Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Duke of York officially opens UTC Swindon

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The Duke of York meets UTC Swindon studentsThe Duke of York kept a year-long promise and officially opened Swindon’s University Technical College on Thursday.

Prince Andrew met students, teachers, directors, and supporters from the business world before being shown around the college by its principal, Angela Barker-Dench.

She said: “ “The official opening of the college is an historic moment for UTC Swindon – and another milestone in the town’s heritage. His Royal Highness has a passion for engineering, manufacturing and apprenticeships. He shares our beliefs about skills and preparing students for the workplace or University.”

UTC Swindon opened this September in Grade II listed buildings formerly part of Swindon’s railway works.

The Duke was last at the facility back in February, when building work on the college commenced.

ISN open cutting edge Network Operation Centre in Wootton Bassett

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ISNIT solutions provider Intuitive Systems and Networks has opened a new network operation centre at Coped Hall, Royal Wootton Bassett, as part of its drive to provide 24/7 IT monitoring for its clients.

The new offices provide ISN with the opportunity to support their planned business growth in an exciting new environment, whilst allowing for future continued expansion.

ISN co-founder Simon Rance said: “We are experiencing exciting times for ISN as a business and the timing was right for us to make a move. We are proud to set ourselves up for the future in these premises.”

Trio of new solicitors at Wiltshire law firm

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Laura Ingram Hill, Katie Raybould and Vanessa KibbleWiltshire law firm Wansbroughs Solicitors has announced the appointment of three new solicitors to the firm.

The recent appointments are to the family, commercial and commercial property teams, and come as the result of growing demand from existing and new clients.

Vanessa Kibble joins the commercial team in Devizes as a litigator. Vanessa trained as a solicitor in Salisbury after spending seven years in the Army and joins Wansbroughs from Zurich Insurance where she was an in-house solicitor.

Katie Raybould joins the Family team in Devizes working with Adrian Northall having trained with Lupton Fawcett Dennison Till in Leeds before joining the firm to undertake a variety of work, including divorce and related financial matters, protection from domestic abuse and private law children cases.

The final new solicitor is Laura Ingram Hill who specialises in freehold acquisitions and Landlord and Tenant work in the Commercial Property team and joins Wansbroughs from Burgess Salmon in Bristol after training with Simmons and Simmons in London.

The firm, which is based in Devizes and Melksham, works for clients across Wiltshire and the South of England.

Christmas lights could add £20 to homeowners’ winter electricity bill

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Christmas lights image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netA simple switch to energy saving fairy lights for tree and outdoor decorations could knock a staggering £20 off the electricity bill of the average homeowner during the festive period.

That is according to research carried out by Chippenham-based electricity company Good Energy.

The renewable energy company has calculated that replacing old, incandescent fairy lights with energy efficient LEDs could save householders up to £20 on their electricity bills.

Juliet Davenport OBE, founder and CEO of Good Energy, said: “It’s surprising how much electricity Christmas lights use up. Switching to LED lights will save you money, and is good for the environment.”

Good Energy has joined forces with the National Trust to produce some top tips that will help people have a greener Christmas this year.

A National Trust spokesperson said: “Small changes like swapping to low energy lights can make a big difference to our carbon footprint and also our energy bills.

“At the Trust, we’ve installed around 74,000 LED light bulbs so far across the places we look after to help us to achieve our energy reduction targets.”

The renewable energy company and conservation charity’s top tips are available at www.goodenergy.co.uk/blog/go-green-for-christmas-2014

 

Sales coach takes a trip to Number 10 for Small Business Saturday

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Alison Edgar outside 10 Downing StreetSales coach Alison Edgar took a trip to Downing Street last Friday, as Wiltshire’s only representative at an event to promote the UK’s 5.2 million small businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday.

And Alison rubbed shoulders with the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and Apprentice star Karen Brady, at the Small Business Saturday Christmas fair inside Downing Street.

