Colors: Purple Color

Colmore BID has appointed a former Special Branch police officer to help support safety projects in Birmingham’s commercial district.

Paul Street has assisted police investigations into the 7/7 terror attacks and was one of the lead officers tasked with setting up the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit, the first regional unit in the UK.

In 2008, Mr Street moved back into community policing, rising to the rank of Temporary Inspector. Initially based in Handsworth, he has led on tackling street gangs, youth violence and business crime.

Mr Street recently completed a 12-month contract delivering award-winning work for Soho Road BID after a career at West Midlands Police spanning 30 years, which culminated in a Commissioner’s Commendation.

Colmore BID recently secured by renewal ballot its third five-year term representing more than 500 businesses in the Colmore Row area of the city. The new term starts on April 1, 2019. The BID works in partnership with Birmingham City Council on public realm projects and enhancement schemes for the District.

The safety and security of workers and visitors to the area continues to be a key priority for the BID and Mr Street will establish new and develop existing partnerships within the District, working with West Midlands Police and street intervention teams among others.

Mr Street will be supported by the BID’s Street Operations Manager, John Jo-Von Johnson on delivering the ‘Safe and Sound’ strategy. Together they will continue to work to help businesses be better prepared for major incidents in the city and to reduce the impact of crime on local businesses.

He will also be working with the area’s growing evening economy to ensure Colmore Business District is the place to go for a safe and enjoyable night out.

Mr Street said: “Having delivered award-winning interventions at Soho Road BID over the last 12 months, I’m delighted to be bringing my experience with West Midlands Police and BIDs to Colmore Business District.

“The growth of the District’s fantastic food and drink scene over the last five years brings with it a range of challenges which I look forward to overcoming in partnership with our local businesses, and I will continue to work with new and existing partners to ensure that the District is as resilient as it can be.”

Alan Bain, Chair of the BID’s Safe and Sound Working Group, added: “I am pleased to be able to announce that Paul has joined the Colmore BID team. Security was a key issue for businesses during our ballot.

“Paul’s appointment shows our commitment to providing even greater support to businesses in our third term. Paul brings with him a wealth of experience in counter-terrorism and community policing and I am looking forward to working with him and local businesses over the next five years.”


Employees at Barclays Bank Plc, at One Snowhill, in Birmingham, raised £2,958.76 for the charity by holding various events throughout 2018 and presented the cheque to Regional Fundraiser Gayle Kelly on the charity’s 50th Anniversary.

These events included cake, sweet & samosa sales as well as football related events during the 2018 World Cup.

Parkinson's UK is the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Susan Handy (Wholesale Lending) on behalf of Midlands Campus Citizenship, said: “We decided to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK because we felt that a charity such as this sometime goes under the radar. We also have members of staff here with a parent who has been diagnosed with the condition and we wanted to show our support. I hope that our money will fund research that will one day find a cure. We’re so happy with the amount of money raised”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no cure and it affects 145,000 people in the UK including over 12,000 in the West Midlands.

Parkinson’s UK estimate that there are more than 40 symptoms of the condition.  As well as the most widely known symptom - tremor - these range from physical symptoms like muscle stiffness to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia, but Parkinson’s affects everyone differently.

Gayle Kelly, Regional Fundraiser for Birmingham and the Black Country at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Nobody should have to face Parkinson’s alone - or without hope that one day we’ll find better treatments and a cure.

“The money raised means that we can be there for more people when they need us most and invest in further research that will one day bring an end to the condition.  It was lovely to be presented with the cheque on our 50th Anniversary too!

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Barclays Bank Plc for fundraising for Parkinson’s UK.”

To find out how to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK visit:


As part of a wider expansion plan, Bruton Knowles has appointed Senior Surveyor, Tim Bloomer, to its growing team in Birmingham, based at 60 Church Street. With eight years’ experience, Tim’s focus will concentrate on developing valuation work within the West Midlands commercial sector.

Tim Bloomer’s arrival at the national property consultancy coincides with a period of considerable growth for the firm, with the nationwide team expected to expand by over 30 per cent before the end of the second quarter of the year.

