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The Official Magazine of Somerset Chamber of Commerce

October / November 2017

Infrastructure: A connected Somerset 18 | FEATURE 5 | PATRON NEWS

Somerset Chamber welcomes Albert Goodman as latest Patron


This edition looks at issues surrounding the agricultural sector


Take a look at the latest pictures from our events

Over 40 business sectors and more than 32,000 employees represented



members across Somerset



Pulse e-newsletters a year

Bi-monthly Somerset Voice Magazine

discounted events a year

Be heard lobbying and representation

Includes: • Networking • Training • Development • Briefing • Panel discussion • CEO forum

Raise your profile within the local business community


inter-member discounts


Use of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce logo


Contribute to and receive Quarterly Economic Surveys Event sponsorship

400 attend Somerset Business Awards

T: 01823 444924 E:


CONTENTS First Word 4 Patron News 5 Chamber News 6-9 Focus On: Agriculture 10-11 Members Area 12-17 Feature: Infrastructure 18-21 #WellConnected 22-23 The Big Interview 24-25 Members News 26-31 Business News 32-33 Town Chamber News 34




Disclaimer The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Chamber. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print or electronic format (including, but not limited to, any online service, any database or any part of the internet), or in any other format in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in the magazine, Somerset Chamber do not accept any responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies it contains.

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FIRST WORD Infrastructure is one of the main themes in this issue of Somerset Voice magazine. According to our recent membership survey, it ranks as one of the biggest concerns for Somerset businesses. Somerset’s digital infrastructure – or lack thereof – has long been a source of frustration for businesses. While significant improvements have been made over recent years, many members in rural parts of Somerset fall within the unfortunate ‘last 5%’ neglected by the improvement schemes to date. We were therefore pleased to recently hear from Connecting Devon and Somerset about a major new engineering project that is expected to deliver full fibre broadband to more of our rural locations – read more about this on page 18. The other high-ranking infrastructure issue for Somerset is the much needed upgrade to road and rail networks. These overdue improvements would boost economic development, productivity levels and inward investment, in Somerset and throughout the South West. Our lobbying activity around improvements to the A303 and A358 continues, a recent announcement was made outlining the proposed route for improvements at the ‘Stonehenge bottleneck’, designed to help reduce the congestion along this important arterial road. See page 20 to read more. We will continue to lobby for better digital and transport infrastructure across the county, working with our partners to ensure the pledged improvements to our regional infrastructure do go ahead. Meanwhile, we’ve had infrastructure changes of our own. I’m delighted to welcome Gracie Greenslade, who has joined us as an apprentice on the Hinkley Supply Chain Team; congratulations to Alistair Tudor, promoted to the newly created position of Head of Chamber Services; and welcome back to Jenn Chidley-Sanders, who has returned from her maternity leave. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to a seeing many of you throughout the autumn at our full programme of events and activities, including the prestigious Somerset Business Awards in October and our AGM in November.


OUR PATRONS Contact us to find out what benefits Somerset Chamber Patrons receive. T: 01823 444924 E:

Get in touch Marketing

Scarlett Scott-Collins

Marketing and Communications Supervisor T: 01823 444924 E:


Alistair Tudor

Head of Chamber Services T: 01823 444924 | M: 07912 054195 E:

Jenn Chidley-Sanders Service Delivery Manager

T: 01823 444924 | M: 07872 063039 E:


Loren Gray Events Manager

T: 01823 444924 | M: 07821 950379 E:

Brooke Gilbertson

Business and Administration Apprentice T: 01823 444924 E:

Hinkley Supply Chain

Chris Langdon

Hinkley Supply Chain Project Lead T: 01823 443425 | M: 07771 791736 E:

Sam Evans

Hinkley Supply Chain Business Engagement Manager T: 01823 443425 | M: 07525 809274 E:

Alan Windsor

Hinkley Supply Chain Data Coordinator T: 01823 443425 E:

General Enquiries

Laura Rigby Administrator

T: 01823 444924 E:


PATRON NEWS Albert Goodman becomes a patron of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce Leading South West accountancy firm Albert Goodman is delighted to become the latest Patron of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, reflecting the firm’s long heritage and commitment to the business community in Somerset. As a leading regional Chartered Accountants, Tax Consultants and Financial Planners, with roots dating back over 150 years, Albert Goodman is a key player in the Somerset business community. The firm is proud to work with Somerset businesses from start-up through growth to business sale or succession. Alongside the development of businesses, Albert Goodman provides business owners and directors with financial advice on wealth protection, investments and tax planning. “Being invited to be an official Patron of Somerset Chamber of Commerce reflects Albert Goodman’s status – we’re a highly-regarded and trusted firm that understands fully our clients’ business needs and which has an enviable track record working with Somerset businesses” says Head of Business Development and Marketing

150 years, I am delighted to welcome Albert Goodman as the latest Somerset Chamber Patron. Over many years, Albert Goodman has been an active member of the Chamber and patronage will undoubtedly strengthen their engagement within the Somerset business community.”

and Chamber Board Member, Charles Olney. “Our real specialism is growth and wealth protection and we work with companies and their owners on all aspects of their business to ensure they are best placed to achieve their growth plans.” Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber, said, “With an exceptionally long pedigree of providing accountancy and financial support to Somerset firms for over

Richard Bugler, Managing Partner of Albert Goodman, said: “We’re delighted to be strengthening our relationship with Somerset Chamber of Commerce and particularly pleased to become a Patron. The Chamber has provided great support to Albert Goodman over the years and we’re pleased to be continuing to have close links to the Chamber through our involvement in the Somerset Business Awards. We are predominantly a Somerset based firm and for us supporting local businesses and the wider community is very important. We intend to be a highly active Patron, working with members to deliver products and services that add genuine value and which contribute to companies’ growth and strengthen the county as a whole.”

£18million investment into training solutions for businesses across the South West Over the last year Weston College, under the leadership of its Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips CBE, has been expanding its well established law and professional services provision to create a new hub for legal, financial, business and IT training in the South West. Based at the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare, the College’s new Law and Professional Services Academy specialises in work-based and academic training that responds to the skills shortages identified in the region. A big focus is providing businesses with cost-effective training solutions that utilise the depth and breadth of the College’s provision, enabling companies and organisations to identify flexible ways to upskill their

workforces, train new staff, or fill vacancies through apprenticeships. For young people and adults, the Academy enables clear pathways into the professions and towards their career goals, and the ability to upskill, retrain or learn entirely new skills. The courses can be delivered in the workplace or at Weston College, or a combination of both. The College has created new facilities to house the provision, including the £15million Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare and the Law and Professional Services Academy, based in a former town centre hotel. The College’s investment in its facilities has led to the creation of a high-tech

and professional learning environment that prepares its learners for work and progression. The Winter Gardens also includes a series of conference and events spaces for businesses to hire for up to 900 delegates. This includes the newly-refurbished ballroom, which has been enhanced with high-tech AV equipment and onsite catering facilities. You can find out more at




Pictured (left to right): Geoff Harding (Bank of England); Helen Lacey (Red Berry Recruitment & Somerset Chamber of Commerce); Alistair Tudor (Somerset Chamber of Commerce); Dave Crew (Weston College)

Somerset businesses turn out in force for Bank of England’s annual economic update Around 60 business people attended this year’s Bank of England Update, held on 5 September at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton. Organised by Somerset Chamber of Commerce, and held in association with the Institute of Directors and the Bank of England, the annual breakfast event is one of the most popular on the Chamber’s events calendar. The Bank of England’s Deputy Agent for the South West, Geoff Harding, provided insight into the current economic situation and the Bank’s views on the prospects for the British economy over the next two to three years. He covered a range of topics including household consumption; consumer spending; employment rates; the effects of the depreciation in sterling; inflation rates; and consumer and business confidence.

for the first time, and we’ve received some very positive feedback about the event overall.” Chamber Patron Weston College sponsored the event and Dave Crew, Director of Business Growth, said, “Weston College were delighted to sponsor this high profile event in the Somerset business calendar. The Bank of England event continues to attract business leaders and provide a useful economic update, in particular the projections for economic growth and consumer confidence.” Rob Cadwallader, Partner at Milsted Langdon, was one of the delegates at the event. He commented, “As popular as ever, it is always interesting to hear how the Bank of England is seeing things and to put some context around the challenges facing businesses here in Taunton and Somerset. We continue to live in interesting times.”

