Colors: Blue Color

City of Wolverhampton Council was crowned Council of the Year at the ‘Oscars of local government’ and also scooped three other awards at a ceremony in London.

The council was the star of the show at the Municipal Journal (MJ) Awards held at London’s Hilton Park Lane Hotel and hosted by television star Joanna Lumley.

The MJ Awards are open to all councils across the country and are judged by a panel of leading experts.

This year City of Wolverhampton Council was a finalist in seven out of the 14 categories – which was more than any other council.

As well as winning the top accolade of Council of the Year, City of Wolverhampton Council also took home Most Improved Council, Senior Leadership Team of the Year and Excellence in Governance and Scrutiny.

It was also highly commended in the Impact and Learning in Children’s Services category.

Winning four awards is believed to be a record.

Heather Jameson, Editor of the MJ, said: “Judges praised City of Wolverhampton Council for delivering consistently excellent services across all key areas and the council was described as an outstanding example of modern local government where the resident is at the heart of sound commercial decision-making.

“It was a truly fabulous night and congratulations to all our winners and particularly City of Wolverhampton.”

City of Wolverhampton Council leader Cllr Roger Lawrence said that the outstanding success was independent recognition of the transformation of the authority over recent years.

He added: “Receiving these four fantastic accolades is a testament to the hard work we’ve invested into putting our residents at the heart of all we do, improving services and making our city a rising star within the local government world.

“I am delighted that we took home the top prize of the night, ‘Local Authority of the Year’ after being runner up last year.

“It shows the huge strides we have made on our transformation journey to become a confident, capable council. – and I would like to thank all those involved for helping make this possible.”

Managing director Keith Ireland said: “To be finalist in seven of the 14 categories and win four of those awards is absolutely fantastic. This is a real achievement for the city council, its residents. employees, councillors and partners.”

An array of military memorabilia will be on display at two events in the City of Wolverhampton next week in the build up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 24.

The national day gives the country the chance to pay tribute to serving troops, veterans, cadets and their families.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery is running an exhibition from Monday, June 19 to June 24 to mark 80 years since the Boulton Paul Defiant’s test flight at Pendeford Airfield in 1937. The Wolverhampton-built aircraft went on to see service in the Second World War.

Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre will be providing displays about the Defiant inside the Lichfield Street gallery, as well as equipment used by the Royal Air Force and the British Army dating back as far as the First World War.

Curator Alec Brew said: “We are happy to display what we can for this excellent cause, and people can also come along to our own Military Day on July 15th, when the local army reserve unit will be displaying their modern equipment.”

The Mercian Regiment Museum will be at the Mander Centre (Lower Mall) on Tuesday, June 20, between 10am and 4pm.

It is an opportunity to view an exhibition of the past and present, and compare the experiences of First World War and Second World War soldiers from the Staffordshire Regiment with the modern-day soldier in the West Mercian Regiment.

Antique weapons, uniforms and memorabilia will be on display, and there is the chance to take photos with former soldiers in their uniform of the day, as well as try your hand at poppy and medal making.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “These fabulous museums are just two of the events all the family can get involved in to support our Armed Forces.

“Armed Forces Day 2017 will be the culmination of a week of celebrations in Wolverhampton honouring the incredible contribution made by the UK's Armed Forces in the past, present and future.

"It is our chance to demonstrate our gratitude to them, and I hope the people of Wolverhampton will turn out in force to show their support.”

Wolverhampton is a signatory of the Armed Forces Community Covenant, a pledge of mutual support between the city and its Armed Forces community.

It calls on local people to support the Armed Forces community, recognise and remember the sacrifices they have made over the years and encourage activities that help members of the Armed Forces integrate into local life.

It also encourages members of the Armed Forces support the wider community, and promote understanding and awareness among the public of some of the issues faced by former members of the Armed Forces as they return to civilian life.

Staying Cool, the award-winning boutique serviced apartment operator, has announced plans for a new 41 unit apartment hotel in Manchester to open next year.

The hotel on Chorlton Street, within the Whitworth Street / Princess Street Conservation Area, will see the regeneration of a strategic city centre building – a former cotton warehouse – that has lain empty for several years.

Once home to Oliver Peyton’s Mash & Air in the 1990s, the building was acquired by the Cringle Corporation. In January, Staying Cool won a competitive tender, led by CBRE, to find the right hotel or serviced apartment operator.

