MINUTES OF THE BLACKBURN EAST EMPLOYERS FORUM held on Thursday, 16th July 2009 at Blackburn Enterprise Centre Present, Apologies and Non Attendance: 24-7 Taxi Service Advanced Silicones (Blackburn) Ltd AGS Tech Ltd AIS (NW10) Ltd Apeks Marine Equipment Ltd Aston Chemists Ltd Atkinson Vari-tech Ltd Autograph Portraits B & M Longworth (Edgworth) Ltd B C P Fluted Packaging B S Stainless Ltd Barlow Handling Base Systems Ltd BCP Fluted Packaging Bibby Distribution Biojet Plc Blackburn Rovers Community Trust Blackburn Rovers Football Club Blackburn Yarn Dyers Ltd Blackburn-w-Darwen B C Blackburn-w-Darwen B C Blakewater College Blakewater College Bolton Business Ventures Burnley + Pendle Gov Business Link North West Business Post Business/Work Psychologist Buy The House Group BwDBC BwDBC - Community Safety Team BWDBC - Engagement Officer Catersure Cavalier Carpets CGA Recruitment Ltd Umar Talaty Tim J Brown John Sharp/Tony Sharp Joanne Ginty Landon Helsby Naomi Jeffers Stephen Atkinson Brian Longworth/Nina Payne Andrew Jolley Brian Shaw/Mark Almond/Neil Worden/Ian I Goodhall Eleanor Calvy Alan Leeming Steve Crawford Peter Dunn Jamie Hopwood/Claire Stock Gill Kinloch Ged Fern Barbara Isherwood Rona McFall/Barbara Ramsey/ Julie Francis Eileen Smithson Robert Alcock John Wainscott John Threlfall Julie Toplis Mark Higham Jane Almond - Speaker Lesley Swinn Mike Cliffe - Speaker Andrew Skinner Imran Hajat Jane Stanford Brenda Thomas/Nathan Lowe Claire Gibson Apology - TS Apology Apologies Yes - CS No Apology Yes - JF Yes Late Apology Apology Yes Apology Yes Apology Apology Apology Chelton Defence Communications Ltd Chelton Defence Communications Ltd Chelton Defence Communications Ltd Clarity Sign & Design Cloverleaf Pubs Ltd CMS Colletex Community & Business Partners CIC Community & Business Partners CIC Community & Business Partners CIC Community & Business Partners CIC Cookson & Clegg Ltd CSH Transport CWV Group CXL Designer Sofa's Dimension Dylan Harvey E Harding East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust Elyo Suez Evertaut Ltd F D Sims Ltd Farleys Solicitors Forest UK Ltd Ronnie Hunt Phil Lavin Richard Stubbs Simon Kay Margaret Wood Tony Morris Jeff Scott Amin Vepari - Speaker Beryl Martin Joanne O'Shaughnessy Linda Grimshaw - Project Manager J.Teal Stuart Howarth Martin Kellaway c/o Christine Hornby Michelle Hurst Imran Bohra Ahmer Iqbal Sam Travis Karl Patterson Imran Barkat Ian Forster Nigel Smalley/Peter Mead/Nicola Andrew Hanson/Paul McKelvey David Ruscoe Eileen Fraser / Neil Fraser Charles Greensmith/Christopher Agnew Amy Hargreaves Judith Halstead Peter Weddle Emma Jackson/ Daphne Emmett Marie Thomas A Thomlinson Steve Hudson John Verity Angela Aspinall Anita Gold/Wendy McKenna/Carole Rush Dennis Lang Carl Janeczko Marylin-Anne Rowley Alan Perry John Mathers Mark Bates Yes Yes Apology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes DNA - NS Apology Apology Gap Ltd Gap Uk GGI Office Furniture UK Ltd Gillibrand Accident Repair Centre Good As New Greens High Class Foods Guide Security H. S. Joinery Harrison Verity Products Ltd Healthy Youth Heritage Envelopes Ltd Hi Tech Plastics High Frequency Solutions Hollisticare Home Delivery Network Ltd Impress Marketing Exhibitions Initial Electronic Security Systems Ltd DNA - CA Apology Yes Yes - CR Inspire 2 Independence (i2i) Job Centre Plus Johnston Partnership K2 Glass L.F.L. Ltd Lancashire Constabulary Carrie Edwards/Suzanne Brown/Richard Taylor/Emma Mortin Sue Newton/Lisa Haworth Graham Johnston Simon Liversidge James Wright Sgt James Black Speaker Sgt Abid Khan/Kathryn McIntyre/Mustaq Patala/ PC Timperley Suzanne Murray Sue Hargreaves Laura Hartley Debra Thackrah Neil Flatley Pauline Vaughan Damian Jackson Jeff Thornton/Linda Taylor Martin Davies Kelley Spencer Andy Berry Julia Woodward Ron Wallis Andrew Murray Ian Garbett Val Gillibrand/Michelle Keen Gordon Kenyon Steve Anderson Claire Schofield Ian Starkey Pam Rodgers Ian Aitcheson Mark Simm Gary Charnley Peter Lewns Arif Aziz Andy Bloor - Chairperson Wendy Bleasdale Eric Slinger Ebrahim Karolia Richard Slater Karen Townes Farida Daud Wendy Drake Niall McConachie - Chairman Tim Dobie Alex Taylor Jean Bain Dennis Fitton Bob Gearey Steve Makin Yogesh Solanki Andrew Dixon Yes - EM Yes Yes -PCTim, Apology - Ak Apology Lancashire Constabulary Lancs Education Business Partnership Lancs Education Business Partnership Ltd Laura Hartley Recruitment LEBP Linzi Jay Ltd Local Independent Newspaper LOVE AV Ltd Madison Wire (Europe) Ltd McCambridge Group MDA Limited Metals