In particular, he spoke about the role of the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee; the projections for growth and inflation; the yield curve, including market expectations of short term interest rates; and the Monetary Policy Committee’s main assumptions. Following the event, Somerset Chamber Board Director Helen Lacey said, “The Bank of England Update was a really enjoyable morning, very informative and useful. We had a great turn-out with a number of new delegates joining us

Photography by




Somerset Chamber offers reduced membership rate to Armed Forces supporters Somerset Chamber is now offering a 20% discount on membership to companies that commit to signing the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. It is a voluntary pledge from businesses and charitable organisations that wish to demonstrate their concrete support for the armed forces community. CETSAT, an IT services provider with offices in Bridgwater, Yeovil and London, is the first Somerset Chamber member to benefit from the discounted membership rate as a result of signing the Covenant. Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber, said, “Somerset Chamber is exceptionally proud to support the Armed Services Covenant. We are delighted that a number of members have signed the Covenant in recent months, following introductions to one of our patrons, Wessex Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Association (WRFCA), which is

Hinkley Supply Chain Team welcomes its first apprentice Somerset Chamber’s Hinkley Supply Chain Team has taken on a new Advanced Business and Administration Apprentice, 18 year old Gracie Greenslade from Taunton. Gracie joins the Hinkley Supply Chain Team as it continues to develop the local supply chain database for the Hinkley Point C project, which now comprises more than 3,800 Somerset and South West businesses. She will be helping to manage some of the project data that is required by the team and will, in time, be handling enquiries from suppliers directly. Before taking up her new position, Gracie completed two years at Richard Huish College, where she studied Maths, Biology and Psychology at A Level. She is carrying out her apprenticeship through Yeovil College, where she will be spending half a day every six weeks. The majority of Gracie’s apprenticeship work will be undertaken in an office environment, both at Somerset Chamber’s offices in Taunton and Bridgwater’s Somerset Energy Innovation Centre (SEIC), where the Hinkley Supply Chain Team is also based. Commenting on her appointment, Gracie said, “Taking this apprenticeship is a very exciting opportunity for me, a chance to get a bit of real life experience. Being a student for the last 14 years and only being 18 years old, I found it very hard to decide what to do, as education is all I’ve known up to this point. However, with such a big project like Hinkley coming up, it seemed like an amazing opportunity and that influenced

brilliant news. We look forward to offering them all the same discount when the time comes to renew their membership.” Durgan Cooper, Director of CETSAT, said, “CETSAT recognises the value that the reserve armed forces provide to both our businesses and our nation. We were therefore honoured to be signatories of the Covenant and having learned that we would qualify for a discount of our annual membership was a great surprise. “By signing the Covenant, CETSAT has committed to ensuring none of its employees face disadvantages because of previous or current military service and staff are encouraged to become active members of the reservists. As reservists, they learn skills that help their employability including leadership, teamwork, self-confidence, first aid skills, and confidence building.”

my decision to go down the apprenticeship route. The role offers not only great experience in this sector but also a qualification at the same time, so for me it offered everything I wanted to help develop my career. I’m very much looking forward to my time working on the Hinkley Supply Chain Team.” Gracie will be managed by Sam Evans, who has recently been promoted to the position of Hinkley Supply Chain Business Engagement Manager. Sam said, “We’re pleased to welcome Gracie to the team and are sure she will be a real asset. We needed someone who was able to think on their feet and pick up information fast, coupled with an enthusiasm and desire to learn. Gracie fitted that bill perfectly and has settled in well within the supply chain team already and Somerset Chamber as a whole.” Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said, “I am delighted that the Chamber is growing the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, and in particular that Gracie’s recruitment represents the Chamber’s third apprentice in as many years. Apprenticeships offer a great opportunity to develop Somerset’s future managers and leaders, and are an important part of the long-term legacy for the county that EDF Energy aims to deliver through Hinkley Point C.” Somerset Chamber of Commerce manages the Hinkley supply chain portal for the South West and is the first point of contact for Somerset and South West businesses wishing to engage in the construction of the nuclear new build project. For information on registration, work packages and much more, visit



Head of Chamber Services appointed at Somerset Chamber Somerset Chamber of Commerce has appointed Alistair Tudor as its Head of Chamber Services. The new position, which has been created to further develop the Chamber’s offering, will oversee the membership, events and marketing functions of the organisation. Alistair will already be familiar to many Somerset Chamber members as he has been working as the Chamber’s

Membership Sales Manager for the past year. Prior to that, he worked in the recruitment industry for 18 years and he has run his own business within the commercial shipping sector. In his new role, Alistair’s initial focuses will be on improving engagement and support for Chamber members through events, communication and representation, as well as increasing the membership base overall. Speaking about his appointment, Alistair said, “These are exciting times for Somerset Chamber of Commerce and I’m delighted to have been offered the role of Head of Chamber Services. The new role will mean moving from focusing purely on membership sales to overseeing Chamber services as a whole, and I’m looking forward to working even more closely with the talented team here on our offering to members and their businesses. “The last year has seen significant changes within the organisation and we’ll continue developing an informative and enjoyable events programme, as well as providing our

members with relevant and timely news from the region. These activities are at the core of what the Chamber does and we are always looking for new ways to help companies connect, influence their political environment and develop their staff and business. “We have ambitious plans to grow our membership further and to do so it’s critical that we stay relevant and valuable to the business community, attracting more businesses to an already vibrant regional Chamber.” Somerset Chamber’s Chief Executive, Dale Edwards added, “Alistair’s promotion is part of the planned strategic development of the Chamber, which follows recent promotions and additions to the team. Creating a strong senior management team is core to growing the Chamber, adding value for our members, and achieving the objectives set out in the Manifesto published earlier this year. I am confident that Alistair will succeed in enhancing the Chamber Services offering.”

Membership survey respondent wins Somerset hamper One lucky Chamber member, John Capstick, of McKinlays Commercial Property Consortium, has been presented with a Somerset hamper, jam-packed with delicious, locally sourced produce. In August, the Somerset Chamber opened their annual Membership Survey for responses over a two week period. Every respondent to the survey was entered into a free prize draw, to be in with a chance with walking away with the Somerset-themed hamper. Out of over one hundred respondents, John’s name was picked at random, and he was presented with his prize by Jenn Chidley-Sanders, Service Delivery Manager at the Chamber. John was delighted with his prize, commenting, “I was delighted to receive the hamper full of Somerset produce as a result of completing the 2017 Membership Survey. It’s great to see such a wide variety of quality of goods from within this county.” Results of the survey are currently being analysed and will be published in the coming weeks.



Somerset Chamber golf day raises £4,000 for local dementia charity This year’s Somerset Chamber charity golf day raised a record amount of £4,000 for local charity Reminiscence Learning. Held at Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club on 16 August, the Chamber’s 11th annual golf day was a huge success and attracted over 60 business people across 16 teams. The winning team on the day, with 95 points, comprised players from four different companies, namely Atom Insurance, County Flowers, MH Consultancy and Monahans. There were also prizes for the teams in second and third place, as well as for the best individual score, longest drive and nearest the pin. Paul Haggett from Numatic International got the best individual score of the day with 41 points. He said, “It was a great day and very well organised. It was the first time I have played at Taunton and Pickeridge, being a member at Cricket St Thomas Golf Club, and I thought the course was in great shape and a pleasure to play. I just had one of those days where everything went in.” Based in Wellington, Reminiscence Learning specialises in dementia care, activity and reminiscence through training courses and community projects. Following the round of golf, the charity organised an inflatable duck race on the putting green. Six of the golfers volunteered to take part, each wearing an inflatable duck outfit and competing in a series of fun challenges. Fiona Mahoney, Chief Executive of Reminiscence Learning, dressed as the charity’s mascot Archie on the day. She said, “We were so proud when we learned that we were the chosen charity for this year’s Chamber golf day and we were keen to work in partnership with the Chamber to make the day a success. An early start and good teamwork ensured the day ran smoothly and was lots of fun – dressing up as Archie and holding the duck race made our charity really stand out, which ultimately made the teams contribute both enthusiastically and generously.

have been the main sponsor of the Chamber’s annual charity golf day in aid of Reminiscence Learning. The event was professionally organised, bringing a great array of businesses from the region together for a thoroughly enjoyable day of golf, food and great company. To raise £4,000 on the day for such a well-deserved charity topped it off nicely!” Summing up the day, Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said, “What a brilliant Somerset Chamber charity golf day, with a record amount raised, a staggering £4,000 for a very worthwhile Somerset charity. Reminiscence Learning was selected as the chosen charity by the Chamber due to the excellent, invaluable and innovative work they do in the community, with an emphasis on volunteer engagement. I would like to thank everyone who participated, organised, supported and sponsored, and in particular main sponsor ITEC, all of whom made this such a wonderful day – including the crazy human duck race! Even the weather played its part, being dry and fine in an otherwise wet August.”

“The success of this event has further raised our profile and expanded our network of contacts to help our charity in the future. The money raised will ensure the continuation of our new memory café and existing community groups and will go towards the sustainability of the Archie Projects within Somerset.” ITEC was the main sponsor of the event and its team came a close second on the day with 94 points. Account Director Nick Parsons said, “It is always a pleasure to work with Somerset Chamber of Commerce and ITEC is proud to




Farmland Market Update With uncertainty over agricultural subsidy and environmental support payments post ‘Brexit’, the market for agricultural property is looking at interesting times ahead. Over the next five to ten years, the supply of land and small farms could well increase, especially if subsidy payments decline (and/or disappear). This could create expansion opportunities for farming businesses, as well as other purchasers seeking to enjoy the privacy and amenity of farm ownership, such as ‘lifestyle purchasers’. Lifestyle purchasers are often prepared to pay more than farming businesses for land, especially if that land adjoins or is overlooked by their residence. Therefore, they create additional competition. However, this can create rental opportunities for farming businesses, because lifestyle purchasers do not necessarily have the expertise, or wish, to farm land themselves. Looking back over the last five to ten years, there has been considerable growth, a doubling in some cases, of land values. However, the market for farmland has become increasingly polarised over the last few years, with a very wide range of prices being paid for land. For example, similar parcels of Grade III land, one within just a few miles of the other, sold earlier this year with a difference of about £5,000 per acre; although the best quality land and farms will always attract good interest, location is more important than ever.