The two parties have signed heads of terms and submitted a joint planning application, which includes the addition of a new roof top extension. If approved, redevelopment works will commence this Autumn and Staying Cool will welcome its first guests in late 2018.

“Given the location of the building, and its particular loft style features and appeal, interest in leasing the site was significant, with strong bids received from a range of regional, national and international operators. We selected Staying Cool for their forward-thinking business style, attention to detail, quality and award-winning brand,” said Cringle Director, Joshua Senior.

“The building is a real gem, a classic Manchester warehouse, with tonnes of character,” said Paul Taylor, co-founder of Staying Cool. “We believe that the significant redevelopment schemes in the immediate neighbourhood, including Kampus across the road, make this a perfect location for a design-led apartment hotel by Staying Cool.”

This is the first joint partnership scheme with Bespoke Hotels, announced last year, which will see the Staying Cool brand brand roll out across the UK. Staying Cool already has a 45 bed apartment hotel on the top floors of Birmingham’s iconic Rotunda.  “We’re delighted to be able to announce this new scheme – one of a number over the next few years as we move ahead with our ambitious expansion plans. We are especially pleased to be opening in Manchester as it is the city where our story began,” continued Paul Taylor.

The architects on the scheme are Halliday Meecham and Euan Kelly Property Solutions the planning consultants. Staying Cool was advised by Tony Bray of Pure Real Estate Solutions. Nick Huddleston of CBRE managed the tender process on behalf of the Cringle Corporation.

Birmingham City Council has scooped Platinum – and the Geoff Hamilton award for the best exhibit in the floral category – at this year’s Gardeners’ World Live Show at the NEC.

It follows the council’s sixth successive Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show last month.

The display at Gardner’s World Live Show is a smaller version of the Chelsea Flower Show display, which celebrates the work of Rowland Emett OBE – famous for his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang inventions.

Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “After last month’s Gold at Chelsea it’s great to follow up with a Platinum closer to home at the NEC, and the Geoff Hamilton award really is the icing on the cake.

“I would like to thank the team who have worked so hard to celebrate Emett’s work, and our sponsors who have paid for the display and all the plants and moving features within it.”

The BBC Gardener’s World Live Show is in its 50th year.

We may have long been a nation of cat and dog lovers, but the extent to which we’re going to incorporate our beloved pets into our everyday lives has now never been more extreme. Some owners are even going as far as having their pets baptised, or including them in their will according to new research.

The study, which has been commissioned by MORE TH>N, reveals in the full the lengths owners are going for their pets.

It has been timed to coincide with the launch of ‘Pet Peeves’ – a new comedy web-series in which a dog and a cat are given their moment in the spotlight to air various light-hearted grievances about their owner. Voiced by stand-up comedian Russell Kane, the videos are designed to encourage owners see things more from their pet’s perspective.

Beyond revealing some of the more common ways we are guilty of pampering our pets, with over half of owners (53%) admitting they let their pet sleep in their own bed, and 63% confessing that they regularly feed them human-food, the study also uncovered some more unusual trends.

Among these findings were that one in five (20%) would consider including their pet in their wedding day. 18% meanwhile confessed they would consider leaving them as a beneficiary in their will, while 7% of those surveyed even admitted they would consider having them baptised.

Owners have even put their pets on social media -  8% have set up a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page for their dog or cat, with each of these accounts having an average of 177 followers. 59% said their pet has more followers than them on social media, with a third (34%) saying that they post more on their pet’s account than their own.

Celebrating together on special occasions proved to be another instance of the lengths people are going to when it comes to catering to their pet. A whopping 89% of owners said they buy their cat or dog a Christmas present each year, with 12% spending upwards of £50 on the gift.

Almost half (45%) also admitted that they celebrate their pet’s birthday. The most popular ways of doing this included giving them a birthday present (77%), giving them a birthday cake (33%), take the day of the work to spend time with them (9%) and even throwing them a birthday party (8%).

Furthermore, no expense appears to be being spared when it comes to ensuring pets look their finest throughout the year, with 21% of owners spending upwards of £200 on having their dog groomed over a 12-month period.

Premiering online for the first time this week, the ‘Pet Peeves’ web-series features a clever canine and feisty feline - both voiced by Kane – doing stand-up comedy as a means of airing various gripes about their owner. It has been created to help people better understand their pets.

