your behaviour has been extracted and monetised. The idea of Web3 is that it takes back control from the networks and puts it back into the hands of the user. However,

what is at stake here is not the ephemeral idea of 'taking back control'. It is about taking back the money. YouTube in 2020 made $15 billion in advertising and paid out $8.5 billion to the creators on the site. This is good money if you can get it – and top YouTube earners do well – but the network operators do inordinately better than the actual creators. However, maybe the creators want all that money themselves. And maybe they do not want a collection of hoodiewearing YouTube management in California making decisions about them and their business without them having a say. If that sounds familiar then this is the same shift we saw from the world before the internet to Web 1.0. Before the web, the power in content distribution rested with book and magazine publishers, TV and radio stations, record labels, etc. Web 1.0 put power in the creators’ hands for the first time. The purpose of shifting from Web 2.0 to Web3 is to wrest power back from the networks and once again to the creators. You are no doubt wanting an example. You have almost certainly heard of NFTs at this point - Christies recently sold a NFT by digital artist Beeple for £50 million. NFTs is a Web3 technology that allows artists to sell their wares directly to the fans and collectors – they do not require a Facebook, or a Google, an Amazon, or a Microsoft sitting in the middle. It is Web 1.0 done again but in 2022, not 1993.

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Sponsors rally to back school's sports campus dream Donations and support from business are key for £3m building


orporate sponsorship has led the way in the building and opening of a new sports campus at the Royal Latin School in Buckingham. A substantial donation from ek robotics, a manufacturer and system integrator of transport robotics for production and warehouse logistics, has completed the fundraising for the £3 million building. Automotive technology company Racelogic, whose founder Julian Thomas is a Royal Latin School alumnus, donated £100,000 towards the sports laboratory within the new Sports Campus. Racelogic also sponsored the Innovation Laboratory in the school’s £5 million science and technology facility the Discovery Centre. Other companies have also delivered support. Vitalograph, a specialist in respiratory diagnostics and clinical trial services, has invested £20,000 into the project by matchfunding fundraising efforts by Royal Latin students. Three businesses have already purchased pitchside sponsorship boards beside the new 3G pitch funded by the Football Foundation. More than 200 guests, sponsors and supporters of the

project - part of the school’s 600 Campaign of fundraising to build three landmark new centres to mark its 600th anniversary next year - joined international sports stars for the official opening ceremony. Head teacher David Hudson said: “We have long been concerned about the physical and mental health of students and families. I feel very strongly that as a school, we should be at the forefront of helping everyone understand how physical activity provides a much-needed boost to our wellbeing, helping us all achieve a good balance between working hard and living well. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has worked so hard over the last five years in order to make these facilities a reality.” The ek robotics Sports Campus houses a fitness suite, Mind & Body Zone, and the Racelogic Sports Lab. It will be used by the school during the day and is available to the wider community during evenings, weekends and school holidays. Chris Price, UK managing director of Sports Campus lead sponsor ek robotics, said the sponsorship was the start of a long-term partnership between the company, whose UK headquarters are in Buckingham, and the school

ek Robotics' managing director Chris Price (left) with Royal Latin School head teacher David Hudson

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His daughter attends the Royal Latin and ek robotics stepped in towards the end of the fundraising period in July to ensure the campaign hit its target. “When the opportunity came up to invest in the future and in the future talent that comes into our industry, we leapt at it,” Mr Price said. “ek robotics are delighted to see the finished sports campus handed over to the students and wider community. It was a pleasure and privilege to be able to help fund such an exciting project that will have great benefits for the future education of our children.” The facility will also host a free programme of lectures and seminars delivered by sports and wellbeing specialists. Racelogic founder and managing director Julian Thomas said: “My business is all about measuring and improving performance. I spent some time looking at the links between physical activity and human performance and was staggered by the volume of evidence out there to show that even a small amount of exercise can positively impact on cognitive ability. “That interests me both as an entrepreneur and as a racing driver and has convinced me that we must do everything we can to encourage young people to be more active in order to reach their full potential. The Sports Campus is an innovative way to achieve this and I am delighted to invest once again in the school’s ambitious plans.”

Bernard Garbe, a RLS alumnus and chairman of Vitalograph based at Maids Moreton, said: “For over 50 years we have supported the local communities in which we work and live. It is immensely satisfying to inspire entrepreneurial spirit in young people. The ability to problem solve and think

innovatively are skills the modern workplace needs.” The inaugural Sports Campus lecture was delivered by former Olympic modern pentathlon medallist Professor Greg Whyte, now a sports scientist and trainer. He said: “It is imperative that we embed positive experiences which inspire

people of all ages to be more active. I am so impressed by what the Royal Latin has achieved for school and community sport and I love the way they have brought sporting heroes into the heart of the project. “This is a fabulous model for other schools and communities to follow.”

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Business News The South East Midlands is at the hub of research and development as the UK prepares for its transition to to electric-powered vehicles

Test facility aims to accelerate switch to cleaner future


ustainability is the movement of our time and we are now accelerating towards a cleaner future of massmarket all-electric vehicles.” The thoughts of the head of quality assurance provider Intertek as the company opens its new EV Centre of Excellence testing facility in Milton Keynes. André Lacroix was speaking

after the official opening ceremony performed by Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart. The state-of-theart testing centre at Intertek’s UK headquarters on Blakelands aims to help manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles to accelerate their equipment and systems capabilities. Development and global adoption of EV technologies, combined with technical challenges, government commitments to reducing emissions

and continued investment in charging infrastructure, mean that the demand for comprehensive, independently verified Total Quality Assurance solutions for the automotive sector is growing rapidly. Intertek says that, with road transport accounting for more than ten per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a rapid transition to zero emission vehicles is vital

to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. EVs will offer huge opportunities as part of the ‘Green Revolution’ for jobs and growth, cleaner air, improved public health and enhanced mobility solutions, the company says. The new facility aims to provide the testing service and rapid results that clients are seeking. An Intertek spokesman said: “As we accelerate at rapid pace into a more sustainable

'A whole new level of education is needed'

Dealership showcases the power of electric



inancial and environmental benefits of zeroemission technology have taken centre stage at an information showcase of the transition from diesel to electric power. Mercedes-Benz dealer Intercounty Truck & Van hosted the two-day Live & Charged event at its dealership in Stonebridge, welcoming visitors to hear presentations from Mercedes-Benz Vans’ infrastructure partner EO Charging and electric commercial vehicle fleet specialist E-Van Guru. They also had the opportunity to test battery-powered eSprinter and eVito models.

Dealership Intercounty Truck & Van welcomed guests to its Live & Charged event hosted by itMilton Keynes dealership at Stonebridge Intercounty’s head of van sales Adrian George said: “Innovation is key if you want to sell electric vehicles. You cannot expect to succeed by simply by using traditional channels and methods. “Our focus at this stage is on raising with potential EV customers the profiles of

our own brand and the one we are proud to represent. We want operators to recognise and associate the Intercounty name with electric Mercedes-Benz vans and we want them to know that we are here to help them as they embark on their journeys towards a cleaner, greener future.”

Intercounty has already clinched an order for 168 eSprinters from parcel collection and delivery specialist Hermes and is negotiating with a highprofile builder’s merchant and one of the country’s best-known supermarkets about other major EV acquisitions.

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he need for training for anyone likely to work on electric or hybrid vehicles must be addressed as a matter of urgency, says the head of a specialist vehicle repair company. The Institute of the Motor Industry is predicting a serious shortfall by the end of the decade in the number of technicians required to service electric vehicles. Now, as the UK forges ahead with installing EV infrastructure and EV sales increase, a business in Milton Keynes has spoken of the need for greater training. Alastair Dendy, managing director of service and repair business Unit 18, says that “a whole new level of education is needed”. And a company that supplies skilled and vetted temporary vehicle technicians and MOT testers to the automotive aftermarket is urging employers with electric vehicles in their fleet. Autotech Training, part of automotive employment and training solutions provider Autotech Group, delivers IMI electric/hybrid vehicle courses. EV training currently is not regulated by the government but lobbying

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January 2022

by the industry for regulations to be introduced is increasing. “You cannot simply walk up to an electric train and start working on it,” said Mr Dendy. “The same should be the case for an electric vehicle.” Autotech Training's training director Mandla Ndhlovu said: “It is not just training staff to carry out repair work. Many organisations are increasingly booking entry level courses to equip their employees with the necessary knowledge of EVs.” Unit 18, based at Blakelands, is a recognised Volkswagen Group repairer. and has sent a technician on an EV training course.“As an employer, I have a duty of care to ensure any vehicle technician working on an EV holds the necessary skills to work safely on or around them," Mr Dendy said. Employers may also be liable if an untrained employee is injured while working around an electric vehicle. “These are high-voltage vehicles, and, as an industry, we have a duty of care to ensure people have the necessary skills and knowledge to work safely on or around EVs," said Mr Ndhlovu.

Council signs EV commitment

B 4

future, the automotive industry has a critical role to play in the energy transition and the EV Centre of Excellence will enable Intertek to build stronger relationships with clients, industry bodies and governments.” Mr Lacroix said a “tipping point” had been reached. “When it comes to transportation and mobility, the future has already arrived,” he added.

Solutions Not Problems!

uckinghamshire Council has begun its plans to convert its vehicle fleet to zero emission electric power. The council has agreed a partnership with vehicle restoration and electrification specialist Lunaz, based at Silverstone, to explore the options for converting the authority’s fleet of vehicles to electric power. The document demonstrates

the council’s commitment to exploring greener options for its vehicles as part of its wider bid to cut carbon emissions before 2050. Lunaz chief executive David Lorenz said: “Our model of working is more economically and ecologically viable. We help to prevent diesel and petrol vehicles from being sent to landfill by remodelling them to transition to clean air industry vehicles.”

