Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Swindon University Technical College appoints first principal

on .

Angela Barker-DenchSwindon's new engineering academy has confirmed the appointment of its first principal.

Angela Barker-Dench will take on the role from September and lead the Swindon University Technical College during its set-up year and as it welcomes its first intake of students in September 2014.

Angela has experience of technical and vocational education having served as vice-principal at both Berkshire College of Agriculture and Capel Manor College in Enfield, where she currently works.

She also brings to the post expertise in liaison between vocational education, industry and higher education and started her career in engineering. 

She is also familiar with Swindon, having worked in a senior post at Swindon College.

UTC Swindon is a new concept in education which sees 14 to 19 year old students study engineering alongside a core academic curriculum.

The curriculum will be fully employer designed, integrating and transferring skills for work-readiness.

When she takes up her post, Angela will immediately start work on managing the opening of the college and ensuring that plans are fully in place for the first students who walk through the doors at the start of term in September 2014.

Work on enrolment of students is now beginning, with the first of a series of open meetings scheduled for 6.30pm on Thursday 11 July at Swindon’s STEAM Museum.

One of Angela’s key tasks next year will be to support students through their applications.

“It is a tremendous honour to be announced as the first principal of UTC Swindon,” said Angela.

“I am excited about the prospect of helping students to gain a high-quality education within a distinctive learning environment.

“UTC Swindon promises to be an exciting new concept in education which will provide 14 to 19 year olds with the skills and knowledge to progress on to university, apprenticeships and successful careers. I can’t wait to get started.”

Paul Inman, pro-vice chancellor for Oxford Brookes University and UTC Swindon director, said: “Having seen a particularly strong field of candidates, it was clear to the UTC Trust that Angela Barker-Dench was the right person for the job.

“The partners involved in the development of UTC Swindon have made significant progress to date and this latest announcement is an important step as we move closer to opening in September 2014.

“We look forward to Angela joining us for what is an exciting new educational facility which will produce the next generation of engineers.”

Paul Holmes, automation and mechanical design manager for Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells and UTC Swindon director: “We are delighted to be offering Angela the position of Principal, as she has tremendous experience and expertise within education and engineering.

“UTC Swindon will create fantastic opportunities for young people, employers and industry and it is important that such an innovative development has strong and inspirational leadership.

“We are confident that Angela will take on the challenge of creating an exciting new educational facility for Swindon, Wiltshire and the wider region to be proud of.”

Land agent appoints youngest associate partner for 25 years

on .

Stuart MilsomA Cotswold and North Wiltshire land and estate agent has appointed its youngest associate partner for 25 years.

Rural surveyor Stuart Milsom (30) of Cirencester, has been appointed to the position of associate partner at Moore Allen & Innocent, the one of the largest providers of rural expertise in the region.

Stuart – the first addition to the partnership in over four years – grew up on a farm in Sherston, near Malmesbury, but swapped his wellies for a suit and tie during his Business Management degree at Oxford Brooks University, which he completed in 2004.

He was soon back in a tweed jacket, however, when he landed his first job at Moore Allen in 2005, assisting partner Chris Graham with the business side of farm management – helping farmers in the Cotswolds, North Wiltshire and West Oxfordshire to understand and implement legislation from the UK and EU.

And when senior partner and chairman Robert Young retired from the partnership last year, Stuart picked up the management reins of several large estates.

With City money pouring into the Cotswold countryside, Stuart reckons his business management degree helps him understand the needs of investors buying into the rural idyll, whose estates require careful management.

“I feel that I am well placed to advise new entrants into the countryside,” said Stuart, “ as well as meeting the needs of our traditional long standing agricultural client base.”

Senior partner Mark Hill said Stuart's appointment would strengthen the agricultural team, and provide stability for the future.

Stuart joins residential estate agent Mark Halliwell – appointed in 2009 – as one of the next generation of partners.

“This is a great plaudit for Stuart, who has been rewarded for all the hard work he has put in,” said Mark.

“I was delighted to be offered the opportunity by the partners,” said Stuart, “and I'm grateful for the support they've given me since I joined the firm.

Chance to catch up on Chippenham's BID initiative

on .

Mo Aswat of Mosaic PartnershipChippenham's aspirations to become a Business Improvement District will be explained at a business breakfast run by accountants Monahans on Wednesday, June 26.

Melody Thompson and Mo Aswat of the Mosaic Partnership will update 90 networkers on the current status of the Chippenham BID initiative, which is moving into the development phase.

There are already over 180 BIDs in the UK, and the guest speakers will explain what a BID is and how it could benefit businesses in and around Chippenham.

The event will be held at Chippenham Sports Club, starting at 7.30am and costs £10 per head to attend.

For an invitation, or more information, log on to www.monahans.co.uk/events-seminars.asp

Economic pressures continue to affect racing

on .

