Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Sun rises on Stoford at Solstice Park development

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Solstice Business ParkStoford has been selected as development partner for the final phase of a new multi-million-pound industrial and distribution hub in Wiltshire.

The Amesbury Property Company has appointed the Birmingham-based property developer to deliver a range of warehouse units on the remaining two serviced sites totalling 16 acres known as EOS.

EOS, at Solstice Park, offers plots to accommodate units of up to 155,000 sq ft for industrial and distribution occupiers. Fully serviced development platforms have been formed allowing construction to commence immediately.

Units are available on a design and build basis either on leasehold or freehold terms. EOS 1 comprises 7.82 acres while EOS 2 comprises 8.74 acres. The development will bring further major investment and new jobs to the region.

Solstice Park is an established 160-acre business park situated alongside the A303 dual carriageway. It offers a strategically located development opportunity for industrial, distribution, trade, roadside, and office users. The site provides excellent access from its mid southern location to the motorway network via the M3 to London and the M25, and north via the A34 to the M4 and M40.

Current occupiers include Home Bargains (TJ Morris), Muller Wiseman, Qinetiq, Greggs Bakery, and Tintometer. In addition the services provided on Solstice Park include Holiday Inn Hotel, Toby Inn, Co op Food, Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds.

Stoford is one of the UK’s leading industrial and warehouse developers. Director David Brown said: “Solstice Park represents an excellent opportunity for industrial or distribution companies that are looking for a value for money Southern base linking into the south coast and south west regions.

“We are naturally delighted to have been selected by Amesbury Property Company as development partners and we are looking forward to getting started on the scheme in due course.”

David Fahie, development director for Solstice Park, said. We have been impressed by the track record of Stoford in build to suit developments and we believe Stoford is the ideal development partner for us as we seek to respond to occupier demand for this final phase of Solstice Park.”

Amesbury is a growing community with a population in the town and surrounding villages in excess of 26,000. Ongoing development by Bloor and Persimmon will provide 1,800 new homes in Amesbury. Development of the MOD super garrison at Bulford and Tidworth will bring additional potential employees to the area.

For more information contact joint agents Myddleton and Major on 01722 337577 or Colliers International on 0207 3446610, or visit www.solsticepark.com

Seven months in the making - the BIOS van graffiti wall is now complete

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Artist Mat Cole adds logos to the Bios vanIt’s been a project seven months in the making, but finally an artist tasked with drawing graffiti-style business sponsors logos onto the side of a mobile youth centre has finished the job.

It was back in April that Swindon companies were invited to support the launch of the BIOS van by the Swindon-based youth charity of the same name by having their logos stencilled onto the vehicle by artist Mat Cole.

The van is kitted out with games consoles, internet access, DJ decks, sports equipment, a music system, refreshments station, craft activities and information for young people.

It runs 12 youth club sessions each week meeting over 350 young people in parks and open spaces where antisocial behaviour is causing a problem for the local community, encouraging them to make positive life choices, helping them to have a better future.

Seven months later work is completeThe project was launched to great aplomb at the headquarters of Excalibur Communications in Westlea, in the presence of Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, and Peter Addington, the High Sheriff of Wiltshire.

Project leader Chris Priddy said this week: “Thank you also for your patience. For a whole variety of reasons this massive project has taken seven months to complete – partially because the van has been so busy out doing what it was designed to do – transforming young lives in Swindon.

“We’ve loved showing the logos to the young people and explaining who the people behind the logos are and why they have supported the project.”

Accountants throw open doors for some festive networking

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Swindon accountants Banks BHG are throwing one their doors for a spot of festive networking over drinks and nibbles on Wednesday, December 10.

The free event takes place from 5.45pm at their offices at Vicarage Court, 160 Ermin Street, Swindon, SN3 4NE.

To book a place, contact Claire Hunt by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wessex Chambers hosts free drop-in for Swindon businesses

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Wessex Chambers is offering members and non-members in Swindon the chance to drop in for a spot of networking, and to find out more about Chamber activities.

The event takes place at HSBC Bank at Wiltshire Commercial Centres, Marlborough Road, Old Town, Swindon SN3 1QT from 10.30 until noon on Thursday, December 11.

For more information, or to book to attend, log on to www.wessexchambers.org.uk/events

 

Expert opinion: What does holiday pay ruling mean for employers?

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Rebecca Peterson of WansbroughsHoliday pay must include ‘non-guaranteed’ overtime pay - what does the landmark decision in the case of Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton mean for employers?

