By David Sykes - Carrington Communications
Taking to the stage clutching a bag filled with empty crisp packets, chair of Newark Business Club, Kerri Saxby began the February meeting by encouraging members to join her and Linda Clark from Nicholsons in pressuring Walkers Crisps to change their ways and produce more recyclable packaging.
If you’ve fallen off the wagon on your New Year’s Resolution and your bins are now stuffed with empty packets, you may want to join them as they (along with millions of other annoyed crisp-eaters) are posting their empty packets to the manufacturer instead of sending them to landfill - Although, please post the packets inside an envelope so you don’t break Royal Mail’s sorting machines and make a mess.
Action Group Update
The first speaker at the meeting was James Fountain, the chair of the club’s Action Group. The group aims to create and sustain an economic environment that makes the area a rewarding place to live, work and visit. Currently, one topic that’s high on the group’s agenda is the town’s rail connections.
You may be aware of a flat crossing where the East Coast Mainline and the Nottingham to Lincoln cross just north of Newark Northgate station. This is now the only crossing of its kind in the UK and it slows down trains and limits the number of services that can run. The Action Group, along with Robert Jenrick, MP have been calling for this to be replaced with a fly-over. James told members that eventually, the two lines will be grade-separated, but it appears this won’t happen for a long while yet. James also voiced concerns about the overcrowding of the Nottingham to Lincoln line and he told members that the group is fighting for more coaches to be added to increase capacity.
You may remember that ten years ago, the government ordered some new electro-diesel trains for the East Coast mainline which would run much faster than trains on the line at present. Sadly, the new trains aren’t compatible with some parts of the route, meaning they’ve been significantly delayed and, as James explained, we now have no idea when we’ll get them.
While the railways don’t seem to be improving any time soon, one thing that may be about to get better is the provision of overnight accommodation in Newark.
Hotels are currently in short supply in the area, but James welcomed architect Simon Powell from BE Design onto the stage and Steve Hampson from Harlaxton Estates who shared their plans for a new hotel, service area and office park development.
Located off the A46 near Farndon, the team are proposing a major £13.5 million development which would bring a 103 bedroom Holiday Inn Express, 30,000²ft of office space and one of the first fast-charging EV car facilities outside of London. This is one of the biggest private investments in the region for years and they say it would create around 390 jobs and encourage more people to stay and visit Newark.
Although there is major demand for more visitor accommodation in the town, there are nine hotels applications that have been granted planning permission which have never been built. Unlike those, Simon explained that is a “real-time” application meaning that they’ll start building as soon as the plans are approved and the proposed tenants are all committed. This means we can expect this development to be built in 2020/2021 (if it’s approved this year).
Details of the proposal are on the NSDC website, where you can also leave your comments (planning reference: 18/02362/FULM).
Business Doctors sponsored this month’s Newark Business Club. They’re a team of coaches that help small businesses achieve their vision. Michael offers ‘hands-on’ support to business owners helping them to overcome their individual challenges and supporting them to achieve business growth.
Business Doctor, Michael Hardy asked members to consider whether they are ‘in the business’ or ‘on the business’. Michael explained there’s an important distinction between the two because if your business slows down when you’re not around and it depends on you to do the day to day work, you’re in danger of falling into ‘the owners trap’ where you’re unable to scale up or sell out.
Michael had the honour of announcing the winners of the traditional business card draw. The winning new member was Core Financial Services and the winning established member was CW Accountancy Solutions.
CW Accountancy Services is run by Charlotte Wilson who is a Chartered Accountant specialising in Xero and cloud accountancy software. With Making Tax Digital coming into effect from 1st April, all VAT registered businesses will have to submit their VAT returns to HMRC through digital software. Charlotte has been helping businesses currently using manual records, spreadsheets or traditional desktop software to convert to using Xero or other cloud software ready for Making Tax Digital. She can also help with bookkeeping, payroll, management accounts, annual accounts and tax returns for a fixed monthly fee. She enjoys helping start ups by giving them an affordable and personal service.
Helping the Hospice
Beaumond House Community Hospice has a special place in the hearts of many, including Lucy Millard who recently took on a new role with the charity after a career at Newark Advertiser. She and fundraising and marketing manager, Cathy Lowe introduced a new event the charity is planning for later this year.
Beaumond House is working with the Child Bereavement Centre for a dragon boat race which promises to be a great day out, a good team-building exercise and an excellent way for companies to raise money for two very worthwhile causes. There’s even the chance to win a new car!
Beaumond House needs the support of the whole community and businesses can be invaluable to them and other charities so Cathy encouraged club members to consider their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. Charities often approach companies asking for support but they like to research to make sure they don’t go barking up the wrong tree. If companies share their CSR policies on their websites or share a short statement that summarises how they decide which charities to support and what causes they’d like to champion, they can help charities like Beaumond House to forge connections with companies that are interested in supporting them.
Tapping into the Tourist Economy
While summer may feel a very long way away, the warmer months promise a host of activities that will bring thousands of visitors to Newark. Richard Huthwaite, Tourism and Marketing Manager for Newark and Sherwood District Council delivered a fact-filled presentation to explain the council’s approach to improving the area’s tourist offer.
The tourist economy is worth £260m per year to the local area with each visitor spending £24 when they visit. Richard joined the council last August and he’s working to increase the number of people who visit the district and to encourage them and local residents to use the area’s visitor attractions: “We want to encourage more visitors to enjoy all that Newark has to offer”, he said.
The visitor economy is an important part of the council’s long term plans for the area, but there’s some work to do: Just 23% of visitors stay overnight and the majority of them come from within the region, which means their spending is limited. Although 97% of visitors would recommend the town to a friend, just 31% of people who visit think there’s enough to do in the evenings. Worse still, people are put off coming because they’re not sure what’s here and they’re not sure there’s enough to do.
This is a challenge for the council, but Richard explained that they’re working on a destination management plan, developing the town centre, reviewing the night-time economy and encouraging more proposals for visitor accommodation in the area. Repeating what had been mentioned earlier in the meeting, Richard said “Newark desperately needs hotels”.
Love Where You Live
The final presentation was from presenters Matt and Vicky from Radio Newark. Throughout 2019, the independent radio station is encouraging people to appreciate where we live. When was the last time you visited the National Civil War Centre, had a picnic in the castle or went on a river cruise? (I’ve lived here for five years and I’ve never done any of those!) Well, their new campaign is called ‘Love where you live” and they’re asking us all to be more positive about the town, particularly on social media.
Another project to get us more cheerful is their own local take on Groupon and Wowcher which is more supportive of independent retail: Radio Newark Marketplace is a resource to find vouchers, deals and discounts in the district and it’ll be launching soon.
They’re also running a competition for the best decorated shop windows, with £1,100 worth of advertising on Radio Newark going to whoever has the display which best shows why they love Newark.
That’s it for the February meeting. The next Newark Business Club is on Friday 1st March at the Everyday Champions Centre.