Tim will be working within the valuations team, joining six others in the Birmingham based office. His expertise will be used to help improve and grow the specialist markets within Burton Knowles and also to develop further skills covering compulsory purchase orders and residential valuations. His sector experience spans the licensed, retail and childcare and education markets.

James Bailey, Managing Partner at Bruton Knowles: “We have an exciting year ahead with plans to grow the business further, and in order to do so we need to have the best in the business on board. That’s why recruiting high calibre surveyors, like Tim, who wish to expand their specialist knowledge is so important. We have great strength and depth of talent across all disciplines, our confident and capable staff can offer insight, experience and expertise using the same values that has allowed Bruton Knowles to become the success it is today.”

Tim Bloomer: “This move to Bruton Knowles will open up my career progression and develop my surveying experience significantly. It’s a step I have been looking to take for some time but had to wait for the right opportunity to open up, with the right firm.

“I’m keen to utilise my skills to aid growth within the business, as well as learn and develop in areas I’m not so familiar with, sharing all of my learnings along the way with my junior colleagues and newly appointed graduates. In years to come, I hope to be assisting across the board in the services that Burton Knowles offer and have the opportunity to grow the specialist markets team.”

Tim will also be mentoring graduates at Bruton Knowles, helping with their training to complete the APC, assessment of professional competence, and become fully qualified Chartered Surveyors.

Bruton Knowles is an independently-owned national property consultancy with 12 offices across the UK. Its large multi-disciplinary team is highly experienced in sale and purchase, valuation, leasing and strategy across commercial, rural and urban property, and has specialist expertise in utilities, public sector and social housing.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, the UK’s leading body for registered electricians, NICEIC, is encouraging more females into the electrical sector through its bursary scheme.

The bursary, which opens for entries today, offers grants to women already working as an electrician or those looking to get a helping hand at the start of their career. It is open to females of all ages and the grant can help cover training, equipment or other associated costs up to a maximum of £500.

The bursary, which is now in its second year, forms part of NICEIC’s wider ‘Jobs for the Girls’ campaign, which was set up in 2011. It aims to educate women on the opportunities available to them in the electrical trade, as well as dispel the myth that it’s a job only suited to men.

Paul Collins, Communications Manager at NICEIC, commented: “Our bursary scheme aims to help more women into the electrical industry, which is still massively under-represented by females.

“Our research suggests that just one in every 100 electricians is female. If we can help out those women who are just starting out or inspire others who might be thinking about a career in the electrical industry, then we will be well on the way to addressing the gender imbalance.”

One female electrician who received bursary funds last year was 41-year-old Amanda Pugh from Buckinghamshire, who used the funding to set up a website for her business, Amanda Electrics.

Commenting on her experience, Amanda said: “I was just starting out on my own and although I had help with some of the training, and was fortunate enough to already have my own tools, I still had to pay for additional courses, books, registration, insurance, website fees, business cards, work clothing and other tools.

“The bursary from NICEIC helped offset some of the costs and meant I was able to start making money from my work sooner.”

For more information on NICEIC ‘Jobs for the Girls’ campaign, visit: 


Free food, flexi-time and fitness aids have been named among the best job perks by a recruitment expert.

Anita Tweats, CEO of financial services matchmaker The Finance People, has revealed ten of the most sought-after job benefits for attracting high quality office staff.

A casual dress code and a games room have also made the leading businesswoman’s list, on top of an attractive salary, holiday allowance and professional development.

Her own company has won praise for its unique service, matching experienced finance professionals with start-ups and other small companies who require financial expertise.

The Finance People CEO Anita Tweats said : “Many businesses often think that the headline wage is all that matters to potential employees.

“But my experience has taught me that sometimes the little things can make all the difference, so an appealing perks package could be crucial when recruiting.” 

