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Backing for two City Deal business cases

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MEMBERS of the Swansea City Deal’s Economic Strategy Board are supporting a call for immediate approval of two major Swansea Bay City Deal projects.

The Economic Strategy Board (ESB), made up of private sector business persons appointed to the ESB say they want to help get the ‘Yr Egin’ and Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District projects over the finish line.

Their support comes after an independent review into the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal found that the businesses cases for these two projects are ‘fit for purpose’.

The same review also found serious problems with the way in which some business cases were prepared, describing them as little more than glossy marketing exercises devoid of detail and substance.

The Economic Strategy Board is made up of experts in key City Deal themes like energy, manufacturing, skills, life sciences, and business.

Chaired by Ed Tomp, the Vice-President and General Manager of Valero UK in Pembrokeshire, private sector board members include Scarlets chairman Nigel Short, retired consultant surgeon oncologist Simon Holt, and Pobl Group chief executive Amanda Davies.

Chris Foxall, finance director of Welsh car manufacturer Riversimple, and James Davies, Industry Wales executive chair, also sit on the board.

As well as an independent review, an internal review commissioned by the City Deal’s Joint Committee has also been completed to ensure governance is robust.

It found it wasn’t and described a breakdown in trust between the public sector partnership members.
The Economic Strategy Board provides strategic direction for the City Deal and advises the Joint City Deal Board.

Its functions include overseeing the production of project business cases and making recommendations for approval.

Mr Tomp said: “The Economic Strategy Board welcomes the publication of the reviews into the City Deal.

“Both include a number of recommendations which should speed up the City Deal’s delivery for the benefit of residents and businesses across South West Wales.

“Among the recommendations endorsed by the Economic Strategy Board is the immediate approval of the ‘Yr Egin’ and Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District projects, so we’ll do all we can to help with that process.

“The first phase of the ‘Canolfan S4C Yr Egin’ development is a terrific example of how state-of-the-art office and networking spaces can support our creative industries, while the Swansea project will combine world-class entertainment and 21st-century business facilities with cutting-edge digital infrastructure.”

Canolfan Yr Egin was never part of the City Deal and was tacked on after its construction was already underway. The involvement of the City Deal in the project is a fig leaf for UWTSD’, which despite promising it could deliver the project without public subsidy, went cap in hand to the Welsh Government when it couldn’t.

Public funding for Yr Egin was agreed by Economy Secretary Ken Skates over six months before the City Deal was even signed.

Mr Tomp continued: “Approval of these business cases as soon as possible would help maintain private sector confidence in the City Deal while showing the commitment of all partners to work together for the good of the Swansea Bay City Region.

“In the meantime, we’ll also continue to help progress business cases for the nine other projects due to be part City Deal funded because this investment programme has the potential to transform our region’s economic well-being.”

Chris Foxall said: “The Swansea Bay City Deal is a once in a generation opportunity to kick-start a sustainable regional economic development programme. It’s more than just investment – it’s the start of a journey that will build momentum, confidence and prosperity for our future generations. The City Deal’s breadth of sectoral and geographic coverage will ensure the impact is felt by everyone in the region, and the first two projects will evidence the physical and economic transformation that’s long overdue.”

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MPN Windows becomes Which Magazine Trusted Trader

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FAMILY-OWNED MPN Windows, Doors and Conservatories has become a member of a prestigious national trade body and have also recently become accredited as a Which Magazine Trusted Trader.

Independent Network only accepts the country’s most professional window and door companies, and each one must undergo rigorous vetting before being allowed to join, and display the IN branding.

Companies like MPN must then agree to continuous auditing to ensure they maintain that same level of absolute professionalism.

Paul Webster, owner of MPN explained: “Independent Network imposes very strict criteria on its members; we must commit to using exceptional quality VEKA materials and every single one of our customers is given a customer satisfaction report to complete, which is sent directly back to the organisation – so they can make sure we are as good as our word when it comes to quality products and installations.

“In this way, IN can be sure that we continue to operate to the highest standards and they are happy to offer our customers a fantastic ten year insurance-backed guarantee.

