The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

BBC Radio 5 Live: invitation to debate

You are invited to participate in the studio audience of BBC Radio 5 Live presented by Victoria Derbyshire at the Conservative Party Conference next week.

It's your chance to talk to the MPs about their policies and their vision for the future...
Theresa May, Dr. Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Nadine Dorries, and many other MPs are expected.

Live at the Urbis located in Cathedral Gardens in Manchester City Centre, next to Victoria Station between 10.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Monday, 5th October 2009.

Arrival Time 8.30 a.m. Departing at 13.00.
Tea/Coffee will be served on arrival.

Please call Alison Fuller (Audience Producer) as soon as possible to apply for your place on 01299 829299 - admission by ticket only

Also please circulate to any colleagues or members you think might like to attend

Minimum age 16 years, admission by ticket only. Normal terms and conditions apply.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Latest Member Offers

Here are the latest offers from Chamber members. To receive these offers direct to your email address every fortnight, subscribe to the GM Chamber Blog here.

Museum of Science and Industry (Milburns)
At MOSI our Christmas parties are always magical. Why not come along and dine amongst the impressive steam engines within our Power Hall? MOSI will provide you with a truly unique backdrop for your Christmas party this year. Bookings can be taken for shared parties or exclusive party nights for a minimum of 40 people and a maximum of 120 people.

We are offering a bottle of Champagne to all party organisers who book with us. Contact the MOSI Sales office on 0161 606 0174/5 or email quoting 'Chamber newsletter'

Link to further details:

Mooch Art
Liven up your workplace. Create a great impression. 15% discount off all Original artwork or commissions to Chamber members. In addition, business owners will receive a free art consultation on their premises. Quote “GMCHAMBER”
Link to further details:

Rich Video Ltd
Get a extra DVD when you have any type of conversion to DVD done. If you really want to relive your memories in years to come, you need to ensure that they will be watchable for more than a few years. whether it be on Video tape or film to DVD. All our transfers are done using the latest edit suites and authoring software within our premises at Houldsworth Mill Studios . Tel 0161 975 6207 or email

Link to further details:

Autocopy UK (MNCH Limited t/as Autocopy UK)
20% Extra FREE!!!! offer, on our recently launched "Print on Demand Media" range is ongoing throughout October.
New pricing structure on our banner media from 1st October - Order one banner and get a second banner of the same or different design completely FREE – all product details and use ideas can be found on the
AUK website.

Link to further details:

Gourley Marketing Partners
Why not give your business a marketing MOT?Throughout October, November and December Gourley Marketing Partners would like to offer your company a full marketing review. We will look at your current marketing and promotional activity, assess its current potential and offer advice on where to improve.

Prices start at £995* plus VAT and 10% discount is offered to all Chamber members. *Price is dependent on company size. Contact

MR Blackcab Ltd
MR Blackcab Ltd is a Manchester based taxi contractors to business and local authorities’ with a fleet of sixty black cabs and minibuses. A reduced monthly administration charge of just 2% is offered to all new business accounts opened in October for pre-booked jobs for the first twelve months. Visit for further details

Portland FM
Are you paying too much for your mobiles/landlines? In many instances businesses are on the wrong tariff.Save time and money as we will analyse your bills for free.We can also offer 16 GB and 32 GB iPhones or a Blackberry from £ 8.51 per month.If you want a solution or independent advice give us a call. Tel: 0845 833 0133 or email

WPA Healthcare
WPA work closely with the Chamber as a provider of private medical insurance schemes, reducing already very competitive premiums by 10% for Chamber members. WPA specialise in schemes for the self-employed, professionals, owner-managed businesses and SMEs. Link to further details:

Conservative Party Road Closures

The Conservative Party Conference begins at Manchester Central on Monday 5th October until Thursday 8th October. To accommodate the event there will be a limited number of road closures in the area around the venue. From 7pm today (Tuesday 29 September), Lower Mosley Street and Mount Street, including part of Windmill Street will be closed, although there will be access to Manchester Central NCP underground car park.

On Wednesday 30th September, Museum Street and Southmill Street between Windmill Street and Peter Street will be closed from 8pm.

From 6pm on Thursday 1st October, Dickenson Street access onto St Peter’s Square will be closed and from 1am on Friday 2 October, Peter Street and Oxford Street, between Southmill Street and Portland Street, including Lower Mosley Street, St Peter’s Square and adjacent side roads, will be closed.

The secure area around Manchester Central and the Midland Hotel comes into force from mid-day on Sunday 4 October until 4pm on Thursday 8 October.

The roads will all be re-opened on Friday 8 October. From 4am Peter Street, Oxford Street, Museum Street, Southmill Street and Dickinson Street will re-open and from 8pm Lower Mosley Street and Mount Street including Windmill Street will be open again.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Countdown to Wigan Business Awards: Family Business of the Year
The countdown to the biggest night in the Wigan business calendar has begun and in the run up to the Wigan Business Awards on Friday 20th November, we will be taking a weekly look at each of the nominees across the nine categories. This week, the Family Business of the Year Award...

Member News: Pinsent Masons continues innovative approach to litigation
Law Firm and Chamber Member Pinsent Masons has announced the launch of its bespoke "after the event" insurance scheme, CaseCover, managing the downside risk for clients.

Member News: ENER-G’s triple Baltic success
Sustainable power company ENER-G has landed a hat-trick of landfill generation contracts in the Baltic state of Lithuania - supplying enough renewable electricity to power 5,500 homes.