Here is The Finance People list of the ten best job perks:

  1. Free food - Filling employees’ stomachs for free is one of the easiest ways to their hearts, whether it’s a complimentary breakfast club, laying on sandwiches for lunch or installing a snack station.
Anita said: “Providing food for your staff is a straightforward and low-cost way to show you’re a company that cares – even if you want to keep it informal, it’s cheap and easy to order pizzas once a week, for example.”
  1. Health Insurance - For companies with a larger budget, a private health care plan for each employee could show a reassuring long-term commitment to your staff.
“Personal wellbeing is a top priority for most people, so companies that want to take care of your physical and mental health are immediately more attractive,” Anita said.
  1. Flexi-time - Around core daytime hours, allowing staff to start and finish an hour or two earlier or later could provide the flexibility they need to maintain other commitments.
“Potential employees might not want to drop everything for a new job and will appreciate a firm that helps them keep up a healthy work-life balance. Some people are also early risers or just not fans of the morning and would be grateful for flexible hours.”
  1. Casual Dress Code - Some businesses will chose to ditch suits and uniforms and replace them with a more relaxed approach that allows employees to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in, as long as it’s not inappropriate.
“This obviously isn’t the right approach for every company, but depending on your sector and business model, allowing a hoody in the winter and shorts in the summer shouldn’t do any harm and could create a more welcoming environment for prospective employees.”
  1. Special Fridays - An increasing number of companies are choosing to close early on a Friday or socialise as a team to start the weekend.
“With most businesses winding down for the week on a Friday anyway, it’s usually a popular move to treat everyone to an earlier finish or a round of drinks after work!”
  1. Local discounts - Larger businesses can use their contacts and bulk buying possibilities to enter partnerships with other local companies to offer staff discounts, but even small and medium sized enterprises could join forces with local food outlets, retailers and service providers to offer staff money off.
She continued: “If there’s a favourite café near your offices, why not invite them to overtake the competition by offering your employees 10 or 25% off their lunch or morning coffee? They should get more customers and great recommendations in return.”
  1. Pets - Being careful to consider existing employees’ opinions, an office dog or invitation to bring your own pet in from time to time could entice future staff.
“Dogs are often said to be a man’s, or woman’s, best friend – and many people would love to work with their best friend around to keep morale high.”
  1. Group bonding activities - Events and experiences that create fun memories and allow colleagues to get to know each other better as individuals can be a key contributor to a work environment that is attractive to prospective new members of the team.
She continued: “Whether its tickets to a concert or a day at the races, to a paintballing session, an escape room challenge or even a simple pub quiz, group bonding activities can help foster a fun and welcoming office environment.”
  1. Fitness aids - Personal fitness is increasingly a priority for millennials and the middle-aged alike, so companies that lend a hand in this area could be more appealing to possible new hires.
“A partnership with a local gym or sports club to give your staff free membership could make the difference when employees are choosing their next move. If there’s space, why not provide some fitness equipment in the office too?.”
  1. A games room - Many office spaces could attract new talent by providing a fun room full of pool or ping pong tables, video games or whatever entertainment people want.
Anita finally said: “Sometimes employees want somewhere to let their hair down at lunch time, or just break out for a few minutes during a stressful day – a games room can be perfect for that.”



Former President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and current Board member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Ninder Johal has added ‘Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands’ to his already impressive portfolio. His appointment was announced by Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree the Queens personal representation in the region.

A leading proponent of business to business events, media production and a successful chart topping record company Johal, born and bred in the very region he has been serving for so long, the entrepreneur, who is extremely passionate about business, set up the Nachural Group as a record label specialising in dance music; achieved global success with 9 no 1’s, a No.5 in the UK charts and a no.7 in the US charts. It is equally highly recognised for specialising in presenting spectacular red carpet black tie events, stunning business award nights, memorable corporate presentations and also the manufacturing of high resolution audio - he is noted for hosting the ever-popular Signature Awards for business professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Having lived and worked in the region all my life, to be appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands is a great honour for myself, my family and all those who have supported me along my journey.”

The appointment of Ninder Johal DL was announced on February 1.


Generous employees at Birmingham-based HealthTrust Europe have broken the company’s fundraising record by raising a total of £8,212.73 for Duchenne UK.

The amount is the Edgbaston company’s highest annual total raised for a charity to date and highlights the company’s commitment to the care and improvement of human life.

During 2018 HealthTrust Europe members of staff took part in dress down and dress up days, a charity raffle, a cake sale, and awareness & educational activities. However, the major event was November’s five and 10k runs in Sutton Park which resulted in a massive boost to funds of more than £3,000. The total donation made via HealthTrust Europe’s JustGiving webpage was in the top three per cent of such pages in the UK for fundraising in November.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) affects 1 in 3,500 boys and is the most common genetic disease diagnosed in childhood and is caused by a lack of the protein dystrophin that affects the entire body. The illness almost always affects boys, and they tend to be diagnosed before the age of five. There are around 2,500 patients in the UK and an estimated 300,000 worldwide.

