Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Use our Technological, Engineering and Manufacturing capabilities to help our armed forces protect the UK after Brexit.

It is of great concern to see the recent suggestions that our armed forces aren’t currently capable of defending the UK in our times of need, and the MOD is wasting billions of pounds on vanity projects that aren’t joined up on kit that doesn’t fully work. Further, with the army down to just 83,000 in number, the RAF at 30,000 and the Royal Navy at 29,000 and just 19 warships and 10 submarines, things seem very perilous in the current global climate where Russia and China appear to be developing ever more technologically advanced weapons and increasing the size and reach of their military capabilities. 

Cut-backs may balance the government’s books in times of austerity, but they don’t defend our nation from the threat of aggressors – and we have recently seen the Russian Aircraft Carrier Group sail through the English Channel twice, as well as the numerous incursions into our airspace from Russian Tu-95 Bears. 

Our last remaining Aircraft Carrier, along with our Harrier Jump Jets, fell victim to the 2010 cut-backs leaving us without a capability until the new Queen Elizabeth carriers come in to service in the next 2 or 3 years, although the 24 £105m F-35 jump jets that will fly off them won’t be in service until 2023. Why did the government not find the funds to have kept the capability that we had in place until the replacements were ready to be introduced operationally? In addition, it has been commented that these carriers are already irrelevant due to China’s carrier killing DF-21 ballistic missile that has a top speed of Mach 10 and a range of 1,100 miles and due to the fact that there are not enough “destroyers, frigates and submarines to protect the aircraft carriers”. 

If the reports are right, our new state-of-the-art Type 45 Destroyers are unable to operate in warm waters without suffering engine problems that have shut them down and left them adrift and stranded. The solution to the engine problem is to spend yet more money cutting holes in them in order to replace the engines with ones that work. Furthermore, it is reported that these Destroyers can be heard 100 miles away by Russian submarines as they sound like “a box of spanners” underwater. And these ships are so expensive that, at £1Bn each, the original order for 12 was subsequently reduced to 6. 

The cheaper Type 26 combat ship is believed to have risen well above budget meaning that the order for 13 has already been reduced to 8, and could reduce further if costs continue to spiral. 

The army’s 42-ton Ajax tanks are too heavy for the RAF’s new transport plane, the A400M, which can only carry up to 25-tons. This means that the tanks would need partially disassembling to deploy by air – not exactly rapid reaction is it? 

The RAF’s new maritime patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, which doesn’t start to arrive until 2019, cannot be refuelled in mid-air by our Voyager air-tankers, and could be vulnerable to cyber-attack. And this is all after the scrapping of the new Nimrod project in 2010. Sounds like more tax-payer money wasted unnecessarily by politicians. 

54 drones were ordered in 2005 for £700m – that cost has now risen to £1.2Bn and they have still not entered full service. 

The recent $28.8Bn expenditure on aircraft, drones and helicopters from the US Military is also likely to be hit due to the 21% fall in value of the pound since the UK voted to leave the European Union increasing the cost of the equipment. Furthermore, due to the sensitivity of the technology on the US supplied helicopters, software upgrades and some parts can only be supplied by American nationals. You couldn’t make this up! 

What happened to the country that developed the Dreadnought warships that revolutionised modern navies, and the invention of the tank that took armed warfare from the trenches and made it more mobile? We also seem to have come a long way from the cutting edge of aircraft design that we held for the first three—quarters of the twentieth century (Sopwith Camel, Supermarine Spitfire, Avro Lancaster, De Havilland Mosquito, Avro Vulcan, English Electric Lightning, Hawker Siddeley Harrier, TSR2 etc.), although much aviation technology still comes from the UK. 

It also seems a strange strategy to continually allow UK defence companies to consolidate over the years until there is little or no competition – clearly the outcome of such a near monopoly position is going to be higher costs and reduced bargaining power for the government. 

And is the current meagre defence budget being spent in the best possible way to defend our shores? Are the big tickets items such as aircraft carriers at £6.2Bn each, Type 45 Destroyers at £1Bn each, F-35 jump jets at £105m each the best value for money? Or should we have been extending the life of our original carrier, keeping our Harrier Jump Jets, retaining the numbers within the ranks of our armed services, ordering more Typhoon Eurofighters and building a more joined up capability that takes in the modern aspects of cyber-warfare too?  