Andrew Chalk and Richard Brooks of Withy KingEconomic conditions continue to take their toll on horse racing with over half (53 percent) of the trainers who took part in a survey by Wiltshire law firm, Withy King, admitting they weren’t confident about the business climate over the next six months.

One-fifth (21 percent) said they felt less confident than they did a year ago while 62 percent said they felt the same. Half (50 per cent) said their businesses were just breaking even while 23 percent admitted to being unprofitable.

The Racing Barometer survey of 550 UK trainers, including many in Wiltshire, was carried out by the specialist racing and bloodstock team at Swindon and Marlborough-based law firm, Withy King.

Commenting on the results, Withy King partner Andrew Chalk said: “It comes as no surprise that the sentiments expressed by those at the coalface in racing reflect those in wider society. These remain challenging times for all, but the results paint a picture of resilient trainers digging in and working hard through the recession, with many being innovative in the way they structure fees to attract new owners.

“As always, it’s a mixed picture.  Some trainers continue to find trading conditions very tough, but let’s hope that in time we will look back on this survey as showing the green shoots of recovery.”

Withy King partner Richard Brooks added: “We know that some trainers are plagued by debts owed by owners.  They are, in turn, living off credit given by their suppliers. We know of many instances of huge debts being built up with feed merchants and vets among others. 

“This in turn can generate closer scrutiny from the BHA’s Licensing department. We have seen in recent seasons that the BHA is willing to refuse licences on the basis that trainers do not have the skills or willingness to run a solvent business.

“But while there are some obvious difficulties, there is also a fair degree of optimism. We see a regular stream of new businesses started by some fairly savvy characters. A balance needs to be struck between keeping owners happy and having a business-like relationship that requires good cashflow.  The successful trainers maintain their cashflow with a keen eye on the business as well as their horses.”

The survey also blamed a lack of decent prize money for deterring owners from the sport. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of trainers who took part in the survey said the number of owners in their yard is affected by prize money levels.

Over half (51 percent) are seeing more shared ownership than they were a year ago; 57 percent said they had to offer discounts to attract owners to their yards. With prize money due to increase by 10 per cent in 2014, it’ll be interesting to find out whether trainers think this is likely to have any impact.

Withy King’s Racing Barometer is a new initiative designed to provide a real insight into the issues of the day and a snapshot of what it’s like to be a trainer in this economic climate. Trainers will be surveyed twice a year – in April and October.

Businesses to go round in Circles during Hangout

on .

Marcus Lilley of FutrSocialThe concepts of Circles and Hangouts will be explored during a workshop looking at the social network Google+.

Google – More Than a Search Engine is the second in a series of three informal courses led by social media entrepreneur Marcus Lilley, whose Marlborough-based firm, FutrSocial, helps people across the UK get to grips with an ever-changing array of communications technology.

Attendees will be creating a hangout of the session, to demonstrate how the tool can be used to create a virtual networking event.

Marcus said: “Marlborough Social Media Sessions will be a collaborative experience; a chance for people to come together, learn about new technology, and share ideas.”

The session will be held at The Food Gallery, High Street, Marlborough from 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday, June 25.

The sessions are free, although attendees will be encouraged to purchase a hot or cold drink or cake from the host venue. Attendees will need to bring a laptop, tablet or smartphone to participate in the practical sessions.

The last session in the series – Your Mobile: A Studio in Your Hands – will be held on Tuesday, July 30.  

For more information, or to book a place on either session, log on to http://marlboroughsocialmediasession.eventbrite.co.uk

Delegates can explore a new way of earning a living

on .

Gail GibsonA masterclass led by two of the UK's thought leaders in portfolio career and lifestyle development takes place in Highworth next week.

How Colourful is Your Umbrella? is aimed at people seeking a new working lifestyle.

Coaches Steve Preston and Gail Gibson will lead delegates through a day-long course that will help them to:

  • Change their thinking about what work they can do

  • Develop a portfolio of work based on their interests, talents and passions

  • Make an existing portfolio career work for them to achieve the results they want

  • Take control of how they live their life

The masterclass will be held in Highworth on Friday, June 21. For more information, or to book a place, log on to http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/5090860902

LEP prioritises high value manufacturing

on .

Paul Johnson, chairman of SWLEPThe Local Enterprise Partnership has prioritised the high value manufacturing sector as an area for growth in Swindon and Wiltshire.

Due to its current contribution to the local economy and potential for growth, high value manufacturing is high on the LEP’s agenda, with local businesses such as Apetito, Herman Miller, Intel, Alcatel Lucent and Dyson leading the way.

The Swindon & Wiltshire LEP is now looking for a research partner to review the high value manufacturing sector in the local area.

By mapping out the composition of the sector in Swindon & Wiltshire, the research will then enable the LEP to identify specific growth opportunities and exploit them, to the benefit of the local economy.

Details of the tender process for this research study can be found on the LEP’s website – www.swlep.biz

The closing date for tender responses is 5pm on Friday 5th July 2013