Colors: Purple Color

 

The latest completion of an 11,000 sq. ft warehouse by Stepnell has been a project with a difference, with the construction firm not only acting as the landlord, developer, principal contractor, and employer’s agent, but also successfully implementing its “whole team” approach to deliver in an efficient manner.

Acting as a “complete construction partner”, the detached warehouse is part of the latest phase at OGEE Business Park in Wellingborough.

Stepnell provided master-planning to create more than 350,000 sq. ft. of high-quality warehouse, industrial and office space. The 24-acre OGEE Business Park offers design and build opportunities available for sale or to let through Stepnell’s property team.

The warehouse unit is being leased by one of Stepnell’s existing tenants at the business park, Double R Glass and Roofing Systems Ltd. The double-glazing supplier is expanding from its current warehouse at Ogee Business Park that it has leased since the unit was first built by Stepnell ten years ago.

The new warehouse, located at the entrance to the business park, features fully fitted office space, including kitchen areas, a reception space and private offices.

Edward Wakeford, property director at Stepnell, said: “We are delighted to have completed our latest project at OGEE Business Park. The development showcases our ability to offer a complete service; from planning and construction, all the way through to the development overseen by our dedicated team.

“Using our own in-house expertise and property management team, we’ve been able to manage the project as a whole rather than having to tackle each part individually, making for an efficient build. We are proud to be able to offer this end-to-end approach, helping to provide continuity and consistency throughout the development.

“We are really pleased to have supported our tenants Double R Glass and Roofing Systems on this development as part of their business growth and to provide the new warehouse facility, which they will now expand into. Stepnell built the first unit that Double R Glass and Roofing Systems occupied for the past ten years and it is great that we are able to continue the relationship.”

Made up of a steel portal frame construction, the building also features fully landscaped external areas, providing a loading area with two five metre high loading doors as well as a dedicated car park for up to 17 vehicles. Once fully complete, OGEE Business Park - situated on the Finedon Road Estate and approximately a mile and a half north of Wellingborough town centre - will bring new investment and commercial opportunities to the area, providing new jobs for the Midlands region.

Stepnell’s in-house property management experience includes an £8 million commercial development at Stepnell Park, which features ten industrial warehouse buildings and will eventually house a new head office for the 154-year-old family-owned firm.

Badby Leys in Rugby, a development of three homes, which was completed at the end of March 2020 was also fully developed, built and managed by the construction company. Other occupiers at OGEE Business Park include Bedford Battery Company Ltd, Double “R” Glazing, Robinson Manufacturing and Tripal International.

There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Sandwell in recent weeks. This has been partly driven by outbreaks in workplaces.

Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “We need businesses to let us know if they have two or more cases of COVID-19 among their workforce. We can help to prevent a larger outbreak. If businesses delay in letting us know then outbreaks can become out of control and the business may need to close.

“Businesses should also contact us is they need advice on how to prevent coronavirus infection in the workplace. We can offer a telephone or on-site visit and really help them make their workplace COVID safe. 

“Business owners can get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling the Healthy Sandwell team at 0800 011 4656.

“If employees are concerned about COVID cases or prevention at their workplace they can also contact us at the details above.  Obviously, anything they tell us will be treated in confidence and they can remain anonymous if they wish.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader for Sandwell Council wants to reinforce the message to businesses and asks for everyone to work together. She said: "We are ramping up our efforts with local businesses as these potentially hold the key to making sure we don't get large outbreaks of Covid-19 in Sandwell.

“We need everyone to work together to stop outbreaks and I urge business owners and employees to get in touch with any concerns they have.

“It is in the interests of all businesses to contact us so we can provide the necessary help to business owners and save them from a potential closure.” 

For more details about getting in touch, go to www.healthysandwell.co.uk/covid19.

Businesses and employees should adhere to the following advice:

Anyone who develops symptoms – persistent cough, temperature or loss of smell or taste – needs to immediately self-isolate for 7 days.
Where possible people with symptoms should be isolated from others in the household who do not have symptoms. If you develop symptoms book a test immediately online or by calling 119.
Avoid any unnecessary interaction with people from outside your household. Crowded environments should be avoided. 
If you have to go out, maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (preferably 2 metres) from other people and wear a face covering.

 
City of Wolverhampton Council is calling on the city’s home-based businesses to check if they are eligible for the second round of its Discretionary Grant Scheme.
 