Chamber launches business manifesto
Transport and digital infrastructure, business finance and employment and skills issues form the backbone of Greater Manchester Chamber's Business Manifesto launched today to coincide with our activity at the Party Conferences.

Member News: Some pension auto-enrolment requirements relaxed but complexity and cost added
In response to employer concerns, the highly-prescriptive requirements laid out in previous proposals for how employers must comply with the pension auto-enrolment regime from 2012 have been substantially relaxed.

Chamber News: Pinsent Masons and Chamber team up to offer Free Legal Seminar Construction firms
Local Construction firms will be able to hear about new and impending legislation affecting their sector at a FREE seminar being organised by Pinsent Masons LLP and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. The event will be at Pinsent Masons’ Offices in Spinningfields Manchester, on 8 October, 4.30pm – 7pm.

55% of Manchester businesses “Make do and mend” with old, power-guzzling equipment
Greater Manchester businesses are being forced to “make do and mend” with old, inefficient equipment, as over half (51%), don’t have the cash to upgrade it. Over half of small and medium-sized businesses in the area (55%) wait until their equipment breaks down completely before replacing it.

Joy Division and John Peel celebrated in Rochdale with 'blue plaques'
Rochdale’s musical heritage has been officially put on the map with two new blue plaques celebrating the lives of legends involved in the local scene.

Government urged to support investment in Manchester’s rail hub
Investment in the rail network around central Manchester is crucial to unlocking the economic potential of the north of England for generations to come.

Member News: Tangerine PR signs up with Manchester United soccer schools for another season
The transfer window may now be closed, but that hasn't stopped Manchester United Soccer Schools from signing up Tangerine PR for another season, following a highly successful project throughout the summer.

Member News: Bury Company Leads WiFi Revolution in Rail Safety
Bury based rail safety specialist, Rowe Hankins, a supplier of on-train monitoring and recording units (OTMR’s) – commonly known as black box recorders – has started a long term trial of the first Wi-Fi enabled unit on the UK rail network.

Member News: Could the Sandex systems online payment solution be the answer to bad debtors
Creditors, collections agencies and debt buyers have increasingly witnessed the trend in people ignoring calls and not returning messages.

Member News: It's a shore thing for Manchester PR firm in Jersey
Manchester based PR & marketing firm, Signature Marketing, has been appointed to launch a new PR and marketing campaign this autumn for the contemporary Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Jersey, which will target the UK and Irish travel markets.

Major names headline Climate Clinic at CUBE
Economist Lord Nicholas Stern, Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP and Journalist Rosie Boycott will all be speaking at this year's ‘Climate Clinic' to be held at CUBE

New partnership to provide flexible learning for managers
A new partnership has been formed to provide innovative, flexible, work-based learning programmes to upskill and inspire employees.

Generations at Work – Knowledge Seminar
For the first time ever, four generations are working side by side in the office: the Traditionals, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millenials. But what are the needs of such a diverse workforce? And how do you design an office or workspace that satisfies everyone and spans four generations?

Sir Howard Bernstein helps Cargill celebrate site success in Manchester
Cargill employees at Trafford Park held a celebration to mark the one millionth tonne of wheat processed at the plant.

Warrington breakfast briefing - changes to first aid regulations
Did you know that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be changing the first aid at work guidelines from 1 October 2009? Do you know what it will mean to your business? Find out more at the Warrington Chamber of Commerce & Industry/St John Ambulance breakfast briefing.

Member News: iPhone technology provides real life application for Trafford College
Local digital media agency Tecmark Systems Ltd and a selection of students from Trafford College havejoined forces for 3 months to work on an Apple iPhone application development project. This will give Manchester's future developers and digital media experts a real hands-on head start.

Member News: Clough & Willis Solicitors Launch Free Weekly Legal Clinics
Clough & Willis - one the North West's leading mid-sized legal firms - is launching a series of free weekly legal clinics across all its departments servicing individuals and families from week commencing Monday 28th September 2009.

Chamber News: Four battle it out for Greater Manchester Building of the Year Prize
Four of Greater Manchester's latest landmarks are in the running to win a top local property prize...

Chamber launches business manifesto

by Angie Robinson, Chief Executive

Today we launch our Business Manifesto to coincide with our activity at the Party Conferences over the next couple of weeks. As the largest Chamber of Commerce in the country, we have a very clear mandate in calling for business to be at the heart of the election debate, as business will play a leading role in any recovery.

Building on the Chamber’s ongoing Action for Business Campaign to help businesses through the challenges of the current downturn, the manifesto is a result of consultation with Chamber members from all 10 local authority areas.

Click here to read the full manifesto

Whilst the manifesto focuses on a range of business concerns, the central focus is on infrastructure, business finance, and employment and skills.

The document suggests that any future government needs to ensure that Greater Manchester businesses have access and benefit to high quality transport links and a world-class digital infrastructure network in order to attract new businesses to the area, boost the economy and improve the areas connectivity with other areas in the region.

On the issue of the business finance, the manifesto calls on the next Government to ensure immediate and fair access to finance for Greater Manchester firms in order to maintain cash flow and support innovative growth.

Support for businesses to continue to retain, develop and nurture an enterprising and flexible workforce, despite the current economic challenges, is also a key theme of the manifesto. The Chamber argues that apprenticeships should continue to be at the heart of any future employment strategy.