Mr Osborne said: “"Britain's small business owners deserve our support. They are the ones who take the risks to create new opportunities and new jobs, that show off British ingenuity and innovation and I am glad that once again they will be able to be the focus of all our attention and support."

George Osborn and Karen Brady meet Alison EdgarAlison’s company, Sales Coaching Solutions, provides bespoke sales and customer service training and coaching for small and medium sized businesses.

Alison is also on the National Board for Growth Vouchers, a government matched funding scheme that aims to make strategic advice more accessible for small and medium sized businesses.

Expert opinion: The work Christmas party - employers beware!

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Rebecca Peterson of WansbroughsThe festive season is upon us and employers need to be aware that they could be held accountable for the acts of their employees at the work Christmas party.

Work Christmas parties are great for boosting staff morale, but the inappropriate behaviour of employees at the work Christmas party could result in potential headaches for the employer.

Work Christmas parties are for the purposes of the law regarded as an extension of work, even if they take place outside of normal office hours and not held at the workplace.

All employers should consider the following checklist:

Company Policies Review your policies and make sure that they are up-to-date. For example, Anti-harassment and Bullying policy; Equal Opportunities policy; and Alcohol and Drug Misuse policy.

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures Your policies should set out the standards of behaviours expected of your staff at work any unacceptable behaviour at the work Christmas party, for example, over consumption of alcohol, use of illegal drugs, violence, inappropriate language or physical contact should be dealt with as a misconduct issue under your disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Warning to your managers Be careful about the conversations that you have with staff or the promises that you make at the work Christmas party. For example, any discussions about promotion, salary increase, bonuses etc could be relied upon.

Be careful not to discriminate Consideration and sensitivity should be given to:-

  • different beliefs and religions. For example, catering for different religious dietary requirements such as non-alcoholic drinks and vegetarian options.
  • the venue - so that the party is accessible to everyone. For example, the venue should have access for disabled staff and be suitable for staff of all ages.
  • the time of day that the party is held. For example, staff may have primary childcare responsibilities and so are potentially restricted on the time of day that they can attend.
  • whether staff partners are invited. For example, treat staff who are in same-sex relationships the same as staff who are in heterosexual relationships.

Absenteeism the day after Any lateness and unauthorised absence from work the day after the work Christmas party should be treated as misconduct under your disciplinary procedure.

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.

Workplace pensions seminars over-subscribed by Swindon employers

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Richard Mathews of Banks BHGSeminars focussing on the Government’s sweeping workplace pensions changes have proved a huge hit with Swindon businesses, seeking to find out more about the legislation which affects all employers.

The two free events run by Banks BHG chartered accountants were over-subscribed by town employers, which are about to be engulfed by the new rules on auto enrolment requiring them to enrol their qualifying staff into a workplace pension.

Two further free seminars, with capacity for 25 employers at each, are planned by Banks BHG for next year – in February and May – but director Richard Mathews has promised more will be held if there is demand.

“The new auto enrolment rules came in some time ago, but there are different stages at which companies join,” he said. “Until now, they have affected the larger companies, but it won’t be long until small to medium-sized businesses are drawn in.

“From the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, a huge wave of businesses will start to join, and this wave carries on for the best part of two years, with a big spike at the end of 2016 and into 2017.

“That may seem a long way off, but it takes months to prepare for auto enrolment, so if you’re an employer whose staging post is towards the end of 2015, you should really have started already.”

Companies which fail to meet their auto enrolment obligations face penalties from The Pensions Regulator, starting with a £400 fixed penalty notice and escalating penalties up to £10,000 per day. Already, fixed penalty notices have been issued for non-compliance.

Said Richard: “The Government is very determined that auto enrolment will succeed, and as a result all employers are affected. It means a big change for the way payrolls operate, so our advice is to plan early and avoid being engulfed.”

The auto enrolment seminars will be on February 4 and May 13 at Banks BHG’s Stratton offices, starting at 5.45 for 6pm and followed by a light buffet. To book, visit www.banksbhg.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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