Stoke-on-Trent City Council have created an Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators which outlines ambitious plans to improve bus services across the city.
By creating the partnership with local bus operators, the City Council has secured £31.6 million funding from the Department of Transport to deliver a range of bus service improvements including lower fares, simplified ticketing, shorter journey times, more frequent bus services, longer hours of operation and improved bus stop passenger information, accessibility and security. Further details regarding the bus service improvement proposals can be viewed here.
As part of their commitment to improving bus services, the City Council are setting up an Enhanced Partnership Forum consisting of key stakeholders with an interest in local bus services. The Forum will provide the opportunity to raise and discuss issues affecting the Stoke-on-Trent bus network, consult on service improvements, and make recommendations for consideration by the City Council and bus operators.
The first Forum is planned for the 8th November. If you are interested in joining, please click here.
8 million sq feet – or the size of 140 football fields? Whichever way you look at it, the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) site in South Staffordshire will be a huge commercial development in our county. Situated between junction 12 of the M6 and the West Coast Mainline at Gailey in South Staffordshire, WMI will have a significant impact on Staffordshire’s economy as the site takes shape in the next decade.
WMI is a joint venture between Logistics Capital Partners (LCP) and Oxford Property Group and is regarded as ‘The UK’s most significant new rail served logistics development,’ offering up to 8 million sq. feet of prime logistics facilities. In our recent Planning & Infrastructure (P&I) forum meeting, we received an update from LCP on the development of WMI.
On-site activity started in earnest during the summer of 2023, with the flattening of plateaued land, guided by a construction principle of ensuring that no soil leaves the existing site and no soil is brought onto the site.
Community engagement is a key priority for the development, with approximately 109 acres of land being set aside as a community park. Local residents are being asked about what amenities they would like to see in a community park. The park will also be used by the 8,500 workers who will be employed at WMI, once the site is complete.
The WMI site will seek innovative construction of buildings to ensure that there is relatively low energy consumption. Buildings across the site will offer up to 150 acres of roof space, onto which photovoltaic cells will be attached. This will generate energy for the entire site.
A rail head facility will open in 2026, allowing freight to move in and out by rail, connecting with the West Coast Mainline between Stafford and Wolverhampton. Once this is opened, further development of the site should accelerate, with demand for space expected to be high.
During last week’s P&I forum, we also received an update from locally based social enterprise, Mondrem, which wants ‘to help make public services brilliant, everywhere and all of the time’. Mike Astbury of Mondrem explained that his team is working with planning teams at local authorities, helping them to deliver a faster and better customer experience, improve productivity and deliver their work within budget.
Delays in turning around planning application decisions can often be attributed to a lack of capacity or challenges with staff recruitment and retention. Mondrem encourages local authority clients to recognise the importance of making human connections, as being human is what we all have in common. Another key element is the need to build shared understanding, trust and confidence. A faster, better service is seen as a by-product.
Our P&I forum is tasked with exchanging information on planning policy, construction and regeneration. It also steers Chambers’ representations on these matters and receives updates on developments in planning law. We meet again on Tuesday 23rd January 2024 and if you would like to learn more about the valuable work of this and our other policy forums, please drop me a line:
Business owners and leaders are being urged to complete the new Quarterly Economic Survey for Q4 2023 to help inform policymakers on the challenges facing businesses in our local area.
This is one of the most important times for businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to complete the QES following a period of price hikes that has heaped pressure on organisations of all sizes.
The information you provide will help to shape policy thinking as the data is shared with the British Chambers of Commerce, Government departments including HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office as well as the Bank of England.
We are keen to hear from firms of all shapes and sizes as it will help create an accurate picture of the current business landscape.
Whether you’re a seasoned director or relatively new to your company, please spare just a few minutes to fill in the anonymous survey.
We understand your time is precious, even more so now, so thank you to all those who complete the survey. Click here.
Following Sara Williams’ decision to retire at the end of the year, Staffordshire Chambers is looking to recruit a new Chief Executive – providing an exciting and unique opportunity to lead an award-winning organisation at the heart of the local business community.
As the Chief Executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, you will serve as the authoritative voice for all size of businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, both locally and at the government level.
Building upon the strong foundation laid by Sara Williams OBE, your leadership will be instrumental in steering our pioneering organisation toward continued stability through sound business acumen, innovative strategies, and the growth of revenue.
Working in close collaboration with our members, board, partners, and stakeholders, you will champion issues that lie at the heart of our community, contributing to the region’s remarkable growth.