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ts work to develop a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion throughout its organisation has earned care provider PJ Care a major national award. A delighted chairman Neil Russell centre is pictured after receiving the Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year award for PJ Care at the Growing Business awards. The company was also shortlisted in three categories: The Bridges Positive Impact Award, Employer of the Year and Family-Owned Business of the Year. The award for its work on diversity and inclusion is the culmination of 18 months’ commitment so far by PJ Care, which provides care for people with progressive neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries at two sites in Milton Keynes and a third in Peterborough. “We knew it was going to be a long journey but the need to enable everyone to be the best they can be, wherever they were from or whatever their history, was far greater than any challenges we would face,” says Mr Russell, whose mother Jan Flawn founded the business in 2000. “We are only a short way into our journey but it is wonderful to see that we are already being recognised for what we are doing.” PJ Care established an equality, diversity

Mailing company completes MBO deal

C Equality culture enables everyone to be the best they can be and inclusion committee in July 2020 to foster understanding, create equity and enable all of its staff and residents to reach their potential regardless of their cultural background, heritage, disability, gender or age. The company employs close to 600 staff from 44 different nationalities. Senior managers have completed unconscious bias training and staff surveys have uncovered previously unheard histories, experiences and concerns. “These surveys

have been invaluable,” says Mr Russell. “They have given us all food for thought and provided real insight into the size of the task and the challenges ahead.” Among the initiatives the company has launched in the last 18 months are a company-wide awareness campaign, a LGBTQI+ support group, English language training for those with English as a second language, recognition for cultural festivals and support for women during the menopause. PJ Care is also an accredited Living

Wage employer. “PJ Care have created an environment where their staff have the ability to thrive,” said the Growing Business awards judges. “They represent how companies should be.”

orporate finance experts in Milton Keynes have advised the new owners of a leading UK mailing company on its management buy-out. UK Mail Digital has completed the MBO from parent company DHL Parcel UK. The management team led by managing director Andy Barber were advised by senior corporate finance specialists at MHA MacIntyre Hudson in Milton Keynes led by managing director Laurence Whitehead, director Craig Chamberlain and corporate tax specialist Gareth Peters. Mr Barber, says the hybrid market represents a huge opportunity, with under 20 per cent of the two billion item franked mail market currently served by hybrid providers.

The existing management team will continue to run UKMD as a standalone business, he added. Further investment in marketleading product and service developments will follow the completion of the deal. The new business is supported by Mercia Asset Management plc’s private equity business. Mr Whitehead said: “We are delighted for Andy. It has been a genuine pleasure advising him on this deal . We are confident that Andy and his team can really drive the business forward over the coming years.” Legal advice to the MBO team was provided by Shoosmiths. Regional law firm Howes Percival, which has offices in Milton Keynes and Northampton, advised DHL.

At your side. ‘We’re more than just legal experts. We’re trusted advisers who take the time to really understand your issues.’ Stewart Matthews Joint Managing Partner & Head of Company Commercial

Owner plans update for 'tired' Hub


his will be The Hub in 12 months’ time if plans for a major update of the “tired” square come to fruition. DLA Architects Practice, part of the Milton Keynes-based David Lock Associates planning consultancy, has drawn up plans to overhaul the public space after The Hub’s owner confirmed its intention to invest in the square. If the plans are approved by Milton. Keynes Council, work is expected to begin in the next few months with the project completed by the

end of this year. The plans include a new fountain and central space with more seating, plants and landscaping and improved lighting. Each restaurant and bar will have a covered terrace area with retractable roofs and side panels to protect customers from the weather.. There are no plans to extend the restaurants, bars and cafes. The Hub’s landowner is to fund the improvements, with no cost to businesses and residents. The plans are available at www.

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January 2022


Feature Advertising Feature

One monthly fee takes admin headaches away

Catherine Eyers


here is no hiding the fact that it has been a terrible couple of years for business, thanks to the pandemic. Many have gone out of business, but many people, prompted by working from home, furlough and redundancy, have been spurred on to start their own businesses. Perhaps you did that, or perhaps you are thinking of doing that. You may already have started a small business and are struggling to cope with all of the administration needed. You may have come to the realisation

that a large part of your business is your administration overhead for, involved in dealing with government typically, less than the cost of a red tape - accounts, tax returns, VAT, single employee. Companies House filings and so on. “We set up Carlton DeVere The UK has one of the most specifically to help start-ups and complex tax systems in the world. small businesses to grow and Then there is marketing, PR, flourish, unencumbered by the red recruitment, web design and other tape, bureaucracy and administration things that do not represent income, overhead that has the potential to rather overhead, expenditure and sink a business,” says Carlton time-consuming additional work. Devere managing partner Catherine There is a need for decent, low- Eyers. cost support for start-up and small “The services provided by Carlton businesses run by professionals. DeVere allow our clients to get on We would all love to farm out with the business of running their our accounts, legal, marketing, business. The upshot is that business PR, website design, IT support, owners have more time to do other recruitment and other administrative things, spend more time with their headaches to professional third families, are less stressed and have parties who charge upwards of £250 a higher quality of life.” per hour. How is an organisation like Carlton The reality is that we simply cannot DeVere able to provide accounting, afford that, which is where a support legal, marketing, PR and web design organisation like Carlton services for a fraction of the cost of other third-party DeVere comes in. providers? Instead of We set up paying different “Over the years, specifically to help w e h a v e b u i l t professionals a small start-ups and small s t a t e - o f - t h e - a r t fortune in fees, you businesses to grow software systems, can now pay one low, which allow us to fixed monthly fee to and flourish a single organisation automate much of the and have them take on administration of start-

ups and small businesses, where the complexity of administration is not too demanding,” says Catherine. “We even developed a software front-end that clients can use which automatically builds sales and purchase figures so that we can carry out credit control for them at a fraction of the frankly ludicrous charges levied by factoring companies. “Unlike them and recruitment firms, who charge large commissions, we see the work involved in collecting money and recruiting staff on behalf of clients as a task which takes pretty much the same amount of time irrespective of the amounts involved, which is why we can charge low, monthly, fixed fees with no hidden extras at all. “We can even do basic legal work like employment contracts, terms of sale and even litigation, again, for a low, fixed monthly fee with no additional charges. “There is also a real-time portal that clients can log into to see how much money is being collected from their customers, the progress of statutory documents with Companies House, HMRC, the progress of recruitment, legal work, marketing and so on.”

MK Gateway plan wins green light


ouncillors have given the go-ahead for the £180 million redevelopment of the former council offices at Saxon Court. Mixed-use developer First Base and investors Patron Capital have received planning consent for the 2.35 acre site, to be known as MK Gateway. The development will create more than 2,000 new jobs, deliver more than £300 million in social value over the next 20 years and provide opportunities for independent food, drink, and retail outlets, including workshop space for local SMEs. MK Gateway, which will retain, refurbish and extend the original Saxon Court building, will develop two new buildings: The Shed, a space for businesses, and the Village of 288 apartments which will incorporate a UK first - 11 vertical communal gardens. First Base’s project director Steve Eccles said: “We will now look to continue to engage and work with Milton Keynes Council, local businesses, charities, and the community to bring our exciting plans to life.” First Base and Patron Capital acquired Saxon Court in October 2020.

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January 2022

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Students put engineering careers to test


ore than 120 students from schools across Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire have had an insight into a career in engineering courtesy of high access platform manufacturer Niftylift. The students had a tour of the company’s factory in Milton Keynes during its Women in Engineering day, which resumed after having been cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The day included tours of the factory, production assembly tasks, control and hydraulic

systems demonstrations, a CAD workshop and discussions with female staff members at Niftylift about their routes into their chosen engineering careers. “The event offered the girls a unique opportunity to learn about the different career paths available within the field of engineering

and the practical application of different engineering specialisms within our company,” said Niftylift’s marketing manager Simon Maher. Students from schools including Watling Academy, Oakgrove, Thornton College, Bridge Academy, Denbigh, Ousedale,

MK Academy, Shenley Brook End and Radcliffe School, were at the event in Niftylift's headquarters at Shenley Wood. Mr Maher said: “Through events like this Women in Engineering Day, we are helping schools to promote STEM subjects to more than just the obvious candidates.

By championing the creative aspects of the discipline, by enthusing and inspiring young females, we hope to encourage a new generation of female engineers to take their place in an exciting, vibrant and growing industry… ideally working at Niftylift.”

Wanted: Business leaders to inspire tech pioneers


programme of advisory boards set up to work with fast-growing companies that are members of the Silverstone Technology Cluster is looking for senior business leaders to join them. Businesses have been registering for their own free Be the Business advisory board ahead of the latest deadline last month. Places are filling up fast among companies keen to tap into the experience of senior businesspeople.

STC chief executive Pim van Baarsen said: “The first round of Advisory Boards have already proven highly beneficial for those businesses taking part, helping them to tackle challenges as they look to pursue their growth ambitions.” He urged business leaders willing to offer their experience in an advisory role to make contact. “Those who have done this to date have reported just how rewarding it has been and how they have learnt some things themselves from fellow

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board members and the SMEs they are supporting.” Tobias Knichel, managing director of STC member PUNCH Flybrid which specialises in hybrid flywheel technology, has joined the likes of BAE Systems and Lloyds Banking in becoming a volunteer board member. “It is so interesting to think about the challenges these young businesses are facing and how you might adapt your own collective experience to help them,” he said. “Everyone is working together to try to come up

with good solutions and that creates a very positive atmosphere. It is a brilliant initiative.” Advisory Boards are part of a wider business growth programme being hosted by the STC in partnership with government-backed organisation Be the Business. Vehicle engineering agency Collins Ltd has sought the advice of an advisory board. Co-founder Jenner Collins said: “The board has been even more helpful than I expected. We can now deal with problems in

different ways. Without their input, we might not have seen new ways of approaching business problems.” Carbon composites manufacturer Silverstone Composites has also turned to an advisory board for help. Managing director Marcus Trofimov said: “I felt empowered by the fact that these highly experienced, knowledgeable people had not just taken time out of their busy lives to give me advice and support but they actually validated what I was doing. I think we all had mutual respect.”

Business MK


January 2022


Money Matters

Grow your wealth despite low earnings Tony Byrne, managing director of Wealth & Tax Management, looks at how to succeed financially in spite of low or zero earnings from your limited company.

n Repaying your director’s loan; n Reducing your personal tax liability; n Increasing your company’s profits to pay less taxation on the profits; n Increasing your company’s value to pay much lower Capital Gains Tax on its disposal rather than higher rate Income Tax and National Insurance on the profits There are a number of disadvantages to this strategy. For example, it may prove difficult to obtain a mortgage if your income is too low and you will not be able to pay much, if any, into a pension scheme and obtain tax relief. Fortunately, there are ways around these two obstacles.