There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently over this decision in the Employment Appeal Tribunal that regular ‘non-guaranteed’ overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay.

Non-guaranteed overtime is where an employer is not required to offer any overtime to its employees, but where it does, employees are required to work it and will receive payment for it.

Historically, the requirement has been for employers to include only employees basic salary when calculating holiday pay. Therefore as a result of this ruling employers could be faced with claims from their employees for "a series of unlawful deductions of wages", which could, in theory at least, date back to the start of their employment.

However, the EAT ruled that if there is a gap of more than three months between any alleged deductions, this gap will break the series of deductions, thus significantly limiting the financial exposure to employers. This will be welcome news, particularly as Unite has announced it is not appealing this ruling.

Further, the EAT's ruling is limited to the 20 days holiday (for full-time workers) granted by EU law and not the additional eight days holiday granted by UK law. Thus, employers only need to include "non-guaranteed" overtime in the calculation of holiday pay for the first 20 days and not the full statutory minimum of 28 days holiday.

What should you do to protect your business?

Assess your future potential liability for holiday pay including "non-guaranteed" overtime pay - you may seek to reduce consistent and regular overtime where you can.

Amend your policies to reflect the EAT's ruling - stipulate that the first 20 days of any holiday taken by your employees in any holiday year will be deemed to be holiday granted by EU law. This will allow you to rely on the additional 8 days holiday granted by UK law that your employees take to break the series of underpayments.

Assess your potential liability for historic underpayment of holiday pay claims - if there are no breaks in the series of deductions consider paying holiday pay in accordance with the current ruling. This will create a break in the series of underpayments and reduce your potential financial exposure.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced that he is setting up a taskforce to assess the impact of the EAT's ruling on holiday pay. He said: "Government will review the judgment in detail as a matter of urgency. To properly understand the financial exposure employers face, we have set up a taskforce of representatives from government and business to discuss how we can limit the impact on business".

Rebecca Peterson is an employment law specialist at Wansbroughs in Devizes. Contact her on 01380 733300 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Swindon Chamber wraps up the year with Christmas drinks

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Swindon Chamber of Commerce is hosting an informal end-of-year gathering on Wednesday, December 17.

The event is billed as a chance to look back on the business successes of 2014 and hear about the Chamber’s plans for 2015, as well as partaking in some networking over mulled wine and mince pies.

The event takes place at the Swindon Marriott Hotel, Pipers Way, SN3 1SH from 12.30pm until 14.30pm. Attendance costs £10+VAT for members and £20+VAT for non-members.

For more information, or to book a place, log on to www.thamesvalleychamber.co.uk/event/45089

 

Business leaders react to the Autumn Statement

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George OsborneBusiness leaders across Wiltshire have been giving their reaction to the Autumn Statement, delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, earlier this afternoon.

The chancellor reported that the UK was enjoying the fastest growing economy in the G7, which economic growth forecast at three percent.

He said half a million new jobs had been created this year - 85 percent of which were full time positions. Unemployment, he said, is set to fall to 5.4 percent in 2015.

And inflation is predicted to be 1.5 percent in 2014, falling to 1.2 percent in 2015.

In the finer detail, there was a reform of stamp duty, and fuel duty will be frozen. The higher rate income tax threshold is to rise to £42,385 next year, and a 25 percent tax on profits generated by multi-nationals that are shifted out of the UK, set to raise £1bn over five years, has been announced.

Research and development tax credit increased for small and medium-sized (SMEs) firms, and a £45m package of support for exporters was unveiled. National Insurance on young apprentices is to be abolished.

Richard Mathews of Banks chartered accountantsSwindon accountants Banks BHG welcomed some of the measures, including changes to stamp duty and a proposed review of the business rates.

But director Richard Mathews said he would like to have seen the Chancellor do more for businesses in general.

“The stamp duty change is welcome, as it will make life easier for house-buyers and help the housing market,” he said.

“Long-term he has promised a review of the business rates system, which has anomalies such as empty property rates, so that’s a welcome move. But he didn’t announce much to support businesses, although his headline grabber was the new 25 per cent tax for companies which shift profits overseas.”

One measure which might impact on micro businesses is the restriction of tax relief on incorporating. Richard said: “I am not sure what his thinking was there, but it may deter sole traders and small businesses from incorporating.”

Malcolm EmeryMalcolm Emery, a tax advisor and solicitor at Thrings, said: “"While the revising of the growth forecast for this year to three per cent suggests the UK economy is continuing to perform solidly, the outlook for the global economy is not so certain.