The fund is offering free grants to small businesses who have seen trade and sales drop significantly due to the impact of Covid-19, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.
 
The deadline for applications is noon on Thursday, August 6, 2020.
 
Businesses MUST demonstrate they are a registered business, were trading as at March 11, 2020, and show loss of income and property costs such as mortgage or rent.
 
The scheme is aimed at small businesses who have been ineligible for previous Government grants such as the Small Business Grant and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

The Government initially awarded City of Wolverhampton Council £2.3 million for the Discretionary Grant Scheme, with more than 130 eligible businesses awarded grants in the first round.

The second round of the scheme continues to support those businesses in the city which have a small workforce, operate in shared premises, are regular market traders, small charities and bed and breakfasts which pay council tax rather than business rates.

But it has also been broadened out to help businesses that employ up to 50 employees, who have relatively high ongoing property costs and have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The council will continue to operate the scheme on a first-come, first-served basis until the fund is exhausted.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “Many of our struggling home-based businesses will not have qualified for previous Government grant schemes, which is why it is critical they take advantage of this opportunity now.
 
“These second-round grants are to help those small businesses which have been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus.
 
“Our priority in distributing this funding is to help businesses recover and retain as many employees as possible.
 
“Many of these businesses are the bedrock of our local economy and our local community. These grants could prove critical in their recovery and that of the city.
 
“I would urge businesses to check the guidance and submit their applications as soon as possible as grants will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.”
 

With more than 90% of its income comes from visitors paying an entrance fee, Westminster Abbey has declared that it is down more than £12m in revenue this year and is set to make about 20% of its staff redundant as a result of the lockdown. It closed its doors on 20 March and only began to reopen for limited tourist visits on July 11.

The dean of Westminster Abbey, the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle, said: “The coronavirus had dealt a shattering blow to the Abbey's finances”.

Separately, the Church of England's 42 cathedrals are projected to be down more than £28.4m on what they thought their budgets would be this year.
They are projected to lose another £15.5m next year.

The Association of English Cathedrals, which represents Westminster Abbey and the Church of England's 42 cathedrals, warned job cuts would hit churches around the country when the government's job retention scheme ended in October.

The Abbey's financial reserves would be depleted by a third from September, Dr Hoyle said, and would continue to fall as visitor numbers were not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for up to five years.

"There is a real need here," he said, warning Westminster Abbey expected a similar "breathtaking" loss of between £9m and £12m next year as well.

The Abbey is open for services and visits, but numbers are limited as social distancing is enforced.

Ambitious independent logistics operator Europa Worldwide Group which recently opened a state of the art site in Corby (Northants) has revealed its results for year-ending 31st December 2019, showing another 16.5% growth with a record turnover of £205million.
 
Europa has a huge presence in Minworth, at Prologis Park which is home to all four divisions of the business, Europa Sea and Europa Showfreight as well Europa Road’s regional team and a 16,536m2 Europa Warehouse.
 
These figures show that Europa has succeeded in achieving the target it set 12 months ago to exceed the £200million mark.
 
Europa Worldwide Group has six divisions – Europa Road, Europa Air & Sea, Europa Showfreight, Europa Warehouse, Europa Contact Centre and Continental Cargo Carriers  and has featured in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for two years running. 
 
In 2019 Europa’s turnover increased from £176million to £205million – a £29million increase – and net profit before tax increased to £6million from £5.2million in 2018.
 
The business, which has just opened a £60million future proofed 715,000 sq ft state-of-the-art, 3pl logistics facility in Corby (Northants) has also reported an increase in its net assets, which now stand at £12.9million compared to £8.4m in the preceding financial year.
 
2019 saw a year of huge investment by Europa – including the acquisition of part of the assets of Menzies at the start of the year.  This included Menzies’ warehouse based in Rushden, Northamptonshire and its PCI compliant contact centre based in Ashford, Kent, from its parent company, Menzies Distribution, to strengthen the Europa Warehouse division.
 
Other investment during the period included £250,000 in refitting its Birmingham site as part of a company-wide estate improvement.  The business also invested hugely in Brexit preparations, including over £2m in its Dartford transit warehouse to increase racking capacity by 75 per cent.      
           