The latest opinion based measure from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ Rural Land Market Survey shows an average of £7,541 per acre for bare land, whilst the survey’s transaction based measure of farmland prices, including a dwelling where its value is less than 50% of the holding, is £9,936 per acre. However, the averages hide the polarisation within the market; hot (and cold) spots in each region are increasingly evident, and the lack of supply in the most soughtafter areas is one of the key factors in stabilising land values. In terms of finance, banks remain supportive of the agricultural sector and are willing to lend to businesses that can service the debt, with a good track record, and a robust business plan. Agricultural businesses are generally resilient to change and uncertainty; on the assumption that they continue to look favourably on the opportunity to expand via the purchase and/ or rental of additional land at the right price, they could be well placed to take advantage of expansion opportunities in the future. Jack Mitchell, Carter Jonas LLP, Taunton.




An agricultural banking perspective… Marketing in a mobile world One might be forgiven for thinking that not much changes in agriculture, and subsequently, agricultural banking. However, the winds of change have rattled both in recent years and change is very much on the agenda as both deal with volatility and changing customer demands. Thoughts are currently on Brexit, as you might imagine. Our relationship with our trading neighbours is fundamental to the health of the industry. The fortunes of the UK economy will influence interest rates and therefore, exchange rates. Whilst a low pound helps our exports, it also helps on another front - the Basic Farm Payment. The subsidy to farm in accordance with EU directives is calculated in Euros and this affects farmers’ profitability to a greater or lesser extent depending on the type of farming undertaken. Weak sterling equals higher payment, but will

make fertilizer and machinery more expensive to import. The second issue is operating efficiency. The recent low prices have exposed a marketing system that is less than perfect, and farming’s ability to react quickly to cost increases or price falls is limited and cannot match the volatility of price movement over recent years. Farmers will be looking at the capital structure of their business to make sure it is fit for purpose, or looking at investment where there is an acceptable return. Technology is moving at pace and the main driver of technology, in all its forms, must be to reduce unit cost for the farms and increase efficiency. Scale is often a feature to spread investment cost, hence the gradual movement of farms to larger units but smaller in number. It remains a paradox that land prices are near an all-time high whilst incomes have

taken a battering, but that shows that many farms have weathered the storm and are in a sound financial position to purchase when the opportunity arises. Agriculture demands bankers who understand the business and can make a sound judgement call – especially when the last couple of year’s financial accounts may not be as good as we all hoped for. Knowledge of the industry is essential in helping clients to make the right decisions, supporting sound businesses through the cycle and, importantly, recognising a good business that benefits from investment.

Rural Enterprise Marketing in a mobile world There’s no doubt that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have a significant impact on the agricultural industry. Though the weak pound is a boon for export at present, there’s no telling what the long-term prognosis is, and this sort of uncertainty can be tremendously destabilising. The food and drink industry is the UK’s largest remaining manufacturing sector – bigger than the car and aerospace industries combined – contributing more than £28bn a year to the economy. The vote to leave the EU has inevitably

sharing knowledge and experience to ensure our businesses are robust, whilst building secure foundations for the future.

led to a period of uncertainty in many rural areas that are of vital importance to this industry. Never before has it been more important for UK farmers and agricultural businesses to unite,

This has led to the conception of The Royal Bath & West of England Society’s new Rural Enterprise Centre. The Centre, opening for business in January 2018, is part of a £550k project, in which the former office building at the Bath & West Showground has been transformed into a modern agri tech and food innovation centre to support businesses as they adapt to the new paradigm of agricultural economics. It is The Society’s hope that the unveiling of the Centre will coincide with wider knowledge and greater clarity on agricultural policy.


BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE NEWS BCC: New apprenticeship system is increasing costs and uncertainty for business Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment and Skills at the BCC, said:

Six months after its introduction, businesses remain in the dark about how best to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy, according to a survey released today (Friday) by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in conjunction with Middlesex University London.

“Apprenticeships are great way for businesses to develop the skills they need for the future, but they are not the only solution for developing people in the workplace. The current upheaval in the technical education and apprenticeship system will take time for firms to understand and adapt to. “The government must ensure that changes in the system do not lead to a slowdown in the overall number of apprentices recruited, or less investment in other forms Forofnon-Levy paying businesses workplace training. Low awareness and understanding firms with a pay £3m... of the Levy has not bill beenbelow helped by uncertainty faced by training providers tasked with delivering apprentices to business.

The annual workforce survey of over 1,400 businesses found that nearly a quarter of levy-paying firms have no For Levy (23%) paying businesses firms understanding of the Apprenticeship Levy or don’t know with a pay bill of more than £3m... how their company will respond to it. Businesses with a pay-bill of less than £3m fall under the levy threshold but can still apply for apprentice funding, yet the findings of the survey show 66% of these companies haven’t taken any direct action to use the funds or don’t know about it.

“For many businesses who pay the Apprenticeship Levy, it can feel like an additional employment tax, much of which they are unable to recover, and one that is deflecting training budgets away from other important training needs. have no Firms need understanding greater flexibilityof onthe how they can use their levy monies and aLevy system that is fully operational as quickly as or don't know possible, is simple efficient, howand they wouldand that enables them to access good quality training. respond to it



For over half of levy-paying businesses, it represents an added have no cost, with 56% not expecting to recover of anythe or only a portion understanding of their payment, compared to 36% who expect Levy or don't know to recover all or more of their payment. how they would

respond to it guidance and The findings reinforce the need for clearer support for businesses wanting to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy. Firms, both above and below the levy threshold, are uncertain about how to use the funds to find and train the skills they need, undermining of themake system. What changes, ifthe any, purpose will your business as a direct

“Our survey shows that many firms are still unaware of the Apprenticeship Levy and how it will impact on their business. With many companies across the country facing critical skills more information andassupport What shortages, changes, if any, will your business make a direct is required to responsebusinesses to the introduction of theto Apprenticeship Levy? ensure continue invest in training.”

response to the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy? Levy payers n=133

Non-Levy payers n=1,153

Just over one-third of Levy payers expect to recover the full Levy amount spent by their company... Recover 100% or more


No recovery


Do you expect to recover the Apprenticeship Levy amount to recoup the amount levied Levy payers n=137



Recover some

...while the clear majority say the Levy has impacted their overall costs

of Levy payers report increased costs due to the Apprenticeship Levy

Relative to your overall cost base, what impact has the App. Levy had on your business? Levy payers n=137




Notice of Annual General Meeting “They say time flies when you are having fun and I can’t believe I am announcing the first AGM already since taking over from my predecessor, Graham Knight. Please note the formal details below and most importantly our search for new Directors to join the Board. We value diversity and breadth of experience on the Board and if you are interested in applying, please feel free and good luck. I look forward to welcoming new faces to the Board. This has been an exciting year for the Chamber and I am delighted to be able to share an update with you at this event. It is not all about business of course. There is networking to be done, good food and a chance to hear from our guest speaker who I am sure will have some interesting tales to tell. I hope to see you there!”

The Board of Directors of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce gives formal notice of the 2017 Annual General Meeting, to be held at the Holiday Inn, Taunton on Wednesday 22 November, commencing at 19.00. The short AGM agenda will include: • Presentation and approval of the annual accounts to 31 March 2017 • An update on Chamber activity over the past 12 months • Election or re-election of Member Directors to serve up to three years. A two-course hot buffet meal will be provided following the formal AGM business.

Nominations for Directors Board members serve a three year term and then are able to stand for re-election for a further three years. Affiliate Directors Durgan Cooper and Kirsty Mode must stand down. Applications from affiliated Chambers in South Somerset and Mendip districts are being invited to join the Board. These positions are handled directly by the Board and the Affiliated Chambers with announcements made at the AGM. Member Directors Jeremy Curwin, Abbie Kench, Helen Lacey (Vice Chair) and Charles Olney must now stand down from the Board. Helen Lacey and Charles Olney will be seeking re-election as they have both only served one three year term.