In addition, the issue of public finances and how any future government will seek to tackle the national debt is another issue of concern and one that we will be pressing the major political parties on.

We will be interested to hear on how the parties will attempt to tackle the challenges ahead in order to make Greater Manchester an even better place to do business.

We'd love to hear your comments on our manifesto and suggestions for the future. It's important that we're aware of the issues businesses face on a daily basis. Please either leave a comment below or email us at:

Friday, 25 September 2009

First Buses strike action - Mon 28th Sep

Passengers in the west and north of Greater Manchester are being warned of further disruptions to First Bus services on Monday, due to ongoing industrial action.

The union for First Bus drivers is continuing with strike action planned for Monday 28 September, which will affect services operating from depots in Bolton, Bury and Wigan.

Click here for a full list of disrupted services

First Bus will be operating half hourly services, between 7.30am and 6.30pm, on the 37 (between Bolton and Swinton Civic only), 471 (between Bolton and Bury only), 507, 524 and 540 (between Bolton and Westhoughton, Washacre only), and these services will be free to use.
GMPTE is advising passengers to explore alternative travel options on the day and to expect demand on the services listed above and on services provided by other operators, as well as on trains and trams, to be significantly greater.

Staff will be on hand across the network to advise passengers, notices will be placed on affected bus stops and stations.

Dedicated school services will not be affected. Details of which First services will and will not run, together with – where appropriate – services that will be provided by alternative operators, will be available from about public transport services in Greater Manchester is also available by calling Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 (Calls cost 10p a minute. Mobile and landline networks may charge more. Lines are open from 7am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 8pm at weekends.)

Friday Guest Blog: Viral Marketing

by Russ Hirst, Head of Digital PR, Tangerine PR

When the term 'viral' first starting doing the rounds within marketing circles it referred mainly to that office-centric habit in the early ‘00s where a person would receive an email laden with cute/funny images of kittens/dogs/babies and, because email was still fairly novel to some, people would then forward it on to their entire address book. A large number of those recipients would then do the same - choosing, of their own altruistic will, to share the email with others. Emails like this became overnight viral ‘hits’.

But as cute as those kittens are, who benefits from them being sent around the globe? Yes, it may bring a smile to your face but is there any money in it?
As time has since told, brands have jumped onto the viral machine and have successfully created viral video campaigns that have self-distributed, i.e. they've effectively been aired for free. So yes, there is money (to be saved) in viral.

A large proportion of the growth of viral video is down to a site that many of you will have heard of - YouTube. Part of Google since 2006 (when it was bought for $1.65 billion) YouTube has become the favoured web-pastime of many of us, whether you use it for watching clips of old sitcoms, bleepers, music videos - or just to see Boris Johnson fall into a river. The really interesting thing about YouTube though is how easy the site has made it to share a video that you find interesting/funny/stupid/shocking (delete as appropriate).

In the really old days (maybe a decade ago), if you saw something funny on the web you had to copy the URL and then paste that into an email to send to your friends. That might take you a minute or so, fine at the time, but far too long these days when we expect to be able to do something in an instant.

It's no surprise then that when you find a video on YouTube that you want to send on, you've now got options at your fingertips to share in a single click via Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Twitter, orkut, Live Spaces, Digg or StumbleUpon. Or, you can enter your friend’s email address there and then and YouTube will mail them for you.

These simple sharing tools have revolutionised online video and made the distribution process so much easier - and the reach so much wider. Even somebody who rarely uses the web would find it easy to share a video, meaning that suddenly everybody becomes a possible distribution channel. No wonder TV advertising revenue is down...

So let's end with some stats. The Cadbury Gorilla ad has reached almost 4 million views and the T-Mobile flash mob commercial has been watched over 12 million times – however they’re both minnows compared to the video of the two British brothers "Charlie bit my finger - again!" which has now surpassed ONE HUNDRED MILLION views. And all the time whilst showing ads across it for The Sun's Showbiz website.

What's your rate card again YouTube?

Visit for all the latest from the team at Tangerine PR or follow Russ on Twitter @russhirst

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Top 10 Tips: For website success

by Craig Taylor, Creative Director, LAMP Digital

1. Proofread your website and importantly get others to proofread it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Is your email address and telephone number still correct as these change. Who collects enquiries and do they know what to do with them?

2. Add new content to your site EVERY month at least and make your content short and succinct. Make sure you make your most important point at the top of the page, without the need for scrolling down. According to Jakob Nielsen only 10% of users will scroll beyond the first screen of text

3. If you are going to provide good, relevant and valuable news, provide an RSS feed so visitors can receive your news even without visiting your site. Also offer an iGoogle tab and offer links for users to bookmark and share your pages on sites such as Delicious and Digg.

4. Use social media to listen to what your potential market is saying. Use a news reader such as Google Reader and Twitter search to search for and find keywords relating to your industry that are being talked about.

5. Offer content in various formats. If there is a lot of content of a technical nature, provide PDF’s or Word documents (in 2003 and 2007) of your content as site visitors will often save these for later or indeed print them out and keep them.

6. Check your site on the Google index and know which of your pages are listed and importantly which aren’t. A simple search of site: into Google tells you a lot about how Google has received your site.

7. Interact with your users. Collect their contact details, offer surveys, request feedback and reviews of your products. Offer an FAQ’s section with the answers published on your Web site. This encourages return visitors and loyalty.

8. Use an analytics package such as Google Analytics (which is free) to really get to know how your visitors interact with your site.