UK Ltd Minuteman Press Blackburn (Design & Print) Mueller Primaflow Murray Building Services Ltd Muschamps Natwest P2 Hair Pendle Doors Pentland Prestige Medical PRR Plus Ltd Riva Fabrics Ltd Rockdoor Ltd Rolled Alloys Ltd Rosenberger Micro-Coax Royal Bank Scotland RPC Containers Ltd S Reed Medical & Co Ltd S. G. Aluminium Scheme Designs Slater PR Sovereign Childcare Spice Fusion Steyport STL Technology Solutions Ltd STL Technology Solutions Ltd Taylor Weave The Sleep Depot Tradeteam Ltd Training 2000 Transfloor Truly Mobile IT TXT Order Plc Apology Yes Yes Yes - MK Apology Apology Apology Apology Apology Yes Apology Apology Yes UK Installations Wallace Cameron Wardle Storeys Weltonhurst Ltd Yorkshire Bank Yorkshire Bank Ian Billing Stephen Hurn Alun Hall Brenda Kirk Yates Garry Birchall Kevin Hughes Apology Yes Apology 1 WELCOME/MATTERS ARISING Linda Grimshaw introduced Andy Bloor from RPC Containers to the Forum members. Andy had kindly agreed to Chair the meeting in the absence of Niall McConachie who was on holiday. Andy stated he felt that it was important that all areas of business are represented at the Forum. 2 PRESENTATION BY MIKE CLIFFE, SENIOR TRANSPORT PLANNER, BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN COUNCIL Mike said that consultation was currently taking place at 33 King Street on the new orbital link road planned for the Freckleton Street area and comments on the proposals would be welcome. Update on the Whitebirk Strategic Site – planning for this strategic site, which will create 3,000 jobs has been approved and a developer should be secured by next spring. The site will consist of a knowledge park, light industry, small warehousing and a neighbourhood area with shops, gym, cafe, etc. A bus service will run to the site and link in with existing services. Update on issues surrounding the Shadsworth, Roman Road and Walker Park business parks and Junction 5, M65 – there is serious traffic congestion on Haslingden Road, leading from the M65 to Blackburn, with 1700 vehicles per hour using this stretch at peak traffic times, backing up to the M65. Using a model which Mike demonstrated, the main problem lies between the 2 roundabouts between Guide and the Shadsworth Business Park and consultation will take place on widening the road between them to make 2 lanes in each direction. The proposed scheme will cost double the original estimate of £250K and the costing will be spread over 2 financial years. The Council is also in negotiations with the Hospital Trust regarding car usage to the site and the staggering of visiting periods to help alleviate the situation. The work on alleviating the bottle-neck around Junction 5/Haslingden Road should start in January 2010. The introduction of a dedicated right turn lane by Kentucky Fried Chicken should speed up traffic on that stretch of road. Update on Pennine Reach (new rapid bus service) – this is a major scheme to improve bus travel times between Darwen/Blackburn/Accrington and other Hyndburn towns. Bus lanes are planned in the Furthergate area, together with a new link road between Tesco and the Whitebirk roundabout, with work commencing in January 2011. As part of the scheme a new bus station will be built in Blackburn on the site of the current 3-day market. Mike’s offer to answer questions was taken up by the Forum members who expressed concern or commented about: Town centre parking issues - people working in the town centre are leaving their cars on streets just outside the centre and walking in because of both lack of long stay parking and cost. This was affecting local businesses as no parking was available for customers. Many of the town’s car parks are being developed and there is pressure on other car parks, particularly in the College area, where development is progressing. The introduction of Park and Ride scheme was discussed, as was the introduction of using the available car parks at Ewood. Concern was also expressed on the size and placement of the new bus station. Mike was able to quote figures on bus usage and reassured the members that there would still be a Boulevard bus station, albeit smaller, as an interlink with the railway station. Mike felt that the introduction of the Pennine Reach project would help both parking and traffic congestion as people would find it faster and easier to use the bus, but members expressed concern about the withdrawal of some services by Trans-Dev as the routes were not profitable. The Council is currently looking at the most effective ways of ensuring