Any member of the Somerset Chamber may seek election to the Board. Other Member Directors are at varying stages of this three year cycle and do not need re-election. The Board is therefore looking for nominations from representatives of member companies to serve as a Director for an initial three year term. Should there be more nominations than spaces available, a ballot will be held of those attending members at the AGM. The Board is looking to recruit three Member Directors for an initial or subsequent three year term. For more information, including Nomination forms and the Roles & Responsibilities of being a Director of the company, please email, or for an informal discussion contact Chamber Chair, Greg Saunders at

Nominations close at noon on Wednesday 1 November 2017. In addition, the Board can co-opt two members to the Board to add specialist knowledge when needed, to cover succession planning or to bring representation from a specific expertise or geographic area. It is unusual to have both vacancies this year by rotation: anyone interested in finding out more about these or future opportunities should also contact the Chair. For further details about the AGM and to register for this event, visit the Somerset Chamber website and search upcoming Chamber Events.




Business to Business Dinner, Ilminster



Our next Business to Business Dinner will take place in Ilminster. Join us for a three-course dinner in a friendly and relaxed setting with multiple opportunities to network throughout the evening. Time: 19.00 – 22.30 Venue: The Monks Yard, Ilminster Cost: £30.00 (members) £60.00 (non-members)


Somerset Business Awards



The Somerset Business Awards is an annual awards ceremony recognising the best of business across the county. With around 400 guests, this is the Chamber’s largest and most prestigious event of the year. Priority tickets are issued to finalists and sponsors, but additional tickets can be purchased subject to availability. Time: 18.00 – 23.30 Venue: Wellsprings Leisure Centre, Taunton Cost: £65.00 (one place) £650.00 (table of 10)

Sponsored by Main Sponsors

In association with


MD & CEO Round Table



Join us for our next quarterly forum led by Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber, to bring together key decision-makers from similar sized businesses to discuss common growing pains. This event will take place over lunch as opposed to the usual evening dinner format. Time: 12.00 – 14.00 Venue: Somerset Chamber Office Cost: £30.00 This event is for Somerset Chamber members only

In association with



*All costs include VAT unless otherwise stated


GDPR: Your Questions Answered



In May 2018, the Data Protection Act will be replaced with the General Data Protection Regulation. Somerset Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a panel-style event to answer your questions and advise you on how to become compliant. Featuring a diverse range of speakers from various fields, including IT, print, legal and HR. Time: 09.30 – 12.30 Venue: The Canalside Centre, Bridgwater Cost: £25.00 (Somerset Chamber members) £50.00 (non-members) refreshments and buffet lunch included


Somerset Young Professionals: Christmas Event



Are you a business professional in your 20s or 30s? Come along to our final Somerset Young Professionals event of 2017 for some relaxed networking and festive fun with like-minded business people. Time: 18.30 – 21.00 Venue: Taunton area (venue tbc) Cost: £20.00 (members) £40.00 (non-members) Buffet included

Sponsored by

In association with In association with

Tuesday Wednesday

Somerset Chamber Annual General Meeting



Hinkley Point C Site Tours



Join us for an update on the Somerset Chamber’s activity over the past 12 months. The evening will also comprise of a Guest Speaker, two course dinner, recognition of long standing members and election of new Board Directors.

The Somerset Chamber have partnered up with EDF Energy to deliver a number of free site tours of Hinkley Point C whilst it’s under construction. If you are interested in seeing how the build is progressing, or want to understand more about the infrastructure involved in the build, book now. Spaces are very limited and on a first-come first served basis.

Time: 19.00 – 22.00 Venue: The Holiday Inn, Taunton Cost: £20.00 (members) £40.00 (non-members)

Time: 09.30 – 12.00 Venue: Hinkley Point Power Station, Bridgwater Cost: FREE (members only)

Sponsored by

In association with




New Members Welcome to our newest members of the Somerset Chamber. Windmill Retreat Leisure and Tourism Nick Ridgment M: 07889 011644 E:

Crowecombe Court Leisure and Tourism Fee Bellamy T: 01984 618752 E:

Business Partnership Business Consultancy Philip Shearing T: 01823 275777 E:

Bevans Brittan Solicitors Legal Patricia Cifani T: 0370 194 1000 E:

Gateway Bureau Office Services Nigel Drayton T: 01460 270030 E:

bibic Events and Conferencing Lynda Williams E:

Bunzl Greenham Health and Safety Angela Ashley T: 01392 271770 E:

Citizens Advice Sedgemoor Charity Amy Jones T: 01278 459009 E:

For more information on Somerset Chamber membership and what we can do for your business, please contact Jenn Chidley-Sanders, Service Delivery Manager on 01823 444924 or email



Latest Member to Member Offers

Member Profile

As a member of Somerset Chamber, all member business employees are able to take advantage of our great range of member to member offers. To post your own offer or to view all our member to member offers, visit



Beehive Self Storage Ltd

Holiday Inn Taunton

Beehive Self Storage Ltd is offering 10% discount off their self-storage.

Somerset Chamber members receive a 25% discount off all pre-booked function prices and related bar prices on the night.

Call 01460 243100

Call 01823 281680


Somerset Businesses Against Crime Somerset Chamber members receive an introductory 25% off their first subscription to one of their Watch schemes. Call 01823 272277


The Bid Coach Ltd Somerset Chamber members will receive a 25% discount off standard day rate fees. Call 01963 240555


JaLee First Aid Training JaLee is offering Somerset Chamber members 10% discount on any course bookings - this includes both in-house and scheduled courses for groups or individuals. Call 03303 230 240


NatWest Free review of banking facilities, International Trade finance requirements and 1 hour free business planning sessions. Call 07717 808226

Name: Nick Ridgment Company: Windmill Retreat Job Title: Director Tell us about your business Windmill Retreat is a family run business set within the heart of the Somerset Levels. Windmill Retreat as a concept came about in 2011 when we noticed there was a serious shortage of high end self catering accommodation in our area, fast forward three years and planning permission was granted. We finally opened our doors in July 2015 offering our guests 5* platinum accommodation with bubbling hot tubs and hampers full of local luxuries. What makes you special? Our ethos has always been to put Somerset on the map as a holiday destination alongside Devon and Cornwall, and to give our guests the best possible experience, from the moment they make the booking until they check out we are on hand. Guests arrive at Windmill Retreat to find beds made up in Egyptian cotton sheets with fluffy white robes and towels, fresh milk and a local hamper. We feel by offering these little extras it makes life easier for guests looking to get away for a short break. Tell us something interesting or that our members won’t know Windmill Retreat has a hidden little BBQ hut which opens as a pop up restaurant on occasions which is rather cool - we also have facilities to take guests arriving by helicopter which we feel is rather unique. What is the driving force behind your business? Our customers. People looking to holiday in the UK have come to expect a lot more from their holidays. We have found things such as superfast broadband, Smart TVs and iPod docks are no longer luxuries but expected. Its our customers’ expectations which drive us to stay innovative and ahead of the game - it is with this in mind we have just started building a new luxury spa set to open in 2018 to further enhance our guests experience.



INFRASTRUCTURE More communities to be connected in latest broadband rollout Work has been launched to connect the first 21 communities in Devon and Somerset to a new *ultrafast fibre broadband network that will deliver some of the fastest speeds in the UK. It’s a key milestone for the local government-led Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband programme which has already provided the infrastructure to enable 282,000 homes and businesses to access superfast broadband, and overall more than 327,000 can now access improved broadband. New partner, Gigaclear, an award-winning supplier of full fibre broadband to rural locations, has launched preconstruction survey work for a major new engineering project across the region – building an entirely new full fibre network that will connect direct to homes and businesses with the capability to deliver speeds of up to 1000Mbps (1Gbps). Work to lay the new cables is due to start in November to initially provide almost 9,000 homes and businesses in the first communities with access to the ultrafast network by February 2018. The first Somerset communities to benefit from this latest of phase of CDS are Rooksbridge, Lympsham, Brean, Weare, Crickham, Ashill, Roundham, Merriott, Over Stratton, Dowlish Ford, Isle Abbotts, Corfe, Blagdon Hill, Buckland St Mary, Bradford on Tone, and Wadeford. In Devon, this will start in Yealmbridge, Noss Mayo, Newton Ferrers, Aveton Gifford, and Ashford. The first communities chosen to be connected have been selected based on their location near to existing connections to main broadband cables. This latest phase is part of a new £62.25million rollout by CDS, the biggest public-funded broadband programme in England, including a substantial investment by Gigaclear. In addition Gigaclear is also extending its network across the region through commercially funded infrastructure. By the end of 2019 over 40,000 more homes and businesses in the CDS region will have access to ultrafast broadband in the biggest single investment in fibre connections in the UK.

Coupled with the new superfast wireless broadband network that Airband will be building under contract to CDS across northern, western and central Devon, it will mean overall more than 60,000 additional homes and businesses across the region will be able to access superfast or ultrafast broadband by the end of 2019. The Airband network will also have the future capacity to deliver ultrafast speeds. The CDS programme is supported by funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and local authorities across the region. Around two thirds of all broadband infrastructure built or planned in the region is wholly commercial. CDS fills the gaps in rural communities and businesses where the commercial market will not provide the infrastructure. It does this by awarding public subsidised contracts to companies through competitive tender to build the infrastructure needed, such as fibre or wireless connections. Dale Edwards, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said: It is very welcome news that the next phase of superfast broadband is being rolled out over the next two years. Today and increasingly, the world relies on digital network. Having the right technological infrastructure will provide our businesses with better access to markets and customers, making Somerset a more attractive area to invest in and improving productivity. I look forward to the day when 100% of Somerset has the ability to access superfast broadband, irrespective of rate or provider. Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said: “We want everyone in the UK to have access to fast and reliable broadband, and the Connecting Devon and Somerset project has already made this a reality for more than 320,000 local properties who would otherwise have been left behind. But we know there’s still more to do, and I’m delighted that our investment will now take gold standard, full fibre broadband, to over 40,000 extra homes and businesses across the region.”


