Tuesday 25th February 2020
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 28/01/2020

Stansted expansion plans refused by local council

The planning committee at Uttlesford District Council in Essex, whose area includes London Stansted Airport, has refused the airport's application to serve more passengers. The airport had applied to increase passenger numbers from the 35 million now permitted to 43 million a year and to build two new taxiways and nine more aircraft stands. It currently handles 28 million passengers a year. A Stansted spokesperson said: “We are naturally disappointed that the planning committee has chosen to consciously ignore the recommendations of not only its own officers but also the additional advice it commissioned at significant cost to the taxpayer from independent technical experts and lawyers. The conclusions of this advice were clear that there should be no impediment to granting approval. We will now carefully consider the comments made by the planning committee before deciding our next steps.”

Unite regional officer Mark Barter said: “We deplore this short-sighted decision by Uttlesford district council’s planning committee which will have an adverse impact on future employment growth at the airport and, more widely, it will have negative ripple effects across the region’s economy. Planning permission would have created 5,000 more jobs at the airport and a further £1bn of economic value would also have been generated.”

In November 2018, the council’s planning committee provisionally approved the application to expand but in May 2019, the 'Residents for Uttlesford' group took control of the council to refer the decision back to the planning committee. One option for the airport is to appeal the decision to the Secretary of State for Housing.

Council buys former BT office site in Ipswich for £4.1 million for affordable housing

An Ipswich Borough Council -owned company has bought a town centre site which was formerly a BT office block for £4.1m with plans to build nearly 80 new affordable flats. The council’s property company, Ipswich Borough Assets (IBA), has acquired the site in Bibb Way in a sale agreed by Savills for its client Telereal Trillium. Thomas Higgins of Savills Chelmsford said: "Given the scale of the scheme we approached national and regional developers and there was sizeable interest from both. There is ever growing demand for development land in and around Ipswich. Values are strong for sites that have capacity for more than 100 new homes, are well-located and which have good access to infrastructure and amenities such as the A12 corridor and rail connectivity to London.”  IBA will convert the five-storey office block into up to 79 flats and maisonettes including some for people with disabilities. IBA chair Colin Kreidewolf said a former data storage office and car park could also be redeveloped on the 4.3 acre site. Overall up to 136 homes could be built on the site.

Record level of new businesses set up in Suffolk

More new businesses were set up in Suffolk during 2019 than in any previous year – a record high for the second year in a row. Despite political and economic challenges, 4,518 new companies were registered in the county last year compared to 4,292 during 2018, an increase of 5.3 per cent. It takes the total number of registered companies in Suffolk to 36,907, up 3.9 per cent on the previous year. The figures are from the Inform Direct Review of Company Formations using data from Companies House and the ONS. Ipswich saw the highest number of new businesses (1,060), followed by Suffolk Coastal (671) and St Edmundsbury (610). John Korchak (photo right), director of operations at Inform Direct, said: “Reporting a record year – the second in a row – for new company formations in Suffolk during a turbulent year, politically and economically, is a major achievement. Attracting new ventures and encouraging entrepreneurs to set up there, means that the county is clearly delivering positive support for business. “

He added: “With Brexit uncertainty casting a shadow – and some companies experiencing falling sales or choosing to relocate internationally – it is heartening that we are seeing signs of business optimism with so many new companies being created. This picture is mirrored nationally with an all-time high of nearly 700,000 new businesses formed in the UK as a whole.” For a fuller picture on Suffolk go to : https://www.informdirect.co.uk/company-formations-2019/suffolk/

Law firm advises on sale of order and warehouse management solutions provider

Law firm Birketts has advised the owners of a leading Chelmsford-based order and warehouse management solutions business Mintsoft on its sale to software provider The Access Group. Founded in 2011, Mintsoft is known for its innovative approach to logistics, using cloud technology to help hundreds of multi-channel retailers and third party businesses to despatch millions of packages annually. It is hoped that the acquisition will enable Access to extend its current offering and but increase its market appeal. The transaction was led by Adam Jones (photo, right) and James Stocker (corporate), with support from John Kahn (tax) and Clare Barlow (employment). Luke Groves, MD and founder of Mintsoft , said: “With the growth of ecommerce, Mintsoft has worked hard to provide companies with efficient and affordable fulfilment solutions and I am very proud of what my team - and the company as a whole - have achieved. Now established as a market leader, we are delighted to embark on this new chapter, and hope that Access’ acquisition will open up new opportunities for all involved.” He added: “I could not be happier with the Birketts team for their work with us in successfully completing our transaction.”