HealthTrust Europe helps health and care providers save money by sourcing best value products and services to deliver healthcare. The company provides solutions that are patient-centred and clinically-led, driving quality, safety, service and price.

Dennis Robb, CEO said: “I am delighted that colleagues supported Duchenne UK over 2018 with so much enthusiasm and generosity, and I am proud that we have been able to contribute to fighting this condition.

“This wonderful result exemplifies our mission to improve healthcare in the communities we serve.”

Emily Crossley, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Duchenne UK said: "We would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the staff at HealthTrust Europe for their continued support of Duchenne UK. We are so grateful to you for raising an incredible £8,212.73 in 2018. We are a very ambitious and focused charity so every penny you raise will help us to fund research in to treatment and a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy."

Duchenne UK funds research into treatments and a cure for DMD including funding research posts and clinical trials at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, which is also the first hospital to become a DMD Hub site.

More information about DMD can be found on the Duchenne UK website.


Wine Vault, the company behind WiV, a block chain-based trading platform for fine wines, has made a significant step towards long-term viability by attracting investment from Singapore-based Holland Park Capital. As a result of the move, Holland Park’s founding partner, Frank Holle, has joined WineVault’s board of directors and WineVault has opened an office in Singapore, extending its reach into Asia.

The investment in WineVault comes at an exciting time as the firm gears up for the mid-2019 launch of WiV. The platform will integrate seamlessly with existing systems, and bring new levels of efficiency to three aspects of the trading process:

  • Pre-trade: Each wine asset is allocated a digital WiV Wine Asset Token that securely collects and stores provenance and transaction history
  • Trade: Users can execute, clear and settle fine wine trades quickly, transparently and securely on the WiV Exchange reducing the need for complex paperwork
  • Post-trade: Every bottle is professionally stored and held in secure locations, minimising physical movement of the wine to ensure that it is maintained in ideal condition
The move into Asia extends WiV’s potential network beyond Europe for the first time.

Holle brings a wealth of experience to the WineVault team, having spent the last two decades setting up and managing an award winning quantitative hedgefund, successful start-up companies and a venture capital firm. Originally trained as a business lawyer, Holle spent the first decade at ABN AMRO, Amsterdam and later as a director at Merrill Lynch in London.

“The additional investment and Frank joining our board strengthens us as we move into our launch phase,” says Tommy Nordam Jensen, CEO at WineVault. “Having a formal presence in Asia is also very exciting given the region’s lively market for fine wine. We genuinely believe that removing the friction from wine trading will benefit every part of the industry, whether you represent a chateaux, négociant, merchant distributor or investor.”



Employees at Barclays Bank Plc, One Snowhill, Birmingham raised £2,958.76 for the charity by holding various events throughout 2018 and presented the cheque to Regional Fundraiser Gayle Kelly on the charity’s 50th Anniversary.

These events included cake, sweet & samosa sales as well as football related events during the 2018 World Cup.

Parkinson's UK is the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Susan Handy (Wholesale Lending) on behalf of Midlands Campus Citizenship, said: “We decided to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK because we felt that a charity such as this sometime goes under the radar. We also have members of staff here with a parent who has been diagnosed with the condition and we wanted to show our support. I hope that our money will fund research that will one day find a cure. We’re so happy with the amount of money raised”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no cure and it affects 145,000 people in the UK including over 12,000 in the West Midlands.

Parkinson’s UK estimate that there are more than 40 symptoms of the condition.  As well as the most widely known symptom - tremor - these range from physical symptoms like muscle stiffness to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia, but Parkinson’s affects everyone differently.

Gayle Kelly, Regional Fundraiser for Birmingham and the Black Country at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Nobody should have to face Parkinson’s alone - or without hope that one day we’ll find better treatments and a cure.

The money raised means that we can be there for more people when they need us most and invest in further research that will one day bring an end to the condition.  It was lovely to be presented with the cheque on our 50th Anniversary too!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Barclays Bank Plc for fundraising for Parkinson’s UK.”