residents have access to transport. Mike can be contacted at email@example.com. A full copy of Mike’s presentation can be found on the Community & Business Partners website, (www.cbpartners.org) by following the Employer’s Forum link. 3 UPDATE ON PLICING ISSUES BY SERGEANT JAMES BLACK Sergeant James Black (Crime Reduction Sergeant) gave figures for the period March – June 2009 stating that crime has decreased for the same period last year. Furthergate and Greenbank – there were 54 crimes this year of which 22 were on the Tesco premises, a reduction of 34 crimes for the same period last year. All reports of suspicious vehicles in the area are followed up. There is still a rise in the theft of lead. Whitebirk and Peel Centre – 12 crimes were reported, most relating to shoplifting in the Peel Centre. James encouraged all members to report any suspicions. Details of the contact numbers for the Police could be found on the Business Watch email. A full copy of James’ presentation can be found on the Community & Business Partners website (www.cbpartners.org) by following the Employer’s Forum link. JANE ALMOND – INDEPENDENT BUSINESS/WORK PSYCHOLOGIST 4 Unfortunately Jane was ill and unable to attend the meeting. A copy of the sheet she produced following her presentation at the Human Resources Forum can be found on the Community & Business Partners website (www.cbpartners.org) by following the Employer’s Forum link. 5 PRESENTATION BY AMIN VEPARI, JOB TICKER PROJECT MANAGER Based in Blackburn and covering Pennine Lancashire, Amin’s role is to tackle worklessness. He provides a ‘one stop shop’ for employers wishing to recruit and source training availability and whilst completely independent, he works with partner agencies such as Blackburn College, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Train2Gain, the Shaw Trust, Business Link, No Limits, etc. The focus of his role is to get local people into local jobs. Amin produces an email bulletin giving information on employment and legal issues, details of free seminars, courses and events. In response to a question from the floor on the number of people locally receiving benefits, Amin stated that the area is in the top 5 in the country for people in receipt of incapacity benefit. After the meeting Amin sourced the following information:Job seekers Allowance claimants – 4363 Incapacity Benefit claimants – 9800 Lone Parents claiming Income Support – 2200 Current Employment rate – 67.8% Currently there are people recently made redundant with a good past work record who would make excellent employees. One member thought the job fair was a good opportunity for prospective employees to meet employers, particularly as it gave the opportunity to explore career changes. It was agreed that the previously discussed traffic congestion would be offset to some degree by offering jobs to local people. One member advised that she had taken on her first employee through the Job Ticker Project and the employee has been so successful she is now overseeing two further employees. Amin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07921 290576. A full copy of Amin’s presentation can be found on the Community & Business Partners website (www.cbpartners.org) by following the Employer’s Forum link. 6 GROUP DISCUSSION Andy opened the discussion by asking the members what sort of topics they would like to appear on a future agenda. One of his main concerns was traffic congestion and the time it took his shiftworkers to get in and out of work. Suggestions from the floor: One member felt that, in view of all the empty office spaces in Blackburn, new businesses were unlikely to be attracted to stay in the area. The Whitebirk Strategic Site was criticised as it was felt that new tenants should be found for established buildings before producing another business park and wished to know from where is the demand for units on this site. It was pointed out that there are many empty buildings on Walker Park. Linda promised to arrange for a senior person from the Town Hall to attend a future meeting to explain the latest situation and listen to members concerns. The members would also like to put their concerns regarding business rates to the Council, one member stating that although rents were not prohibitive, business rates were too high for many companies. Another request was for a presentation on Energy Management and Waste disposal – both of which were high cost to local businesses. 7 NEXT MEETING The next meeting will be held on Wednesday January 27th, 2010.