View the recruitment pack, here.
The deadline for application is midnight on Sunday 19th November 2023.
Last week’s Chamber Transport forum had a packed agenda of guest speakers, with updates on ambitious proposals to link Hanley and Stoke-on-Trent Station, improvements to local bus services and developments by Midlands Net Zero Hub.
Did you know that some 3.1 million passengers pass through Stoke-on-Trent Station each year? The city enjoys good rail connectivity with Manchester, Birmingham and London. When visitors arrive in Stoke-on-Trent and walk outside the station, they are often faced with a very busy and congested Station Road, with cars weaving in and out of a limited number of parking spaces.
Stoke-on -Trent City Council has been awarded funding through the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF). Funding will be used to enhance links between Stoke-on-Trent Station and the city centre (Hanley). College Road is seen as a key route connecting both points and planned improvements will include wider pavements for increased pedestrian priority and segregated cycle routes. College Road is just to the west of Hanley Park and pedestrians and cyclists will enjoy a pleasant walk or cycle ride. Improvements to bus services will aim to speed up journey times and get more of us using public transport and active transport, from start to finish.
Bus passenger numbers have not fully recovered from a cliff-edge decline during the pandemic. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is delivering a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which aims to :
- Increase passenger numbers.
- Improve journey times.
- Improve reliability.
- Increase passenger satisfaction.
Traffic signal upgrades with enhanced bus priority measures will help to speed up journey times and improve service reliability. Passengers will have better information available at bus stops, with real time passenger information and improved lighting/CCTV. Affordable bus fares will be actively promoted through ongoing marketing activity. A Stakeholder Forum is being launched and passengers from a diverse mix of backgrounds will have the chance to join and feed in their views about bus services across Stoke-on-Trent.
Midlands Net Zero Hub (MNZH) is one of five national NZH and aims to support local decarbonisation and clean growth, as well as increase the number, quality and scale of net zero projects. North Staffordshire Low Emission Taxi Charging Infrastructure Scheme (LETIS) is led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and funded by OLEV. This aims to increase the number of low-emission taxis. It will include the delivery and operation of rapid charge points for taxis across Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under- Lyme and Stafford, with engagement with licensed private hire and hackney carriage operators to inform selection of the best possible locations for the EV infrastructure. Getting more low emission taxis on our local roads will help to improve air quality.
The Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Capital Fund is supporting Midlands Connect and the consortiums of local authorities to expand the region’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.bIf drivers are to switch to electric vehicles, they need to have confidence in an expansive choice and reliability of electric vehicle charging structure in our local area.
Finally, and staying with the transport theme, make sure you get your (free!) ticket for our Etruria Valley Station event. We want to develop a proposal to open a new rail station at Etruria Valley, close to the new Etruria Valley Link Road (EVLR). The area is home to a diverse mix of businesses, including Bet365, DPD, Doubletree Hilton, Vodafone and Waterworld. A new rail station would unlock access into this thriving area, getting people to and from work by train and removing the familiar sight of queuing cars on the A53 and A500. Why not join us and find out more. Click here to book your place: Etruria Valley Rail Station – tickets please! – Staffordshire Chambers
HMP Sudbury, in collaboration with its Employment Advisory Board (EAB), hosted a unique careers event that united local businesses and the prison community to explore pathways for workforce reintegration.
The Employment Advisory Board, comprising prominent local business leaders, played a pivotal role in connecting businesses with the potential workforce available within the Sudbury Prison community. Their collaboration showcased a commitment to fostering second chances and opening doors to meaningful employment for those currently incarcerated.
The event drew a diverse range of businesses representing sectors such as warehousing, manufacturing, construction, as well as specialised companies offering self-employment guidance and tailored support across various fields. The attendees were deeply impressed by the wealth of talent and untapped potential within HMP Sudbury.
Particpants expressed their eagerness for more opportunities of this nature, and emphasised the importance of similar events involving businesses from across the country, especially from regions like the West Midlands and London, where many of them will be released.
This collaboration between HMP Sudbury and the Employment Advisory Board exemplifies how collaborative efforts can ignite hope among prisoners for realising their potential upon release. By providing access to quality employment opportunities, this initiative aims to break the cycle of reoffending and secure a brighter future for the individuals involved and their families.
Declan’s Blog: Unique opportunity for Staffordshire’s importers and exporters to join inaugural Forum meeting
Next month sees the inaugural meeting of our new International Trade forum, and we’re calling on Staffordshire’s importers and exports to get involved and join the meeting on 20 November.