Great works are known to come in small packages, and the Tag, You’re It! book series is living proof. Written by 10-year old Connor Benjamin Littlejohn, the three-book compilation is a hilarious story of middle school friends who come together to fight off zombies, monsters, and robots in an effort to save their town.

Published in 2018, the short chapter books (Zombie Tag, Freeze Tag, and Laser Tag) are uniquely designed for young readers. The books have been shared with and enjoyed by elementary school students across the country from New York City to Nashville to San Francisco.

When his fourth-grade English teacher gave his class an assignment to write a “spooky story,” Connor – an already voracious reader – decided to take the assignment a step further. With the help of his mom, he hunkered down over Christmas break to complete his first chapter book Zombie Tag about a boy named Jake and his adventures with friends.

Since then, he’s followed up the debut story with ‘Freeze Tag’ and ‘Laser Tag’ to complete the series. Teachers and parents alike have applauded the series, calling it a godsend for reluctant readers who long for more interesting children’s books.

“I purchased this book as a read-aloud for my 4th grade class,” said Kate, a fourth-grade teacher. “My students laughed out loud while listening and were inspired by the creative voice of this talented young author!

The cliff-hanger at the end left us all very eager for the second instalment of the series!”

Nicole, another teacher, said: “My students [fourth graders] begged me to read this book aloud to them each day. We all found the book incredibly engaging – action packed and hilarious all at the same time. We cannot wait for the sequel!”

While becoming a published author at the tender age of 10 is an accomplishment many could only dream of, it’s just another day for Connor. In addition to writing, he is also a gifted pianist who, when not working on his stories also produces original electronic music on Garageband.

“I’m really happy that my books are giving kids like me a chance to see themselves in fun stories,” Connor said. “I love to read and want to encourage other kids to read great books and maybe even write new books of their own.”

A reader with an insatiable appetite for books, Connor has been known to plow through up to three books in one day. He counts Dan Gutman, James Patterson, Andrew Clements, and Judy Blume among his favourite writers, and plans to be as prolific as his literary heroes one day.


The Caribbean tourism sector is projected to record strong growth in 2019 on the heels of a stronger-than-expected performance last year.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the authority on regional tourism statistics and performance, is forecasting 6-7 per cent growth this year, continuing an upward trend which began last September.

“We are projecting that tourist arrivals will increase by between six and seven per cent in 2019, as the damaged infrastructure in the hurricane-impacted destinations returns to capacity. Similarly, cruise arrivals should expand by a further four per cent to five per cent,” Ryan Skeete the CTO’s acting director of research revealed at the Caribbean Tourism Performance Review news conference at the CTO’s headquarters this morning.

Skeete did caution of possible “significant headwinds to navigate”, including the outcome of the Brexit negotiations in the UK, the on-going trade war between the United States and China and potential extreme weather events in the destinations and marketplaces.

Still, he said, with global demand for international travel expected to remain strong, underpinned by healthy economic activity, and with improved air connectivity helping to boost arrivals, the outlook for Caribbean tourism in 2019 was cautiously optimistic.

The CTO research director revealed that a robust 9.8 per cent growth during the September to December period last year, led to a stronger-than-projected performance. It was a significant turnaround from the previous eight months of decline.

“Even the destinations that were severely impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, despite registering overall double-digit declines last year, experienced a significant turnaround during the last four months, registering triple-digit increases during this period,” Skeete told the briefing, which was streamed ‘live’ to an international audience.

The 29.9 million tourist visits in 2018 represented the second highest number of visitors to the Caribbean on record, surpassed only by the 30.6 million who visited in 2017. And while this represented a 2.3 per cent decline overall, it was better that the anticipated three per cent to four per cent fall-off.

“With a strong performance during the last four months of 2018, including a robust showing by countries impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, the evidence suggests that Caribbean tourism is on the upswing,” Skeete declared.

According to information compiled from CTO member countries, Canada was the strongest performing market – its 3.9 million visits represented a 5.7 per cent rise. The intra-Caribbean market had its best performance ever, reaching two million visitors, while South America produced 1.9 million tourist visits, representing a 3.6 per cent increase. Arrivals from Europe grew by a modest 1.3 per cent, with UK arrivals remaining flat at an estimated 1.3 million.