“The Chancellor could have taken this opportunity to improve the UK's export capability by reducing the standard rate of VAT.

“The Government continues to target non-UK domiciled individuals resident in the UK. While the current tax system offers such individuals benign tax status, the introduction of new tax charges needs to be carefully balanced.

“People with non-domiciled status in the UK contribute significantly to our nation’s economy, and there is a risk that punitive tax charges could prompt an exodus of talented and wealthy individuals and business owners from the UK.

"The news that corporate tax dodgers will now have to pay tax on the UK profits they would otherwise move offshore is likely to be welcomed by large sections of the South West business community.

“Mr Osborne has sought to generate more revenue for the treasury deficit, a timely move as the Government commences its preparations for next year's general election."

Stephen Depla of Brewin DolphinStephen Depla, head of office at wealth managers Brewin Dolphin in Marlborough, said: “Whether it is new theatres, tax breaks or science investment, Osborne produced a statement to benefit non-Londoners with his plans for the regions... and even indeed for Mars.

“His plans for stamp duty will benefit those buying homes outside the capital, while the rest of his ‘Northern Lights’ strategy should provide even more regeneration across the country, which we see as good news for us and our 28 other offices and clients outside London.

“We really welcome the ability to pass ISAs intact to a spouse on death, a strategy we recommended to the Treasury. If you are drawing income from an ISA in retirement, suddenly discovering that income is no longer tax-free when your spouse dies is a huge blow. This allows people to plan properly and fairly for their old age.

“Radical reform of stamp duty irons out some huge anomalies, but for Londoners who have little choice but to pay prices that are out-of-kilter with the rest of the UK, this will be a small comfort as it maybe for the Scots, who have just heard details of their own new stamp duty regime following the Referendum.”

Andrew ClarkeThere was a mixed response from the rural economy. NFU director of policy Andrew Clark said: “The freezing of fuel duty for a further year, exempting apprenticeships from national insurance, and a further extension to small business rate relief all have the potential to help farmers.

“However it is disappointing that the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax relate to residential property only.

“The Chancellor again suggested a need for a more balanced national economy but confined this to building a northern powerhouse in northern cities. We think there is a need to encourage business investment and growth in productive capacity throughout the whole of the UK.

“It is disappointing that no mention was made of the annual investment allowance or encouraging investment in business infrastructure or managing business volatility – some of the NFU’s key asks in our submission.

“Although news of tax relief for business contributions to flood defences is welcome, it is disappointing that flood-related announcements all relate to pre-planned capital expenditure and do not address our concerns over maintenance investment.

“We will study all relevant announcements in greater depth, including the government departmental spending reductions and assess the full impact of the Chancellor’s plans for agriculture.”

Phil Smith of Business WestAnd Phil Smith, managing director of Business West and the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, said: “The Chancellor has delivered a crowd pleasing Autumn Statement for business.

“By focusing on key barriers to growth, such as Britain’s broken business rates system and the difficulty of accessing finance for growth, he has shown that he is committed to solving problems that hinder the growth aspirations of many firms.

“Prior to today, businesses asked for help to deal with business rates, infrastructure and apprentices, all of which were addressed in a positive Autumn Statement to close out a year which saw the country finally emerge from a damaging recession.

“This Autumn Statement included many actions to boost small businesses. Over 99 percent of the 87,000 plus registered businesses in our region are SMEs and further packages of support, such as the expansion of financial support for first-time exporters, increased rate relief and access to finance under the British Business Bank give these firms cause for celebration.

“Access to credit still remains stubbornly difficult for many small firms, despite the many interventions announced since the credit crunch, so it is too early to say whether the latest steps to encourage further bank lending will succeed.

“A major coup for business is that the Chancellor has committed the government to a fundamental review of business rates and doubled small business rates relief for a further year. This iniquitous tax is sapping good companies' strength year after year, long before they make a single penny in profits.

“In the last week we have seen this evident in the extremes of black Friday and cyber Monday, illustrating the competition we see between the high street and online retailers. The business rates system has meant that this hasn’t been a fair fight, with one arm of high street retailers held back by this vindictive tax.

“Today is a step in the right direction and this review must deliver fundamental change and not get bogged down by short term political thinking.

“Although the business community is applauding measures announced today, as we head towards the general election there are still fundamental barriers to growth that need to be addressed.

“With a very difficult fiscal position for UK plc over the next five years, all parties will need to remain focused on making sure economic growth is central to their New Year manifestos”

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