Tony Byrne The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice. All information is based on our current understanding of taxation, legislation and regulations in the current tax year. Any levels and bases of and relief from taxation are subject to change.


Business MK


hen running your own business through a limited company there may be times when you have little or no personal income yet your business is very profitable. You may want to keep your income low for any number of reasons such as:


January 2022

Mortgage Some lenders will take into account the profitability of your company rather than solely rely on your personal income before making a decision whether or not to lend to you. There are some other criteria that are relevant such as how the company’s share capital is structured etc. Nonetheless, it is still possible to obtain a mortgage if you choose the right lender.

Pension As long as your company has sufficient profits, it may pay up to £40,000 a year into your personal pension and receive Corporation Tax relief on the pension contribution. What is more, you may carry forward up to three previous tax years’ annual allowance of £120,000 (3 x £40,000) and pay this additional amount too. Again, assuming there are sufficient taxable business profits. In order to pay this maximum amount into your pension there has to have been no prior pension contributions by you or your company into your pension for the three previous tax years. n This article is based on my own observations and opinions.

To discuss smart ways to increase your wealth, join us for a one-hour Discovery Meeting either at our offices or by a video conference call at our expense worth £270 to each of the first three readers who contact us before January 31st 2022. You know it makes sense. We offer a great cup of coffee too but unfortunately not a virtual one. Ring us on 01908 523740 or free on 0800 980 4516 or email

Glasses brand sets its sights on new market


igh fashion glasses brand Kirk & Kirk is preparing to branch into the sunglasses market after recording annual revenue growth of more than 40 per cent in 2021. Its growth has been driven by major new wholesale agreements, with more than 400 independent stockists worldwide now retailing its frames. Kirk & Kirk’s major investor is private equity firm Growthdeck, based in Central Milton Keynes. It invested £1 million in the company in 2019. Growthdeck chief executive Ian Zant-Boer said: “Kirk & Kirk is a business we are proud to back. We believed in the business from the start and the growth it has already recorded shows we were right to.” The brand has worked to mitigate the Brexit effect

Ian Zant-Boer by setting up a European distribution hub in France, allowing it to sell more easily throughout Europe. Now Kirk & Kirk is set for expansion into sunglasses, which will be marketed both online and through high-end fashion retailers and department stores. The business has previously focused on selling through opticians but a doubling of website traffic during the pandemic has made online sales an increasingly important channel, said Kirk & Kirk chief executive Jason Kirk.

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Advertising Feature

FREE: Vital skills training on offer to all Milton Keynes businesses The well reported skills gap is preventing Milton Keynes employers from finding the staff they need. Recruiting is taking longer than ever as the pool of suitable talent dries up. Training providers need to keep pace with market changes and offer training with the needs of businesses in mind. The continued prosperity of Milton Keynes depends entirely upon having a workforce that is fit for the future. Additionally, qualified candidates are looking for companies that will invest in their staff by supporting their future training and development. By investing in the training and retention of top talent, the rewards will be significant with increased job satisfaction and workforce morale. Together this investment will play a pivotal role in the continued success of businesses in a market that is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies.

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for training while ensuring local education providers deliver the most relevant courses. The benefits are obvious: l Identify performance gaps l Align workforce training with the business objectives l Gain a robust and integrated approach to training l Increase staff retention and business morale l Improve business growth

HOW TO COMPLETE THE TNA It’s simple... Consider what your staff can do and what you need them to be able to do - now and in the future. The questions within the TNA are designed to prompt your thinking. Any information given will be vital in helping to understand what your business needs are. SkillsHub:MK has been tasked with designing and creating a number of free training and development programmes that will address the MK skills gap. These will be available first to those who get involved now and be based on the skills gaps MK businesses say need addressing.

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FREE vital skills training available to all Milton Keynes Businesses. Secure the prosperity of your business and invest in a workforce that is fit for the future. SkillsHub:MK SkillsHub:MK is a new and exciting incentive aimed at preparing your business for future challenges by providing relevant business focused training. The Training Needs Assessment (TNA) will provide an in-depth analysis of your staff’s strengths and weaknesses in a range of skills. It will identify any gaps in your employees’ knowledge and match these to the training needs of your business.

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SkillsHub:MK will create a number of FREE training and development programmes better suited to the workplace. These will be available to businesses that take the TNA – with priority given to those who register first. ACT TODAY. Take the TNA to bridge the performance gaps of your workforce.

Business MK


January 2022


Legal Briefing Running a business with someone can be very rewarding but it is important that you and your business partner have comprehensive documentation in place to deal with situations that can arise in the future. Using the case study of Debbie and Richard, Neves Solicitors explains why protecting your business interests with a shareholder agreement is essential.

I trust my business partner. Why do we need a shareholder agreement?


Richard would not agree to ebbie and Richard ran a successful sell his shares, particularly to printing business. this competitor, as they had They had worked fallen out over a customer together for 25 years. Debbie years before. Debbie always understood was 58 years old and Richard that with 75pc of the shares was 50 years old. Debbie held 75 per cent of in the company, she could the issued shares. Richard control it and make all the held the other shares and both decisions. She needed the were directors. money from the sale of the Debbie had decided that business to be able to retire she had had enough in the and was extremely frustrated printing industry. She wanted to discover that she could to sell the business. not retire when she Richard felt wanted to. that he still Without a ...Important to had at least shareholder have documentation another ten agreement in in place to deal with years until place, there situations that can he was in a was very position to little that arise in the future Debbie could retire. A competitor do. A shareholder had expressed an agreement could have interest in acquiring the included a provision that if business but only if he the majority shareholder acquired all the shares so wanted to sell the business, that long-standing contracts the minority shareholder that the company had with could be forced to sell their key customers would remain shares provided that the same without having to be assigned terms were offered to that or novated as part of a sale of minority shareholder, such the assets and goodwill. as price per share. For obvious reasons, he This is known as a “drag was also not interested in along” clause and is very acquiring only part of the commonly used by majority shareholders. shareholding.


awyers in Milton Keynes have played their part in the acquisition of the company that manufactures Sun Valey snacks by another leading snack and confectionery business. Zertus UK, which produces brands including Baileys Chocolates, The Fruit factory and NOMO, has completed its purchase of The Sun Valley Nut Company from the Hacking family, who founded the business in 1949. The deal positions Zertus at the forefront of the snacking and confectionery industry, building on its already substantial portfolio of customer-branded ranges for the UK’s leading retailers. The acquisition complements its brand portfolio also comprising Kinnerton Confectionery and Lir Chocolates. The acquisition was led by Zertus UK & Ireland’s chief executive Paul Tripp, who has also joined the international Zertus GmBH management board as managing director. “This is a strong acquisition for Zertus in the UK and one that complements our existing businesses in the healthier snacking sector,” Mr Tripp said. “It will allow us to leverage our combined innovation and operational competencies to drive growth through exciting new products while enabling us to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.” Zertus was advised by corporate lawyers at law firm Freeths in Milton Keynes. Director James Cowell, who led the Freeths team, said: “We are delighted to have advised Zertus on this strategic acquisition and wish it every success in developing the business within its wider group. We have enjoyed working with Paul and his other advisers in delivering a successful transaction and wish the sellers well in the future.” Sun Valley supplies nuts, peanut

Lawyers finalise snack firms' acquisition deal "This is a strong acquisition for Zertus in the UK"

James Cowell butters and crisps under its own The Sun Valley Nut Co and Nuts For brands. Zertus will take over production at its three manufacturing facilities on The Wirral in Merseyside.

Sun Valley Nut Company chairman Jim Hacking said: “We believe that in Zertus we have found the right long-term owner for the business. “We are confident that Zertus can make the necessary investments needed to take the business to the next level while preserving the heritage of the Sun Valley business we have lovingly built over the last 72 years.”

Do you need to set up a shareholder agreement? Talk to Neves Solicitors. Our specialist commercial solicitors will explain how the agreement works, what is expected of each business partner, what happens if a partner dies or decides to leave and how to deal with disputes.

Meet the Neves company commercial team: Partner Stewart Matthews, lawyer Kim Sayers and senior associate Simon Porter n The Company Commercial team of experts at Neves Solicitors have many years of experience in a broad range of company/commercial matters, ranging from company sales and acquisitions, investment, fundraising and lending agreements, corporate reorganisations,


Business MK


January 2022

shareholder protection, employee incentives and options (including EMI options), franchise agreements, management agreements and partnership matters. Neves also assist a number of clients with wider ranging commercial

documents including IT/software licences and agreements, general commercial agreements and commercial propertyrelated documentation. Contact the team on 0330 0945 500, email or visit www.