See Profile Birketts

Call for urgent reforms to business rescue framework

The government risks hampering regional businesses' ability to compete post-Brexit if it continues to neglect its proposals for reforms to the corporate insolvency framework, says the Eastern branch of insolvency trade body R3. Plans for insolvency reform which would have given businesses the possibility of 'last chance' protection from creditors to turn their operations around before a formal insolvency procedure, were left out of December's Queen's Speech. Reforms to ensure struggling businesses receive vital supplies from utility companies, and the introduction of a new court-based restructuring procedure were also left out. R3 Eastern chair Mark Upton (right), a partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants in East Anglia, said: “R3 has long argued that the UK’s restructuring framework would need to be updated to ensure it remains competitive and fit for purpose after Brexit. With no mention being made of it in the latest Queen's Speech or in planned bills, R3 would urge ministers to incorporate appropriate reforms into a bill as soon as possible.”

Photo: R3 Eastern Chair Mark Upton, partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants.

Five new members join Cambridge Ahead

Cambridge Ahead, the business and academic member organisation, has recruited five new members committed to helping to shape the long-term sustainable growth of the city’s economy and the wider region. The new members: The Mick George Group, (construction industry supplier), The Jockey Club, JLL (real estate services), COEL (office and laboratory refurbishment)and U+I (regeneration) represent the increasingly broad footprint of the Cambridge economy in the region’s market towns and internationally. Jane Paterson-Todd (photo, right), CEO, Cambridge Ahead, said: “I am delighted to welcome our five new members. The Mick George Group and The Jockey Club reflect and support the work we have been doing in the wider region, particularly around the connectivity of market towns and how transport issues are affecting towns’ own growth and ambitions, in addition to digital infrastructure projects in the greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area.

“The active involvement of global firm JLL with its focus on creating sustainable spaces, buildings and cities, and more locally COEL and U+I, which play a huge part in shaping the ‘now’ and the future of our region as we consider our increasing reach and impact, will add significant expertise and knowledge to our work in these areas.”

See Profile Cambridge Cluster Map

Family law team joins scheme to speed up divorce settlements

The family law team at Norwich solicitors Cozens-Hardy has joined a new online scheme that aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes divorcing couples to obtain a formal court order finalising their financial settlement. It can take up to four months for couples to get a formal order even when they have already agreed its terms - but the new fast-track scheme could cut this to less than two weeks. Jane Anderson, head of the family team at Cozens-Hardy, said: “Divorcing couples are often left in financial limbo for many weeks. These delays are frequently out of solicitors’ hands, but they cause complications and give rise to additional stress at what it is already a sad and difficult time for divorcing couples… This new scheme has the potential to ensure that agreed financial settlements submitted to the court online will take just one or two weeks to be turned around.”

Photo: The family law team at Cozens-Hardy.

See Profile Cozens-Hardy

Event on funding and growing innovative business

Innovate UK in the East of England, an event to learn how funding, finance and collaboration can help your business to innovate and grow is being held at the John Innes Centre on Norwich Research Park on March 4th. Doors open early and the informative workshop agenda starts at 9am. (separate registration). Prof. David Richardson, vice chancellor of the University of East Anglia will formally open the event at 10 am followed by Ian Meikle, director - clean growth and infrastructure at Innovate UK, to explain how the organisation helps UK businesses innovate and share news on funding programmes. Attendees will hear from businesses which Innovate UK has helped to succeed and on how Innovate UK works with growth hubs to support innovation. In “beyond grant funding” from 11.30, innovation loans, R&D tax credits, angel and venture capital investment including the Low Carbon Innovation Fund will be explained. From 2.30 the focus will be on working with universities and the “knowledge base” to accelerate your innovation, including knowledge transfer partnerships. During lunch and the afternoon there will be more workshops on the world-class resources available at Norwich Research Park and looking at how to win funding and grow an innovative business. To register go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/innovate-uk-in-the-east-of-england-2020-registration-85479366085

See Profile Norwich Research Park

Port of King’s Lynn signs new export deal with scrap metal specialist

ABP’s Port of King’s Lynn has started a new long-term contract with Goldstar Metal Traders, a leading scrap metal specialist in Norfolk. Servicing a wide range of factory premises, demolition sites and waste transfer facilities, Goldstar Metal Traders deploy over 400 skips and containers across the Midlands and East Anglia. Kim Kennedy (photo, right), port manager at the Port of King’s Lynn, said: “We have enjoyed working with Goldstar since 2017 as they are the leading scrap metal specialist in East Anglia. This new deal is great news for the region because it means that we will continue to power the region’s prosperous future.” Operating from Berth 16 at the port, Goldstar exports ferrous and non-ferrous metals to central Europe and the Baltic states.

Ben Ward (left), managing director, Goldstar Metal Traders, said: “Due to its location and great transport links, the Port of King’s Lynn is a natural choice for us when it comes to exporting scrap metal to destinations across Europe.”