Weston College Business Services

Archive for: February 2012

iPad training event for North Somerset Businesses

Badger House Team

Badger House Enterprise centre in Weston-super-Mare is hosting an informative two-hour event on March 14 2012.

The event is aimed at businesses keen to learn how modern technology such as an iPad can help them operate more efficiently.

Organiser and Badger House Enterprise Centre Director Duncan Jones discusses the event in more detail: “The two-hour seminar will give attendees all the knowledge they need to know about how an iPad can work for them in a business environment. From administration to organisation; to businesses on the move to what applications work and which don’t – everything will be covered.”

Duncan and his team decided to set up the seminar after being inspired by the way young people are embracing cutting-edge technology in schools across North Somerset.

“Across schools in North Somerset students are learning about how modern technology can benefit their lives in a variety of settings. They are learning information that wasn’t available to us when we were at school; it’s a wake up call because it’s vital that those of us in the business community up-skill and learn how technology such as an iPad can improve business practice,” Duncan adds.

The course is aimed at all levels of user and will be hosted by the Badgerhouse Enterprise Centre personnel who are qualified in iPad training for businesses.

Running for two-hours, a food buffet and refreshments are included in the small £49.99 course fee and anybody without an iPad can loan one from the centre.

“It’s shaping up to be a hugely popular event and businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors are welcome to come along and find out how they can grow and streamline their company using this technology,” Duncan concludes.

The seminar will also double up as a networking event, with businesses encouraged to spend time before and after the seminar finding out about each other’s businesses.

For more information or to book a ticket please call 01934 637490. And to learn more about the Badger House Enterprise Centre visit: www.tmtuk.co.uk

Fairtrade business awards ceremony to be held in North Somerset

Fairtrade Business AwardsThe Fairtrade Business Awards Ceremony is set to to be held in North Somerset.

The Awards ceremony, to be hosted by the BBC’s George Alagiah, will be held at Leigh Court, home of Business West, on Friday 9th March 12-2pm 2012 and is the major event in the South West for Fairtrade Fortnight. Tickets for the event can be purchased from http://tiny.cc/l9mkm

The Awards, which are being uniquely designed and made by Bristol Blue Glass, are organised by Bristol Fairtrade Network in association with Business West, Destination Bristol and Bristol City Council.

Bristol City Council leader, Cllr Barbara Janke said: “Bristol has been a Fairtrade City since 2005 and it’s great to see more and more businesses in the city embracing its ethos and following through with their actions. People here want to trade fairly and be able to make more ethical buying choices.”

For more details, please go to: http://www.bristolfairtrade.org.uk/FTF2012/BusinessAwards2012/Awards.html

For more information contact Jenny Foster, Bristol Fairtrade Co-ordinator, 07970-878337 bristolfairtradenetwork@gmail.com

Local PR firm expands further

Jayne West

Specialist PR firm bClear Communications expands for the third time in six months with the appointment of Jayne West, previously communications manager at Cowlin Construction.

Jayne joins former Cowlin managing director, Neil Sherreard, who became a director of bClear last September.

Bristol based bClear specialises in PR and communications for construction, property and finance companies and Jayne will help grow the construction and property arms of the business.

Jayne worked for Cowlin Construction as communications manager for the past three years, where she was responsible for internal and external communications and PR.

Jayne brings an understanding of the changing needs and demands on the industry, along with hands on experience of dealing with clients, their representatives and project management teams. Jayne’s experience will further strengthen the offering from bClear to the construction industry.

Along with specific construction knowledge Jayne also brings marketing and PR experience having previously worked as copywriter and editor for a local media company producing three business to business magazines.

Debbie Staveley, managing director and founder of bClear says: “We pride ourselves on an in-depth knowledge of the sectors in which we work; it’s vital to us that we have this expertise and understanding in order to add significant value to our clients in those sectors.”

“Jayne’s appointment builds on this expertise and enables us to offer new and existing clients a comprehensive PR and communications service to improve their reputations, widen their exposure and grow their businesses within the property and construction industries. Jayne will also help accelerate our growth plans for the coming year.”

For further information on bClear visit: www.bclear.co.uk

Enable Money Solutions’ monthly column

Patsie Fowler of North Somerset Based Enable Money Solutions discusses how her company can help people and businesses with their financial difficulties.

We understand the anxiety that goes with being in debt. You don’t want to open the post; you avoid answering the phone; you cannot sleep at night; you feel stressed, even ashamed and may frequently row with your partner.

At Enable Money Solutions we can minimise stress and offer a confidential person to person service with one of our experienced consultants by visiting you in your home, or a more convenient location, to discuss your situation and how you may be feeling.