Our Chamber forums provide a unique and invaluable opportunity to meet with other Chamber members, share best practices, discuss sector issues and uncover new opportunities for your business. What are your main challenges when it comes to exporting? Is your business having any issues with export documentation paperwork? What can we do to encourage more local businesses to take the plunge and look at overseas markets for growth? Get involved with the Forum at Commerce House on Monday, 20 November, from 9:00am. The Forum, which is free-to-attend, is available exclusively to Chamber members. Spaces must be booked in advance via our website, here.
We welcome new faces in all of our policy forums but what’s in it for you and your business? It’s a chance for your views to be heard and the opportunity to work collaboratively with your fellow Chambers’ members in influencing our policy role on specific topics. You also get the chance to grow your networking contacts in similar sectors. It could also be a perfect development opportunity for one of your team, helping to empower confidence.
Some of our forum members have gone on to join British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) policy groupings, getting their voices heard at a national level.
Being a part of our policy forums is not a huge commitment with no more than four meetings a year and meetings typically start at 9am and last no more than an hour or so.
Being the voice of business is what we do but why not get involved and play your part. For further details on our policy forums, please contact Declan Riddell.
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce is regarded as the voice of local business in Staffordshire but what does this really mean? We deliver ten policy forums, covering the topics of :
• Energy, Environment and Sustainability
• HR, Employment and Skills
• Money Matters
• Planning & Infrastructure
• Rural Business
• Social Value & Procurement
Each forum is made up of representatives from our member businesses and meets up several times across the year. Key topics for discussion are identified, guest speakers are brought in and our forums pick up that role of highlighting the matters that concern our members, at both a national and regional level. Each forum has its own Chair, who will steer both the meetings and objectives of that particular forum.
Forum dates are available on the events area of our Staffordshire Chambers website, here.
It’s been a busy week at Commerce House. On Tuesday, we were presented with the King’s Award for Enterprise for Promoting Opportunity through social mobility by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Staffordshire, Ian Dudson – one of the proudest moments in the history of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.
The award recognises our unwavering commitment to promoting opportunity and fostering social mobility within our community. It was a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge the incredible efforts of our team and the outstanding initiatives we have undertaken to fulfill this vision – so it was only right that we got together to celebrate!
We were joined by many familiar faces at Commerce House, including our Board, Council, Patrons and invited guests – as well as Councillor Majid Khan, Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent. Guests heard from two speakers; Charlie Beswick from our Boosting Women in Business Programme and Lucy Li from our Positive Pathways programme. Both women serve as an inspiration for anyone wanting to overcome challenges and achieve the goal of setting up a new business, and it was a privilege listening to their stories firsthand.
Congratulations must also be made to the hospitality and catering students from Stoke-on-Trent College who showcased their skills by preparing and serving an afternoon tea-themed buffet for the event. It was delicious!
I joined Staffordshire Chambers some 12 years ago, with a strong belief that business has the power to do good. From empowering individuals, fighting climate change and uplifting communities, we have ensured that Staffordshire Chambers embodies these important values and I am so proud that this work has been nationally, and now royally recognised. While my role may be changing, I have no doubt that these principles that have guided us will remain at the heart of this Chamber.
A full list of images from the presentation can be found here. Please use the password coc2.
Our Chamber Council met on Wednesday and we received an update regarding the West Midlands Interchange development, which will take shape at Four Ashes in South Staffordshire. The site has been regarded as the UK’s most significant logistics development, offering up to 8 million sq. feet of capacity. The site is close to junction 12 of the M6, with good connectivity to the UK motorway network, but it will also enjoy additional access to and from the site by rail, with links to the West Coast Mainline.
West Midlands Interchange is being developed with building design to include reduced energy consumption and aspirations to use the extensive rooftop space to house PV cells and effectively generate sufficient energy for the site. We’ll look forward to the ongoing development of this site in the coming years and hope that it will help to attract businesses and jobs into the south of our county, taking advantage of the area’s exceptional road and rail connectivity.