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Business News

'The pandemic may end but loneliness continues'

Sustainability is key to contracts, says council


Charity calls on business to back campaign


usiness is being urged to support a new campaign to tackle loneliness and isolation across Milton

Keynes. Imagine Having No One is being run by the independent charity Age UK Milton Keynes, which supports the borough’s over-55 population. Its aim is to highlight the plight of nearly 17,000 older people who live alone in Milton Keynes and to raise muchneeded funds to continue the work carried out by the charity, its staff and army of 400-plus volunteers. Age UK Milton Keynes had more than 21,500 interactions delivering client support last year during the pandemic via its services such as Independent Living, Befriending, Information & Advice, Emergency Support and Hospital Aftercare. The charity claimed more than £800,000 in welfare benefits on

behalf of clients who were unaware of what they were eligible to claim. Demand for Age UK Milton Keynes’ services rose considerably since the start of the pandemic. The charity delivered over 4,600 cooked meals to Milton Keynes residents as part of its emergency support service. However, it is responsible for its own funding, which it brings in via legacies, donations, fundraising and revenue from its seven shops across the borough. Major employers such as Santander and Network Rail already support the charity’s work but through providing volunteers for individual projects rather than with money. “What they have done and continue to do is fantastic but we are at the point now where we need corporate partners to come in and sponsor our services,” says Age UK Milton Keynes executive director Denise

Imagine having no one: Age UK Milton Keynes chief executive Denise Stygal-Watson (right) and development manager Paula Ayers are appealing to businesses to back the charity’s campaign Stygal-Watson Urgently needed is a vehicle to collect donations of items for sale at the charity’s home and furniture store at Kiln Farm. Issues with its current vehicle is costing the charity money in repairs and lost revenue with missed donation collections. This is the time of year when organisations of all sizes make a decision on which is to be their charity of the year for the coming 12 months. Denise and development manager Paula Ayers want the ‘Imagine Having No One’ campaign to strike a chord in workplaces all over the city and hope that companies will come forward with donations, sponsorship of the charity’s services,

their own fundraising programme on its behalf or with support through donation of time and skills. “The pandemic may end but loneliness continues,” says Paula. “Older people are still reluctant to go out and are sitting at home on their own every day. Most people can relate to that, I am sure, because we have all felt isolated at some point over the past couple of years.” “We are struggling financially and we want to make more people aware of what we do,” adds Denise. “We need this campaign to work so we can support and grow our core services so that we can support more people and we would really like corporate partners to come on board.”

anted: Green experts to work with Milton Keynes Council as it bids to reduce carbon emissions across its portfolio of commercial properties. The council has begun the search for new contactors to ensure its buildings are maintained to highly sustainable standards as it works towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050. Its More for MK scheme focuses on using more local suppliers. Council officials will evaluate every tenderer on social value and carbon zero initiatives. They will also be expected to show a commitment to the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of the area and to support skills and jobs. The council owns more than 70 properties across Milton Keynes. New contracts will start in July. “We regularly review our contracts to ensure we are getting the best deal for our residents,” said Cllr Rob Middleton, cabinet member for resources. “We want all of our contractors to be environmentally conscious with sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.”

Chartered Accountants and Tax Advisers

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Business MK


January30/11/2021 2022




The power to transform your business Three Ps headline your Conference champions future of marketing and importance of mental health new marketing plan


ward-winning digital marketing agency 123 Internet Group will host an industry-leading conference to give local businesses the chance to learn about the impact of digital transformation this spring. The Milton Keynes-based agency’s fourth annual MK Digital Summit will be held on May 18 at Red Bull Racing in Tilbrook. Delegates will learn how to push their business to the forefront of digital marketing through knowledge sharing from renowned industry leaders. One of the world’s most successful social media influencers at the intersection of business and technology, Bernard Marr - who has more than two million followers

on his social platforms - will be a keynote speaker. Social media management specialists Sprout Social, of which 123 Internet Group is one of the founder and platinum partners, will also take to the stage. A representative from the mental health charity Mind will also be speaking at the all-day event, which is expected to attract more than 250 attendees. Mental health in the workplace has been a key focus for many companies in the past two years as businesses and employees navigate the pandemic. The Mind presentation will look at the future of the office and how management can support the transition of hybrid working. Scott Jones, chief executive of

123 Internet Group said: “Our MK Digital Summit is ultimately an amazing opportunity for knowledge sharing and industry insights from the biggest industry speakers. “123 Internet Group are proud to be an award-winning digital agency and we are delighted to be bringing this incredible event, championing awareness and education from the leading players in marketing, to our local business community. “Our industry is fast paced and ever changing so staying abreast of trends and learning from the best in the business, alongside like-minded people, is a must.” n Tickets for MK Digital Summit are on sale now. To book your place, visit


riting a marketing plan can be an onerous task, especially when most of your time is taken up running your business. Most marketing planning templates provided by banks or business consultants are highly structured and hard to understand unless you have a formal marketing or business management qualification. Square Media will be running a free webinar titled New Year, New Marketing Plan on January 11 to expand on the content of this article. Book your place by scanning the QR code in our advertisement see page 16 or go to The aim of this article is to set out the ‘Three Ps’ that matter. We will cover the nine further steps in our webinar. To get started we need to get back to basics: Purpose Why does your business exist? If you are in business and reading this article, I am assuming you are selling products or services to meet the needs of someone. But what is it you actually do and why

Gail Parker, operations manager at the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, looks at the value of the Community Grants programme. It funds community projects helping people into employment and opens for its final round of grants this month.

New skills will benefit future career decisions


think it is fair to say that everyone developed a new skill during the lockdowns.Whether that was painting by numbers, home work-out videos with Joe Wicks or multi-tasking, the extra time gave us the opportunity to branch out and try something new. From managing workloads more effectively to embedding a little more creative flair into a project, that dedicated time allowed us to focus on ourselves. And it shows. The South East Midlands has seen growing employment, with higher employment levels than the national average. 80.2 pe cent of the working age population are in employment, above the 76pc rate for England. At the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, we aim to ensure that employment continues to grow, making the South East Midlands a place where people really want to live, work, visit and invest. To do this, we approach the skills agenda from every angle… We work with schools to embed careers further into the curriculum. We work with partners to create clear skills strategies that identify gaps. We invest in capital projects that will facilitate greater skills


Business MK


Gail Parker development in the area. We offer grant funding to community projects that help local people move closer to the jobs market. And so much more. One such funding programme is Community Grants. Launched in 2019, the programme offers voluntary, community and social enterprises grant funding from £10,000 to £20,000 to support people to get back into work or training. Opening for its final round of applications on January 10, projects should focus on supporting people to develop confidence and self-esteem and enhance employability and transferrable life skills; skills that have never been more important. To date, the project has benefited more than 600 local people. Examples of previous projects include:

January 2022

n Impact in Kempston, which has helped people that have English as a second language to build confidence, develop friendships and undertake training; n Community Needs in Luton has supported participants through a mixture of basic skills development classes, adapting their operations to be virtual during the pandemic; n Impactful Governance Community Interest Company helped participants Zoom into new opportunities, teaching key digital skills throughout the pandemic. The projects provide the perfect opportunity for people to develop new skills that will really benefit their future career decisions. Sometimes, you just need the dedicated time to push yourself to try something new. Organisations can register their interest on the SEMLEP website

to be notified when the application window opens. Without realising it, our skills define who we are. With community more important than ever, it is important that we continue to support each other. The Community Grants programme provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Unlike other grant schemes, the funding can cover 100pc of project costs, meaning there is no cost to your organisation. Start 2022 with your best foot forward and make a real difference for members of your community. n For more information, visit www. The Community Grants programme is funded by the European Social Fund and managed by the Education Skills Funding Agency.

Steve Rees, commercial manager at Square Media, will be hosting do people buy from you? You must be selling a product and providing a service that someone values enough to pay for it, but what is it that they are buying? Are you helping to save them time, solve a problem and deal with a painful area of their life that they need help with? How do you compare to your competition and what is the Unique Selling Point your customer sees in you over your competition? Being clear on your purpose is crucial to helping with your next ‘P’. People Who are the people who give your company a purpose? In other words, who is your target market or audience you need to reach through your marketing to fulfil your purpose? Every business will build a database of prospects and clients through day-to-day business activity. However, not many businesses segment their database into definable groups or sectors that they can better understand. Can you identify any trends or patterns in your customer database that indicate your ideal customer?If you look at your accounts you should be able to find your most profitable customers. Within your database, if you look hard enough you will find your top three ideal clients types and I suspect they will account for the majority of your sales and profits. They could be who you need to target through your marketing. All you need now is your next ‘P’. Plan Once you have an understanding of who you need to reach to fulfil your business purpose, you have the basis for a plan. The following nine steps are all set out in our One Page Marketing Plan and break the process down into three logical steps: before, during and after. n Join us on our New Year, New Marketing Plan webinar on January 11 when we will be expanding on the content of this article. Book by scanning the QR code in our advertisement on the back page of this edition or by using the URL:

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of Three

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us to deliver such a powerful client focused proposition. As an Independent Chartered Financial Planning Firm, a Discretionary Asset Manager and Tax planning

specialist, we utilise the power of 3, to ensure we deliver a seamless and first class, cost and time efficient service to clients. This is because at OCM we truly believe Our Clients Matter.


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The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate the activities of tax planning, estate planning or IHT planning.

OCM Wealth Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ( uk/register/ FCA Registration No: 418826. OCM Asset Management is a trading name of OCM Wealth Management.

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Business MK


January 2022


The Growth Debate

Theo Chalmers Theo Chalmers is director of Verve Public Relations and chairman of Urban Eden. e: 01908 275271

This planning crisis is stumbling into a disaster


ilton Keynes Council’s never-ending planning crisis has, since my last column on the subject, become more bizarre, ever more subject to embarrassing failures and ever more costly for the council tax payer. It is now evident that the council has stumbled from a planning crisis to a planning disaster. The council has now discovered that 28 incorrect planning decision notices have been sent out before being checked and are thus unrecallable, the wrongful decisions forever standing. This was done when the part-time and risibly titled ‘Service Improvement Manager’ (whose name I shall not reveal) was allegedly sending out 70-80 decision notices in an afternoon. He has since been publicly described as a ‘rogue’ by both council leader Pete Marland and Cllr Mick Legg, chair of the development control committee and not only has been dismissed but also has been reported for censure to the Royal Town Planning Institute, the professional body representing planners in the UK and Ireland. Some of these wrongful decisions are so egregious that their recipients have been invited to accept Section 106 notices that will stay affixed to their property records forever. Of course, they would be idiots if

they accepted them, having already mistakenly obtained the opermission they were seeking. Another shocking revelation is that the council appointed a Queen’s Counsel, Timothy Straker, at a cost of around £150,000 from the public purse to prepare an independent report into any alleged irregularities over the Blakelands warehouse development and the missing planning conditions. On this occasion it seems that the council has got its way, the report having concluded that there was “no corruption or malpractice” - this despite the acceptance of extensive evidence of deleted e-mails and other irregularities. These assurances might be comforting until alert readers realise that few of those case officers actually involved were even interviewed by the said QC and that he appears to have relied somewhat on the evidence of a Councillor Dann, a member of the development control committee who has - despite my and others’ extensive efforts to establish otherwise - never actually existed. Mr Straker QC also decided not to look at other possible examples of similar situations where, it is alleged, officers sought to improperly influence the development control