9. If your site is relatively new, check it views correctly on Internet Explorer 6. Many designers creating Web sites now ignore Internet Explorer 6 however there are still 20% of users with this browser, especially in the corporate environment. Consider Safari as this is the browser that the popular iPhone uses.

10. Are you considering mobile devices? Some 14 million people now access the Internet through a mobile device such as the Nokia N97, Apple iPhone or Blackberry.

Craig is holding a Breakfast Seminar on Tuesday 13th October to teach you how to make the most of your website. The cost is just £15 +VAT to Chamber members and £30 +VAT to non-members. Find out more about the event and book your place here.

We want your top ten tips. Please contact Matt Hall on 0161 237 4124 if you would like to contribute to our blog.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Social Media Surgery - today's event

by Matthew Hall, Press & PR Officer

Today was the second of our Social Media Surgeries, concluding our series of free PR master classes that we’ve been running for members throughout the summer. Russ Hirst and Lucie Tweddle of Tangerine PR came along to Chamber Headquarters to offer half-hour consultations covering all aspects of social media and digital PR.

Some people had specific issues such as improving their Google ranking or getting more traffic to their blog and some people just wanted a few pointers on how to get started.

This is what Russ had to say:

"We had a fascinating day at the Social Media Surgery event, with a broad range of 'patients' bringing a diverse range of social media issues that they needed help with. To both public sector organisations and private business, we advised on issues including best practice when using Twitter, how to get the most out of your organisation's blog and how to manage conversations online.”

We’ve produced a GM Chamber Guide to Digital PR and Social Media that will be available to download from the blog later this week. We’re also looking at running future ‘surgery’ events and would appreciate your suggestions as to the kind of areas you’d like us to cover. If you have any suggestions please let me know by emailing:

Thanks once again to Tangerine PR and all who attended.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Greater Manchester Building of the Year Award

Four of Greater Manchester’s latest landmarks are in the running to win a top local property prize.

The Armani Building at Spinningfields, the New Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Ashton Market and the Bolton Market Shopping Centre have all been shortlisted for the Greater Manchester Building of the Year Award 2009 awarded by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

The projects on the shortlist are from across Greater Manchester and fought off stiff competition from a record number of nominations.

The Award is given by the Chamber to recognise some of the key construction projects in Greater Manchester that have been completed over the past year. Last year saw Piccadilly Place scoop the top prize and previous winners have included John Rylands Library, the Beetham Tower and the Radisson Hotel.

Commenting on this year’s shortlist, Steve Burne, Chairman of the Chamber’s Building and Development Section, said: “This year’s shortlisted buildings are a great tribute to the standard of the projects we are continuing to see across Greater Manchester, despite the recent difficult climate. As we look towards more positive times, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate our architectural and construction achievements, which are crucial in the redevelopment of Greater Manchester and its growth as a major business centre.”

The winner will be announced at the Section’s Annual Dinner at the Hilton Manchester on 15 October and the award will be presented by Sir Howard Bernstein. Click here for more details about the event and to book your place.

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Chamber President warns rocketing pensions levy on business could damage UK recovery
Ahead of the first meeting of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) steering group on the future of the PPF levy, which takes place later today (Monday), the President of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Peter Heginbotham OBE is calling on the Government to look at the serious problems the levy is causing for firms across Greater Manchester

Member News: Strong growth continues at Ultimate Finance
Specialist invoice discounting and factoring firm Ultimate Finance, which has its Northern office in Manchester, maintained ambitious growth over the past year, its annual financial results show.

Cash flow worries as a result of increasing late payments are causing small businesses the most headaches, according to the latest Economic Downturn Panel survey carried out by the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of chief executives from around 20 of the largest local authorities across England and Scotland has revealed the top five challenges they face as a ‘perfect storm' of increased public service demands combined with severe funding constraints approaches.

September sees the launch of this year's HSE ladder safety campaign with professional builder and Big Brother star Craig Phillips (pictured) ‘stepping up' to promote ladder safety.

Chamber member This Creative, a independent branding, design and advertising agency, have recently won a contract to work with the NetPlay TV

Many once-powerful employer brands will be unable to attract top talent in the next decade. This is according to a report on how the downturn will change the future of work, published today by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Businesses across Greater Manchester are being asked to support the city's bid to be one of the host cities for the 2018 World Cup

Weber Shandwick has brought together an excellent panel of speakers to debate what the three main political parties think is required to assist North West businesses and organisations during these unprecedented times.

The Legal 500 rankings for 2009 have been published and Pinsent Masons - who has recently teamed up with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to offer a series of seminars for construction firms across Greater Manchester - has retained its position as the market leader for construction and projects in the North West, with tier 1 rankings for both sectors.

Commercial law firm Beachcroft, is offering advice to businesses ahead of the introduction of the Government's new Carbon Reduction Commitment

Unemployment has risen sharply throughout Greater Manchester, according to figures released by the ONS

Greater Manchester Chamber's International Trade team have been short listed for the Excellence in International Trade award at this year's British Chamber Awards to be held in London on Thursday 26th November.

Pastel Partner - the high functionality, high value accounting and business management software package supplied by Keytime Systems Ltd has been shortlisted for the UK Small Business Software Package of the Year Award, sponsored by Accountancy Age, as a result of maximum user endorsement.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) Chairman Robert Hough and Regional Minister for the Northwest Phil Woolas have urged local businesses in England’s Northwest to pay fair and sign up to the Government’s Prompt Payment Code.