We end the week with our latest ‘Meet the MP’ meeting, when Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, meets with Chamber members to discuss a mix of topics including transport, skills and business premises. This follows our recent ‘Meet the MP’ meetings with Jack Brereton, MP for Stoke on Trent South, and Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle under Lyme. Any business can book a 1:1 with an MP but nothing beats coming together to discuss common business issues. We meet with Jo Gideon, MP for Stoke on Trent Central, on Friday 10th November and if you would like to join the meeting, please contact Declan Riddell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see – it really has been a busy week at Commerce House – but it’s times like these that demonstrate the breadth and range of the services that we offer as a Chamber. Whether it’s our award-winning flagship programmes or our representation of local businesses through our Meet the MP sessions, I am extremely proud of the support that we continue to offer to the Staffordshire business community.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222, call the Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: email@example.com
Staffordshire Chambers presented with King’s Award for Enterprise by Lord-Lieutenant for Staffordshire, Ian Dudson
Staffordshire Chambers has today been presented with the King’s Award for Enterprise for Promoting Opportunity through social mobility by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Staffordshire, Ian Dudson.
The Promoting Opportunity award is issued to organisations that support people from disadvantaged backgrounds in improving their job skills and their chances of finding work – with Staffordshire Chambers becoming one of just nine businesses across the country to earn the accolade.
Two guest speakers joined the Chamber team at Commerce House as part of the celebrations; Charlie Beswick from our Boosting Women in Business Programme and Lucy Li from our Positive Pathways programme. Both programmes played a key part in the Chamber being issued with the King’s Award for Enterprise.
A full list of images from the presentation can be found here. Please use the password coc2.
Staffordshire Chambers CEO, Sara Williams OBE, said: “I am delighted, honoured and incredibly excited to receive The King’s Award for Enterprise – one of the proudest moments in the history of Staffordshire Chambers.
“Our members know that here at the Chamber, our focus is on community and the belief that business is the bedrock of that community. I must thank the whole Chamber family; members, Patrons, Board, Council, Forums, staff, stakeholders and partners. You have all won this award.
“I would also like to thank both of our guest speakers who joined us today – we are especially proud of the flagship programmes that both Charlie and Lucy have participated in that have been instrumental in promoting opportunity and social mobility within our community.
“Our ‘Boosting Women in Business’ programme offers tailored support to inspire, boost confidence and raise the self-esteem of women across Staffordshire, while our Positive Pathways programme is a business start-up and employability skills programme designed specifically for refugees who have fled war, violence, conflict, or persecution. Both of our guest speakers are living testaments to the success of these programmes.
“Our businesses employ people, empower people, educate people and work within the community to ensure opportunity for everyone, including the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, and I am proud that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce is at the heart of this.”
The King’s Awards for Enterprise was previously known as The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, and the new name reflects His Majesty The King’s desire to continue the legacy of HM Queen Elizabeth II by recognising outstanding UK businesses.
Now in its 57th year, the award programme is the most prestigious business award in the country, with successful businesses able to use the esteemed King’s Award Emblem for the next five years.
Newcastle-Under-Lyme BID Receives Funding from Safer Streets Fund to Support Night Time Economy Businesses During Festive Period
Newcastle Under Lyme’s Business Improvement District (BID) has secured vital funding from the Police Commissioner’s Safer Streets Fund to bolster safety and support local businesses in the town centre during the festive period.
The funding will enable the deployment of First Aid Responders on key Saturday dates throughout November and December, to include Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, with the aim of alleviating pressure on essential resources, such as Staffordshire Police and Accident and Emergency Unit at Royal Stoke University Hospital.
The Police Commissioner’s Safer Streets Fund has recognised the importance of supporting local communities during the holiday season, particularly in high-traffic areas like Newcastle Under Lyme’s town centre.
The addition comes following positive feedback from night time economy businesses after a successful initiative by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council that provides coverage on Friday evenings from the Women’s Safe Space on the Ironmarket.
This funding provided to the Newcastle Under Lyme BID will be instrumental in enhancing public safety and ensuring that both residents and visitors can enjoy a safe and enjoyable festive season.
Charlotte Pearce, manager of Newcastle-under-Lyme BID, expressed gratitude for the funding, saying, “We are incredibly thankful for the support provided by the Police Commissioner’s Safer Streets Fund who have also supported the BID in a community art project that focuses on Violence Against Women and Girls. This funding will be instrumental in ensuring that our town centre remains a safe and welcoming place during the festive period. The first aid responders will play a crucial role in providing assistance to those in need and supporting our local businesses. By doing so, we aim to ease the burden on our valued local resources, such as Staffordshire Police and staff at Royal Stoke.”
This initiative is an excellent example of collaboration between local organisations, law enforcement, and the local authority to create a safer and more prosperous community.