An example of a gag the dog tells includes: Listen up, I’m all for physical contact. But lingering embraces… they make me uncomfortable. As a general rule, if you’re squeezing your Chihuahua and one of its eyes pops out flies across the lounge, I’ve reckon you’ve just crossed that line.”

The cat meanwhile jokes: “Kids? Who’d have them – not me. But, seriously, when they pull my tail, which is basically my spine, my claws come out. A gentle stroke! Yes please. My vertebrae being yanked out by a five-year-old off his head on sugar. I don’t think so!”

Gail Parker, marketing director at MORE TH>N said: “It’s fair to say that, as a nation, our beloved pets have never played a bigger part in our everyday lives. Above and beyond seeing them as a member of the family, the fact that so many people are going as far to include them in their wills and on their wedding day is testament to how fundamental a part of our lives they’ve become.”

“At the same time however, it’s remains important to appreciate that, however much we love them, they will undoubtedly have their own needs when it comes to the way we treat them, which is our new Pet Peeves video sets out to portray in a fun, tongue-in-cheek way – I’m sure all owners will be able relate, one way or another!”

A new survey, commissioned to promote Diabetes UK’s ‘Food you Love’ campaign during Diabetes Week, has found that broccoli is the West Midlands favourite vegetable, receiving 19 per cent of the total vote. The banana saw off stiff competition from the pineapple and strawberry to take the West Midlands fruit crown with 18 per cent of the vote.

Apples also fared particularly well in the survey following just behind pineapple and strawberry following banana at the top of the table. However orange, apricot, blackberry and pomegranate received no votes.

Broccoli was joined by sweetcorn and carrot at the top of the veg table, both receiving 16 per cent and ten per cent respectively of the vote, while cabbage, kale and asparagus  were the region’s least favourite vegetables each receiving only one per cent).

In order to get people eating more healthily, Diabetes UK has embarked on a new ‘Food you love’ advertising campaign all about healthy eating to inspire everyone with recipes featuring the food they love, but healthier.  The charity hopes the easy recipes and tips will inspire more people to make small changes that can make a big difference to how they manage their diabetes.

Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK Midlands regional head said:

“It is fascinating to see the variation in the West Midlands fruit and veg taste. Who knew that we were so keen on bananas, or that nearly one in five people think broccoli is the best veg?

“Eating fruit and veg is a great way of getting vital vitamins and fibre and a much healthier snack option than reaching for crisps, cereal bars or even smoothies. They are also low in calories and super filling.”

The ‘Food you love’ campaign is being fronted by five ‘everyday’ people living with diabetes cooking their favourite recipes and has received celebrity support from chefs including: Jamie Oliver, Prue Leith, ‘Deliciously’ Ella and Angela Hartnett.

One of the Black Country's oldest fairground families make a welcome return to the City of Wolverhampton in July for their second fiesta.

The Harry Jones Company is holding the two-day Wolverhampton Fiesta in West Park on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday 16.

It promises a range of entertainment, including giant monster trucks, an international stunt team, T-Rex Dinosaur and Chinese Lion Dancers, the best traditional fairground rides, and food and trade stalls.

Tribute act Beyonce will entertain audiences on a music stage, along with Jason Jones from the Voice, in both afternoon and evening shows.

The Harry Jones Company, based in Thompson Avenue, Parkfields, has been providing fairground entertainment in the Black Country for more than a century.

Twenty-five-year-old Harry Jones, whose great grandfather started the business with a simple coconut shy in 1893, said: "We had a really successful year in 2016 and we are glad to be back again to provide entertainment for the people of Wolverhampton.

"Over two days we are providing not just our well-loved fairground rides but also live entertainment, fire breathers, Chinese dancers, and breathtaking displays by motorcross stunt show teams, to name but a few acts.

"We want to give families looking for a day out some great entertainment on their doorstep."

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "The Jones family have been providing fairground entertainment for generations.

"It's great that they are hosting the fiesta again in West Park and I hope plenty of families will come along to enjoy the funfair and all the other attractions."

The Wolverhampton Fiesta takes place at West Park from 12pm to 8pm on both days. Entrance will cost £3 for adults and £2 for children. Additional charges apply.

Severn Trent’s Apprentice team enjoyed a night of success at the 2017 School Leavers Awards.

The ceremony, organised by, celebrates the Top 100 employers on offer to young people, with the event seeing Severn Trent’s apprentice team take home three prestigious awards.