However, the United States, which remains the region’s leading market, was down, with the 13.9 million American tourist visits representing a 6.3 per cent fall. This was due mainly to steep declines in arrivals to popular destinations impacted by the hurricanes, such as Puerto Rico, which was down by 45.6 per cent, and St. Maarten, which fell by 79 per cent.

This notwithstanding, there was a healthy 28 per cent rise in arrivals from the US in the fourth quarter, reflecting the strong turnaround during this period.

Mortgage free retired homeowners saw their homes increase by nearly £1,000 a month over the past six months despite housing market uncertainty, analysis from UK’s leading independent equity release adviser Key shows. Total property wealth owned by over-65s who are mortgage free is at a new record high of £1.118 trillion with the average homeowners seeing the value of their homes grow by £28 billion.


Across Great Britain, average gains for the over 65s in property wealth are worth £5,998 each with all areas of the country benefiting in the past six months.  Homeowners in Yorkshire and Humberside (+£8,607) have seen the biggest increases followed by those in Wales (+£7,875) and the North West (+£7,546) have also done better than average (+£5,889).


Retired, mortgage free homeowners in London (+£1,655) have the least to celebrate and have only just matched over six months the same amount over-65s in Yorkshire & Humberside have achieved in a month (+£1,435).  Key’s index demonstrates the long-term investment success of home ownership and the value of housing wealth for retirement planning.

A Bluewater 2018 highlight was the opening of the company's Cape Town office to spur expansion in South Africa and the African continent. Photo shows Bluewater Africa's James Steere, (right) with Andreas Loibnegger, Bluewater Chief Technology Officer

Stockholm, Sweden, January 8, 2019 – In April 2018, Bluewater kicked off a “season of action” toward clean water solutions free from single-use plastics and contaminants. Closing out the year, the water technology leader reports progress in advancing its global clean drinking water movement, providing alternatives to single-use plastic, raising awareness on the critical water issues of our time and forging partnerships through investments in a slew of companies in the drinking water arena.

While the world’s natural resources and water quality continued to worsen in 2018 in the face of unrelenting pollution of oceans, lakes, and rivers by contaminants ranging from industrial and agricultural chemicals to micro-plastics, Bluewater’s efforts were geared to help stem the tide of water pollution and contamination.

Specific 2018 milestones:

●Bluewater launched ingenious water purification public hydration stations able to generate pure drinking water onsite even from water considered unfit for human consumption

●These hydration stations were deployed both to key water crisis areas across the world, notably in Flint, Michigan and Cape Town, South Africa

●Bluewater’s public hydration stations sustainably provided an estimated 27 million gallons of clean water, preventing the equivalent of over 800,000 standard-size plastic bottles from entering landfills and oceans

●Bluewater distributed clean water in six continents, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America, in countries ranging from Australia, Brazil and China to Britain, The Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States

● Bluewater made strategic investments in four water companies also on a mission to provide consumers access to clean water while battling single-use plastic bottles: I-Drop Water in South Africa, TAPP in Spain and US-based Microlyze (now Spout) and FloWater.

The Bluewater clean drinking water movement forged impactful partnerships to further its global impact. Key partners include the United Nations, Volvo Ocean Race, Friends of the Chicago River, 11th Hour Racing, and Imagine H20. In partnership with Imagine H20, three water technology startup companies--Microlyze (Denver, CO), Drinkwell (Dhaka, Bangladesh) and SmartTerra (Bengaluru, India), received a sum of $1 million to spur green innovation and continue the clean drinking water movement.

“At Bluewater our philosophy is pure drinking, cooking and bathing water for everyone, everywhere for home use, commercial enterprises and public dispensing and we’ve made strides in delivering on that promise over the past year,” said Anders Jacobson, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Bluewater.

Some of the region’s biggest employers came together today to pledge their support to tackle the lack of diversity at the very top of major companies and public bodies.

Representatives from more than 60 businesses and organisations gathered in Birmingham for the launch of the Inclusive Leadership Pledge – an initiative aimed at rebalancing boardrooms.

The Pledge is the result of a hard hitting report – Leaders Like You – published last summer by the independent West Midlands Leadership Commission, which focused on the experiences of black and ethnic minority communities, women, the LGBT community, disabled people and lower social economic groups such as white, working class boys.