A cross-service approach to look at what we need to defend our island on land, on sea and in the air, together with looking at the capabilities within the technological, engineering and manufacturing sector of the UK’s industrial base is surely the way to go – particularly within a post-BREXIT Britain where we will need to rely upon our own independence even further. Smaller ticket items to match the requirements of a full cross-service capability need identifying and enacting now – we don’t want to be caught out as almost happened in the 1930s in a world that is rapidly changing. And this would be good for UK business too; creating jobs, paying salaries, encouraging consumer spending, generating tax for the government to spend on hospitals, schools, roads etc. as well as keeping and enhancing skill sets and technology that can be sold to other countries.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Wolverhampton Civic Halls revamp to start as Shaylor Group is appointed Contractor

Refurbishment work on Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls will begin today following the appointment of Shaylor Group as contractor.

Enabling work on the grade II-listed venue was completed in 2016 and the £14.4m will boost its capacity.

A bar will also be installed above the main entrance of the Civic Hall.

Both the Civic Hall and Wulfrun Hall will reopen between October 2017 and January 2018 and the revamp is scheduled for full completion in October 2018.

John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council cabinet member for city economy, said: "This is an exciting time in the project when we will begin to see real changes to the Civic Halls.

"The halls have been around since 1938 and are an important part of our visitor economy – providing jobs and generating millions of pounds every year by staging nationally acclaimed shows.

"As part of our regeneration plans for the city we recognised the Grade II listed building is in need of refurbishment, as well as improvement to ensure it remains a thriving venue to be proud of."

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Business groups' 2017 priorities

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, has jointly signed a letter alongside the heads of other UK business groups outlining their priorities for firms of all sizes and sectors for 2017.  

The letter below appears in The Sunday Telegraph:  

Dear Sir
2016 has been a year of unprecedented change for politics, society and for business. The decisions that will be made in the year ahead will shape the prospects for people, businesses and communities across the UK for generations to come.

We are committed to making 2017 a year of progress and success, and to working with the Government to shape a better economy. 

Industry input into the Brexit negotiations is critical. The Government must enter negotiations with the evidence it needs to understand the implications of the decisions and trade-offs that lie ahead. This evidence must be drawn from the on-the-ground experience of small, medium and large enterprises, which are committed, despite an uncertain business environment, to delivering the economic growth that creates jobs and funds our public services. 

A modern industrial strategy relies on a vision of our future shared between firms, the Government and society. By calling on all the experience and knowledge available across the UK, this new plan can transform our sectors and communities. 

Success in all these areas depends on an open and honest dialogue and we welcome the engagement we have had so far with the Government. Firms must work to be more transparent and build fairness into the heart of their operations, including their supply chains. The Government, employees and customers should champion the businesses that do this. 2017 must be the year when this open dialogue begins to deliver for Britain. 

We the undersigned commit to play our part, working with businesses from all corners of the UK, to seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges that lie ahead. 

Yours sincerely

Mike Cherry, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses 

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, CBI 

Adam Marshall, Director-General, British Chambers of Commerce 

Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF 

Simon Walker, Director-General, Institute of Directors

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

CIMA North West Midlands Christmas social and networking evening in Stafford on Tuesday 13th December

Craig Stevens, CIMA North West Midlands chairman, invites you to join him at this event. You will have the chance to meet Craig, your local committee and fellow members for a complimentary drink and food by dropping by anytime between 6.30 and 8.30pm. 

This event is open to all CIMA members and a great opportunity to build your network, understand more about CIMA events planned for 2017 and for you to voice your opinions on your branch. 

Date: 13 December 2016

Time: 18:30 

Venue: The Swan Hotel, Stafford ST16 2JA 

Price: GBP 0.00   

Email julie.witts@cimaglobal.com to book your free place

Monday, 31 October 2016

Lord Digby Jones confirmed as Keynote Speaker for the CIMA West Midlands Prestige Event in Birmingham on 29th June.

CIMA WM Chairman, Paul Hooper-Keeley, with Lord Digby Jones
We are delighted to announce that Lord Digby Jones will be our keynote speaker for our CIMA West Midlands Prestige Event on the evening of Thursday 29th June 2017. 

Our Prestige Event, following recent tradition, will be held at The Council House in Birmingham.