Councillor David Hall, CDS board member and Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, said: “We have already dramatically improved broadband speeds across Somerset and I’m delighted with Gigaclear’s plans to extend this further. It’s great news for homeowners and the Somerset economy as a whole. Broadband connectivity is a vital part of the infrastructure that helps current businesses grow and attracts new entrepreneurs to the county.” On behalf of the four Somerset district councils in the CDS partnership (Taunton Deane, Sedgemoor, West Somerset and Mendip), Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: “It is truly an exciting prospect that the majority of our previously ‘too hard to reach’ rural homes, businesses and settlements are now going to be served by a dedicated ‘fibre to the premises’ delivering up to 1,000 mbps. CDS and Gigaclear are to be applauded for securing what has the ability to be a life changing service for our communities. A decent broadband service is now regarded by most as an ‘essential service’ just as water and electricity services are a necessity.” Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “The new fibre network which Gigaclear is building for Connecting Devon and Somerset represents the biggest single investment in full fibre connections in the UK. This programme is good news as it will ensure that vital infrastructure is put in place over the next few years for many of our harder to reach communities in the county to have the opportunity to access broadband, thus enabling people to access important services and helping companies to boost their business online. This is in addition to the Airband system which is reaching many areas that cannot be reached by cabling.” Joe Frost, Business Development Director at Gigaclear, said: “As part of the CDS and Gigaclear ultrafast broadband transformation, some of the hardest to reach rural areas of Devon and Somerset will be able to access the UK’s fastest


broadband speeds through full fibre. The first Gigabit enabled residents and businesses will soon be able to do whatever they want to do online, regardless of their location or the amount of people using the service simultaneously. We are proud to be working with CDS on this project and look forward to being part of this rural broadband revolution to future-proof the area’s digital economy.” Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The LEP’s Growth Deal Funding supports projects that help generate prosperity, and because our area has had pockets of poor broadband service, the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme was set up to address the gaps not serviced by the commercial market. We are very pleased with the impact of our investments so far, it’s part of our overarching strategy to create the right conditions for prosperity, and this latest phase of LEP investment will help open up many more opportunities for businesses in previously disadvantaged areas.” Local information and demonstration events will be held in all of the areas where the roll-out has been announced. Those not in the initial wave of connection will be kept informed as the programme is updated. For more information about broadband in the rest of the region visit *Broadband speed definitions Ofcom defines the following services: • Standard broadband services have download speeds of between 10 to 30 Mbps; • Superfast broadband services have download speeds of 30 Mbps or more; and • Ultrafast broadband services have download speeds of 300 Mbps or more.




Somerset Chamber welcomes Stonehenge upgrade announcement Somerset Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the latest plans for the £1.6 billion A303 upgrade near Stonehenge, published by the Department for Transport. The route for the £1.6 billion A303 upgrade near Stonehenge a key part of the ‘South West expressway’, has recently been published by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

The scheme includes the 1.8 mile-long tunnel, a free-flowing dual carriageway and a much-needed bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke.

Linking the M3 in the South East and the M5 in the South West, the ‘expressway’ will upgrade this key route and improve journey times for millions of people. This major investment will support economic growth and tourism in an area where congestion and slow journeys have long had a negative impact on the region’s economy.

A public consultation was held earlier this year which attracted considerable feedback from thousands of individuals and organisations. Following this and further engagement with local communities, heritage groups, archaeologists, historians and engineers, Highways England has modified the plans, including moving the position of one of the entrances to the tunnel to avoid conflicting with the solstice alignment. The route ensures the Stonehenge World Heritage site will be protected and enhanced for people from across the world to enjoy.

A tunnel near Stonehenge will remove the traffic blight on local communities and enhance the famous landmark. It will reconnect the two halves of the 6,500 acre World Heritage site which is currently split by the road, and remove the sight and sound of traffic from the Stonehenge landscape. The A303 upgrade between Amesbury and Berwick Down is a key part of the government’s £15 billion road strategy – the biggest investment in roads in a generation.

Details of the preferred route are available on the scheme webpage:

Chief Executive, Dale Edwards, said, “Somerset Chamber has long campaigned for government to provide our businesses with better access to markets and customers, whether physical or technological. The right infrastructure in the right place and at the right time has the potential of unlocking significant economic capacity. “We therefore very much welcome Chris Grayling’s announcement to upgrade the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down, also known as the Stonehenge bottleneck. With quicker journey times and reduced congestion, this development will bring major long term economic benefits for the South West. In conjunction with improvements further down the A303 in Somerset, it will certainly provide a boost for all sectors of the economy.” Somerset Chamber of Commerce is one of only five accredited Chambers in the South West and 52 in the whole of the UK. It works closely with the British Chambers of Commerce to make sure Somerset businesses stay well connected at both a local and national level, and that the voices of the Somerset business community are heard at all levels of government.



M5 Junction 23 Roundabout Improvements EDF Energy will start work next month on the upgrade of the roundabout above the M5 at Junction 23 as part of more than £20 million of investment into the local infrastructure.

Engagement for Hinkley Point C. Both the park and ride and the roundabout upgrade at Junction 23 are expected to be completed by spring next year.

The work is designed to better manage traffic flow and reduce congestion. Works will include the installation of new traffic lights on each of the access and exit routes.

ride and freight management facilities at Junction 23 and Junction 24 alongside the M5 and other park and rides near Williton in West Somerset and Cannington near Bridgwater.

The upgrade will be carried out by the Somerset Infrastructure Alliance, a joint venture between Bridgwater firm R K Bell Group Ltd, Skanska and Bristol-based Forest Traffic Management Limited.

Earlier this month, around 300 spaces were opened at the Junction 23 park and ride, a facility which will eventually cater for more than 1,000 workers who will travel to and from the Hinkley Point C site by bus.

EDF Energy is carrying out the improvements as part of a package of works associated with its Hinkley Point C project, which also includes park and

“It’s all part of our commitment to improve traffic flow in and around Bridgwater,” said David Eccles, EDF Energy’s Head of Stakeholder

Mr Eccles added: “We know there is never a good time to carry out roadworks but we have timed these to make the best use of what is typically a quieter time of year for commuting and holiday traffic. “While there will be traffic management in place, works have been planned as sensitively as possible in order to avoid delays for motorists but we would like to apologise if these do cause disruption for some drivers. “Work will be paused during the day of Bridgwater Carnival and we are planning to work 24/7 to ensure the upgrade is finished as soon as possible.”

BCC comments on Transport Investment Strategy Commenting on the transport investment strategy announced by the Department for Transport, Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

While ‘A’ roads are of national strategic importance, local areas are best placed to identify how those assets may be enhanced to promote growth opportunities and should be given the flexibility to do so.

“Infrastructure projects, both large and small, give business communities across the UK real confidence. A long-term approach to improving productivity and connectivity is welcome but businesses have seen strategies come and go, the real proof comes when they see diggers in the ground.

“UK businesses want to see progress on major projects such as Heathrow and HS2, but action on smaller schemes such as local road and rail maintenance unlocks access to major cities and create new paths for communities in all parts of the country.

“Investment in local roads will be particularly wellreceived by businesses who often express frustration at the capacity and quality of the current system.

“Businesses will want this strategy to represent additional and better-focused investment to provide the UK with a quality infrastructure system that supports business growth. Transport projects ‘crowd in’ additional investment, generate jobs on site and across supply chains, and support greater connectivity between businesses and their markets, suppliers and customers.”