Commenting on the news that BAE Systems is planning to close its Woodford plant, Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber, said: "This is a blow to the Greater Manchester economy. These are skilled jobs that we do not want to lose..."

Pension Protection Fund hampering our recovery

by Peter Heginbotham, President of Greater Manchester Chamber

It is not unusual that a Government rescue package is actually funded by the innocent. That is certainly true of the Pension Protection Fund. This particular lifeboat is constructed with planks stolen from those ships still afloat in a choppy sea. And the less seaworthy a ship, the more planks are stolen from it. Not only that, a new lifeboat is needed every year.

The way it works is this. Companies that were decent enough to provide excellent pension schemes have been weighed down by the rapidly escalating cost caused by the triple whammy of reduced investment value, higher cost of annuities and the improved mortality rate. It’s clearly right that if one of these schemes goes bust there should be protection for workers who have contributed for many years and would otherwise completely lose their pensions. The question is how that protection is funded. On a flawed analogy with insurance, the PPF is founded on the concept that the surviving schemes should pay for this protection. The weaker the employer is financially, the more it has to pay thus increasing the risk that more schemes will go bust. The assessment of how weak or strong an employer may be is based on Dun and Bradstreet ratings which are opaque and of questionable accuracy. The levy fluctuates wildly from one year to another. One company paid about £750 one year, £20,000 the next and £44,000 the year after that. The basis of the financial assessment is not properly explained, so challenge is hard to maintain. And none of this applies to the equivalent schemes in the public sector which are similarly in deficit. That falls directly on all taxpayers.

The consequence of this misconceived scheme is that many businesses with final salary schemes are now working for their pension schemes rather than for their owners. Some companies that have been prudently managed and should be in a position to capitalise on the anticipated recovery are instead hampered by balance sheets weakened by levy payments, arcane calculations of pension liabilities stretching forward many years and the consequent difficulty in raising finance for expansion.

Greater Manchester Chamber has campaigned for reform for a while and the British Chambers of Commerce is now taking the matter up nationally. The insurance analogy is totally flawed. A more appropriate one is that this is a case of forcing the gravely wounded to give blood to the dead.

Read the full news story at

Friday, 18 September 2009

First Buses strike action - Mon 21st Sep

Passengers are set to face a third day of disruption on Monday 21 September following strikes on Friday 11 and Monday 14 September.

Councillor David White, Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority's Bus Network and GMPTE Services Committee, said: "Whilst the Authority is not party to this dispute, we are calling on both sides to make every effort possible to deliver a solution that will end the industrial action quickly.

"The last two strikes have already caused significant disruption to the public transport network in the north and west of the conurbation. We want to ensure that passengers do not see any further disruption to their bus services."

GMPTE is advising passengers to explore alternative travel options for Monday and to expect demand on services provided by other operators, as well as on trains and trams, to be significantly greater. Extra time should also be allowed for journeys.

Details of which First services will not run, together with - where appropriate - services that will be provided by alternative operators, are available from

Information is also available from or by calling First's Customer Careline helpdesk on 0845 788 1155 and selecting option two.

Quarterly Economic Survey - deadline today!

by Holly Keogh, Assistant Policy Manager

Today is the last day for responses to our Q3 Quarterly Economic Survey. If you've yet to fill it out, please do - it should only take a couple of minutes!

Our QES is part of a national survey conducted by the British Chambers and it is one of the sources used by the Monetary Policy Committee for decisions on interest rates. It also massively informs our policy activity and your comments and feedback are needed so we can lobby in the best interests of business.

All responses remain totally anonymous and confidential.

Thanks for your support!

Friday Guest Blog: Getting the venue right

by Simon Thompson, Managing Director of free venue finding service, Conferences-UK

Even during the recession, external meetings and events are still very much in demand. Increasingly, bookers are hunting out the best rates and putting cost at the forefront of their decisions. It’s important to remember that selecting the most suitable venue is crucial in order to make the right impression on potential or existing clients, and indeed staff. The most important factors to consider are location, cost, facilities and that all-important wow factor.

Event organisers, PAs and decision makers need to carefully consider the accessibility and location of the venue. If it’s likely that people will be travelling from far afield, they may not know the area and are likely to be travelling on public transport, so a venue that is easily accessible, close to transport links and well signed is key.

In times of financial hardship we should all look to support our local community and remember that it’s a two way street. Conference organisers can support local venues by booking within the vicinity and in turn local venues are offering very competitive deals in mutual support – a clear advantage when booking conferences or external meetings. Many venues are offering discounts to businesses within a 10 mile radius and have launched reward schemes for returning businesses, so organisers should take this into consideration when looking for a good deal.

Another advantage of staying local is that travel costs and time away from the office are reduced. At nearby venues, delegates will be able to follow their usual commute home and can return to the office afterwards if time allows.

Organisers should also take into account how much impact is required depending on the nature of the event and weigh up the importance of spending money on a grand buffet lunch versus paying top rates for a stunning location, views and atmosphere. In the current financial climate compromises have to be made but that doesn’t mean missing out on the perfect venue. Venues with added ‘wow factor’, such as stunning views or exceptional heritage always add impact. Delegates are often more likely to attend meetings in desirable locations that they’re keen to visit so it’s important to bear this in mind to maximise attendance.

These days decent IT facilities usually come as standard, but always check with the venue co-ordinator to see what’s available before hand to avoid upset on the day.