Set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Commission warned that the lack of diversity at leadership level risked damaging the region’s economy and wider society.

The report set out a number of recommendations, including a call for existing leaders to ensure diversity in their workplaces, identify talent and then mentor and coach that talent to produce future leaders.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who also chairs the WMCA, officially launched the Inclusive Leadership Pledge at the Wesleyan offices in Birmingham. Businesses including SkyBlue Solutions, DLA Piper and Wesleyan made pledges, alongside the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The WMCA is now aiming to get 1,000 businesses and organisations to sign up to the Pledge over the coming 12 months.

The authority has also pledged to strive for 40% of its senior management to be women within the next five years.

The Mayor said: “Diversity is one of the key strengths of the West Midlands – but many boardrooms are missing out on fresh talent and alternative ways of looking at an increasingly globalised world.

“It’s not acceptable that sections of our society are not getting chance to help shape and influence at a leadership level: whether that’s because of existing business policies, or long-standing issues with self-confidence and self-worth among these communities.

“The Inclusive Leadership Pledge is a commitment from some of our biggest employers and organisations that they will actively seek to improve diversity in their leadership – whether by reviewing recruitment, improving staff support or sharing their own best practice with others.

“We want 1,000 local businesses and organisations to sign up to the Pledge by the end of 2019 – and I’m pleased to say that the WMCA has pledged its commitment today.”

Following the publication of last year’s Leaders Like You report, businesses have clubbed together to discuss ways to make positive changes to their recruitment procedures, staffing policies and employee engagement – and have made three key suggestions to help diversify their organisations.

The three suggestions were to set up peer-to-peer mentoring, create a website with best-practice resources for businesses and create a pledge commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

The Inclusive Leadership Pledge itself states: “We pledge to embed inclusivity in our organisation’s ethos and culture, so that every employee has a fair opportunity in recruitment, promotion and progression. We pledge that under-represented groups will be actively supported so that we can collectively make a difference to the leadership of the West Midlands.”

The statement is supported by a number of pledges to take action – such as:

  • We will launch training programmes for under-represented groups in our to cultivate leadership qualities
  • We will launch a mentoring programme for under-represented groups in our organisation where they will be linked up with senior staff.
  • We will ensure there is always a female and BME staff member on every interview panel
  • We pledge that 33% of our senior management will be female by 2023.
Anita Bhalla OBE, journalist and chair of the Leadership Commission, said: “The Inclusive Leadership Pledge is the start of an overdue journey. Businesses have digested our report, considered the issues, taken a look at themselves, and come up with a number of suggestions which they feel will have a long-lasting and positive impact. This has to be applauded.

“Businesses are understanding that under-representation at leadership level limits aspiration and leads to disaffection. They are signing up to create an environment where future leaders from all backgrounds can be nurtured, acknowledging this ultimately will be good not just for their business, but for society.”

Roger Dix, chief risk officer and executive sponsor for inclusion and diversity at Wesleyan, said: “Wesleyan is delighted to host the launch of the Inclusive Leadership Pledge for the West Midlands.

“As a leading employer in the region, we are committed to inclusivity and diversity, and recognise the value in having different viewpoints in senior positions.

“We are pleased to sign up to the Inclusive Leadership Pledge and hope hundreds of other businesses and organisations will do the same. Working together, we can help make a huge difference to the leadership of the region.”

Businesses and organisations can get more information and sign the Inclusive Leadership Pledge online at:

European aerospace corporation Airbus SE announced that it has set a new company record by meeting its full year delivery guidance and delivering 800 commercial aircraft to 93 customers in 2018.

2018 deliveries were 11 percent higher than the previous record of 718 units, set in 2017. For the 16th year in a row now, Airbus has increased the number of commercial aircraft deliveries on an annual basis.

In total, the 2018 commercial aircraft deliveries comprise:

• 20 A220s (since it became part of the Airbus family in July 2018); • 626 A320 Family (vs 558 in 2017), of which 386 were A320neo Family (vs 181 NEOs in 2017); • 49 A330s (vs 67 in 2017) including the first three A330neo in 2018; • 93 A350 XWBs (vs 78 in 2017); • 12 A380s (vs 15 in 2017).