“This provides complete peace of mind for customers. They can rest assured that their investment is safe and protected, and they can see – at a glance – that we carry the Independent Network logo, which signifies that we’re among the top VEKA fitters in the UK.

“We were award-winning members of the organisation for many years, back when it was known as Network VEKA, and then we changed PVC-U suppliers and were no longer eligible.

“Although the quality of our products was still good, we are so committed to customer satisfaction that we decided to make the move back to VEKA PVC-U so that we could rejoin the network and offer our customers all the benefits that go with it.

“Benefits include things like deposit protection, insurance-backed guarantees, finance options and a phenomenal choice of window styles and colours, to name just a few.”

MPN Windows becomes a Which Magazine Trusted Trader

At this family run business, MPN have managed to create a successful blend of 25 years’ experience in double glazing along with being an innovative online company. We offer our customers the opportunity to arrange a free home visit or get an instant quote all via our numerous digital channels including our website to facebook to whatsapp.

Independent Network’s Karen Lund said: “It’s been great to welcome MPN back to the organisation. The company has won numerous awards for customer satisfaction over the years, and we know that the team represent everything we want to see from an IN member.

“They are committed to quality, service and professionalism, and I’m sure we’ll see them win even more customer satisfaction awards in the years to come.”

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New female brewing duo drop the alcohol but not the flavour

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DROPPING the alcohol, not the flavour – that’s the mantra of The Drop Bear Beer Co. a new brewery that brings female chutzpah to the male-dominated world of brewing.

Founded in Mumbles earlier this year by ‘Melburnian’ Sarah McNena, and ‘Swansea Jack’ Joelle Drummond, Drop Bear’s non-alcoholic beer is already making waves.

A decidedly Welsh-Australian enterprise, the brewery’s quirky name has antipodean roots along with a personal connection for the couple, who met in Sarah’s native Australia.

Explains Sarah, “The Drop Bear is essentially a bit of fun Australians have with visitors. Tourists are told to look out for this mythical koala bear dropping on them from the trees – and Joelle fell for the joke too!”

The pair aim to ‘disrupt’ the traditional view of the non-alcoholic beer market, and have successfully produced 100% natural beverages that are below 0.5% ABV, vegan-friendly, low calorie, low sugar, and additive-free.

At 0.3 ABV Tropical IPA is – as its name suggests – ‘tropical, fruity, and sessionable’, while the 0.4 ABV Yuzu Pale Ale is ‘fruity, tart, and fresh’. They will be joined this autumn by Drop Bear’s stout which promises to be ‘dark, edgy, and packing a’tude.’

At 25 and 27 respectively, Joelle and Sarah are at the heart of the healthy lifestyle-conscious millennial market they want to capture.

Says Joelle, “We want to prove that real beer doesn’t need alcohol to have fun, and we aren’t scared to push boundaries. We are millennials, and they are the fastest growing demographic. They and we want something with more kick and excitement, and a brand they can relate to.”

Likewise, female empowerment Joelle says is at the core of Drop Bear’s ethos, and the pair are keen to champion women in what is a predominantly male-dominated arena.

“We are the only alcohol-free craft beer company in the UK that’s run by women.”

Local government project manager Sarah, and former French and Italian translator Joelle, began their brewing journey in their kitchen.
Apart from Sarah having previously made some homebrew, the pair were complete novices when it came to creating a craft beer – but they knew what they wanted to achieve.

Says Joelle, “We started with a big saucepan, a jam thermometer, and a load of grain and gave it a go!”

By trial and error “there were long nights and an exploding fermenter”, the pair eventually came up with recipes they liked – and enlisted the help of experts in the industry to ensure their beers would pass muster in the highly competitive brewing sector.

Explains Sarah, “As we don’t have a brewing background, we contacted a master brewer and sommelier who looked at our recipes and gave us advice.”

Only a couple of months into production and Drop Bear beers are already making significant in-roads with a Michelin-starred restaurant a customer, and the opportunity to showcase their beer at an event in the House of Commons. Also, the beers are available to buy online from www.drydrinker.com.