Europa has continue to invest in its systems including further developments in the bespoke IT system “Leonardo” which continues to expand and will eventually provide a fully harmonised system for every aspect of the business’s operations.  Utilising the latest technologies, this sophisticated system provides in-house control to improve responsiveness, efficiency, productivity, and scalability.  Europa has already launched 10 different Leonardo modules deployed across the operation from road freight to finance.
 
Finance Director at Europa Worldwide Group Adam McBride said: “The 2019 results are our best yet and show a really positive, solid year of growth for our business across all divisions. This has enabled us to continue investing throughout the business and across teams, which will allow us to continue this fantastic growth and meet any challenges head on.
 
“2019 saw us add two more sites to the group as well as increase the headcount to support the progression of the business, so we are happy with the figures. 
Managing Director at Europa Worldwide Group Andrew Baxter added he was pleased with the figures for last year, but his focus is on driving the business successfully through the impact of Covid-19. 
 
Andrew comments “The growth in 2019 was a result of the great team we have as well as our continued dedication to providing the best, most efficient services for our customers. This enabled us to win new business across the divisions and I am very proud of what we have achieved.”   
 
Europa Worldwide Group has continued to operate all of its services, across all divisions as normal throughout the pandemic with staff, where possible, working remotely.  The company refused to add Covid-19 surcharges to it services or reduce any of its operations. 
 
He said: “From March onwards we like every other business were hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic but I believe we have weathered the worst of it pretty much intact, as well as opening our new Corby site on schedule which is a massive success.  Our ongoing investment in technology has certainly paid dividends this year.   
“I am really happy with the results from 2019.  We anticipate that this year will be a different picture with limited or modest growth due to the pandemic, but we are highly optimistic for 2021 and march on towards our target of achieving £400million turnover.”

 
A Telford nursery, which was left devastated when its premises were destroyed in a major blaze, is celebrating after receiving a £10,000 donation from its neighbours.
 
The dramatic fire completely destroyed Halesfield Day Nursery’s playground which was full of wooden huts and playhouses as well as sand trays, furniture and toys. But thanks to a £10,000 donation by its kind-hearted neighbours, Besblock, the nursery is now able to get on with renovations ready to open back up in September. 
 
Concrete manufacturers Besblock were also affected by the fire at the Halesfield 23 industrial estate in June. 

Managing director Andrew Huxley said: “There was widespread fire damage to a lot of our buildings.

“We lost the works canteen, as well as the parts warehouse and a lot of stock was destroyed. We were looking at a six-figure bill.”

He said that he was devastated by the impact of the fire on his long-running family firm but that his heart went out to the other business on the site who had suffered too. “It’s been a tough year for us all, but especially the staff there who have been looking after key workers’ children throughout the Coronavirus lockdown. 
“We knew we had to help them get back on their feet somehow.”
 
The £10,000 donation has been used to get brand-new soft pour flooring outside and will also go towards a full outdoor learning experience for the children including an outdoor classroom. 

Nursery manager Helen Childs said: “We were completely overwhelmed by Besblock’s donation - it’s so very kind of them.

“Without the support from Andrew and his team, who knows when we would have gathered the funds to start rebuilding the outdoor space. 
“Thanks to them, we’ll be able to offer our children a full outdoor learning experience in September, which is a total game-changer for us.” 
Besblock has given away more than £50,000 to charities in the last five years. 
 
The firm also sponsors Newport Rugby Club, Shropshire Cricket Club and Shropshire Disabled cricket club, too.
 

 

 

Birmingham City University is set for a £5 million expansion to its City South Campus, which will provide additional teaching and training space for more than 1,000 healthcare and education students.
 
The University has acquired a new property at 12 Harborne Road, close to its campus in Edgbaston, to boost capacity and learning space for students taking up courses at its Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences.
 
The building has been purchased for £2.2 million with a further £2.8 million to be invested to transform it into a state-of-the-art training facility for students.
 
The new building will provide a host of additional teaching space for existing students, as well as creating capacity to train over 1,000 more public service professionals of the future.
 
The Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences is the largest trainer of undergraduate nurses in the Midlands, and also offers training for a range of public service careers, including allied health professions and teaching.
 
Executive Dean of the Faculty Professor Ian Blair said: “This is a truly fantastic acquisition for the University and Faculty.  It will facilitate practical skills development for our nursing programmes and provide much needed teaching space for all courses based in City South.
 
