Colors: Purple Color

As people across the country go back to work and their daily routines after the festive season, January is usually the time when most will take stock of their finances to look for savings on their monthly outgoings. With commuting costs taking up a large chunk of many people’s budget, Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards has researched the cost of some of the country’s most popular rail routes for commuters.

Qatar Airways experienced a milestone year in 2015, from beginning with the start of A350 operations for which it was the global launch customer, to growing its fleet by 20 per cent, through to ending on a high note by launching a new brand campaign, “Going Places Together” and debuting an exclusive on-board safety video featuring the world-famous FC Barcelona players.

A Wolverhampton-based health cover provider, Paycare has been confirmed as the latest Founder Patron of the city’s new £6 million Youth Zone. The School Street facility – named The Way – will open its doors in January with a host of sporting and cultural activities for young people aged 8 – 19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities. Paycare is investing £75,000 in The Way over the next three years which will support the charity in engaging and inspiring young people in Wolverhampton.

Recruitment difficulties for Greater Birmingham manufacturers are at a record high – with an overwhelming 89 per cent of firms facing hiring problems, especially for skilled workers. Figures from the economic survey by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) for the last quarter of 2015, supported by recruitment and people development agency Katie Bard, show that staff recruitment concerns among manufacturers are at their highest level according to official figures, which date back to autumn, 1997.

City of Wolverhampton Council has revealed ambitious plans to deliver a mixed residential development of 72 homes on the former Tower and Fort Works site in Pelham Street, Graiseley. The project will see the 3.4 acres of land sold to a development partner for high quality family homes for private sale or rent. A quarter of the homes will be set aside as affordable council houses at an estimated cost of £2 million, which will come from the Housing Revenue Account.

As prime Surrey estate agency celebrates 50 years in Virginia Water this year, Partner James Wyatt muses the year ahead: "At the end of 2014, I predicted that the FTSE 100 would end 2015 at 7125. It is clear that my crystal ball needs a serious service. "The price crash in commodities and oil during 2015 has laid waste to my prediction, and therein lies the rub when it comes to predicting where the property markets may be headed - we just don't know what might be round the corner.

One of the West Midlands’ leading media entrepreneurs has filmed a documentary about his work in the USA – and it features UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) advisers who have helped him gain success. Barry Tomes, founder of Barry Tomes Media Group, says overseas trade at the Gotham Records arm of his business has increased by 60% over the past ten years, since he first engaged with UKTI through the Director of International Trade Jonathan Webber.

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr John Clancy, has responded to calls for more consultation on budget proposals by adding a third public meeting in the south of the city. The 2016+ budget consultation, setting out budget proposals for 2016/17 – 2019/20, was published last week and, in addition to a range of meetings with groups affected, public meetings have already been held in Erdington and the Council House.

City of Wolverhampton Council hosted a government delegation from China. The Mayor of Hejian City led a nine-strong party on a fact finding mission to the city who were welcomed to the Civic Centre by Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy. Hejian City Mayor, Mr Weijiang Yin, said: “We were keen to visit Wolverhampton and explore its history as a city seated at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

With one in ten Brits reportedly leaving their Christmas shopping until the big day itself, it’s not surprising that the most unlikely places for filling up on festive stocking treats can suddenly transform itself into a haven of holiday help. Perhaps synonymous with a hundred thousand angry housewives clutching a bunch of bad floral arrangements to their heart, the fuel station may be the last resort for a Sachertorte on Christmas Day, but it is still one of the only retail outlets open in the 24 hour festive shut down where goods can go straight from check out to under-the-tree in a matter of moments. 

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce says that the delay over whether to build a new runway at Heathrow will strengthen the case for making better use of Britain’s regional airports. In response to the announcement that the solution to aviation congestion in the South East will be delayed six months, Colin Leighfield, Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce’s Transport Group said: “The Government should use this time to explore how HS2 can be used to support a regional airport strategy as an alternative to expansion in Heathrow. There is more to aviation strategy than environmental concerns.”

Last week Birmingham was formally announced as a City of Sanctuary, in recognition of the efforts to offer shelter and safety to those in need. During an event at the Council House on Friday (December 4) to mark the announcement, the following speech was made by Cllr Shafique Shah. Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety:

2nd Annual Arabtech event shows real potential of UK cooperation to promote prosperity in the Middle East As negativity dominates the news, the UK-Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv run the 2nd Annual Arabtech Conference in London bringing 10 of the most promising Israeli-Arab start ups to the Silycon Roundabout. The UK-Israel Tech Hub was launched in 2011 to create partnerships in which British companies gain a global competitive edge via Israeli innovation and Israeli innovation can go global via the UK.

Local housing group, Wolverhampton Homes, has become a Founder Patron of ‘The Way’ with less than 50 days to go until the £6m facility open’s on January 16th 2016.  The Way will transform the lives of young people by giving them ‘somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.’ Wolverhampton Homes manage and look after more than 23,000 homes on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) West Midlands, with national law firm DWF, and information security consultancy firm, Aristi, is hosting a free seminar in Birmingham on December 10, which aims to arm small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and medium-sized businesses (MSBs) with the latest information to protect their data and assets. Christine Hamilton, acting regional director of UKTI West Midlands, said it was vital that businesses were prepared for a potential cyber attack.