In terms of sales, Airbus achieved 747 net orders during 2018 compared with 1,109 net orders in 2017. At the end of 2018, the backlog of Airbus commercial aircraft reached a new industry record and stood at 7,577 aircraft, including 480 A220s, compared with 7,265 at the end of 2017.

“Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018. I salute our teams around the globe who worked until the end of the year to meet our commitments,” said Guillaume Faury, President Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “I am equally pleased about the healthy order intake as it shows the underlying strength of the commercial aircraft market and the trust our customers are placing in us. My gratitude goes out to all of them for their ongoing support.” He added: “As we look to further increase our industrial efficiency, we will continue making the digitalisation of our business a key priority.”

Over the last 16 years, Airbus has steadily increased its production year-by-year with the final assembly lines in Hamburg, Toulouse, Tianjin and Mobile complemented by the addition of the A220 line in Mirabel, Canada, during 2018. A notable contribution to Airbus’ delivery increase in 2018 came from the final assembly lines in the US and China. For the top-selling A320 Family in particular, the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama, saw its 100th delivery, and is now producing in excess of four units per month. Meanwhile, Airbus’ “FAL Asia” in Tianjin, China, achieved its 400th A320 delivery, while in Germany Airbus commenced operations of its new, fourth production line in Hamburg. Overall, the A320 programme is on track to achieve rate 60 per month for the A320 Family by mid-2019. The Airbus teams successfully reached an important industrial milestone for the A350, achieving the targeted rate of 10 aircraft per month.

A £15 million project to substantially upgrade Scotland's largest fresh milk dairy in Bellshill and secure 265 jobs has had its completion marked by a visit from Scottish 400 metres hurdles record holder and multiple medallist, Eilidh Doyle.

The project by Müller Milk & Ingredients, makers of the Official Milk and Milk Drinks of British Athletics, represents the largest single investment in Scottish dairy processing for more than a decade.

It gives Müller's Bellshill dairy the capacity to process more than 370 million litres of fresh milk and cream each year with milk provided by 230 Scottish dairy farmers.

The project includes a new filling hall to make cream products, two additional fresh milk production lines, energy efficient cooling systems and an extended chill space to increase capacity for finished products. The work also included the creation of state of the art facilities for colleagues on the site.

With the future sustainability of the fresh milk processing sector being debated in the industry, the project is part of a plan by Müller to create a profitable, progressive and efficient fresh milk business in Britain, with new capabilities to make the next generation of fresh milk, cream and flavoured milk products.

Bellshill is the only Scottish dairy with the ability to manufacture milk bottles on site which are 100% light-weighted and recyclable. It also makes products using recyclable Tetra Pak cartons made with paperboard, a renewable raw material.

The wholly owned on-site bottle manufacturing capability cuts down unnecessary movements of vehicles and gives Müller the means to further accelerate a reduction in the use of plastic and increase the use of recycled plastic in its bottles to a target of 50% by 2020. Müller has already reached 40% recycled material use in its bottles.

Müller's three year programme to create a centre of excellence for dairy in Scotland at Bellshill involved the closure of outdated dairies in Aberdeen and East Kilbride.

Müller Milk & Ingredients CEO Patrick Müller said:

“Fresh milk deserves to be celebrated. It's a fantastic, healthy natural product and an essential part of British life.

“Milk from our Bellshill dairy is sourced from local farmers who shape our landscape and our environment. It's in fridges less than two days after leaving farms because of our investment in processing and logistics infrastructure.

“We are unique in Scotland in that our 100% recyclable packaging is not shipped in from miles away. It's manufactured in an adjacent site before being directly passed to our filling lines.

“It's clear however that in terms of profitability, the fresh milk sector has reached a tipping point. Change is required because if processing goes, it's gone forever. We are confident that Müller will succeed in this environment because we are well invested, progressive and efficient.

“Müller has strategic partnerships with customers and farmers. This allows us to lead with a comprehensive agricultural and quality agenda and with innovative ways to avoid and recycle plastic.”

“Our employees deserve enormous credit for their work during this major project. Despite significant disruption on site and an exceptionally harsh winter in 2017/18 our team in Bellshill maintained a high level of performance throughout.”