“This could not have come at a better time for the Faculty as we continue to expand our student population and curricula offering.”
 
The acquisition will also see the University’s Skills Practice and Care Enhancement lab relocated to the state-of-the-art building.
 
This follows a £41 million extension to the City South campus opened in 2018, which provided professional level learning facilities for all HELS courses, including specialist facilities for those studying to become primary or secondary school teachers.
 

 

Lotus establishing new advanced technology centre at
University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus

Lotus have just announces a dedicated and specialist advanced technology centre, which will also be home to a new headquarters for the company’s engineering consultancy.
Located on the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus, the new facility is established in partnership with WMG at the University of Warwick.  WMG is an international leader in successful collaboration between academic research, teaching, training, and industry. The substantial facility consists of offices, workshops and laboratory space with ample opportunity for expansion.
 
Initially, 130 engineers will move in, complementing the 500-strong engineering team at the home of Lotus Cars in Hethel, Norfolk.
 
Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus Cars, said: “This is a big step forward for Lotus and our engineering consultancy.  The new space, facilities and job opportunities at Wellesbourne will be in great demand as we rapidly build our portfolio of external projects.  Our team and specialist skills have grown significantly in the last two years as renewed impetus has been put in to the business with new shareholders and management.  The all-electric Evija hypercar is the first new Lotus Cars product for us to deliver, with significant focus on this at Wellesbourne as we complete the project and continue to advance its technologies for our future programmes.”
 
Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, added: “Wellesbourne offers an excellent facility, with plenty of expansion potential, and will be the perfect home for our new advanced technology centre.  Our engineering and R&D strategy around advanced propulsion systems is lock-in-step with the Government’s vision and broader global ambitions for a low-carbon automotive future.  We look forward to working in collaboration with Government and with our new campus neighbours on this future.  Having research partners at the University and WMG will bring significant benefits, as will the Midlands location, which is both very accessible and home to a rich pool of automotive talent.”
 
Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK Government’s Business and Industry Minister, said: “The West Midlands has long been the beating heart of the UK’s automotive and engineering industries, and this announcement is further evidence that this proud history will continue. Lotus’ new advanced technology centre will secure over 100 highly-skilled jobs in Warwickshire, support a strong economic recovery across the region and drive forward the low carbon, electric technologies of the future.”
 
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said: “We are delighted to welcome this key part of such a significant and legendary technology based company to the University and our Wellesbourne campus. This is just the beginning of a partnership. I know that it will grow, thrive, and bring prosperity and new opportunities to both Warwickshire and the West Midlands, and will call on and benefit from the significant automotive and technology skills and talents of many people in our region.”
 
Margot James, Executive Chair, WMG, comments: “This is wonderful news not only for WMG, the University of Warwick and the region, but also for the UK automotive sector. The UK needs to retain R&D capability in our manufacturing sector, and at WMG we are working with partners on many R&D programmes which are focused on innovation and future growth towards net zero. We look forward to collaborating with Lotus on projects which seek to create a greener, more connected future”.
 
Councillor Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, said: “This is really good news for the Wellesbourne campus, Stratford-on-Avon District and the region as a whole. We are totally committed to supporting the development of the Wellesbourne campus. We see it as a major asset for both Stratford-on-Avon District and the region and we welcome the addition of 130 skilled roles to the District. We look forward to the future development of the campus.”
 
Lotus Engineering, which celebrates 40 years since its incorporation in 1980, works with customers all over the world.  The confidentiality of its work is paramount with strict firewalls in place between project teams.  Some of the more widely acknowledged Lotus Engineering programmes from the past include the Lotus Carlton, Tesla Roadster, multiple Formula 1 campaigns, and a host of products outside of the auto industry from Olympics track bikes to boats and light aircraft.  Today, Lotus Engineering’s specialisms include vehicle dynamics and advanced propulsion systems, encompassing lightweight structures, ride, handling and performance.
 

It is understood that several private equity firms have expressed interest in buying a stake in the Women’s Super League.

Companies including global investors Bridgepoint, who own the rights to MotoGP, have made an approach, reportedly for a large minority share.

The Premier League remains in talks over a potential WSL takeover.
Run by the Football Association, the WSL is England's top women's division with 12 full-time, professional teams.