#WELL CONNECTED Annual Charity Golf Day

Ladies Afternoon Tea & Networking

p One Step Recruitment: Adriana Britobrito, Ellie Berry-Roper, p Alex Bailey, Handelsbanken; Alex Newey, Handelsbanken;

Chloe Denning

Peter Kirby, Handelsbanken; Martin Lock, Francis Clark

p Roger Seaton, Clarke Willmott; Nick Feetenby, Cooper Associates; Greg Saunders, Clarke Willmott; Tim Hayden, Clarke Willmott

p Karen Morledge Guest Speaker



Annual Bank of England Update


Somerset Young Professionals Event

p Danielle Walker, Rebecca Bevins HR Consultancy Ltd; Leah Purnell, Claims Consortium Group; Rob Chillcott, Claims Consortium Group; Kasia Rezmer, Rebecca Bevins HR Consultancy Ltd



p Derek Smart, Amberley Management Recruitment & Danny Fitzgerald, Broomhead & Saul Solicitors

Another great event from @chambersomerset with inspirational speaker Karen Morledge from @PlumCommsPR @castletaunton @costgarduk

Great night at the @chambersomerset #sype event last night at @westlandsyeovil. Big thanks to @QuedamCentre for letting us present. @SchoolinaBag1

Enjoyed speaking at the @chambersomerset Bank of England event sponsored by @westoncollege this morning. @DaveCrewFE p Sally William, SJM Training; Consultants Ltd; Caroline Phillimore, Poolbridge Accountancy Ltd; Joolz Lewis, Enlightened Business Ltd & Heather Britton, PKF Francis Clark

Another fantastic time at the annual @chambersomerset golf day, raising ÂŁ4,000 for @RemLearning.. #somerset #charity #golfday #dementia @BerryEscott

AMAZING day @chambersomerset #charitygolfday yesterday huge thanks to event sponsors and the generous golfers - so, so proud humbled by your support! #somersethour @RemLearning

Photography by

Great #SYP @chambersomerset event with @JoolzLewis talking about positive #leadership! Definitely food for thought! Thank you @ADPRLtd


THE BIG INTERVIEW An Interview with…

Lee Cooper, CEO of Somerset County Cricket Club What did you want to be when you grew up? I desperately wanted to be a professional cricketer when I grew up. Sadly, due to a lack of ability, that didn’t happen but that was certainly my aspiration. I did manage to play a season for Somerset Second’s, but when you drop more catches than runs scored (I was a batter) then you’re struggling.

What was your very first job? Interestingly my first job, whilst studying at school, was actually here at Somerset County Cricket Club. I was a silver-service waiter working for Heather who is still working here now. Heather won’t remember me of course, but I certainly remember working for her. She was lovely, but definitely in charge!

What does a typical day at work look like for you? There isn’t a typical day at the moment. The role is extremely diverse, which is great, and I’m meeting lots and lots of people. In August alone I had over 120 meetings. This was my own doing as my first objective was to understand the Club and the individuals involved.


25 What similarities do you draw between the corporate and sporting worlds, considering your experiences in both? Actually there are a number of similarities. The systems and processes supporting the businesses are similar, but it’s just the underlying product that’s different. At Cooper Associates the product was finance but here it’s cricket, which for me is far more exciting I have to say. The other main similarity is of course people. Whether you’re in the business of finance or in the business of cricket, it’s the people supporting that matter. Your business or cricket club is only as good as the individuals within. Consequently, supporting and developing talent (people) is a core priority of mine.

What do you see as being your greatest success to date? My greatest success in the business world was founding Cooper Associates. This will be superseded when SCCC win silverware in due course, which I have every confidence will be the case. Outside of the business world, one of my greatest achievements was scoring 225 Not Out for Somerset U19 against Northants. I’m very proud of this achievement, but sadly it was never repeated, hence not making it as a professional cricketer.

Do you have any hidden hobbies or talents? What is your vision for Somerset CCC? My vision is very clear. We want to compete for, and win, trophies.

What do you see as being the biggest challenges and opportunities that face Somerset CCC in the coming five years? The biggest challenge is to win trophies. We’ve had periods of success over the last decade or so, but we haven’t won any silverware. Consequently, we must review and evolve our approach to ensure we change this. As stated previously, this is our clear objective whilst I’m the CEO of SCCC. The opportunities are significant. The game is changing, and with the introduction of a new franchise T20 tournament, cricket is advancing at a pace not seen before. We must take full advantage of the opportunities this presents, i.e. hosting games in the new tournament.

In your business experience, what has been your most important lesson learned? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to back people. Whether you’re in the business world or the professional sports world, it’s highly important that you respect those individuals that you work with and give them all the tools and resources that they need to excel in their role. I don’t believe in a hierarchal structure, but rather recognise that each and every person has an important role to play.

No I don’t. All my hobbies are family (two sons and another child on the way) or sport related and I certainly don’t have any hidden talents. I’m not sure I’ve got any talents full stop if I’m honest!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? It’s a piece of advice that I still use today and that is: “be balanced”. When times are good don’t get too up and when times are not so good don’t get too down. That’s the approach I take. Another good piece of advice that people here will have heard me use already is: “It’s either the right decision or the wrong decision, but make a decision.” That has served me well too.



Yarlington issues £120m bond after fantastic end of year results Yarlington Housing Group has announced the launch of a £120m listed bond issue which will be used to part fund its Next-Gen growth commitments over the next four years.

ambitious commitments set out in our Next-Gen corporate strategy. It reflects the confidence by the capital markets in Yarlington’s strategic and financial plans.

The south west housing association has issued the £120m bond with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC), initially paying £1.14m and three future instalments of £16.62m over three years. Yarlington has also retained £60m for future sales.

“Underpinned by our strong governance, consistent operating margins and dedicated staff, this financing arrangement will play a major role in delivering our strategy, at a time when affordable housing is needed across the south west.”

The secured bond marks a significant milestone in Yarlington’s financing, taking advantage of recently announced, strong March 2017 financial results.

Yarlington’s corporate strategy, Next-Gen is at the forefront of an exciting and ambitious new era for Yarlington. Against significant changes in the housing sector, and with developing customer demands, Yarlington will make the most of the opportunity to grow as an organisation and in doing so, help solve the housing crisis.

Yarlington recently reported a net surplus of £14.8m, with a consistently high operating margin of 34%. In addition £22.4m was invested in the development of new homes and £8.2m invested in existing properties – the majority of which are in South Somerset. Yarlington has also just successfully completed six new affordable homes for rent and shared ownership in South Cadbury. On the result, Yarlington’s CEO, Gary Orr said: “We are delighted to have secured this additional long-term funding. The bond issue, and our financial results, places Yarlington in a strong and secure position to deliver our

Through Next-Gen, Yarlington will serve its 23,000 customers in a more economic, efficient and effective manner possible; market to a broader customer base; build more homes and continue to position our operational costs amongst the best performing organisations in the sector. Next-Gen will specifically increase the number of new homes Yarlington provides in the south west, building 1,500 affordable homes over the next four years.

Bradfords Building Supplies to sponsor Exeter Chiefs Somerset Chamber Patrons, Bradfords Building Supplies, have joined forces for the 2017-18 rugby season with fellow stalwarts of the South West, Exeter Chiefs. Following a successful match sponsorship last season, Bradfords, the leading builders merchants in the South

West, are now shirt sponsors for the current Premiership Champions. The deal unites two of the South West’s longest standing institutions - the Chiefs can trace their roots back to 1871 and Bradfords have been around since 1770. As well as featuring on the shirts, the Bradfords logo can be seen on match days on Sandy Park’s giant TV screens, signs around the ground and next to local favourite Henry Slade. Adam Charman, Bradfords’ Group Marketing Director said: “Partnering with the Chiefs, a team at the absolute top of their game, makes us very proud and we are pleased to become part of a great success story. We both have a rich and deep South-West heritage and we also share the same core values: trust, longevity, family-friendliness and hard-work.” Chris Bentley, Sales Manager for The Exeter Chiefs, added: “We are very excited to be working with Bradfords. We share the same passion for our roots and values and are looking forward to achieving great things together on the national stage.”



Office move a great success Rebecca Bevins HR Consultancy have now settled into their brand new offices on the Lynx Trading Estate in Yeovil. The team pulled together to decorate and lay carpet in the new premises ready for the move last month. After finalising some finishing touches, Team RBHR has opened the doors to delegates of their recent Management Development Programme in a fully kitted out training room. The new offices provide some much-needed space for the growing team and offer on-site training rooms and meeting rooms. In the last two months, the team has welcomed five new starters bolstering its resourcing, training and consultancy teams. Business Owner Rebecca Bevins has said, “I always had a vision that we’d own our own premises with room for further growth! I’m so proud of the team and everything we’ve achieved. I’m really excited for the future.” To find out more about the services RBHR can offer you including HR Consultancy, Training, Resourcing and Outplacement see

Taunton Round Table LEJOG 2017 12 months of planning, 6 months of training, 12 days of riding. These are the core statistics for the eight riders and four support crew, who took on the challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Raising money for Children’s Hospice South West and a number of other local Charities, September saw this intrepid band of men, slip into their lycra (some more easily that others), mount their bikes and ride from one end of the country to the other. The Avonmouth Bridge, Severn Crossing, Shap Fell & the Highlands of Scotland, were among the places negotiated, in conditions that included the tail end of several hurricanes. Wet weather gear was a common requirement, as the elements combined to make the early stages in particular, a tricky proposition.

The journey covered over 950 miles along A & B roads and where possible cycle paths. At times, there was even a requirement to venture onto C roads, or as the group referred to them, tracks! Spurred on by the support of their families and friends, the ride was completed within the proposed timescale, with only minor mechanical issues and the odd rider error, as the months of training proved to be a valuable investment. The group are grateful to local businesses for supplying vehicles and supplies and this has enabled them to maximise fundraising. To date, over £15,000 has been pledged in sponsorship and these funds will make a significant difference to the Charities who benefit.