Mark Smith, Severn Trent apprentice recruitment advisor, says: “We’ve managed to leap from 89th place to 13th in the top 100 employers for young people in just one year. We’re really proud to be recognised for all the hard work we’ve done this year engaging with young people about their careers and futures.

“We share our Severn Trent Careers story through presentations, workshops and interactive skills sessions, and have delivered these through more than 100 school visits this academic year and plan to grow even further.”

The team from Severn Trent won awards for: Best Recruitment Campaign, Best Schools Engagement in a Recruitment Campaign, and Best Higher Apprenticeship.

Severn Trent apprentice, Hannah Black, also picked up the runner-up award for School Leaver of the Year.

Mark said: “It’s fantastic to see Hannah being recognised at a national level for the tremendous efforts she’s put into her apprenticeship. Her ambition, innovation and talent mean she’s getting the most out of her apprenticeship, and has made a huge impact on Severn Trent.”

The company is taking on a further 62 apprentices this year, who will have eight schemes to choose from, all with different routes to take which will help to form their career at Severn Trent

“Winning these awards reinforces that we’re doing something right, and engaging with young people in the right way,” adds Mark. “We’re excited to be taking on more apprentices and bringing in new talent to Severn Trent to help us hopefully reach that number one spot!”

Jack Denton, director and co-founder of, said: “With the new Apprenticeship Levy introduced this April, there are more programmes than ever for young people to choose from. By including apprentice level  specific categories – like the Best Higher Apprenticeship category won by Severn Trent – we’re helping young people identify the best employers at the levels they are most interested in.

"As more businesses plan to take on apprentices following the Levy, it's also important for employers to see how best to engage with and recruit school leavers. Severn Trent's awards in this field not only celebrate their great work but will help other organisations – who might be more accustomed to recruiting university graduates – wanting to learn how to tap into this growing market."

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity is excited to announce its bear-illiant new event this summer in association with The Big Sleuth – Fun Family 5.

Taking place on Saturday 29 July at Boldmere Gate, Sutton Park, Fun Family 5 is the charity’s first-ever 5k sponsored walk, being held from 9.30am to 4pm.

Featuring loads of grrr-eat activities, from bear-themed face painting, to circus skills workshops, bouncy castles and much more, attendees are encouraged to get sponsored to stroll through Sutton’s beautiful parkland, before enjoying the event’s dedicated Activity Zone.

An exclusive Big Sleuth bear, whose identity is currently being kept under wraps, will also be unveiled on the day in celebration of The Big Sleuth public art trail – which will see 100 giant bear sculptures on display around the city from Monday 10 July.

The colourful character, which is unlike any other bear on the trail, will then join its furry friends on the 10-week trail across Birmingham, with satellite trails also taking place in Solihull, Sandwell, Resorts World and the home of Fun Family 5 – Sutton Coldfield.

Annie Eytle, Acting Events and Regional Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re thrilled to be bringing the magic of The Big Sleuth to life with our brand-new event and hope families will join us to see our top-secret bear for the very first time, whilst enjoying a fun-filled day of fundraising!”

She added: “Every year, our hospital treats over 90,000 children and young people from across the country. We’d love as many people as possible to sign up to Fun Family 5 and encourage their friends, family and colleagues to sponsor them too in support of our sick kids, ensuring we can continue to be the world-class hospital that everyone knows and loves.”

Parents and carers of young children with autism are being encouraged to find out more about a national programme designed to improve their understanding of the condition.

Tettenhall Wood School's Outreach Service for the Autism Spectrum is holding information events about EarlyBird Plus, a National Autistic Society support programme for parents and carers of children with an autism spectrum condition aged between four and eight.

The course focuses on understanding autism, offers advice and guidance on strategies, supports in building confidence to encourage interaction and communication and provides ideas on analysing and managing behaviour.

Two information sessions are being held at the Regis Road school open to parents and carers as well as professionals working with children with autism who are interested in taking part in EarlyBird Plus. They are being held on Wednesday 28 June from 10am-11am and Thursday 29 June from 4pm-5pm. To book places, please call 01902 556519 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tettenhall Wood School is Wolverhampton's designated special school for children with autism, and staff have developed specialist knowledge and skills in order to meet a complex range of needs.

Its Outreach Service offers support to mainstream and specialist schools across Wolverhampton which work with pupils that have a diagnosis of autism, helping them to overcoming barriers to learning and in doing so, build capacity for future success.

The Outreach Service also helps parents of children with an autism diagnosis by holding monthly support groups and regular parent workshops on a range of relevant topics.