However, without the current capacity to brew on a commercial scale at home, for now, Drop Bear beers are produced in Yorkshire, but the plan is to bring the whole process to Wales as soon as possible.

Says Joelle, “We want to show what Wales and women have to offer in the brewing industry.”

Joelle and Sarah have been helped in their brewing adventure by Cywain – a Menter a Busnes delivered project that supports the development of growth orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.

Says Joelle, “Cywain has been great, especially with networking opportunities and advice on running the financial side of the business. They have run a number of workshops and 1-2-1 sessions covering a range of topics such as sales, distribution channels, and business health.

“All of this is provided free of charge, which I’m sure you can understand is key for a business in its early days. Cywain are also just generally lovely people and we look forward to attending a number of events with them in the near future!”

Says Cywain Development Manager, Nerys Adams, “”It’s been great working with Joelle and Sarah over the past couple of months and seeing massive progression in such a short space of time. The girls have taken full advantage of the support on offer from Cywain attending a finance surgery, a sales and marketing workshop to name but a few.

They are working very hard to establish themselves in a male dominated sector and I’m excited to see what happens next for them. I’m sure they’re going to make a great success of the business and I’m delighted that Cywain is playing a part in helping them achieve their ambitions”.

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New funeral advice website will help Llanelli people make better funeral choices

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INDEPENDENT funeral directors in Llanelli are supporting a nationwide digital consumer initiative to help people better understand the funeral process and avoid falling victim to rogue operators.

FuneralAdvice.org has been created by GE O’Driscoll and Daughters’ trade association the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) to provide non-promotional information about funerals.

The website is in response to consumer research by the Competition and Markets Authority, which highlighted a lack of public awareness about funeral options. Its aim is to help the public gain the knowledge it needs to make informed choices when it comes to saying goodbye to a loved one, in addition to signposting to aftercare and bereavement support groups.

Often a distress purchase, funerals are bought at a time when people are in an extreme emotional state and ill-equipped to make decisions about spending significant amounts of money.

Gemma O’Driscoll, principal funeral director at GE O’Driscoll and Daughters, said: “As an independent, family-run business, we know it’s important for funerals to be tailor-made for the families we serve. One of the first things those families seek from us is assistance and advice. People purchase funerals at a period in their lives when they are often ill-equipped to do so, and we therefore always try to provide precisely what people need at what is going to be a distressing time.

“Having information digitally and in one place means people will have access to a wide range of subjects, which they can study at a time which suits them. This initiative provides honest, straightforward advice in a simple and effective way, which can only be beneficial to people looking to make the most informed decision they can.”

Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, said: “There is lots of information online about funerals but none of it sits in a central space. We think this makes it difficult for people to understand the funeral market. The aim of FuneralAdvice.org is to act as an impartial hub with simple, non-promotional information as well as a signpost service to other organisations that might be of assistance.”

He added: “We hope that as a result of the information on FuneralAdvice.org, the public will gain a better understanding of the funeral process and that when the time comes they are fully prepared in terms of knowing what they want and what questions to ask of prospective funeral directors. This will ensure more people are able to secure a funeral that meets their needs, in terms of style, elements and above all, cost.”

FuneralAdvice.org has been designed in a way which follows the funeral process, across five accessible sections:

1. ‘Arranging a Funeral’ covers topics including what to do when someone dies, funeral choices, coffins, vehicles, direct cremations and DIY funerals.
2. ‘Choosing a Funeral Director’ talks about shopping around, trade associations, care of the deceased and funeral plans.
3. ‘The Day of the Funeral’ lets people know what to expect when a funeral happens.
4. ‘After the Funeral’ talks about paying the funeral bill, complaints and family donations.
5. ‘Further information’ includes links to other organisations dedicated to providing a wide support to bereaved people, from emotional to financial.

FuneralAdvice.org will evolve over time as funeral trends change and new information becomes available. SAIF is happy to take approaches from third parties interested in collaborating on the site to include non-promotional information that will be of benefit to the public.

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