Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Small business employment package extended until the new year

Francesca Bishop of Wansbroughs commercial teamA package that helps small businesses or start-ups issue employees with contracts has been extended into the new year.

Devizes-based law firm Wansbroughs has developed the Employment Contract Package for small or start-up businesses with a maximum of 20 permanent employees who are not contractors, agency staff, bank workers, or on a zero hour or fixed term contract.

The employees must have a role description, a set salary which is reviewed each year and may increase, set hour of work, and set holiday entitlements.

The £500 package includes an employment contract for employees, as well as a staff handbook, which will contain a disciplinary procedure policy, grievance procedure policy, sickness procedure policy, privacy notice and data protection policy.

The availability of the package – which complements the firm's bespoke business contracts service – has been extended until 31 January 2020.

Full details are available at www.wansbroughs.com/news-and-comment/news/employment-contract-package


Full fibre broadband vital for economic growth, meeting told

The importance of full fibre broadband to the growth of the Swindon and Wiltshire economy was laid out at a meeting in the town.

IT and communications firm Excalibur hosted the Business West Swindon Business & Economy Meeting, with CEO Peter Boucher talking about the CityFibre project – of which Excalibur is a partner – which is seeing wholesale full fibre infrastructure rolled out across the town.

Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership manager Paddy Bradley explained how full fibre broadband fits into the local industrial strategy. He said it was an important piece of the puzzle if Swindon is going to meet the grand challenges laid out by central government.

He also stressed the need for increased R&D activity if the region is to thrive under the fourth industrial revolution.

At present, Dyson accounts for the majority of R&D spend in Swindon & Wiltshire, said Paddy, who identified the lack of university and a science park in the region as one of the main barriers to upping the level of R&D locally.

He suggested that the best approach to overcoming this hurdle would involve public and private sector partners working together in priority sectors for the region.

The meeting also heard from Philippa Venables, head of strategic growth and Place at Swindon Borough Council, who gave a wide-ranging overview of current economic development initiatives in the borough, including Kimmerfields, the Fleming Way bus boulevard, the station arrival quarter, Swindon Cultural Quarter and Wichelstowe.

And Ian Larrard, director of Business West's Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, announced the organisation's partnership with the inaugural festival of science and technology in Swindon.

The Tomorrow festival will bring together government, industry and leading universities to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“We’re proud to be supporting this exciting project, which is shaping up to be a fantastic celebration of the innovation in Swindon and the region,” said Ian.

“Swindon employers are at the forefront of tackling our greatest challenges and opportunities, from climate change and vehicles of the future, to the future of medicine.

"Inspiring young people into STEM subjects is critical to Swindon’s future prosperity, which is why we’re encouraging all local businesses to get involved.”

Trainees recognised at global industry awards

Danielle Rolt and Leanne AndersonTwo trainee team members from Swindon-based accountancy firm MHA Monahans have been recognised as top performers in global industry awards.

Danielle Rolt, an assistant based in MHA Monahans’ Bath office, has achieved the Railton Prize for top results in her business strategy and technology professional paper from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

The Railton Prize is awarded to the student with the highest mark in the exam results.

Leanne Anderson, a senior associate based in MHA Monahans' Swindon office, also came first in the South West for her ACA advanced level paper and is now fully qualified.

Both Danielle and Leanne joined MHA Monahans two years ago after graduating from the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Portsmouth respectively with first class degrees in accounting and finance.

Leanne also worked for MHA Monahans during her placement year. Both are continuing their professional studies by undertaking the globally recognised chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA.

Simon Tombs, managing partner at MHA Monahans, comments: “Danielle and Leanne’s hard work has paid off and they undoubtedly have bright futures ahead of them.

"We’re all extremely proud of their achievements and pleased that we could support them in their learning journey through our extensive training programme.”


Gold and wellbeing Investors in People awards for construction firm

Mark BeardConstruction company Beard has been awarded an Investors in People (IIP) Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award for its commitment to the health and safety of employees in the workplace.

It is the 16th year that Swindon-based Beard has received an IIP award. It has been accredited by Investors in People since 2003 and achieved gold award status for eight years since 2011. It now holds both gold status and the health and wellbeing award.