committee. I hope that the council’s audit committee which will receive this report - sadly, after the deadline for this column - might seek to urgently reopen the investigation. But let’s not stop here. Because there is more, much more. The council appears to have wasted upwards of £0.5 million of council tax payers’ money on an unnecessary and bound-to-fail public enquiry into a non-hazardous landfill site in Guernsey Road, Bletchley. There is a remaining void space of some nine million cubic metres in the old clay pit but condition 2 of the existing permissions requires cessation of landfilling by February 6 this year. Thus operator FCC Environmental applied for permission to extend the refill period by upwards of 15 years, followed by reclamations. It is clear that if the site was not allowed to be fully filled it would be hugely hazardous and impossible to effectively reclaim. The Environment Agency, which controls such sites, says that leaving the site unfinished would result in a long-term surface water management issue. However, the council refused FCC Environmental’s application to extend the period during which they might essentially fill and restore the site. Given the absolute environmental necessity to finish the

job, FCC appealed and the council stubbornly pushed back, forcing a full public enquiry. Planning Inspector Nick Palmer appointed by the Secretary of State - published his decision to allow the appeal by FCC on December 10. Rarely are costs fully awarded against councils in such public enquiries. However, the Inspector, in his Costs Decision made on the same day as his Appeals Decision, has made some astonishing observations which will affect every council tax payer in MK. In brief the Costs Decision report heavily criticises Milton Keynes Council: “The EA’s position as the lead regulator was clearly of fundamental importance to the council in making its decision. It appears from the minutes that members of the committee were told that there would be alternative ways to restore the site when in fact the EA struggled to identify any. The minutes do not record any discussion about the environmental implications of refusal of permission. This is a fundamental question that was not properly considered by the council in making its decision. In the absence of such consideration, the basis for the council’s decision is undermined.” And this. “The EA states that

this does not accurately reflect the conversation between the council’s planning officer and the EA’s officer”. The Inspector concluded that the council’s “unreasonable” behaviour had led to unnecessary or wasted expense and awarded full costs against the council. This means that the council may have to cough up well over £0.5 million in FCC’s costs as well as its own considerable legal expenses. And this is exactly when Milton Keynes Council is announcing a 3.75pc rise in council tax bills and the need to plunder its reserves for another £3 million and to make further cuts of £2 million. It is hard to imagine where they can make yet more cuts without further slashing services. And, of course, none of this penny-pinching will help cover the £500,000 or so incurred over ‘Landfillgate’. Surely this planning nightmare cannot go on. Happy new year and cheerio.

An erratum report from Timothy Straker QC identifies ‘Councillor Dann’ as former councillor and chair of the development control committee John Bint.

Viaduct plan at Bletchley saves £70m on East West Rail project


ew techniques used to build a railway viaduct over the West Coast main line at Bletchley have accelerated the construction of the East West Rail link, reduced disruption and saved the tax payer £70 million. The innovative methods have cut costs for the public purse and prevented railway closures on the West Coast main line, one of Europe’s busiest passenger and freight railway routes. The work has also accelerated construction on the section of East West Rail between Bicester and Bletchley by six months. Engineers used the latest construction techniques to build a protective ‘box’ structure similar to a rectangular railway tunnel. It meant no need for separate


Business MK


supporting columns between the tracks on the main line and kept trains and passengers moving while work continued overhead. Simon Blanchflower, chief executive of the East West Railway Company, said: “When we were established in 2018, we set out to build a new railway that minimises disruption, provides value for taxpayers and accelerates delivery. The construction of the new flyover at Bletchley is an example of how we are striving to meet these ambitions and bring communities from Oxford to Cambridge ever closer to a new, sustainable public transport link across the region.” Construction of the section of EWR between Bicester and Bletchley is being carried out by engineers from the East West Rail

January 2022

The flyover at Bletchley station has brought forward the East West Rail wproject by six months Alliance. Project director Mark Cuzner said: “At the start of the project, we built a protective wall next to the West Coast main line so we could safely build the box

structure during the day when the railway is open, instead of working piecemeal at night time when the railway is closed. “Most of the components for

both the box structure, and the flyover, arrived pre-built and were simply assembled on site, like a model kit or set of Duplo bricks. The simplicity of construction meant we could safely reduce the workforce onsite by 60 per cent.”  Over the coming months, engineers will start  laying track over the new box structure, which is built to last 120 years and replaces a flyover built in the 1960s that was not suitable to carry the new East West Rail trains. It was demolished in 2020. Mr Blanchflower said: “The transformation of the iconic Bletchley flyover has really brought the East West Rail project to life and brings communities from Oxford to Cambridge ever closer to a new, sustainable transport link across the region.”

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The Growth Debate


f 2020 taught us anything, it is that the ways in which we work, how we focus on the people around us and how we support wellbeing and inclusion can enrich the lives of our peers and inspire us to create greater, long lasting connections with others. These lessons underpinned our resolve at the start of this year and, after another year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that we reflect and appreciate the triumphs and success stories of Milton Keynes and its business community in 2021. I believe that businesses within our region have developed even stronger foundations over the last 21 months which has enabled us to become more agile and creative as a result, leading to an abundance of achievements. Over the last few months alone, this has been demonstrated with two major feats for Milton Keynes - the submission of the city status bid document and the MyMiltonKeynes BID win, representing a further £5 million investment for improvements to Central Milton Keynes. The latter saw an overwhelming majority vote by CMK businesses to renew the Business Improvement District. Under the direction of its chief executive Melanie Beck, the BID has now set out its ambitions for the next five years which will sustain and build upon the huge success of its first term. The bid for city status is testament to our shared belief that Milton Keynes is highly worthy of this official civic honour. Set apart, these are both momentous achievements. But what

Strong foundations enable us to be agile and creative Nicholas Mann, chair of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership, reflects on the lessons of the past year.

Nicholas Mann about the smaller businesses which make up our thriving community? As a pioneering town which has inherently pushed the boundaries since its conception, Milton Keynes thrives upon its position as one of the UK’s fastest growing towns, with our new business success stories and entrepreneurial spirit.

While larger firms continue to invest and move their headquarters to Milton Keynes under the glare of both the national and international business press, it is these smaller businesses which are increasingly becoming interwoven into the rich tapestry of our aspiring city. Through Milton Keynes Business

'Communities united by a love of where we live'

Leaders Partnership, the spotlight has indeed been shone upon these smaller companies, testament to my belief that the pandemic has sharpened our focus on others is how MKBLP members have championed the SMEs and entrepreneurs within our midst. Sharing good news, offering support, providing advice and applauding success has shaped and fortified our network this year which, I am delighted to say, has swelled in numbers. Moving from virtual to in-person events in the latter part of the year has been met with renewed vigour as people seek out connections forged over WhatsApp and Zoom. And the reboot of our sought-after dinners has seen the attendance of Angela Essel, head of the Joint Security and Resilience Centre Sir Dermot Turing and, in the New Year, Lord Digby Jones. Sparking discussions on a range of topics from technology, creating greater diversity and breaking the gender divide within STEM professions, the calibre of these speakers is demonstrative of the pull of the Milton Keynes business community. While new variants and tougher restrictions may divert our course into 2022, I am confident that, as a community, we will enter the New Year with strengthened resolve once again, buoyed by our collective successes. And, almost two years since they last took place, we look forward to applauding these achievements, in person, at the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards in March.

BID renewal is 'a vote of confidence in our city centre'


usinesses in Central Milton Keynes have voted to continue the area’s Business Improvement District for another five years. A total 95 per cent of organisations, comprising more than 97.5pc by rateable value, voted in favour of the BID. The result means a further £5 million will be spent on enhancing the area over the next five years. It has set out its business plan for 2022-27, which will now come into effect on June 1. Since 2017, MyMiltonKeynes’ principal objectives have been to increase visits, dwell time and spend within the city centre. The BID’s ongoing vision is to continue to cultivate an outdoor environment

that is clean, safe and stimulating, with a programme of events for all to enjoy. BID chief executive Melanie Beck pictured said: “We are overwhelmed to have received an outstandingly

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high level of support from our members, whose votes to keep MyMiltonKeynes will enable us to invest in even more exciting improvements to our city centre.

“Our vision for the future is to maintain the high standards of cleanliness, safety, connectivity, visibility and vibrancy that we have all come to expect in central Milton Keynes and to work on new and emerging projects that will help to boost these areas even further.” Cllr Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, added: “I am delighted that the BID has won their renewal ballot. The massive ‘Yes’ vote shows the hard work and success of the BID over the past few years. “It is a huge endorsement of what they have achieved, a vote of confidence in our city centre and how we will meet the challenges facing our high streets over the next few years.”


he bid by Milton Keynes for formal city status has arrived in London. It is one of many expected to be received by Her Majesty The Queen and her senior advisers. They will decide on which will receive formal city status as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022. The bid by Milton Keynes has been compiled by a group of more than 50 individuals and organisations. There is also huge public support for the bid, with hundreds of residents submitting photographs of their favourite local places. Public photos accompanied professional shots of MK’s green open spaces, heritage sites and iconic buildings in the formal application and will also be used to promote the bid while the decision is being made. Representing Miton Keynes’ mix of heritage and innovation, the bid was covered in vellum produced by WG Cowley of Newport Pagnell - the last parchment and vellum works in the country, which still provide the vellum for declarations of Royal births. Milton Keynes Council leader Cllr Pete Marland said: “By any measure, Milton Keynes feels like a city and was always intended to be one. “Almost 300,000 people live here. We have the scale and facilities, we have unrivalled green and blue space and we teach other cities how to be successful and sustainable. We even have a cathedral though uniquely ours is made of trees rather than stone. “More importantly, we are a mosaic of communities united by a love of where we live and being granted city status would be a fantastic recognition of that." Mayor Mohammed Khan added: “I have been delighted by how many local people have shown their support for the bid so far, including the hundreds of citizens who shared photographs of their favourite places. “I would also like to say thank you to the knowledgeable people and organisations who gave up their time to work on the bid itself and share why Milton Keynes is such a deserving candidate to receive this special honour. “If city status was granted based on the strength of feeling that people have for their home, we would be in no doubt of being named a city for the Platinum Jubilee.”