There are a number of ways to deal with debt and we work to understand all the available options before we make a recommendation that we feel best suits your situation.

Should you decide to worh together with Enable Money Solutions you will get a comprehensive service. Aside from dealing with your creditors on your behalf, we will give you both moral and practical support and will ensure that the fee we charge reflects the skills, knowledge, experience and support we give you.

At Enable we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity and will be with you until your situation is resolved.

In future months I will give examples on how we help our clients and how we can reduce their outgoings to a manageable amount.

To find out more about Enable Money Solutions call Patsie on: 0845 269 2074  or email: patsie.fowler@enablemoneysolutions.co.uk

Upbeat forecast for North Somerset property sector


Tim Davies

North Somerset is ideally situated to take advantage of the ripple effect caused by London’s dominance of the UK commercial property market, according to specialists at Colliers International.

A high-powered meeting organised by Colliers International at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn was given an encouraging report by financial guru Anatole Kaletsky, whose forecasts were rather more optimistic than most of the 300-strong audience had anticipated.

Head of Colliers International Bristol office Tim Davies said Anatole Kaletsky’s positive take on business prospects for 2012 coincided with several financial forecasts predicting a modest upturn in confidence.

He said: “Along with many commentators Anatole is convinced that London will continue to dominate the UK property market supporting enviable rental levels across all property sectors from residential to industrial, retail and offices.

“We believe Bristol, as the financial hub of the South West, is best placed to take advantage of the inevitable ripple effect from London.”

Tim Davies said ease of access to the M4 and M5 motorways plus the increasing importance of the dock facilities at Avonmouth and Portbury would encourage businesses into the Bristol area.

“Anatole believes London property will remain attractive over the long term as it retains its position as a global financial hub.

”The fact that Bristol is the UK’s financial second city will help ensure the region takes full advantage of the anticipated economic recovery.”

North Somerset firms under pressure from soaring costs

Rob Harris

Rob Harris of Close Invoice Finance

Businesses in North Somerset continue to suffer as a result of record fuel prices, in spite of the government’s decision to postpone a rise in fuel duty originally planned for the beginning of the New Year.

The increased cost of fuel is just one of a number of issues impacting firms in North Somerset with companies up and down the region are struggling to cope under the strain of the current economic landscape which has forced businesses and consumers alike to rein in spending.

Rob Harris, local head of Close Invoice Finance, commented on the problems facing firms: “From talking to our clients in all sectors, the general consensus is that rising fuel costs remain one of their main concerns on a daily basis. This is having a huge impact on operating costs for firms of all sizes, with SMEs in particular being hardest hit.

“Bearing in mind that firms are already suffering, having been hit hard by the economic misery of recent years, coupled with consumer confidence being at an all time low, it is not hard to see how increased fuel costs are causing firms a lot of additional pressure, which is ultimately pushing some beyond their limits.”

Unfortunately, many North Somerset businesses are being forced to pass some of these costs onto the people they rely on the most – the customer.

“The fact that these increased costs are having to be passed onto customers does nothing to help companies, who are already struggling to survive, attract new business or hold on to current customers. When increased operating costs are passed down to customers the knock on effect on sales can be huge,” concludes Mr Harris.

To find out more about Close Invoice Finance visit: http://www.closeinvoice.co.uk/home/index.html

Apprenticeship shop is a hit

A dedicated ‘Apprenticeship Shop’ set up by Weston College in Weston-super-Mare town centre proved to be a real draw, attracting almost 1,000 visitors in five days.

The shop, housed in an empty unit in the Sovereign Centre, was operated by staff and students, and aimed to introduce local people to the concept of Apprenticeships.

Weston College has seen applications for Apprenticeships rise by 113 per cent last year and interest continues to build as 2012 gets underway.

The shop hosted taster sessions in a variety of Apprenticeships, everything from catering to construction, on offer at the College. Visitors of all ages dropped in to find out what was going on and hear first-hand how Apprenticeships are creating opportunities for local people.

James Wilmot, Recruitment Coordinator at Weston College’s Business Enterprise Centre (BEC), said: “The shop was a huge success for a number of reasons. We really raised awareness of Apprenticeships and as a result we’ve picked up a number of vacancies across several sectors.

“It was very useful to dispel some of the myths surrounding Apprenticeships and show people exactly what they are about.”


Support grows for Puxton expansion plans

Alistair and Derek Mead

Plans for a £2 million pound extension at Puxton Park providing 40 jobs in a new garden centre, large gift shop and bigger restaurant, have been backed by Puxton Parish Council.

The family run visitor attraction submitted plans to North Somerset Council last November, for a 2,000 square metre extension to existing farm shop and restaurant.

Managing Director Alistair Mead says the extension will provide a new state-of-the-art garden centre, larger restaurant and external display area for plants.