An FA spokesperson said: “As the WSL continues to grow and thrive there is considerable commercial interest from a variety of sectors." Bridgepoint have been contacted for a response.

No WSL fixtures have been played since before the United Kingdom introduced social-distancing measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Chelsea are the defending champions while Aston Villa have been promoted to the WSL after winning the second-tier title last season.

The new season is set to begin on the weekend of 5-6 September, in the second year of a three-year title sponsorship deal with Barclays.

 

Derelict former bakery to be transformed as WMCA’s pioneering brownfield housing programme ramps up
 
The derelict site of the former Harvestime Bakery in Walsall is to finally be revived following a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funding deal to help build 88 new homes. 
 
The deal, which will see the WMCA make more than £1.5m available for the clean-up of the land, is the latest in a series of disused industrial sites to be redeveloped under the authority’s ‘brownfield first’ regeneration programme. Throughout the lockdown the WMCA has continued to press ahead with its multi-million-pound investment programme to unlock and transform brownfield sites, provide market confidence and help drive the region’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery, delivering new jobs and homes in the process. 
 
A focus on house-building and brownfield sites formed part of the region’s £3.2bn investment blueprint recently submitted to Government, with the region seeking extra cash to extend its existing £100m brownfield-first scheme.

Ministers have already signalled their intention to back the region’s plans, recognising the WMCA’s pioneering brownfield regeneration programme with an extra £84m of new investment awarded earlier this month. 
 
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “Before coronavirus struck, we were one of the most promising regions in England. We had the fastest growing economy outside of London; living standards were improving; there was a rapid expansion in house building; and there were increasing numbers of apprenticeships.  
 
“The pandemic has hit us hard but the redevelopment of derelict sites like Harvestime will help kickstart our economy so we can regain our previous momentum, creating new jobs and good quality, affordable homes for local people. 
 
“Without the WMCA’s intervention this new housing scheme just would not have happened, and the site would have remained a derelict eyesore for the local community. Our investment is transformational for this scheme and the critical ingredient.
 
“By unlocking these brownfield sites for redevelopment we are also relieving pressure on our Green Belt while helping the region build its way out of lockdown to secure a post-Covid-19 recovery that is greener and more socially inclusive.” 
 
The funding deal clears the way for developer Vistry Partnerships to start construction of 88 new homes on the 4.6 acre site with 66 for private rent and a further 22 classed as affordable. The inclusion of affordable homes is a direct result of a standard WMCA investment clause requiring at least 20% of homes on any scheme given funding to be classed affordable under the combined authority’s own locally applied definition.  
 
Vistry, which was given planning permission for the scheme last month, has chosen to exceed the minimum requirement and make 25% of the new homes affordable. 
 
James Warrington, divisional managing director at Vistry, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the WMCA, Gatehouse Bank and whg on this exciting regeneration scheme in Walsall. The range of dwellings and mix of tenures will offer the widest possible choice of affordable homes built to the highest standards.” 

The site off Raleigh Street, close to Walsall town centre, has stood empty and neglected since the Harvestime Bakery closed in 2012 and its buildings demolished.  

Surrounded on three sides by existing residential housing, there have been concerns about anti-social behaviour on the land. 
 
Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, said: “The WMCA is leading the way nationally in brownfield land regeneration and this latest transformative investment is great news for local people who have had to look out over a derelict site for more than eight years now.  
 
“But this is just the latest example of how we are transforming unloved former industrial sites into thriving new communities and, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, that has never been more urgent as we strive to build a strong economic recovery.” 
 
Harvestime Bakeries was once one of Walsall’s biggest employers and there had been a bakery on the site since the 1800s. But it went into administration twice in 2005 and was rescued through an agreed takeover package by Maple Leaf Bakery UK, securing 250 jobs after more than 100 workers were made redundant. 
 
But the bakery closed in 2012 after the company announced it was leaving the sliced bread market, with the 230-or-so staff being encouraged to apply for posts at the Perfection Foods bakery, which opened elsewhere in the town. 

Budding engineers aged eight to 15 can explore the world of design, modelling and manufacturing at special two-day Future Makers Clubs this summer in Birmingham.

 

Young people attending the sessions in August, organised by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, will be given a unique experience to work in the state-of-the-art facilities at the Make UK Technology Hub in Aston. They will spend their days immersed in the world of engineering, learning a variety of aspects of design, manufacturing and modelling techniques, and complete a practical task that will bring engineering to life.