Business MK


January 2022


New Year, New Marketing Plan Webinar 11th January 2022 - 11:30am What we will cover: • How to grow your profitability by 62% using our 5 ways model

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January 2022

• Invitation to a free marketing consultation

• Invitation to a free coaching session • Details of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce membership

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Law firm adds to corporate and family offer


eves Solicitors has expanded two of their specialist teams with the appointment of Simon Porter and Tina Shah. Commercial lawyer Simon Porter and family law specialist Tina Shah are settling into their new positions at Neves Solicitors. The regional law firm has welcomed Mr Porter as a senior associate in its company commercial department while Ms Shah is working with partner and head of divorce and family law Beth Woodward as an associate solicitor. Mr Porter has worked in the UK and abroad in his career of more than 30 years, acting for SME business owners in



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New arrivals: Simon Porter and Tina Shah have joined law firm Neves Solicitors sectors including hospitality, aviation and healthcare. Ms Shah, who was head of family law at Gilroy Steel Solicitors in Buckingham for six years, is a trained collaborative lawyer, a member of the Milton Keynes group of collaborative lawyers and of Resolution, a national

group which advocates the non-confrontational solving of family law issues. “Simon brings with him extensive corporate and commercial experience,” said Neves joint managing partner and head of company commercial law Stewart Matthews. “He is an excellent addition

Business MK

and allows us to further develop this already busy department. “With her diverse wealth of experience, I believe Tina will prove invaluable to the clients that we assist and support, strengthening and origin - mkt place.qxp_Layout 1 13/04/2021 09:30 Page 1 digital developing our already very experienced and dynamic team of family lawyers.”

Audit specialist is savouring her new challenge


enior audit manager Sarah Barnes is settling into her new role at chartered accountants Mercer & Hole after her move from professional services firm PwC. Sarah joined the Milton Keynesbased practice in November and has spent several years advising large, international and owner-managed businesses, particularly in the manufacturing and retail sectors. “My passion is advising business owners through the complexities of their accounts preparation, financial reporting, and audit,” she says.

Sarah Barnes “Having access to the right financial information is key part of running

and building a successful business and the annual audit is often a perfect opportunity for business owners to take stock and plan for the year ahead.” Mercer & Hole’s managing partner IT Support | Connectivity | Telephony | Mobile inreach comms - mkt place.qxp_Layout 1 13/04/2021 09:39 Page 1 Paul Maberly adds: “We are delighted DISCOVER THE FUTURE OF to welcome Sarah to the firm. She has BUSINESS CONNECTIVITY a terrific track record in advising both very large and smaller owner-managed 0333 006 7787 businesses on their financial reporting. "She is a valuable addition to our growing audit team and we look forward to the contributions she will bring.”

New head teacher: I have big shoes to fill

D Dr Louise Shaw

eputy headteacher Dr Louise Shaw is to succeed Val Holmes when she retires at the end of the current academic year as headteacher at Thornton

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College. Dr Shaw, who is head of prep at the school near Buckingham, has taught in the independent sector for more than 20 years and joined

SECURE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS Cloud Telephony | Mobile Solutions Internet Connectivity

Thornton College in 2017. “I know I have huge shoes to fill as Mrs Holmes is treasured 0330 053 8180 by so many, including myself,” she says. “I also know how much my colleagues and our students and their families love Thornton - I will do my very best to protect all that we know is so special about our wonderful school.” She takes up her post in September at the start of the new academic inreach year. IT - mkt place.qxp_Layout 1 13/04/2021 09:40 Page 1 “We are confident that this appointment will ensure stability, build on the college’s long and rich traditions and seek its further development,” says chair of governors Sister Helen Haigh. Retiring headteacher Val Holmes adds: “She knows and understands the core ethos SECURE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS of the school and why it is Cloud Service | Free IT Audit such a special place. I have every confidence that she will 24/7 IT Support maintain all that we love about Thornton while also working hard to build on the existing 0330 053 8180 success of our school.”

Business MK


January 2022



>> The local Networking round-up 3rd Wednesday of the month (excluding August), 7.30am Networking breakfast with speaker. Contact: Kerry Ransby email:

Business networking and referral group. Price: £6. Contact:

Alternate Fridays, 7am: Abbey Hill Golf Centre, Two Mile Ash Networking breakfast with speaker. Price: £15. Contact: or Mark Orr on 07903 655169.

Connect Over Coffee January 19, 10am-11.15am Virtual networking in virtual rooms with other Chamber members. Free event. Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees January 25, 11am-11.30am Webinar hosted by Saidat Oke, of MoneyTree Coaching. Subject: The importance of having a sound financial plan with an end goal. Understand the relationship between your business finance and personal finance. Free event. To book, visit

Diamond Tuesday, 6.45am: Abbey Hill Golf Centre, Two Mile Ash. Apollo Wednesday, 10am: MK Gallery. Phoenix Friday, 9.45am: The Bedford Golf Club. Encore Friday, 6.45am: Holiday Inn London Luton Airport. More information:

For details of future events and for more details, email or visit

Networking events provide a platform to meet and build relationships with peers and fellow members. The group also hosts personal development sessions, with talks from business leaders. For more information, visit:

For more information and future events visit:

For more information about the group and future events email: or visit: South Central Women in Business 2nd Tuesday, 12 noon: Online. January 18: Subject: The Good Business Charter, a new accreditation scheme set up to acknowledge good business behaviour. Cherwell & North Bucks Networking 3rd Wednesday, 10am-11am: Online Networking forum for entrepreneurs, the self-employed and small businesses. January 19 Speaker: Daniya Stewart, founder of food company PHOMO. To book on to FSB events, visit:

Breakfast networking online and face to face. 1st and 3rd Friday, 7am. Monthly dinner event. For more information, contact January 11, 25, 7.45am: Online meeting. Speaker tbc. More information:

12 noon-2pm, networking lunch. Bedford & Ampthill 1st Tuesday: The Swan Hotel, The Embankment, Bedford / Online. Leighton Buzzard 3rd Wednesday: The Dukes, Heath & Reach / Online. Luton 2nd Monday: South Beds Golf Club, Warden Hills Road / Online. Sandy & Biggleswade 1st Wednesday: Stratton House Hotel, Biggleswade. Contact: Louise Yexley on 07989 020647, email: or visit: Milton Keynes 1st Tuesday: The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College, Sherwood Drive, Bletchley. Contact: Edith Samambwa on 07802 581838, email: or visit:

For details of future events email:

10am-noon: No fuss, no membership, pay-as-you-go networking. Brackley (New Group) 1st Thursday: Plough Pub & Kitchen, High Street Milton Keynes 3rd Friday: Revolucion de Cuba, Savoy Crescent, 12th Street Bedford 1st Wednesday: George & Dragon, Mill Street Biggleswade 2nd Wednesday: Yorkshire Grey, London Road Price: £6, payable in advance on the Business Buzz Booking App or at the event. East Midlands (Virtual) 1st Friday: Online. Price: £10 Bedfordshire (Virtual) 4th Tuesday: Online Price: £10, payable in advance on the Business Buzz Booking App or at the event.


Business MK


January 2022

For more information about the group and future events email:

Business After Hours January 19, 5.30pm-7.30pm: Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford. Informal networking. Price: £10 + VAT Chamber members; non-members £15 + VAT. To book Chamber events visit

Networking Lunch January 26, 12 noon-2pm: The George, Little Brickhill For menu and price details and to book, visit:

>> >> To have your networking group’s details included in the February edition of Business MK email: For local business news visit

Business2Business January 2022

In print and online Business2Business is published throughout Bedfordshire for the area’s business community NE W S

Packaging move is 'a significant step forward'



The support available to businesses in Central Bedfordshire. P20

Meet the town centre safety officers funded by Luton BID. P21 NE W S

AP Taylor in Houghton Regis


Housebuilder opens new regional HQ in Bedford. P21


Packaging firm opens centre in India to service pharma giants. P22

The latest from London Luton Airport. P22

£0.75m funding deal gives expansion plans the green light


ew jobs, bulk acquisition of stock and growth in its service range are on the agenda for a logistics firm after it secured a £750,000 funding package. AP Taylor, which provides a personalised returns solution to manufacturers and retailers of household and garden electronic appliances, sought funding for the first time in its 20-year history to protect and strengthen its market position. The company, based in Houghton Regis, works with appliance brands such as VAX, Hoover, George Foreman, Delonghi and Russell Hobbs. It collects, analyses and repairs appliances and is one of the few operators in the UK with regulatory compliance to prepare and treat electronic waste for disposal. It will use the funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund via Maven Capital Partners as capital

to invest in its service range, support expansion and to create three new jobs. Co-founder and director Ross Taylor said: “Taking a Recovery Loan Scheme facility has helped initiate our growth strategy. We look forward to working with Maven as we expand our offering and hire new staff as part of our ambitious growth plans.” The business employs more than 100 staff at its facility in Arenson Way. Its status as an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility business, accredited by the Environment Agency, means the business has a reuse rate of more than 90 per cent and it is a key contributor to the low carbon economy. Maven’s investment manager Graham Hall said: “AP Taylor is a strong business which, for the first time since founding, needed some funding to both protect and expand its market positioning.” The Recovery Loan Scheme is managed by the government-owned

British Business Bank on behalf of and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The bank is encouraging other businesses, particularly those focusing on sustainability, to consider funding from the MEIF to support their plans. MEIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank. The ERDF is a collaboration between the British Business Bank and ten local enterprise partnerships including that for the South East Midlands, SEMLEP. SEMLEP Growth Hub manager Vicky Hlomuka said: “It is fantastic to see another local business benefiting so much from the funding provided by MEIF, especially one as innovative as AP Taylor. This is a wonderful opportunity, not only for the company but for the wider community as well.”

n A £1.5 million makeover of The Waterfront Hotel, Spa & Golf at Wyboston Lakes Resort near Bedford is under way. The project includes the venue’s event spaces, brasserie and bar and a major refurbishment of the hotel’s reception area. A flexible co-working area under the resort’s serviced offices brand Landing Pad will be added on the first floor. Managing director Steve Jones said: “The transformation of our hotel will strengthen our quality of product.”

packaging manufacturer is one of the first in Europe to use recycled plastic retrieved from beaches, coastlines and river banks to create its new packaging material. Bell Packaging already uses Retran, a a polyester-based material created at its factory in Luton that contains a minimum 70 per cent recycled content. Now the company has introduced Biojet, a Retran-based material with an additive to accelerate its biodegrading. A spokesman said: “While both of these products have been hugely successful, we recognised that even more needed to be done. Bell have worked throughout the pandemic to identify reliable sources of plastic derived from the ocean. In simple terms this is ‘Reused Ocean Plastic’.” The polymer used to produce the new packaging is sourced from companies which organise communities to collect plastic waste from beaches, riverbanks and ocean perimeters. “These are communities who do not have the infrastructure for waste management but by paying local people to collect the plastic and deliver it to recycling facilities, the problem is reduced,” said the spokesman. The new material has been extensively tested and meets the minimum strength requirements of Bell’s processes. The spokesman said: “As we have all seen, there are large quantities of plastic waste floating in the sea. If we can help to collect and reuse some of this waste and turn it back into useful products, we are taking a significant step forward.”