To increase bookers’ options, many venues now provide Bronze, Silver and Gold packages, which enable customers to select the one that suits their budget. The Bronze package caters for simple requirements and is aimed at half-day events as lunch is not provided. Delegates are asked to buy their own tea and coffee and invited to bring their own light refreshments, such as water and mints. All of this cuts the cost of venue hire dramatically and considering much of it is often left to go to waste anyway, it shouldn’t go amiss. Remind attendees to bring their own note pad and pen to save incurring the cost for these too, as organisers are more likely to end up binning half used scribbled versions at the end of the day. This can be positioned as the ‘Green’ option as less waste is produced.

The Silver package includes refreshments, and provides a basic cold buffet lunch. When money is an issue, don’t spend £10-£15 per head on food when often all people want to eat during a work lunch is a sandwich anyway. Liaise with the venue to find a cost effective option.

The Gold package includes all the trimmings; refreshments on arrival as well as at mid-morning break, followed by a hot and cold buffet lunch. But again, this can be tailored to your specific needs and should you wish to eliminate certain aspects to reduce costs, specifically with food, the venue will be happy to work with you.

Conference organisers should also consider the full space required. Is a breakout room needed? If so, it can add to the cost of a conference. To reduce spend, look for venues with room separation options as the room layout can be changed to suit personal requirements, rather than having to hire expensive breakout rooms. In some cases, transformable meeting space is offered, whereby venue staff alter the room during breaks to create the desired areas.

To save money when booking a conference facility follow these credit crunching tips:
• Stay local
• Look out for Bronze, Silver and Gold conference packages
• Book venues with free parking
• Choose a venue with free breakout rooms or a versatile venue with removable walls

Finding a venue can be a stressful task, especially if it’s not necessarily part of your job description. Outsourcing the time consuming venue finding aspect of holding an off-site meeting can save you both time and money, and more importantly will ensure you find the perfect venue, thanks to in-depth knowledge of all the venues listed. Conferences-UK currently has over 5,500 venues on its site, which we carefully select from to meet individual needs.
Conferences-UK can be found at

Thursday, 17 September 2009

GM Chamber nominated for British Chamber Award

Greater Manchester Chamber's International Trade team have been short listed for the Excellence in International Trade award at this year's British Chamber Awards to be held in London on Thursday 26th November.

The team have a history of success at the awards having won twice previously. This is the third year running that they have been nominated for the accolade. The news comes as the Chamber bids to secure the UK Trade and Investment contract in the North West for a further three years.

Angie Robinson, Chief Executive at Greater Manchester Chamber, commented: "We really value the work our international trade team does and the positive feedback we get from our members is testament not only to their hard work but to the quality of their knowledge and approach to supporting business. We are very proud of our partnership with UKTI and this nomination comes at the perfect time as we now look to build on our success over the last few years by being appointed to deliver the UKTI North West contract for 2010-13."

The Chamber Awards were launched by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in 2004 to recognise and celebrate business excellence through the successes and achievements of its Accredited Chambers of Commerce and their members. This year's Awards ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London on the 26th November.

Read a few success stories from companies who have chosen to 'go global'

Learning Advocates - free courses in Manchester

Learning Advocates helps non-unionised/non IIP companies to upskill. The free Learning Advocates course trains people to become their company "Mini careers adviser"/Training expert. They are trained to interview colleagues, advise on individual learning needs/opportunities and promote a learning culture in their company.

The course also informs them about all of the free and subsidised training that is available.
If you go to you can read more.

Next courses in Manchester and Merseyside are running in October at:
  • St Antonys Centre, Trafford Village on Wednesday 21st October, 4th, 11th & 18th November 2009
  • The Sing Centre, Seaforth, Nr Crosby on Thursday 22nd October, 5th, 12th & 19th November 2009

The courses run 9.30-3.30 each day and are fully funded by the Learning & Skills Council through their European Social Fund for non-unionised/non Investors in People/non training companies.

Top 10 Tips: To improve health and safety culture

Is Health and Safety ‘a pain in the backside?’
by David Hall, Global Training Providers

I appreciate that safety is often seen as onerous, burdensome and considered a 'pain in the backside.' A task that needs to be done, but in reality a task that is always at the bottom of a very long list of things to do. However, good safety management can add value to your business, save you money, prevent prosecution and win you new clients.

Below are ten top tips that can help improve health and safety culture:

1. Always lead from the top: there is nothing worse for an employee to see their boss giving out safety instructions and not working to them. This promotes a culture of 'do as I say not as I do.'

2. Set standards not rules: safety rules can be broken. It is in our mentality to bend rules. It is more difficult to break standards, set achievable standards and work to them.

3. Think of safety as value added: turn that necessity into a positive statement such as 'think safety' or 'safety first.'

4. Continual improvement: refer to tip 3 set objectives and standards and get everyone involved. A good place to start improving is housekeeping; a place for everything, everything in its place.

5. Stay legal: the law is there for a reason, it may be a pain in the backside but do you really want to be prosecuted? Stick within the law and it will protect you.

6. Think risk assessment: what is risk assessment apart from the use of common sense? Unfortunately some of us are not blessed with this. Look at the hazards, likelihood of accident and consequence. If it looks dodgy it probably is! Put control measures in and remember to write it down!