The proposal will also provide around 40 new jobs for local people, which Mr Mead says is a positive contribution to the economy in the current challenging times.

It will also seek to help the environment by investigating the use of solar roof panels and the replacement of mains water with rain water harvested from the roof.

In addition some of the plants and trees on sale in the garden centre will be grown at Puxton Park itself, with an area of the farmyard attraction set aside for this purpose.

Nearby residents have been consulted and are supportive and both the Environment Agency and Puxton Parish Council have no objections.

Parish council chairman, Andy McKenzie, said: “Our point of view is that Puxton is a well-run and managed business and the garden centre will bring employment into the community, which can only be a good thing.

“The plans are sensible and sensitive and everything they have done in the past has been to a high standard, so we are sure they will do a good job.

“We always welcome engagement with local businesses and we have always had a good relationship with Alistair, so if there is a problem we can sit down and talk things through which makes us feel like we matter.”

If successful, Mr Mead says work will begin on the scheme in the autumn with completion expected next year.

He said: “After a successful first five years we are once again reinvesting at Puxton Park creating around 40 jobs, plus a further 20 jobs during the construction phase.

“We invest in new attractions every year and we will continue this investment in the future.”

For further information please contact reception on 01934 523500, visit www.puxton.co.uk or email marketing@meadgroup.co.uk

Wards Solicitors’ monthly business column

Bridget Juckes

What can businesses do to make sure they get paid on time? Wards Solicitor’s Bridget Juckes explains.

Customers can give you a dozen excuses but the two main reasons preventing businesses from getting paid on time comes down to the small print… inadequate (or non-existent) trading terms or those that don’t apply because they didn’t get read in time. A common mistake is adding them to the invoice… which is far too late to prevent problems. So, what do you need to do?

Top five things to include in your business terms and conditions:

• Specify clearly when payment will be due and what interest will be due on late payments.
• Make sure you state that they will be liable for collection and litigation costs if they don’t pay you.
• Make sure you limit your liability if you are unable to deliver the goods. Explain what will happen if only part of an order is delivered, or if a delivery contains faulty products.
• State that you retain ownership of goods until payment has been received (and include rights to recover them).
• And above all… get them to agree to them in writing before you do any work or provide goods.

Intellectual property

That’s not all, though. You are likely to have other things to include, which are relevant to your particular business and circumstances. For example, ownership of intellectual property, use of third-party sub-contractors and liability/insurance. Most importantly, your terms need to actually hold water. That means making sure you can say “yes” to all of the following:

• You need to prove an offer was made to contract on your terms, and the offer was accepted.
• Make sure your terms are in writing. If there’s nothing in writing there will still be a contract, but it will be difficult to prove what its terms were.
• Make sure your procedures mean your customer agrees your terms before the contract comes into existence, and that you have evidence of this.
• Ask all new customers to complete an account opening form which includes a copy of your terms and conditions, or sign a statement confirming that they have read and agree to your terms and conditions.

The golden rule? Review your terms regularly

You need to make sure that you review your terms of business at least once a year, every time there is a change in trading law, and every time you introduce a new product or service, or a new means of promoting or delivering it. It’s not just our way of getting work for lawyers, it’s important. At the pace of market development, particularly in this increasingly online world, you can’t afford to be behind the times.

To find out more about Wards Solicitors please visit: http://wards.uk.com/office/weston-super-mare/

Homes at Locking Parklands filling up

St. Modwen Homes has sold more than 75 per cent of properties at its recently launched Locking Parklands development in Weston-super-Mare; the first new homes to be built on the former RAF Locking site.

In just three months, St. Modwen Homes has seen a flurry of sales at the development, selling a total of 26 properties out of the 34 houses and apartments offered in the first phase of Locking Parklands, ‘The Parkside’, demonstrating strong demand for high quality new homes in Weston-super-Mare.

Neil Simpson, residential sales and marketing director at St. Modwen Homes said: “The response to these stunning new homes at Locking Parklands has been overwhelming. For us to have reserved more than 75 per cent of the properties in the first three months is quite amazing in the current climate and is a really positive indication of the high demand that we expect to continue across the entire development. It is also very encouraging that much of this demand has been from first time buyers in the local area looking to get on the property ladder.

A selection of homes are now available for immediate occupation, including three bedroom town houses starting from £212,500 and four bedroom houses priced from £239,500. A range of luxury two bedroom apartments are also available from £125,000.

The fully-furnished three bedroom show home, located off Farnborough Road, is now open to view seven days a week between 10am and 6pm. More details on this new residential development can be found at www.lockingparklands.co.uk. To contact the St. Modwen Homes sales team please call 0844 243 4545.