Monks Yard is relocating Monks Yard, the popular Ilminster conference centre and café, has purchased the historic Horton Manor site opposite the current premises, and will move its business there ready for a grand opening in early 2018. This will take place in plenty of time for Monks Yard to celebrate its tenth anniversary “Horton Manor is a collection of prestigious, beautiful buildings in a well landscaped site which provides far more room for expansion than we have now,” said the business’ Director, Dean Holling. “It’s right beside our current premises, so we won’t inconvenience any of our loyal café customers.” Many organisations and companies have chosen Monks Yard for their conferences because of its reputation for service and a great location, where the A303 meets the A358. Dean continued, “The expansion of our business will allow us to provide an even better service to our current customers, and also enable us to devote more space to community projects and the Monks Yard Trust. “We will be concentrating on opening the new cafe, and preparing new rooms for our conference delegates and business clients. The Horton Manor site has many advantages over our current location, and will allow us to expand into new areas of commerce, as well as providing the opportunity to hold larger functions. “Clearly, we wouldn’t be in the position to expand the business and community work if it wasn’t for all the hard work of our brilliant staff, past and present, and I’d like to thank them for their teamwork and unwavering dedication.”

For more information please contact Monks Yard on: 01460 200020 or email:



New Appointment: Stuart Roxborough Joins Battens Accomplished property lawyer, Stuart Roxborough, has joined Battens Solicitors, one of the South West’s largest top 500 legal firms.

more ‘out of the ordinary’ matters, such as splitting a garden into two for a proposed development.” Stuart also advises on option agreements and overages to protect clients’ future investments.

Stuart - who has 26 years of experience in the industry - first cut his teeth in residential conveyancing aged just 16, when he joined sole practitioner John Tillotson, in Stockton on Tees. “I spent the next seven and a half years with John training and developing my skills, before moving to a larger firm,” explains Stuart. “I relocated to the South West, but still travel back up North every so often to have coffee with John.” Stuart’s extensive career his seen him become a specialist in residential and commercial property transactions, working in both law firms and as an in-house solicitor for property developers such as Barratt’s and McInerney Homes, where he dealt

He joins Battens’ property team from FDC Law and hopes his expertise will allow the firm to expand further into Yeovil, Bath and the surrounding areas.

with multimillion land buys and developments. Not one to shy away from challenging property transactions, Stuart describes himself as a “Generalist Specialist” in his field. “This means I not only act on traditional residential house transactions,” he explains, “but I also advise clients on

Jill Cochrane, Director and Head of Residential Property at Battens Solicitors, said: “We are pleased to welcome Stuart to Battens Solicitors. He brings with him a wealth of experience in both residential and commercial property which enriches our existing team and will help us meet the growing client demands for advice on both traditional and alternative property matters.”

Clarke Wilmott Family Lawyer Shortlisted for Award Daniel Eames, recognised as one of the leading family lawyers in the South West, and nationally as an expert in international family law, has been shortlisted for the Family Law Awards 2017. Daniel, a partner at Clarke Willmott LLP’s London and Taunton offices, has particular expertise in acting for high net worth clients in complex financial disputes arising from marriage or cohabitation, and in those cases involving an international aspect. “I am delighted to have been shortlisted for ‘International Family Lawyer of the Year’ in the prestigious LexisNexis Family Law Awards 2017,” said Daniel. “It is an honour to be recognised for the work we do to support clients both nationally and internationally at what can often be one of the most challenging periods of their lives. It is an interesting and important time to be involved in this area of law with the uncertainly that Brexit has brought and the pivotal decisions that need to be made. I am committed to helping both clients and professionals alike navigate what will be one of the biggest “divorces” of all time.” Clarke Willmott LLP is a national law firm with seven offices across the country in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton. In recognition of their work in family law, the firm has just been ranked as one of eprivateclient’s Top Family Law firms 2017. The Family Law Awards, launched by LexisNexis Jordan Publishing to recognise the important work of family lawyers, and celebrate their many successes and outstanding achievements, will be held on Wednesday 29 November at the Ballroom South Bank, in London.




Taunton firm creates 12 apprenticeship vacancies Leading property insurance claims handling firm, Claims Consortium Group, is investing in the region’s young people by creating 12 new apprenticeship vacancies at its Somerset offices. Debbie Mawer, Director of People and Culture at the Taunton-based company believes that the apprenticeship roles will make a valuable contribution to the growth of the business. She said: “We have more than 300 staff, and several have come through our apprenticeship programme. They are now working at all levels of the business, and our focus on quality training will give our new apprentices a range of excellent career opportunities. “The vacancies will provide a first step on the ladder in the insurance sector, which currently contributes over £40 billion per year to the UK economy and employs 309,000 people across the country.” Eight of the apprenticeship vacancies focus on claims handling and business administration, one is in HR, and there are three roles within the company’s IT department which supports the company-wide IT and has been responsible for developing industry-leading software. Claims Consortium employee Claire Lashbrook recently took on the additional role of Careers Advisor for the Exeter branch of the Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII). She believes apprenticeships are vital in the sector.

She said: “My CII role includes promoting apprenticeship schemes in the profession. It’s far from the dry subject that some may imagine, and with lots of technological change affecting risk and product development it’s an exciting time to be working within insurance. These roles in Taunton are a rare opportunity to get a great foundation in insurance and information technology within a business that is leading the change.”

ACIEM now offers 3D laser scanning & 3D modelling Somerset specialist engineering firm ACIEM Group Limited is now offering 3D laser scanning, providing an enhanced and efficient service for its clients. 3D laser scanning is a non-contact technology that digitally captures the shape of physical objects of existing buildings, infrastructure and water treatment sites using a line of laser light. Most of the value is in the conversion of this 3D data into a usable model that meets the client’s requirements, such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and AutoCAD 3D

modelling. This is now an integral part of the ACIEM offering, providing improved efficiency as well as assisting with tasks such as design coordination, clash avoidance and clash detection, approvals processes, design development and estimating. Richard Harris, CAD Engineer at ACIEM, said, “As a result of offering BIM capabilities and 3D modelling, along with 3D laser scanning, ACIEM can provide accurate, detailed representations of engineering principles. This is an exciting time to be involved with new technologies, and ACIEM strives to be at the forefront of the industry in this regard.”

ACIEM is a multi-disciplined service provider, delivering mechanical, electrical and civil engineering, design and construction. It specialises in providing innovative, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to a wide range of complex engineering projects.




Local farmer reaps the benefits of 40 years of work with Milsted Langdon accountant Geoff Parsons was already an established client of the practice that Mark Wilson commenced his training with more than 40 years ago, but little did either of them realise that it would be the start of a lifelong partnership when Mark took on the task of preparing Geoff’s accounts as his very first assignment. However, four decades on not only are the couple still collaborating with one another, but Mark has risen up the ranks from a new trainee with his first employer to General Practice Manager at top 100 accountancy firm Milsted Langdon.

Throughout this time Mark and Geoff have been in constant contact through regular visits, even as Mark moved to Milsted Langdon in 1996 and Geoff and his wife Rita built their successful farm business, allowing them to develop a close commercial and personal relationship over the 40 years of correspondence and work that they have enjoyed. Mark said: “It is not uncommon to have a client that has spent 10 or even 20 years working with the same accountant, but to have someone stay with them for more than 40 years is quite unique. “During this time I have assisted Geoff with a wide range of matters, some related to his earlier landscaping business and many more assisting him with his farming activity. “To think that I have had him as a client for the entire length of my career is incredible and

I think his continued work with me speaks volumes about the high quality of service provided by our team at Milsted Langdon. “I am truly honoured to have had such a long and trusted relationship with him and his wife Rita.” Speaking about his lifelong work with Mark, Geoff said: “During the time Mark has been dealing with our accounts and tax affairs, his involvement has been beneficial to both the business and me and Rita personally. “I feel that the relationship has benefitted from Mark’s willingness to visit us at the farm. I think that this has helped him to understand our business and our aspirations and personal requirements and therefore has had a positive impact on the help and advice he has provided” To find out more about Milsted Langdon’s range of award-winning tax and accountancy services, please visit

Dining in the Dark Success On Friday 22nd September, Somerset Sight ran their first ‘Dining in the Dark’ Event at the Somerset County Cricket Ground raising over £5,500. The novel social event kicked off with pre-dinner drinks, guests were then blind folded and led to their table. It was the first of its kind in the county and gave guests a unique insight into the challenges that visually impaired people face on a daily basis. Guests were treated to a three course dinner plus a thought-provoking and inspiring talk by Jack Watling, a 25 year old war correspondent who is visually impaired. The event was generously sponsored by Cranmers Optometrists in Minehead and Bailhache Solicitors in Taunton. Holly Sutton the charity’s Fundraising and Development Officer said “3000 sight impaired people and their families rely on the support of Somerset Sight a year. We are dependent on fundraising, donations and legacies to continue to provide our vital services. We are absolutely thrilled with this event. The money will be used to fund services like our Resource Centre, where sight impaired people can access the equipment they need, our outings for families with visually impaired children and our social and activity groups. If you are interested in supporting Somerset Sight’s future events or in volunteering for this fantastic cause please contact Holly on 01823 366147 or