7. Investigate all accidents: unfortunately we live in a claims world; we hear it all the time “have you had an accident in the last three years then call ….....” and even minor accidents can be claimed against. You can protect you and your business by conducting a thorough formal investigation but by doing so you can find out what the real causation of the accident was and prevent it from reoccurring and help to prevent workplace hazards

8. Good documentation can win you business: paperwork, the health & safety officer’s dream! Another pain in the backside to business however by presenting good safety arrangements backed up with relevant paperwork will win you new customers and help answer those awkward pre qualifying (supplier) questionnaires. The HSE love to see it.

9. Communication is the key: just by talking to each other helps to prevent accidents, remember good signage also gets the message across and education in the way of training.

10. Responsibilities: make people responsible for health and safety from directors to the shop floor, we all have a duty of care to each other and ourselves.

Apply these tips and you are onto a the ladder of promoting and demonstrating and applying positive Health and Safety into your working environment, which ultimately saves lives, serious injury and long term cost saving for your business which has to take the pain out of the backside...!

GTP/Global Training Providers will say that a successful business has happier employees. Caring for your workforce by having their Occupational Health and Safety as a business interest, will make the working environment not only safer but healthier. Employees will assist you the "Employer" in the prevention and detection of potential hazards and risks thus minimising causation of accidents... GTP will help and guide you to acheive the employers dream. Please view the website

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Chamber survey: Paternity Leave

by Samantha Barker, Policy Manager for Employment & Skills

A new survey carried out by the Chamber has shown that the majority of businesses aren't opposed to making paternity leave more flexible. The survey found that more than 60% of those who responded were in favour of more flexibility or had not made up their mind on the issue.

It seems that employers are prepared to be flexible and most have an open mind on the issue. However, it is important that the Government do not heap additional legislation on businesses in order to achieve this – how this is implemented is key and businesses need to be fully consulted in terms of making these changes a reality.

The survey comes after the Government announced that fathers will be given the right to take six months’ paternity leave. Around 400,000 men a year will qualify for the right to extended leave from April 2011. At present they can only take two weeks off compared with a year for mothers.

Next month will see the launch in Manchester of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Flexible Working Guide for employers. The launch, which will be attended by the Commission’s Chairman Trevor Phillips, will be jointly hosted by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and will take place on October 16 at The Hilton Hotel in Manchester. To reserve a place at the event email

Unemployment figures up across Greater Manchester

by Peter Heginbotham, President, Greater Manchester Chamber

Figures released by the ONS today show that unemployment has risen sharply throughout Greater Manchester.

Overall unemployment for Greater Manchester has risen by 0.2% with the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in the region rising to 81,633 compared with 79,292 last time figures were released.

Unemployment has increased in every one of the Greater Manchester boroughs – and many areas have seen a much sharper increase in JSA claimants than in previous months. The worst affected boroughs in terms of a month-on-month increase in claimants were Tameside, and Manchester. Rochdale is proportionally the worst affected area in Greater Manchester, with overall unemployment now standing at 6%.

This is obviously disappointing news for the region, with unemployment figures rising across all boroughs without exception. History tells us that unemployment continues to rise during a recovery period but what is disappointing about the increase, quite apart from the effect on each individual, is that this is despite businesses and employees being much more inventive in this recession, preferring reduced hours, job-sharing and other initiatives to job losses.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Latest Member Offers

Here are the latest offers from Chamber members including discounts on venue booking, training courses, legal support, IT services, advertising and more...

To receive these offers direct to your email address every fortnight, subscribe to the GM Chamber Blog here.

Portland FM
Are you paying too much for your mobiles/landlines? In many instances businesses are on the wrong tariff.
Save time and money as we will analyse your bills for free.
We can also offer 16 GB and 32 GB iPhones or a Blackberry from £ 8.51 per month.
If you want a solution or independent advice give us a call. Tel: 0845 833 0133 or email

Gourley Marketing Partners

Why not give your business a marketing MOT?
Throughout October, November and December Gourley Marketing Partners would like to offer your company a full marketing review. We will look at your current marketing and promotional activity, assess its current potential and offer advice on where to improve. Prices start at £995* plus VAT and 10% discount is offered to all Chamber members. *Price is dependent on company size. Contact

MR Blackcab Ltd
MR Blackcab Ltd is a Manchester based taxi contractors to business and local authorities’ with a fleet of sixty black cabs and minibuses. A reduced monthly administration charge of just 2% is offered to all new business accounts opened in October for pre-booked jobs for the first twelve months. Visit for further details

Autocopy UK
The "Print on Demand Media" range comprises special use papers & card items to help you get something extra from your administrative and or promotional print requirements. Choose from pre creased card, easy peel pre cut cards (10 per sheet & same size as an ATM card), window self cling, and paper incorporating self adhesive labels or a pre cut card. Visit for further details

Whatever pack size best suits your need, we’ll add 20% extra content at no extra cost. (10 sheets ordered = 12 sheets shipped, 25 sheets ordered = 30 sheets shipped etc.)

Interbacs is offering fellow Chamber members Free Auddis and Paperless Direct Debit consultations and a free Direct Debit for Dummies book.Interbacs offers a variety of products and specialist services for Direct Debit and BACS-IP and has over 25 years’ of experience in BACS and business software delivery. To take advantage of Interbacs’ free offers email or call 0844 412 7180 quoting reference 53Degrees 2009.