Politics, elections, Donald Trump, and Pokémon GO are just some of the events, people, and subjects that influence British children’s creativity and use of language, says a report published today by Oxford University Press (OUP).

Following OUP's analysis of the 131,798 fabulously inventive, funny and politically astute short stories for the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show’s 500 Words competition, a wealth of fascinating insights into the lives of British children and their imaginative use of English have emerged.

The Children’s Word of the Year is Trump, picked because of its significant increase in use (a total rise of 839 per cent on 2016) by entrants writing in this year’s competition and the sophisticated way in which children used it to convey humour and satire, and evoke powerful descriptive imagery.  Every year children show a keen interest in contemporary affairs and world events from sinkholes and the London Olympics to the Ebola crisis, refugees and Tim Peake’s spacewalk. This year, Donald Trump took office as President of the United States in the same week that 500 Words launched.

Trump is mentioned in a wide variety of contexts, from the US elections and politics, to tales of space, aliens, and superheroes, giving expression to children’s creativity, playfulness, and humour. Children also use the noun to invent new character names including Boggle Trump and Snozzle Trump.

Children have been playing with blends, suffixes and prefixes to create new words improvised around Trump. In fact there are more than 100 instances of words such as Trumplestilskin, Trumpyness, Trumpido, Trumpeon and Trumpwinningtastic. Girl 10 in the Sticky Journey writes: OH NO! I have spoken too soon… the train's track has broken because a mean Trumpdiddlydumper blew a bit out of the track… Our Marshmallow Goblin-Trolls get to work immediately.” We even have stories featuring characters such as Donald Trout, Hillary Kitten, and Obama Llama.

Vocabulary associated with the US presidency was far more prevalent in 2017 than in 2016, including president, America, wall, Hillary Clinton, White House, Trump Towers, Obama, Mexico and Putin. Displaying an ear for Trump’s particular use of words and catch phrases, one entry stood out for its ability to brilliantly capture the rhythm of his speech. In Donald J Trump Goes to the Moon, a 12-year old girl wrote: 10... 9...8 ‘my hair is so amazing’...7. ‘And real’. 6... 5 ‘I am going to make the moon great again!’. 3... 2...1 blast off!!

Big Birmingham Bikes (BBB), a pioneering Birmingham City Council scheme to get residents onto two wheels, has jointly won the 2017 Ashden Award for Clean Air in Towns and Cities.

BBB offers free bicycles to Birmingham residents living in deprived areas. Recipients also receive basic training in cycle maintenance and BBB provide lessons for those who lack confidence in cycling or have never ridden a bike before. The scheme is part of Birmingham City Council’s Birmingham Cycle Revolution (BCR), which aims to make cycling an everyday way to travel around the city, which in turn brings significant health and environmental benefits.

The Ashden Awards are given to pioneers in sustainable energy and are a globally recognised measure of excellence. Along with 12 other organisations, BBB will receive its Award on Thursday June 15 at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker and Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy will host the Awards.

BBB shares its Award with Nottingham City Council, which is funding greener transport through a workplace parking levy.

According to the Ashden judges: “This inspirational project is not only getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes but is also improving the health, wellbeing and mobility of an often hard-to-reach demographic. There is huge potential to replicate the scheme and other cities should take note as its simple pragmatism could really help to reframe the national environmental debate.”

BBB is targeting people in some of the most deprived areas of Birmingham and is linking up with community groups, including homeless and mental health charities, to ensure that the bikes reach those who will benefit from them most. Bike recipients are from a broad range of cultural groups including some for whom bike riding is uncommon, particularly for women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Thanks to BBB’s work, 11 new recreational cycling groups have sprung up. BBB is also leading practice rides along popular commuter routes to encourage people to use the bikes as a means of transport as well as for enjoyment. This can be a big help for those looking for work as it can enable them to access training and job opportunities when no other transport options are available. Additionally, fully segregated all-weather cycle lanes are being installed on both the A38 between the city centre and Selly Oak and the A34 between the city centre and Perry Barr as part of the next phase of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution to encourage more people to cycle in safety and confidence along two of the city’s most important commuter routes.

Nashwhite, Leamington Spa transformed their dreams into reality by winning the greatly sought after 2017 Afro Look Award during the prestigious L’Oréal Colour Trophy Grand Final.