 

Fiona McGarry, Engagement Manager at Make UK, said: “Our Future Makers Clubs are enjoyable, hands-on sessions, where children will get a true taste of what opportunities engineering can offer them. 

 

With limited access to education over the last four months, it’s also a good opportunity to get some extra learning in over the summer - with fun added in - to get them ready for school or college in September, or to start thinking about a career.”

 

The Future Makers Clubs are divided into two groups - Secondary (age 11-15) and Primary (age 8-11). Each two-day session costs £75.

 

Dates are as follows:

 

Secondary: Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th August

Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th August

 

A fun filled two days of STEM exploring manufacturing and developing an understanding of energy, mechanics, electronics and control. They will design and make their own race car exploring traditional modelling techniques and their understanding of aerodynamics. 

Primary: Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th August

Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th August

 

An exciting two days where the children will develop their understanding of shape, form, electronics and computer control. The children will be given the opportunity to design, make, test and race their very own F1 race car. They will explore electronics and control technology, developing their understanding of simple circuits, mechanisms and computer control.

 

All the Future Maker Club activities have been risk assessed and planned with limited numbers and social distancing, to ensure Future Makers are kept safe at all times. Plans and risk assessments are available to parents and guardians on request.

 

A plumbing and heating entrepreneur from Willenhall in the West Midlands swapped showers for cauliflowers and bath spouts for Brussels sprouts, as he diversified his business into delivering fresh produce and groceries, in order to stay afloat during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The business diversification has been such a big hit with both his existing customer base and local vulnerable people that Simon Newton, who owns ACS Plumbing & Heating Ltd and DJN Plumbing Supplies, has won the contract to supply a local children’s nursery, started a special trailer service, taken on three extra staff and has plans to expand his plumbing supplies shop to include food refrigeration units.

With March’s lockdown preventing him and his team from being able to install heating and bathrooms, Simon, a long-standing Mira installer, took the bold decision to start selling a range of fruit, vegetables and groceries, recognising the need for this service, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable in his community who were shielding during the grip of the pandemic.

Now able to resume his installation business, he’s continuing the food delivery service, which includes daily Facebook live videos where Simon outlines the fresh produce available for the day.

He commented: “My attitude was I couldn’t just sit still throughout Covid – I had to support the staff and the customers that I look after – even if that meant 4am starts to get to the wholesale market!”

“It’s incredible how popular it’s proved to be - as well as providing a new revenue stream it’s also become a pipeline of new customers for the plumbing business.”

Paul McGuire, Installer Communications at Mira Showers added: “It’s fantastic to see the ingenuity in our industry, and more so when it’s someone you know personally – I used to work for Simon as a plumbing and heating engineer!

“Simon has shown real entrepreneurial spirit to diversify his business as he has, to maintain his revenue and to keep his staff in employment. In addition to that, Simon has provided a real lifeline to people in his local community and should be commended.”

 

 

Birmingham and Nottingham residents lead the way with water saving as Severn Trent donates £1m to local charities

Severn Trent set its customers the challenge of saving a daily average of 150 million litres of water and raise £1 million pounds for local charities, after the hot weather at the end of May and into early June saw record levels of demand.

 

And customers have responded – with a bit of help from the recent wetter and cooler weather – demand dropped from a high of 2.2 billion litres a day, by more than enough to make sure Barnardo’s, Macmillan Cancer Support, Crisis, and local branches of Mind and Age UK will all receive a share of the donation.

 

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO said: “What a fantastic effort by everyone, but special shout out to people who live in our Central region, who cut their usage by the best part of 20%, and in Nottinghamshire who weren’t all that far behind.

 

“But the really great news is that, together, everyone’s done enough to make sure our lovely local charities will get hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to help them with the fantastic work they’re doing in the communities we serve.

 

“It’s important we all carry on though, we know the cooler weather in June played a big part in how much water was used but, with temperatures starting to heat up again, it’s still really important we carry on doing our bit by using less water.”

 

Severn Trent launched the challenge after experiencing the driest May in 100 years which, combined with so many people being at home because of the COVID crisis, saw the highest demand for water Severn Trent had ever seen.

 

Since then the company has also been monitoring usage across its region, with figures showing customers in Birmingham, Nottingham, and Worcestershire and Gloucestershire saving the most water throughout June.