WPA Healthcare
WPA work closely with the Chamber as a provider of private medical insurance schemes, reducing already very competitive premiums by 10% for Chamber members. WPA specialise in schemes for the self-employed, professionals, owner-managed businesses and SMEs. Link to further details:

Tiger Tiger Manchester
Special Bookers Offer: Are you looking for a venue to host your Christmas party? Where you can drink, dine and dance all under one roof? Well look no further! Tiger Tiger Manchester is offering all bookers a complimentary dinner for 2 guests if you book a Christmas party with us. Please contact Charlotte Bedford, Sales Manager at Tiger Tiger Manchester. or tel: 0161 385 8080

1 Click Web Marketing Limited
FREE ADVERTISING Why not try a FRONT PAGE GOOGLE ADVERT FOR “FREE.” If you like what we do we will also give you a further 30 days free of charge, no contracts no gimmicks. Visit or tel: 0845 8621759

NES AIM Academy
NES AIM Academy are offering Chamber members 25% discount on any of our public courses running in the North West throughout September and October.
Courses include:
APM Introductory Certificate
APMPPRINCE2 (Foundation & Practitioner)
Managing Successful Programmes (Foundation, Practitioner & Advanced levels)
P3OITIL Service Management Foundation

Chinese Arts Centre
Looking for a space to hire? We are offering Chamber members 10% off for the hire of our beautiful Jasmine Suite between now and the end December. Located in the Northern Quarter with great transport links it provides an ideal creative setting for board meetings, away days and presentations. Click here for full details

About My Area
Reduced advertising rates on the and websites plus competitive national and regional advertising rates offered. Offer available to Chamber members and all South Manchester and Stockport businesses. Email: or click on links above.

Ladderstore is offering discounts, free product and incentives to help you check, replace and maintain ladders as part of the HSE ladder exchange initiative. A free ladder inspection set up pack and 10% off your order is available to all businesses. Ladderstore has competitive pricing and offers a price match policy. Visit for full details

Pinnacle Chauffeur Transport
10% discount on rates to Chamber members and guests on our luxury chauffeur service. FREE bottle of Champagne with every race trip booked.
Visit for full details.

Alistair Marshall Consulting
£50 off initial consultation day to Chamber members.

Triangle Software (Triangle Infotech Ltd)
Triangle is offering a 10% discount on normal prices to Chamber members. We develop software to make your business more efficient, to automate processes, or to help you expand your business offering. We also offer a finders fee of 10% of the first new contract for new client introductions. (Finders fee available to members or non-members) Click here for full details

Leigh Centurions
We are selling sponsorship/hospitality for next season. For sponsorship we offer: programme, matchball, main match sponsorship, match day mascot, and player sponsorship. For hospitality we offer either banqueting suite hospitality or boxes hospitality.Please ring 01942 487880 or email for a price list or visit

Tecmark Systems Ltd
Tecmark are offering you the chance to test the water with their 3 month SEO trial. In the UK alone, there are over 100 million Google searches per day, and 50% of the UK population make at least one search per month. How many of these searches are related to your products and services?
To find out more go to

Expense Reduction Analysts
We offer a free review of business overheads. We improve profitability through reducing cost and only get paid if you implement our recommendations. We investigate Energy, Telecomms, Insurance, Rates, Freight, Packaging, Office Stationery, Print, Waste, Engineering Consumables, Lab Supplies/Chemicals, Fleet, Merchant Card Fees, Water Rates etc.For further details email Mark Davis at:

A.B. Marsh Solicitors (ABM)
ABM Solicitors are offering Chamber members:
1. Single Will £50 inc. VAT2. Any home sale or purchase £200 +VAT and disbursements
3. Business conveyancing and advice - 25% offCall Matt on 0161 839 2626 quoting CHAMBER MEMBER OFFER or email: or
For further details visit:

CRM Systems Support
CRM are offering Chamber members a 5% saving on ALL Laptop Repairs, we can repair any make and model regardless of age. With the repair we will offer a free cleaning and valet service, collection & delivery in a secure swap it box and a turnaround usually within 3/4 days. For further details visit:

Composite Imaging Ltd
Recommend us to one of your clients/associates that are moving or refurbishing premises i.e. office, hospital, hotel, restaurant, health club/spa. If this referral results in a confirmed order worth £2,000 or more, Composite Imaging will offer you a free canvas up to 1m2 for your home/office, using any design from our gallery.
Click here to view our Image Library

First 30 minutes free on initial consultation with client - available to all.
For further information visit:

ISIS Solutions UK
ISIS Solutions are offering Chamber members complimentary business diagnostics to SME Managers that are looking for fresh ideas to grow, diversify, improve or sustain the performance of their businesses.There is no better time to plan ahead than now and some funding options may be available towards implementation of ideas. For further details visit:

BIEN Venue Ltd
BIEN Venue offers FREE venue and travel solutions for your business. If you have a need for booking travel, accommodation and meeting rooms and would like to reduce your spend, please contact BIEN Venue on 01625 267 885 or email We are committed to understanding your needs, responding quickly and negotiating the best possible rates for all your bookings. For further details visit:

Thinking of moving offices or refurbishing your current space? Then why not let Steelcase, the global leader in office furniture, demonstrate your design possibilities with a free space plan. Created by our world-leading designers, it will reflect your company’s values and show how good design can get the most out of your people and your work space. Offer available to Chamber members. Please email Gitangeli Sapra at to register your interest. Find out more about Steelcase at

We feature your member offers every fortnight here on the Chamber Blog. If you would like your business to be featured, please click here, fill out the form and return to with a jpeg of your company logo by Friday 25th September. To post an offer you must be a Chamber member.