On Monday 5th June, 2017 the salon’s creative 6-month journey came to a dramatic finale at Battersea Evolution, London.  Over 1000 of the hairdressing industries most acclaimed and famous figures filled the dazzling venue with immense applause as Nashwhite, Leamington Spa rushed to the stage to collect their iconic award – The L'Oréal Colour Trophy. TV & Radio Presenter Nick Grimshaw and Charlotte Mensah handed the team their award during a moment they will never forget.

"We are overwhelmed to have won the L'Oréal Colour Trophy Afro Look Award! This is such a massive achievement for the two of us at such an early stage in our career's and an absolute honour. This has been one of our main focuses since February, investing so much time into developing and creating our winning look, learning along the way and expanding our skills. We're looking forward to advancing further in this field and can't wait to get started! Huge thanks to L'Oréal Professionnel, the judges, and the Team at Nashwhite.”

Over 1000 photographic entries were received for the L’Oréal Colour Trophy and just 400 salon teams make it through to the final events.  Back in May a powerhouse team of seven renowned salons went head to head inside the L’Oréal International Academy, London during an intense live final that exploded creative talent in every direction.

Each team created their look on a model of African/Caribbean descent that encapsulated their knowledge of Autumn/Winter 2017/18 catwalk trends infused beautiful make-up and fashion led styling with technically excellent colour and precision cutting skills. The highly respected judging panel was made up from Junior Green of Junior Green Salon, Michelle Sultan of Hype Coiffure, Charlotte Mensah of Hair Lounge, Craig Chapman and Kim Johnson.

Nashwhite will now embark on an amazing year of promotional, creative and business building activity including a 3 day European trip to shoot their winning look with a professional photographic team, interviews and profiles in the trade press and countless other opportunities.

The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report reveals today that two thirds (69%) of West Midland based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – representing 285,000* firms in the West Midlands with under 250 employees – say they have a diverse workforce, with almost half (45%) stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, found that there are a number of reasons why they would describe their organisation as diverse. These include having an employee base with a wide age range (44%), being open to making adjustments for disabled employees to ensure they are not placed at a disadvantage (41%), having an ethnically diverse employee base (39%) and having a positive female to male ratio across the company (39%). Over a third (35%) of SMEs in the West Midlands also have female employees at a senior level and over a quarter (29%) employ diversity initiatives to ensure a positive work environment free from discrimination

Moreover, over a quarter (27%) of SMEs in the West Midlands admit to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.

Despite this positive picture, a fifth (21%) of small and medium sized businesses in the West Midlands say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and an additional fifth (21%) said that increasing diversity is a low priority. This could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse (49%), but, at the same time, some SME leaders in the West Midlands also confessed that they tended not to attract a diverse range of potential employees (10%).

Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, said: “According to the last census**, the West Midlands is the second most diverse region in the UK so it is to be expected that the vast majority of small and medium-sized business owners in the region describe their workforce as diverse. However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses. “

New research by the House & Garden Festival has found that over half (53%) of people in the UK can’t wait for the arrival of summer so they can indulge in spontaneous drinking celebrations. In addition, 1 in 10 people stated that they are partial to a morning drink as it becomes “more socially acceptable in the summer”.

Summer party activities, particularly those involving a tipple, also become a priority with 44% of people saying that champagne tasting is their idea of a dream summer party, followed by 11% with wine-pairing. A flower arranging workshop and canape making class follow jointly with 8% each.

More than a third (36%) of people said that they feel summer has officially arrived due to the longer days, whilst 1 in 10 (15%) said that their signal for the arrival of summer is the first time they bare their legs. Being able to laze about in the great outdoors is the greatest summer excitement for almost half (46%) of people, whilst simply being able to bask in the warmer temperatures is the highlight for over a quarter (26%) of people.

But it does seem that Brits have a love-hate relationship with summer with over half (52%) of people saying that what they hate most about British summers is that it rains too much. So when it comes to making party plans, a Plan B is actually the most important thing on the agenda for 61% of people.

This seems to stem from experience as 72% of Brits say they have hosted or been to an outdoor event that subsequently had to be cancelled or unexpectedly moved indoors due to poor weather. It might also explain why alongside a trusty barbecue, a gazebo is the most important summer party piece of equipment for 34% of people, followed by a parasol or umbrella for 16%.

However, Brits demonstrate their stoicism with over 63% of people saying that despite unexpected showers, they are determined to stay upbeat and refuse to let the weather rain on their parade.