 

% change

29thMay-30June*

Central / Bham

17.89%

Cheshire

1.20%

Derbyshire

10.06%

Leicestershire

12.18%

Nottinghamshire

16.09%

Shropshire

5.54%

Staffordshire

7.52%

Warwickshire

11.63%

Worcs & Gloucs

14.17%

 

“Even though this charity challenge is over, the real challenge is for everyone to carry on saving water,” adds Liv

.

“June was rainy and a lot cooler than May so we didn’t see as many jet washers or paddling pools being used. So, when the hot weather returns, we need people to make those simple water saving changes like switching from a hose to a watering can, or reusing your paddling pool water, to help make sure there’s enough water for you and your neighbours for the essential things like drinking and washing.”

 

Hugh Sherriffe, Barnardo’s Central, Regional Director said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Severn Trent and their customers for raising vital funds for Barnardo’s through this water saving initiative. The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on many children and families and Barnardo’s is needed now more than ever to provide support to those who need it most. Whether it be emotional support for people’s mental health and wellbeing or more practical support such as food vouchers or hampers, this donation will have a really positive impact on many children and their families.”

 

Some of the top ways to help save water throughout Summer include:

 

• Not using the sprinkler every day; lawns are really resilient and will quickly bounce back to green when it rains again;

• Water the plants with a watering can, instead of a hose – this will help save loads of water, and avoids over-watering them;

• Have fun in your garden but keep an eye on how much you’re using the paddling pool – an average pool uses as much as three people would use in a whole day. So make sure you cover it up with a bed sheet, and reuse it the next day;

• If you’ve got a traditional toilet without the two button flush, order a free Buffaloo from Severn Trent that’ll reduce how much water you use each flush; and

• Filthy cars are the new fashion – as long as you’re keeping your windows, mirrors and lights clean maybe your car would like to get a little dirty for a change.

 

 

 

 

Chief Scientific Adviser, Vallance, says there’s no reason to change working from home

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said that there is "absolutely no reason" to change the guidance on working from home,

Since late March the government has advised people to work from home if possible to help curb coronavirus. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled a change, saying: "I think we should now say, well, 'Go back to work if you can.'"

Sir Patrick said home working was still a "perfectly good option" for many.

Speaking to the Commons science and technology committee, he said it was his view - and one shared by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - that distancing measures were still important for containing the virus.
He said: "Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it's easy to do. I think a number of companies think it's actually not detrimental to productivity. And in that situation, there's absolutely no reason I can see to change it."

It comes as the government continues to try to balance the economic and health risks of the pandemic.

Asked about Britain's response to the virus, Sir Patrick said: "It's clear that the outcome has not been good in the UK, I think you can be absolutely clear about that. There are many factors that are going to play in this as we look and say, 'what is it that makes some countries having done worse than others?', and there will be decisions made that will turn out not to have been the right decisions at the time."

In mid-March, Sir Patrick said it would be a "good outcome" for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000. The latest figures show 45,119 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, up by 66 on the previous day.

Sir Patrick said it was "quite probable" that the virus will come back "in different waves over a number of years", but stressed the UK was still going through the first wave. "When people talk about second wave now, actually, what I think they're talking about really is a re-emergence of the first wave," he said.

"All we have done is suppressed the first wave and when you take the brakes off you would expect it to come back." It comes after a report, requested by the scientific adviser, suggested the UK could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths during this winter. This could be seen as "the tail end of the first wave still", he said. During the session, Sir Patrick told MPs the government was advised to implement lockdown measures earlier than they did.

In the run up to lockdown, he said steps were taken to mitigate the virus, including isolating households and advising against visiting pubs and theatres which caused "quite extreme" changes in behaviour. But he said after data suggested the number of virus cases was doubling every three days, Sage recommended - either on 16 or 18 March - that the "remainder" of measures to curb coronavirus should be introduced.

Speaking in the Commons afterwards, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "16 March is the day when I came to this House and said that all unnecessary social contact should cease - that is precisely when the lockdown was started." Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that "advising people to socially distance is not the same as imposing a lockdown. That week-long delay could have cost thousands of lives".

In June, former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier.

The beginning of lockdown has usually been dated to the evening of 23 March when Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and people were told to mostly avoid leaving home and all non-essential shops were closed. In fact, Mr Hancock has previously said that is when lockdown began.

