Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Oldest hotel in Britain is for sale

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Red LionThe oldest purpose-built hotel in the country – and possibly the world – has been put on the market, with a guide price of just under £3 million.

The Red Lion Hotel in Salisbury, which dates from the 13th century, has 51 individually-designed rooms, restaurant, bar, five conference and banqueting rooms with capacities up to 120, and an illustrious history.

Originally known as the White Bear Inn, the building was constructed in the 13th century to house the draughtsmen working on the third - and present - cathedral.

Its name was changed in the 18th century — first to The Red Lion and Cross Keys and then to The Red Lion. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, The Red Lion Hotel housed the Salisbury Post office and during that period was one of the principal stopping points for coaches to and from London.

For the last 100 years or so, the hotel has been owned by the Thomas and Maidment families. 

Ed Bellfield, of Christie + Co, said: “The Red Lion Hotel has been a pillar of the City of Salisbury for over 700 years. Today it offers all the comfort and facilities of a modern hotel within its Middle Ages' structure.

“We’d anticipate that this combination of practical hotel and a little slice of history will prove attractive to prospective purchasers.”

For more information, contact Ed on 01962 844455 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Swindon to pilot economic growth scheme

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How the Locarno redevelopment will lookSwindon has been named as one of five areas to pilot a new public-private partnership to get infrastructure projects off the ground.

As part of the new Local Infrastructure Demonstrator Partnership, private sector professionals will work alongside government partners to identify and overcome problems which have been hindering infrastructure projects, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced this week. 

The specialist support offered through the partnership should lead to each project moving forward more quickly than would have been the case without support. 

The private sector led teams comprise representatives from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and the Royal Town Planning Institute and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with other senior public and private sector partners also making significant contributions.

The Construction Industry Training Board is providing funding through its Growth Fund.

Business minister Michael Fallon said:
“Making improvements to local infrastructure and unblocking new developments are vital for growth, and having free industry advice and support on hand can help get projects off the ground.

“By bringing together the relevant experts face-to-face with the parties involved, solutions can often be found to problems and costly delays avoided. I would like to thank the private sector experts who are working on the projects on a pro bono basis.”

Phil Young, director of business investment at Forward Swindon said: "The partnership has supported Swindon Borough Council in bringing real clarity to its plans for growth.

“We are looking forward to working further with BIS and those involved to develop our plans and bring them to fruition delivering significant economic growth in Swindon. 

“In particular we are looking at ways to release development land along the A420, to enable economic growth in Swindon."

Meanwhile, a draft plan for the redevelopment of Swindon's iconic Corn Exchange building has been approved by planners.

A working group including a developer, architects, planners and heritage experts, was set up last year by Forward Swindon, on behalf of Swindon Borough Council, to collaborate together and create a viable mixed use scheme for the building, which is commonly known as the Locarno. 

The Old Town building was left derelict after a fire in 2004. The proposals will now go to public consultation for eight weeks.  

Innovation explored at Swindon Technology Forum

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Experts from the world of electronic communications will be talking about new ideas and innovations at the Thames Valley Technology Forum in Swindon.

Andy Tait, director of marketing and operations at Intel will be talking about The Internet of Things.

As technology advances it becomes possible to put more and more computing power into smaller and smaller devices and sensors which are now common place in our daily lives.

Generating vast amounts of data, there are many business opportunities for entrepreneurs and inventors with smart ideas.

Andy is set to highlight these opportunities as well as the advancements in technology.

Kevin O’Brien, client executive at Leading Resolutions Limited will be looking at How Business and IT Partner for Transformation and Innovation.

Business models are evolving to address market demands and organisations are re-aligning themselves and adapting to the new normal.

Kevin's presentation will discuss how the business and IT can work together on transformation and innovation and adapt to emerging accelerators such as cloud, social mobile and Big Data.

And Ben Rossiter of Excalibur Communications will explain why Work is What You Do, Not Where You Are.

Exploring the changing technology landscape, Ben will demonstrate a range of the different technologies that improve work flow, communications and collaboration regardless of where employees work from and their computing end point device.

The Swindon Chamber of Commerce event will be held at Swindon Town Football Club from 8am to 9.15am  on Wednesday, July 24. For more information, or to book a place, log on to http://www.thamesvalleychamber.co.uk

The event is free to attend for members, and costs £18 for non-members.  

Positive signs as recovery gathers strength, but risks remain, says British Chambers of Commerce

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The economy has made further progress, according to the latest Quarterly Economic Survey from the British Chambers of Commerce.

Compared to Q1 2013, the survey finds that both employment balances and export levels have risen in the second quarter of this year.

However, it also shows that there are still risks that could derail the recovery.

Despite some welcome improvements, most indicators are still below their 2007 pre-recession levels and cashflow remains weak.

The latest BCC survey polled more than 7,400 businesses. It shows that most key balances strengthened in Q2 2013 compared with the previous quarter. Export balances remain strong, with the services export deliveries balance reaching its highest level (+36 percent) since the survey began.

The findings suggest that the economy will continue to strengthen gradually over the next year. The results also demonstrate resilience among UK businesses, with many firms looking to invest and increase exports this year.