Lord Jones’ graduation from University College London was followed by 20 years with Edge & Ellison, a Birmingham-based firm of lawyers, where he worked his way up from Articled Clerk to Senior Partner. During these years he was intimately involved in all aspects of business from running the firm “as a business” to recruiting and managing several hundred employees. It was here that he developed a vision of business and its role in society, and began to believe firmly in socially inclusive wealth creation. 

In 2000 he joined the CBI and was able to put some of these ideas into action. During his six and a half years as Director General he became known in the public arena especially for his candid, forthright attitude in his many media appearances.
He campaigned relentlessly on a range of issues including the move from traditional manufacturing of commodities to value-added, innovative products and services. He also lobbied against protectionism protesting that “it is a scourge which may well find short term popularity but inhibits growth, reduces wealth and oppresses the weak”. 

His views on the Public Sector remain a subject of great debate. He has stressed that, "if fundamental reform does not take place, from working practices right through to pension provision, we will end up with an ever-diminishing private sector trying to pay for, and provide pensions for, an ever increasing and inefficient, unproductive, self-interested public sector". 

In 2005 he was knighted for his services to business and became Sir Digby Jones in the Queen’s New Years Honours List. 

When he left the CBI in 2006 he spent the next 12 months in the private sector as adviser to Deloitte and Barclays Capital, held a variety of non-executive board roles, and was the unpaid UK Skills Envoy. In this role he became outraged about the levels of adult illiteracy and innumeracy in the UK, and made the point that we cannot hope to have a safer and healthier society if people lack self-respect or aspiration. 

In July 2007 he was appointed Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment and became a life peer taking the title, Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kb. Forthright and, as ever, loyal to British business he spent the next 15 months “doing it in a different way”. He did not join the party of government and without the ambition to progress in politics he concentrated on the business of promoting Britain across the world, travelling to 31 countries in 45 overseas visits.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Sir John Peace & Paul Kehoe to speak at IoD West Midlands Annual Dinner on 24 November at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire.

The Institute of Directors invite you to join us at this year’s annual dinner, in the majestic surrounds of The Great Hall in the heart of Warwick Castle. 

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers are Sir John Peace, Chair of the Midlands Engine and Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport.  

The evening includes a welcome reception, three course dinner with half a bottle of wine per person and tea or coffee.  

Please note, due to the nature of the venue, spaces are limited and the dress code is Black Tie. 

Key details: - 

Date & time: 24 November 19:00 - 23:00  

Location: Warwick Castle , Warwickshire  

Prices from: - 

Ticket Price: 90.00 GBP (Inc. VAT) 

Two ticket price: 180.00 GBP (Inc. VAT) 

Four ticket price: 360.00 GBP (Inc. VAT) 

Table Price: 900.00 GBP (Inc. VAT) 

Event manager: - 

Ms Sue Hurrell 

Contact phone:01216431868 

Contact email:

Moore Stephens engineers new academy contract reports The Business Desk

BIRMINGHAM accounting firm Moore Stephens has been appointed as auditor for WMG Academy for Young Engineers.  

The firm is one of the leading accounting advisors to academies in the UK and has been appointed to work with WMG Academy across its Coventry and Solihull sites.  

WMG Academy is looking to generate the next generation of engineers that will sustain the West Midlands’ manufacturing industry with the skilled labour it needs to continue its advance. 

The multi academy trust has developed partnerships with more than 20 manufacturing and engineering businesses and has 500 students enrolled across its academies in Coventry and its new Solihull academy in Chelmsley Wood, which opened in September.  

Moore Stephens works with more than 100 academies across the UK and the appointment is the firm’s first with a University Technical College (UTC).  

Nick Simkins, partner at Moore Stephens’ Birmingham office and the firm’s national Head of Charities and Education Group, said: “WMG Academy has built a fantastic reputation as a high achieving academy of excellence and has forged extremely strong links with key industry organisations across the region and nationally. 

“The academy has strong aspirations to build on the success it has achieved to date, including the recently launched new Solihull academy.  

“(We) have a strong track record of supporting academies, along with helping schools converting to academy status, and we’re looking forward to working closely with the board, the principal and the executive team at WMG Academy.” 

WMG Academy is one of 30 UTCs which are government-funded schools that train 14 to 19-year-olds in science, engineering and technology. 

Kate Tague, Executive Principal at WMG Academy, added: “Moore Stephens has a proven track record of working successfully with academies and education and we look forward to working with Nick going forward.”