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

Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday Guest Blog: Time to Train



Friday Guest Blog: Time to Train

Mark Higgins Partner at Ralli Solicitors


In November 2009, the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act was given the Royal Assent. As the lengthy title suggests, the Act contains a broad range of provisions, many of which relate to children and young people below the age of 18. However, section 40 of the Act contains provisions to benefit a much wider group of workers and hence, as an employer, you need to be aware of it.


This section provides the legal basis for a new right of employees to request time to train whilst in employment. It achieves this by way of amendment to the existing Employment Rights Act 1996, creating a new section 63D - J. At first glance, the provisions appear to give employees a right to demand time to train. However, as we shall see below, the lengthy list of reasons an employer can give to refuse a request significantly reduces its impact.


The right applies, subject to eligibility criteria, from 6 April 2010 for undertakings employing 250 people or more and from 6 April 2011 for all other undertakings.

Eligibility

The right extends to employees (not agency workers) who have been in continuous employment for at least 26 weeks as at the date the employer receives the request. The right to request time to train is not open-ended. The training must have the purpose of improving the employee’s effectiveness in the employer’s business and the performance of the employer’s business.

Thus, immediately excluded from consideration would be spurious training requests or, for example, time off to undertake academic study with no direct relevance to the employer’s business. An interesting question arises where the requested training is relevant to the employer’s business as a whole but does not directly affect or enhance the employee in their particular role at the current time.


Examples might be a clerk requesting time to undertake an accountancy course to enable them to join the accounts department or a secretary requesting time to undertake legal training with a view to becoming a legal executive. Whether such requests would satisfy the definition depends upon how broadly the courts determine the scope of words such as “effectiveness” and “performance” in the legislation.


Where training is eligible, there is no prescribed format. It can be delivered in-house or remotely e.g. at a learning centre or even at home. Training may lead to a formal qualification or simply be a means of developing specific skills relevant to the employer’s business. Note that whilst an employee has no right to be paid under the new rules, employers must bear in mind the National Minimum Wage Regulations which would apply in some instances.


The general rule is that the employer only need consider one request from a particular employee within any 12 month period (working back from the date of the latest request). This is clearly intended to stop abuse of the right by a nuisance employee who makes repeat/multiple requests. There are certain instances where a previous request must be ignored, however. These relate to withdrawals of previous invalid requests and where previously arranged training is either cancelled by the training provider or not started by the employee due to circumstances beyond his or her control.


Leaving aside issues regarding frequency, in order to be valid, an employee must set out the request in writing. Although there is no prescribed form, the request must contain prescribed information. If some of the required information is missing, the request is invalid and you needn’t consider it. The employee must show that the proposed study or training would improve his or her effectiveness in the employer’s business and the performance of the employer’s business.


Where a valid request is received, the employer must comply with prescribed time limits for responding. Where the employer wishes to accept the request, there is no need for a meeting. However, where the employer is undecided or wishes to refuse the request, a meeting with the employee must be called before the decision is made. Where a meeting is called, the employee has a right to be accompanied in the same way as for disciplinary and grievance meetings.


In certain cases, an employer may require additional information from the employee before a decision is made. He or she has the right to make such a request and any failure on the employee’s part to provide the information sought may entitle the employer to treat the employee’s request as withdrawn. Where this happens, the employer must notify the employee in writing.


As stated above, if the legislation started out with the intention of having teeth, these have been ground down to a large extent by the comprehensive statutory grounds for refusing a valid request. These appear very wide-ranging and include inability to re-organise work among existing staff, planned structural changes and the burden of additional costs to name but a few.
It will be interesting to view the extent to which the employment tribunals will be willing to review/interfere with an employer’s decision. Note that although employment tribunals will not have direct jurisdiction to question business reasons given for an employer’s refusal, they will be able to examine the facts upon which the business case is given and may have indirect jurisdiction to question them in any related claim of unlawful discrimination.


Where a request is refused, the employer must notify the employee in writing and offer the right to an appeal within 14 days of receiving the written decision. Note that there are no restrictions upon what can and can’t constitute a valid ground of appeal. Thus, an appeal may centre around a challenge to the particular reason for rejection given or around new facts may have emerged since the request was considered. Again, where the employer intends to uphold the appeal, there is no need for a meeting. However, where the employer is undecided or intends to reject the appeal, a meeting must first take place.