Only eight percent of organisations in the construction industry in the south of the UK are accredited with this latest Health and Wellbeing Award.

Mark Beard, chairman of Beard Construction, said: “At Beard we put our people at the heart of everything that we do, from employees to our supply chain. Maintaining their health and wellbeing is fundamental to us. Both are vital to Beard, to our culture and to the way that we operate.

“We go out of our way to ensure that we treat people fairly, reward people well and provide our employees with training and development from the graduates who have just walked through the door up to director level and those that have been a part of Beard for years.

“Maintaining a working environment where everyone can and wants to give of the best and go home at the end of the working week in a healthy positive state is an ongoing challenge. We will continue to work hard to ensure everyone who works for Beard enjoys the experience.”

Cath Parish, Investors in People and Health and Wellbeing practitioner, who assessed Beard, said: “I was delighted to be Beard’s assessor for this very prestigious award.

"The Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Award shows the main elements of good practice that really can make a positive impact – not only to the people working in Beard, but also for the business as a whole."

All change at the top at IT firm

Chris GoughThe managing director of IT provider Mintivo is stepping down from the role to become company chairman.

Having led the company through the company’s 300 percent growth over the past two years, Steve Healy will be making way for Chris Gough, who is currently the firm's technical director.

“Steve’s experience has been invaluable to our growth to date and it’s fantastic to have him as Chairman to continue to provide strategic direction going forward,” said Chris.

Meanwhile, Dave Swift becomes the company's new technical director, and joins the management team and board. Matt Bray has been appointed as new business sales manager, Paula Harsley has joined as business support manager, and Sam Hughes has become service delivery manager.

Operations manager Mark Adams said: "My initial vision to provide and manage the right IT solutions for organisations to achieve success has grown and developed with the support of Steve and Chris, introducing new products and services assisting our clients even more.

"Bringing Dave into the company has increased our technical capabilities further, and his insight will be invaluable”.

Mintivo employs 15 people from offices in Chippenham and intends to grow its team to 20 in 2020.

Established in 2015, the company provides support, solutions and consultancy to national companies including Investors in People, Mulberry and The Tote, and local businesses including White Horse Surveyors and Hartham Park.

Electronics firm meets Investors in People gold standard

Power electronics components distributor PPM has retained its Investors in People gold standard, putting it in the top 16 percent of IIP organisations.

PPM currently employs over fifty people across its two sites on Shrivenham Hundred Business Park near Swindon. The company has continued to grow in recent years across all four business lines.

Lorna Fairbairn, IIP South practitioner, said: “PPM continues to be a recognised Investor in People organisation putting them in the top 16 percent of all Investor in People organisations. “They have an embedded culture of trusting and empowering people to come up with ideas and improvements.

"People also feel valued and appreciated for their work which is acknowledged in a number of ways. This result is testament to PPM’s ongoing effort in taking on feedback and always looking to improve.” PPM has been IIP accredited since 2004 and first achieved the gold standard in 2016. Its four divisions include:

  • PPM Power – specialist distributor of components, systems and software for power electronics, high voltage and pulse power applications.
  • ViaLite Communications – designs and manufactures RF over fibre products for a range of applications.
  • PPM Test – PPM Test’s systems are used to transport analogue/RF signals in applications such as EMC testing and high energy physics.
  • PPM Systems – specialises in RF over fibre systems and custom RF design for the military, including antenna systems and software-defined radio.

Cocktail-based events company aims to shake up Cyprian market

Natalie SkinnerA cocktail-based events company is expanding from Swindon to run events on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Elsie Road runs festivals, private parties and corporate events with cocktails at the heart, served from a distinctive teardrop caravan mobile bar.

The company works with hotels, wedding planners and corporate bookers on events of all sizes and requirements. A cocktail-making school is also part of the mix.

Founder Natalie Skinner said: "I have family who live in Cyprus and after visiting, I noticed a gap in the market that Elsie Road could cater for.

“It became apparent that there was a demand for our services and our beautifully converted and unique mobile teardrop caravan bar.

"We’ve employed a manager who will oversee the business in Cyprus and have transported the caravan bar over there.”

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