In a debate in the Commons on 2 June, he noted that the daily death figures were "lower than at any time since lockdown began on 23 March". Sir Patrick also said there was no assumption that a vaccine for coronavirus would be available in the immediate future, after encouraging early results from clinical trials raised hopes of finding one.

"Our assumption is we won't have it and when we get it we will be thrilled," he said.

Conservative MP Mark Logan asked Sir Patrick about his face covering, which he wore as he entered the session but took off while giving evidence. "It's a fairly standard cloth face covering," he said. "It's got a nose thing to make sure it doesn't slip off my nose and it's got several layers."

Asked how long he would wear it for and whether he washes it, Sir Patrick said: "I think you should wear them for short periods. As I say, I don't think it's something you can wear all day in indoor environments - there's some evidence for that.

"And yes, like my other clothes, I wash it."

Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are among many prominent US figures targeted by hackers on Twitter in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The official accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West also requested donations in the cryptocurrency.

"Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," a tweet from Mr Gates' account said. "You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000."

The tweets were deleted just minutes after they were first posted.
Twitter took the extraordinary step of stopping many verified accounts marked with blue ticks from tweeting altogether. There were reports that password reset requests were also being denied.

Dmitri Alperovitch, who co-founded cyber-security company CrowdStrike, told Reuters news agency: "This appears to be the worst hack of a major social media platform yet."

Twitter said it was looking into the incident and would issue a statement soon.

On the official account of Mr Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief appeared to offer to double any Bitcoin payment sent to the address of his digital wallet "for the next 30 minutes".

"I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19," the tweet added, along with a Bitcoin link address. One such tweet from Musk's account was deleted, only for another one to appear, then a third. As well as rapper Kanye West, his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former US President Obama, Mr Biden, who is the current Democratic presidential candidate, and media billionaire Mike Bloomberg, major companies Uber and Apple were targeted.

The Biden campaign said Twitter had "locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet".

A spokesman for Bill Gates told AP news agency: "This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing." These "double your Bitcoin" scams have been a persistent pest on Twitter for years but this is unprecedented with the actual accounts of public figures hijacked and on a large scale. The fact that so many different users have been compromised at the same time implies that this is a problem with Twitter's platform itself.

Early suggestions are that someone has managed to get hold of some sort of administration privileges and bypassed the passwords of pretty much any account they want. With so much power at their fingertips the attackers could have done a lot more damage with more sophisticated tweets that could have harmed an individual or organisation's reputation.

But the motive seems to be clear - make as much money as quickly as they can. The hackers would have known that the tweets wouldn't stay up for long so this was the equivalent of a "smash and grab" operation. There are conflicting accounts of how much money the hackers have made and even when a figure is settled upon, it's important to remember that cyber-criminals are known to add their own funds into their Bitcoin wallets to make the scam seem more legitimate.

Either way, it's going to be very hard to catch the criminals by following the money. Law enforcement, as well as many angry users, will have some strong questions for Twitter about how this could have happened. Cameron Winklevoss, who was declared the world's first Bitcoin billionaire in 2017 along with his twin brother Tyler, tweeted a message on Wednesday warning people not to participate in the "scam".

In the short time it was online, the link displayed in the tweets of targeted accounts received hundreds of contributions totalling more than $100,000 (£80,000), according to publicly available blockchain records.

The Twitter accounts targeted all have millions of followers.

Up to 47 jobs could go at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with the venue warning its survival was at risk. The jobs, at one of the country's foremost producing theatres represent about 40% of its workforce.

The Rep’s Artistic Director Sean Foley welcomed a £1.5bn emergency package from the government for the arts sector. However, the theatre said it had lost 80% of its income, a position it described as "unsustainable".

It said it was looking at a range of cost-saving measures and "with great sadness" would be consulting with staff about redundancies.

The theatre, based in Centenary Square, celebrated its own centenary in 2013 and its stage has featured the likes of Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi, among others.

A joint statement from executive director Rachael Thomas and artistic director Sean Foley, said: "Our role as custodians of this much-loved theatre, with its historic legacy, is to ensure that it survives the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Even after the new measures are taken into account, we believe that survival is threatened if we do not act now. We could still be facing many months of being unable to trade and must therefore take action to mitigate the loss of income by reducing our costs."