Other key findings in the Q2 2013 survey include:

  • Export orders rose three points to +29 percent (the highest since 1994).
  • Employment balances rose in Q2, following their Q1 decline.
  • Business confidence has again increased, and is much stronger than average levels during the recession.
  • The investment picture is mixed. While the balance of manufacturing firms looking to increase investment in plant and machinery rose nine points to +23 percent, for services it fell two points to +7 percent.
  • Pressure to raise prices has continued to ease in Q2. In manufacturing, this fell by five points to +12 percent, with many citing reduced pressures from raw materials.
  • Cashflow balances are weak in both manufacturing and services.

John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: "British firms are doing their utmost to drive recovery.

“The sheer strength of our export balances shows that companies have untapped potential to expand.

“It must be recognised that recovery will only be turbo-charged if we can create a truly enterprise-friendly economy here in the UK.

"If we want Britain's economy to be great, rather than just good, pro-growth policies will need to continue for decades to come. Otherwise, we may be in for a long and slow road to recovery." 

Clair Prosser, policy executive at Thames Valley Chamber, of which Swindon Chamber of Commerce is a member, said: “Members reported that UK sales had increased – as did advanced bookings.

“Export sales were exceptionally high: this is a strong recognition of members’ activity overseas and in new foreign markets. This also reflects the increase in our International Trade customer base.

“Almost 100 percent of members said that staff are being sought or recruited, which has not been reported for some time. Recruitment serves as a clear indicator that members are in a position to invest in the future.

“Members’ turnover and profitability improved over the last three months. This shows that they are bucking the national trend, surviving and continuing to strive ahead – in tough trading times.

“This is a strong start for the second half of 2013. Inflation remains the biggest threat, followed by competition and corporate taxation.”

Electric BMW will take centre stage at University Technical College launch

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BMW ActiveEOne of only 1,000 of BMW's new electric cars will take centre stage at the launch of Swindon's University Technical College Swindon at STEAM on Thursday, July 11.

UTC Swindon, which is due to open its doors in September 2014, has teamed up with Swindon-based contract hire and fleet management provider Arval to use the car as part of its summer marketing campaign.

UTC ambassadors will be touring the college catchment area with the event team in the innovative BMW ActiveE, to promote the new college.

They will be calling at Marlborough Jazz Festival from Friday, July 19 to Sunday, July 21, Devizes International Street Festival on Sunday and Monday, August 25 and 26; The Cricklade Show on Saturday, September 16, Wiltshire Game & County Fair on Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29, and Marlborough Big and Little Mop Fair on Saturdays October 5 and 12.

The BMW ActiveE, leased by Arval, is the first electric car produced by the company. Part of BMW Group’s field trials for long term electric mobility, the ActiveE will inform the development of future electric BMW’s, including the BMW i3 which is scheduled for late 2013.

The car became well known across the UK last year when BMW provided thousands of vehicles, many with green technology, for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Dr Gareth Neighbour, head of Engineering at Oxford Brookes University, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for UTC Swindon to showcase its commitment to engineering and enterprise in education.

Thanks to Arval, we can share with potential students and their families a wonderful example of cutting edge technology. It will clearly demonstrate the support we are receiving from today’s world leaders in engineering.”

Swindon’s University Technical College will cater for 600 14 to 19 year olds interested in pursuing a career in engineering, promising an opportunity to gain highly desirable skills and raise the aspirations o young engineers in progressing to careers in the engineering industry in all its diverse forms.

Tracey Scarr, CSR manager for Arval, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support the team at UTC Swindon as they begin an exciting journey to bring engineering and enterprise to young people.

We work very closely with all of the vehicle manufacturers to gain access to the latest models and technologies. This fantastic car is just one example of engineering excellence which students locally can enjoy.”

At the open evening at STEAM, staff and directors from the University Technology College will describe this new offer in technical education and how to apply for places. Designs of the state-of-the art buildings will be on display. There will be presentations on details of the curriculum at UTC Swindon and how the courses are linked to the work of local and national engineering employers.

For more information log on to www.utcswindon.co.uk


Date set for Stonehenge showcase

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The official opening of the Business to Business Showcase 2012 by Ceri Hurford-Jones of Spire FM, Chamber chairman Jim Johnston, and John Glen MPStonehenge Chamber of Trade has set the date for its 7th Business to Business Showcase.

The event will be held on Thursday, September 19, from 3pm to 7pm, at Antrobus House, Amesbury.

Last year saw 40 local businesses exhibiting over two floors at Antrobus House. For more information, or to book a place, log on to www.stonehengechamber.co.uk

Accountants host property seminar

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Experts from Banks chartered accountants will be guiding delegates through the residential and commercial property markets at a Property & Investment Update on Wednesday, July 17.

The event, which is free to attend, will feature a variety of guest speakers providing an opinion of the current position together with a glimpse into what the future could look like in each area. 

It takes place from 6pm until 7pm at Banks' offices at Vicarage Court, 160 Ermin Street, Swindon, SN3 4NE.

For more information, or to book a place, log on to www.banksca.co.uk/book-an-event

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