BUSINESS NEWS Business Growth Fund rebrands The Business Growth Fund (BGF) has launched a new visual identity as part of its brand refresh, including a change of name. The company, which is now the UK’s most active investor in growing businesses, will stop using Business Growth Fund in favour of the shortened BGF to better accommodate its three areas of investment - BGF Growth, BGF Quoted and BGF Ventures. The new strapline, ‘Invested in Growth’, reflects BGF’s commitment to provide more than money by using its connections and networks at all levels to help growing businesses and entrepreneurs thrive. The refreshed visual identity is designed to attract the UK and Ireland’s most exciting companies, people and partners. Set up in 2011 with £2.5bn, BGF has since backed almost 200 companies, while employing more than 150 people across nine offices in the UK, with the opening of its tenth office in Dublin, announced last month. Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF said, “BGF has come a long way since 2011. Founded during a difficult business climate, we are now the UK’s most active investor. BGF’s existence and expansion means that growing businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to seize opportunities, take new risks, scale up and create jobs. “Our new identity is bold and emotive, designed to take our brand profile to the next level and reflect our deep-seated belief in being truly invested in the success of the companies and people we support right across the country.” The brand refresh was carried out in consultation with BGF employees, investee companies and its wider network. Its new website,, has also now gone live.

Slowdown in shop openings in Q2 2017 The latest figures from the Local Data Company have revealed a fall in the number of high street openings across the UK. The figures reveal that in Q2 of 2017 the number of openings fell by 84% when compared with Q2 2016. Overall, there was a net loss of 207 shops in Q2 2017 in comparison with a net increase of 1,284 shops in Q1 of 2017. Barber shops and beauty salons were the best-performing sectors in the first six months of 2017, while bank branches and estate agents recorded the largest number of closures. Matthew Hopkinson of LDC (Local Data Company) commented: “There was a striking turnaround in the second quarter of 2017 especially when compared to the trends of 2016,

in the number of shop openings. The impact of Brexit is clear with Q2 showing a net loss of nearly 500 shops versus positive growth in the previous quarter. Not only has the trend turned negative with more closures than openings but the volume of activity has also dropped by 25%. Whilst the numbers are currently relatively small to the total number of shops, the vacancy rate in Q2 started to rise and is likely to continue to do so if the current uncertainty continues. For further information, go to: sharp-slowdown-in-shop-openings-insecond-quarter-of-2017

Source: BAD News (Business Advisers News)

Tax support for medium-sized business announced HMRC has launched a free service to provide tax advice and support to medium-sized firms that are experiencing certain types of growth. Medium-sized firms are defined as having either more than 20 employees or a turnover of more than £10 million. The Growth Support Service appoints a dedicated tax specialist provide advice about tax issues, reliefs and incentives. In order to be eligible for the service, firms must meet one or more of HMRC’s 11 growth criteria, for example a significant increase in turnover, exporting goods or services for the first time or a major introduction of new capital. get-help-with-tax-as-a-growingmid-sized-business

UK inflation highest in five years UK inflation reached its highest level in more than five years in August 2017, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Inflation hit 2.9% in August 2017, up from 2.6% in July 2017 and higher than the 2.8% predicted by economists. According to the ONS, the larger-than-expected rise in inflation is due to the weakening of sterling since the EU referendum, which is leading to higher import costs for retailers. Higher consumer prices, particularly for fuel, clothing and footwear, also contributed to the rise in inflation. Inflation now stands significantly higher than the Bank of England’s 2% target and is expected to reach 3% in October. Read more about the figures at: http://www.wholesalenews.



Employee-owned firms considered more trustworthy

Continued increase in food hygiene compliance

Almost six in ten people in the UK think an employeeowned business is more trustworthy than a nonemployee-owned business, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Employee Ownership Association. More than half of survey respondents (53%) believe that the UK economy would benefit from more employee-owned businesses. In addition, 44% of respondents said they are more likely to apply for a job advertised by a business owned by its employees and 41% said they are more likely to buy goods and services from an employee-owned business.

The proportion of UK food business establishments that are compliant with food hygiene law increased for the third consecutive year in 2016/17, according to statistics published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Of the 634,584 food business establishments inspected by local authority officers in the 12 months to March 2017, 89% were rated as ‘broadly compliant’, which is equivalent to a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score of three. However, the FSA statistics also reveal that local authority staffing levels fell by 2.7% from 2015/16 to 2016/17 and the number of planned food hygiene interventions also decreased.

The employee ownership model is designed to give every worker a voice and meaningful stake in the business. Research continues to show that employeeowned businesses have higher levels of productivity and profitability in comparison to their non EO counterparts, the result of higher levels of employee engagement.

The statistics are available in full at: news/2017/16528/fsa-publishes-local-authorityfood-law-enforcement-information

Read more about the research at: employee-owned-businesses-trusted-new-survey-finds/

Fifth round of coastal communities fund announced The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced the fifth round of the Coastal Communities Fund. The 2019 to 2021 round of the fund will provide grants worth at least £40 million to support projects that boost economic growth, tourism and job creation in coastal areas across England. The fifth round will open for applications in early 2018.

EU Industrial Policy Strategy launched The European Commission has announced a new industrial strategy to deliver sustainable growth and job creation across the EU. The ‘EU Industrial Policy Strategy’ sets out a range of measures to support industry to deliver technological change and innovation, as well as to grow the low-carbon and circular economy. Other measures include a package of support to improve cybersecurity, modernise intellectual property rules, improve skills in key industry sectors and develop a new strategy to grow sustainable investment. For further information, go to:

For further information, go to:

Rise in R&D tax credit claims from small firms The latest figures from HMRC have revealed that small and medium-sized firms made a total of 21,865 claims for R&D tax credits in 2015/16, up 22% from 17,875 claims in 2014/15. Overall, smaller firms received £1.3 billion in R&D support in 2015/16. According to HMRC, the removal of the requirement for firms to invest a minimum of £10,000 in R&D to be eligible for relief is the main factor behind the increase in claims. For further information, go to:




Frome Chamber of Commerce The Frome Chamber of Commerce is a group of local businessmen and women who are working together to help the businesses and community grow. We have monthly events, workshops, and discussion groups to build skills, get connected and keep local businesses informed on current affairs. At the recent AGM Simon Williams took over as President from Nigel Harris, who stepped down after his stint at the helm. The AGM also heard about the Chamber’s new-look website, which features an events page packed with business-related meetings in the town. These include the programme of monthly Business Breakfasts and Discuss and Do sessions, organised in partnership with Frome Town Council and Business Manager Mairi Connelly (Business Breakfasts). Both these monthly events are very well attended, with the Discuss and Do sessions offering free advice to local businesspeople on a wide variety of topics while the

Business Breakfasts also cover business-related topics and offer excellent networking opportunities. The next Frome Business Breakfast takes place on Tuesday 3 October and will explore effective team working within an organisation. The next Discuss and Do session takes place on Tuesday 24 October where we’ll discuss the importance of numbers and what they mean, including what information people need to run a successful business and how to choose the right accounting system.

Find out more on the Frome Chamber website at

Affiliate Town Chambers & Business Associations Axbridge Chamber of Commerce T: 01934 733078 | E:

Levels’ Best Community Interest Company T: 01935 851280 | E:

Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce T: 01278 228004 | E:

Shepton Mallet & District Chamber T: 01749 681413 | E:

Bruton Chamber of Commerce T: 01749 813291 | E:

Somer Valley Chamber of Commerce T: 07530 042627 | E:

Burnham-on-Sea Chamber of Trade & Commerce T: 01278 238959 | E: Cheddar Chamber of Commerce & Industry T: 01934 742326 | E: Frome Chamber of Commerce T: 01749 342255 | E: Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce T: 01458 835678 | E: Ilminster Chamber of Commerce T: 01460 240554 | E:

Taunton Chamber of Commerce T: 01823 230898 | E: Wells Chamber of Commerce T: 01749 685236 | E: Wincanton Businesses Together T: 01963 34327 | E: Wiveliscombe & 10 Parish Business Group T: 01984 684777 | E: Yeovil Chamber of Commerce T: 01935 804999 | E:



facts and figures Over


of UK exporters are SMEs

so it's clear that size does not determine exporting potential

There are currently over

200,000 SME exporters in the UK.

The UK exports more to Ireland (population of 4.5 million) than it does to the whole of the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) which have a combined population of over 3 billion.

There are untapped markets ready to be targeted. 2014




of exporting SMEs

of exporting SMEs

exported more than £5,000 per month on average to Europe

exported more than £5,000 per month on average to Europe

In five years’ time



of British SMEs

of British SMEs

believe that their trade will be both domestic and international

believe that their international revenues will increase in five years

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Profile for Somerset Chamber of Commerce

Somerset Voice - October/November 2017  

Somerset Voice - October/November 2017