Be Central Bedfordshire - Economic Growth Partnership

Central Bedfordshire Council, through its Be Central Bedfordshire website and services, provides a wealth of support and information to help all businesses, either established or new to the area, to thrive and grow.

We’ve been supporting local businesses and the economy


investing in our towns to make enhancements. We continue to support the Central Bedfordshire economy recover from the impacts of Covid-19 through use of the Additional Restrictions Grant to fund our Wider Business Support Programme. This will target those local businesses which have shown resilience throughout the pandemic and the ability to grow in the future. Central Bedfordshire Council is working with four business partners to deliver the Wider Business Support

e understand that Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to many business sectors and over the past year we have been supporting businesses to navigate the information and support available to them. Alongside COVID-19 recovery planning, we have continued to work on important projects such as improving broadband speed and connectivity in our area, running online workshops for businesses in relation to international trade and

Programme: ■ U n i v e r s i t y of Bedfordshire Central Bedfordshire Productivity programme. ■ SEMLEP Mentoring, business support and grant. ■ Cranfield University Business Scholarship Programme ■ Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce International markets and supply chain Fully funded access to these programmes will be available through to the end of March 2022. Eligible Central

Bedfordshire businesses can apply for more than one of these programmes/with more than one of the business partners depending on their need.

To learn more about what is available to your business and how you can access these fully funded support products, read on...

The lean, mean productivity machine

Support and funding for your business

University of Bedfordshire: Central Bedfordshire Productivity programme

SEMLEP: Mentoring, business support and grant


he University of Bedfordshire is supporting local businesses that are looking to attract new investment and achieve accelerated growth by focusing on productivity, innovation and research. Its Central Bedfordshire Productivity programme will help you to boost productivity via knowledge exchange and skills provisions, deliver quicker growth and create more jobs through building a foundation on the proven Lean Six Sigma methodology. Lean Six Sigma aims to improve productivity, increase customer satisfaction and reduce operational costs. The University of Bedfordshire’s focus is on the practical application of Lean Six Sigma and supporting businesses in their ambition to continually improve processes.

Benefits to your business n Routes to new funding and inward investment n Upskill staff across the region n New product and process ideas n Business growth and waste decline Providing one of the delegates is at a senior level, eligible businesses can take advantage of up to four spaces on the Lean-focused training programme, enabling them to obtain certification for the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course. To book a place for your business, head to www.


he South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership is offering targeted support to small and medium-sized businesses in Central Bedfordshire to continue trading, adapt and diversify following the detrimental impact of Covid-19. The programme provides tailored support through the following four steps: 1 An in-depth assessment of the current health of your business, its challenges and aspirations, formulating a six-month action plan. 2 The opportunity to apply for a grant of between £1,000 and £3,000 for use on specialist professional support from local busines. 3 A mid-point review of the action plan and achievements so far and to identify priority actions for the remaining part of the programme. 4 A final review, identifying ongoing support and

an action plan for the next 12 months. Grants of up to £20,000 are also available to eligible businesses disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. These grants are targeted at aiding recovery, supporting businesses to continue trading, adapt and diversity as well as prioritising job creation activity. If you are a SME within Central Bedfordshire that has been trading for at least one year and have been impacted by the pandemic, find out more and request an assessment via the ‘Contact Us’ form at

Business scholarship for SME success

Help your business go global

Cranfield University: Business Scholarship Programme

Bedfordshire Chamber: International markets


business owners to achieve their growth goals. To qualify, your business should be at least three years old, with a minimum turnover of £500,000 and a minimum of seven employees.

Ready for Scale Supporting micro and small enterprises to develop the skills to help their business take a leap forward on its growth trajectory. This 12-week online programme will help smaller or earlier stage businesses to critically review themselves, assess their position and work out what is and is not working.

Ready for Net Zero Growth and Net Zero Top Up Enabling SMEs to understand their carbon footprint, why it matters , to make a plan to reduce emissions and to reap the rewards of doing so as part of their growth strategy. Through Net Zero Top Up, SMEs that have attended the Business Growth Programme or Ready for Scale programme receive an extra six weeks of support to understand their carbon footprint and plan to reduce emissions.

Business Growth Programme For over 30 years Cranfield University’s Business Growth Programme has helped

Essential Management While core management skills are universal, the context and challenges of a

ranfield School of Management has created an innovative scholarship programme to support the growth of local SMEs. Thanks to funding by Central Bedfordshire Council, businesses can apply for scholarship places on some of Cranfield University’s most highly regarded courses.

SME are very different from businesses in earlier or later stages of growth. Essential Management provides the senior team with key tools to effectively manage functional departments and resources. Finance Fundamentals Finance Fundamentals equips managers who have financial responsibilities with the key concepts and abilities to manage finances at SME level. The programme delivers the key drivers of business value, how management decisions affect financial decisions and how to measure and impact business improvement. n Find out more at www.cranfield.


hether you are considering exporting for the first time, an experienced exporter looking at new markets or looking to overcome barriers created by the UKEU Trade & Co-operation agreement, this programme provides the practical support on hand to help your business overcome these challenges. The Chamber of Commerce has specialist one-to-one advisors and funded training courses

to support your business growth in global markets. The programme will culminate in a virtual trade mission where you will be able to meet international buyers matched to your specific requirements. n To learn more and register your interest, visit www.chamber-business. com/goglobalcbc

For more Central Bedfordshire news and event updates, visit or email 20



January 2022

For local business news visit

Business News: Bedfordshire

SMEs celebrate grant boost as council releases support funding

N Safety officers Rahed Choudhury and Bruce Sibiya with Andrew Goodfellow (centre) in the town centre.

BID funds safety officers to support town centre


wo licensed safety officers are supporting pubs and restaurants every Friday and Saturday night in Luton town centre this winter. Luton BID has funded the officers as a result of feedback from businesses at recent Luton SAFE Pubwatch meetings. The two officers, who are licensed by industry body the Security Industry Authority, will assist town centre pubs, restaurants, shops and takeaways by working in partnership with the town centre CCTV and the police. The officers are carrying out foot patrols around the town centre, liaising with night-time economy businesses and carry with them town centre radios so businesses can call for support when required. They are also available to help employees working at night, to guide visitors around the town centre and to help local outreach teams by identifying vulnerable people at night. Importantly, the officers have access to the DISC App data intelligence sharing system that links to all the businesses within the town, to identify issues and send out safety messages. BID manager Julia H o r s m a n s a i d : “ We hope that our hospitality businesses will feel the benefit of their presence.” The BID chairs the

Luton Business Against Crime partnership and attends every Luton SAFE Pubwatch meeting to hear the views and concerns of town centre businesses and how the BID can support them. Ms Horsman said: “We have been working really closely with our hospitality businesses to support them after what has been a really challenging 18 months due to the pandemic.” Doorman Andrew Goodfellow is working with the safety officers. He said: “Having worked around the town for nearly 12 years and on nearly all the doors, it has been really important for me to have the chance to be included with this project and to use my experience to support the officers to build up the level of trust and recognition within the town centre so people understand that they are there to support business venues and vulnerable people around the town.” The initiative follows a joint Safe Night for Everyone campaign launched in October by Luton pubs to reassure customers they are doing everything they can to ensure a safe night out in the town after the recent national spotlight on drink spiking concerns. Business can use their Luton Safe or Luton Business Against Crime radio to contact officers for assistance and to make them aware of any issues.

n For more information on how town centre businesses can become a member of LBAC, visit luton-business-against-crime.


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ew levels of support are available for small and medium-sized business in Luton via a new initiative being funded by Luton Council. SMEs based in the town that have been trading for at least 12 months and have been affected by the pandemic are eligible for six months worth of in-depth support to boost their recovery and to give them access to specialist expertise. The Intensive Business Support Programme is being delivered on behalf of the council by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Fund and is funded by the government’s Additional Restrictions Grants scheme. Since the start of the pandemic, Luton Council has awarded 10,789 government business grants totalling almost £55 million. The council’s corporate director inclusive economy

Nicola Monk said: “By deciding to use some of the additional ARG funding for specific programmes we are able to really target support to a range of businesses in Luton.” SMEs that join the programme receive three in-depth sessions with a SEMLEP Growth Hub business adviser. These consist of: n An in-depth assessment of the business’s current health, their challenges and aspirations, formulating an action plan to be monitored and achieved over the six-month programme; n A mid-point assessment to review the action plan and achievements and to identify priority actions for the remaining part of the programme; n A final review, identifying ongoing support opportunities and an action plan for the next 12 months. Those on the programme can also apply for a grant of between £1,000 and £2,400

for use on specialist professional support from the local business community. Ms Monk said: “As part of our longerterm plan to deliver on our inclusive economy ambitions, we are using a proportion of our ARG funding to deliver, along with a range of partners, business support activities to assist the business community in recovery, resilience, growth and ultimately prosperity.” SEMLEP chief executive Hilary Chipping added: “Everyone knows how tough it has been for business over the last 18 months and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to provide even more support to businesses in Luton. I believe that this programme will be a huge help and not just to the individual businesses that participate. By encouraging spending with other local businesses, this programme will help the local and regional economies to thrive.”

Builder eyes growth after move to business park


ayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson cuts the ribbon to officially open the new regional headquarters for housebuilder Tilia Homes Eastern. The move to Priory Business Park follows the company’s sale by construction firm Kier Group to investment company Terra Firma in June. The 12,550 sq ft office is home to more than 110 employees and Tilia has ambitious plans to significantly grow the regional business over the

Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson, with Tilia Homes chief executive David Bridges.

next three years. “Since our separation from Kier Group, we have been seeking out a new office that would bring our teams

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping a clock to save time”

together after 18 months largely spent apart,” said Tilia Homes Eastern managing director Jonathan Miller. “Our new location in the

heart of our region reflects our desire to expand our business throughout the east of England, with the financial support of our new owners. We are really grateful to Mayor Dave Hodgson for joining us to officially open our new office and for welcoming us so warmly to the town.”

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January 2022


Business News: Bedfordshire

Packaging leader targets pharma giants in India

Wine firm raises glass to new HQ


pecialist wine merchant Hallgarten & Novum Wines has finalised a lease deal on new headquarters in Luton. The importer and distributor of wine has agreed a 15-year lease on 8,000 sq ft of new office space at Mulberry House on Capability Green. “The office sector has suffered during the pandemic and we were able to negotiate enhanced incentives as part of the deal,” said Eamon Kennedy, executive partner and head of agency at commercial property consultancy Kirkby Diamond, whom Hallgarten & Novum instructed to acquire suitable HQ premises. “We saw it as a great opportunity to secure high-quality HQ office premises for our client. At the moment, the office sector offers excellent opportunities for businesses considering relocating to benefit from large incentives for ingoing tenants.” Hallgarten has been importing wines from producers around the world for more than 80 years. The

P Mulberry House, new head office for Hallgarten & Novum Wines company was named both The Drinks Business On Trade Supplier of the Year and IWC On Trade Supporter of the Year in 2021. n Long-term leases have been signed on three industrial and warehouse units on industrial estates in Luton. CMT Powder Coaters, freight forwarding business Jobyco, and delivery giant Hermes Parcelnet have agreed leases on units ranging in size from 6,087 sq ft to 11,780 sq ft. The deals are expected to create new jobs in the town. Continuing high demand from businesses searching for industrial properties helped to conclude the

deals, said commercial property consultancy Kirkby Diamond, whose Luton office marketed the properties for freeholder Forte Developments. Eamon Kennedy, executive partner and head of agency, said: “We have worked alongside Forte Developments for many years and it is very satisfying to see three of their properties let to good businesses in a short space of time. This has brought a good number of jobs to the north Luton area. "Continued demand for industrial premises enabled us to secure new tenants extremely quickly which demonstrates that industrial properties are not staying available for long.”

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January 2022

ackaging specialist Peli BioThermal has opened a new service centre in India. The facility in Ahmedabad - a major manufacturing hub for pharmaceutical companies in western state of Gujarat - is a full service network station offering conditioning and refurbishment services for Peli BioThermal’s Credo bulk shippers. A cluster of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies operate from there and all are major exporters to Europe and the USA, said said Dominic Hyde, vice president - global services. “Our market-leading, highperforming products will be readily available for our customers in the region which is an area of significant growth for multiple clinical research organisations conducting

Dominic Hyde clinical trials, another area of growth in India,” Mr Hyde added. Peli BioThermal, whose UK headquarters are in Leighton Buzzard, plans to continue expansion of its infrastructure worldwide to meet the needs of its international customers. Within the global pharma market India provides more than 50 per cent of the worldwide requirement for various vaccines and 40pc of the demand for generic products in the USA.

Airport agrees £45m deal as part of rescue package Agreement aims to deliver security for supply chain


he owner and the operator of London Luton Airport have announced a new joint investment package to support the airport’s sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Under a wide-ranging agreement, which deals with the impact of fewer passengers and loss of income at the airport since March 2020, the airport operator London Luton Airport Operations Ltd will retain £45 million over a three-year period from past and future passenger income that would have been due to Luton Rising - the council’s company that owns the airport - had passenger numbers not reduced. The agreement aims to provide certainty for the thousands who rely on the airport for employment and the many local and regional businesses in the supply chain. The deal has been

Graham Olver approved by Luton Council. Luton Rising’s chief executive Graham Olver said: “This agreement sets out how we will continue to work together over the coming decade to build back better, stronger and greener, and support the vital economic and employment recovery that we will want to see in the supply chain and across the region. “Importantly for Luton residents, this has also been achieved with no direct impact on council tax and

continues to protect the vital investment we make every year in voluntary and community services to improve people’s lives.” In 2019 London Luton Airport served almost 18 million passengers, supported 27,000 jobs in the regional economy including 10,000 in Luton - and delivered £1.8 billion in economic activity for UK GDP. T h e a i r p o r t ’s c h i e f executive Alberto Martin said: “The pandemic has been the biggest crisis in aviation history, wiping out 20 years of passenger growth almost overnight. “As the sector begins to recover, this deal, in partnership with the airport owner, enables us to prepare for future success and creates reassurance for the thousands of people and the many local businesses who rely on us through the supply chain.”

For local business news visit

In the Community

Shopping centre offers empty store to hospice


illen Hospice has opened a new store in the Midsummer Place shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes. It has taken over the former Northface unit on a temporary basis after being offered the opportunity by Midsummer Place management. It is a “unique” opportunity for the charity to raise vital funds after continuing to be severely impacted by the pandemic, the hospice says. Mark Rawlins, associate director of commercial at the hospice, says: “We are incredibly excited by this opportunity to expand our retail presence in Milton Keynes. This will be the first charity shop to open in a highend retail shopping centre and this will be reflected in the range we have on offer.” The store will sell “preloved” and new items donated to the hospice, including clothing, accessories, toys and exclusive vintage and retro items. The hospice has to raise £4.7 million every year to deliver its specialist end of life care. “Our fundraising income

generated through retail and events has been severely impacted over the past 18 months,” says Mr Rawlins. “This new store is a light at the end of a tunnel and we are very grateful to Midsummer Place for their generosity.” Creative production company BCQ Group, based at Buckingham, has sponsored and produced the in-store point of sale, signage and digital signage. “As we have an empty store, it seemed the perfect opportunity to help our local community,” says Midsummer Place’s general manager Shelley Peppard "Their store will give our shoppers an enhanced choice and a chance to support a very worthy cause.” The shop cannot accept any donations due to the limited floor space available. Anyone wishing to donate should drop any unwanted good-quality, clean items at the hospice's distribution centre at Kiln Farm. To book a time, visit www. w i l l e n - h o s p i c e . o rg . u k / donate-items or any of the other 12 Willen Hospice shops in the area.

Organisers of the Milton Keynes Rose Corporate Pancake Race are looking for teams from local businesses to take part in this year’s race.

On your marks... get set... flip


ave the date: March 1 2022. It is Shrove Tuesday and the Milton Keynes Rose Corporate Pancake Race is back. And the Milton Keynes

Rose project team are looking for local businesses and organisations to take on the challenge of a relay race in Campbell Park. Teams of four are invited to bring their baton - a frying pan - and a pancake

n A toast to the Taverners: Guests at the annual Lord’s Taverners Ouse Valley region raised more than £47,000 at this year’s event at Woburn Golf

and be ready to compete for the title of MK Rose Pancake Race winners. Entry fee is £50 per team and the race will start at 11.55am to match the time on the pillar at the Milton

Club sponsored by Hillier Hopkins LLP and auctioneered by TV celebrity Charlie Ross. The money goes to the Lord’s

Keynes Rose celebrating the famous race in Olney. Debbie Brock, chair of Cenotaph Trust which comanages the MK Rose with the Parks Trust, says: “We are really looking forward to seeing this race in Campbell Park. We are proud of our Shrove Tuesday pillar and cannot wait to see which local business or organisation will win The MK Rose Pancake Relay Race ‘trophy’.” All proceeds from the event will fund future Milton Keynes Rose projects, including two new pillars which will be engraved in 2022. To register for the relay race, contact The Parks Trust at

Taverners charity which works to enhance the lives of disabled and disadvantaged young people through sport and education.

Mayor backs Green Canopy initiative to mark jubilee

Lottery celebrates 25 years


ne lucky person is set for a 2022 to remember - as the winner in Willen Hospice’s annual Lottery Winter Draw. A total prize fund of £4,000 is up for grabs, with the winner receiving the first prize of £3,000. There is a second prize of £500 and ten £50 runner-up prizes. The hospice has ce,ebrated its 40th anniversary and its 25th year of hosting the lottery, which has raised more than £6 million and more than 1,300 players have won the weekly lottery

prize of £1,000. “When the pandemic hit, our lottery has continued to be a vital source of income,” says lottery fundraising manager Louise Dela-Haye. “Every ticket we sell, helps to support the hospice in offering our care completely free of charge.” Buy your Winter Draw tickets online at, where you can read the full terms and conditions, or in any of the Willen Hospice shops. The closing date is February 4 and the draw takes place on February 10.

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ayor of Milton Keynes Cllr Mohammed Khan is backing the tree-planting initiative under way to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year. He joined Countess Howe, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, as each planted a tree at Middleton Wood Meadow in Middleton Park alongside 50 trees planted by children from Giffard Park Primary School. The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative is inviting people across the UK to plant a tree for the Jubilee. It aims to celebrate Queen Elizabeth

II’s 70 years on the throne and to create a legacy for future generations. In March last year, The Parks Trust - which manages and maintains the site started a joint project with

Community Trees: MK, and Broughton and Milton Keynes Parish Council to improve the habitat for wildlife by creating a woodland meadow. The five-year project will include

the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs. The Parks Trust plans to involve Milton Keynes residents and schools in future tree planting projects and Community Trees: MK are planning a series of community events. Cllr Khan said: “I believe every city and town in UK should fight climate change by planting more trees just like us here Milton Keynes. It is an honour to be part of the Queen’s Green Canopy celebrating the Platinum Jubilee. Planting trees is a brilliant way to help in the fight against climate change, protect our planet and also benefit our wildlife.”

Business MK | January 2022



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