For large employers with the resources to invest in training and development of staff, the new legislation is unlikely to have much impact. Many of the anticipated requests for training will already fall into existing programmes. Eccentric requests can be dealt with either by negotiation within the formal meeting or by refusal in reliance upon one of the statutory reasons for rejection. It is the smaller scale employers who are more likely to feel the impact of the new law since it is they who are more likely to lack the procedural systems or fall into the trap of failing to deal with a request properly or worse still, not dealing with it at all.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A Financial Solution for Struggling Small Businesses


Paul Breen - Fund Operations Manager, Business Finance Solutions

“For many small businesses, the past couple of years have been tough. Not only have they had to contend with a reduction in footfall and most recently the adverse weather conditions, but there has also been the added worry of securing finance for the future.

Business Finance Solutions is a not-for-profit, Government-backed organisation that can help provide existing and start-up businesses with an alternative way of securing finance.

Our ‘Small Loans for Business’ initiative has been created to help businesses who have been refused loans, in part or whole, from mainstream sources, such as high street banks. With funding provided by the Government, Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and private sector partners, the scheme can provide businesses with loans from £3,000 to £50,000 to help entrepreneurs establish and grow their companies, resulting in job creation and contributing to the success of the region’s economy.

One of our success stories is Babydeli Ltd, based in Irlam. They were granted one of the ‘Small Loans for Business’ after needing further working capital to drive the business forward. Established in 2005, the homemade, organic baby food company was initially assisted by the banks by way of a commercial loan and overdraft facilities. This financial support sufficed to grow the brand in the marketplace through both internet and wholesale sales. However, in 2009, further capital was required to maintain growth and as the banks had initially provided both the overdraft and commercial mortgage facilities, they couldn’t assist further and Business Finance Solutions stepped in.

The benefits for small businesses that choose to apply for this loan scheme are significant. If their initial application is successful, the loan repayments can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the company. There will be ongoing access to other support services for successful small businesses as well. Applications are judged on the viability of the business plan, the likelihood of success and the potential to create or protect jobs.

What we intend to do with this scheme, is make it easier for people to start or develop their enterprises. In time, this will result in job creation, which in turn will have a direct effect on the North West’s economy.

At the moment, Business Finance Solutions are supporting hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs, generating millions of pounds in investment in the region.”

For more information about Business Finance Solutions and the ‘Small Loans for Business’, visit: www.business-finance-solutions.org.uk

Friday, 22 January 2010

Chamber Vacancy for Policy Researcher

The Chamber has a vacancy for a Policy Researcher. This is an opportunity to join the policy team at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the largest Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and ensure the voice of our 5,300 members is represented at regional and national level. For further information click here or email: brian.sloan@gmchamber.co.uk

Friday Guest Blog: What Makes an Entrepreneur?


Imran Hakim, CEO - Hakim Group

"The overall perception of entrepreneurs has been transformed over the recent past galvanised by the hysteria around the ‘global economic crisis’. Historically, entrepreneurs have been seen as somewhat risky and rebellious: think Delboy and his harebrained schemes, the Merchant of Venice agreeing loan terms secured against a pound of his flesh, or Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko.

However, the first real recession of the digital age has truly reformed opinion, with the masses now waking up to the realisation that it is entrepreneurship that gives rise to the majority of the nations innovation, employment, tax revenues and ultimately wealth. The great thing about enterprise is that anybody can participate regardless of creed, colour or socioeconomic background. You simply need the desire, commitment and state of mind to make great things happen.

Entrepreneurs in my experience tend to be optimists who see the opportunity in every challenge rather than the difficulties and as we kick off in 2010 the entrepreneurial landscape is littered with opportunity.

History demonstrates that recessionary times heighten the demand for change and challenge existing business models. This often gives birth to world beating businesses adopting new ways of tackling the same old problems. This time, climate change, the convergence of technology and the internationalisation of every business in every industry through the internet are the hot topics, and will be the backdrop to an explosion of entrepreneurial activity.

The thing about great entrepreneurs that makes them successful is that when everyone around them are risk averse they see the obvious for being obvious before it becomes obvious to the masses and they take action.

Now is the time to take action. That’s why I have become involved in RAW2010, which will bring together the North West’s finest and most inspirational business leaders to drive change, forge relationships and spark the ideas that will change the regional, national and global economies. The process has already begun, and the future looks brighter than ever."

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Apprenticeship grant for employers of 16 to 17 year olds

A new grant for employers has been announced to make it easier to take on young apprentices.

The National Apprentice Service (NAS) is offering the wage subsidy for a limited period until the end of March, to assist businesses in recruiting 16 or 17 year old apprentices.

The subsidy of £2,500 is available immediately for all employers, except for large public sector organisations – with up to 5,000 grants available nationwide. The funding is in addition to the costs of training apprentices, which are already met by the NAS.

Manchester Solutions Group is coordinating the grant applications on behalf of the National Apprentice Service. Employers will receive a quick response on whether the grant is available to them, and on employer size banding eligibility for public sector organisations.

Eligible employers would receive the grant in two payments - £1,500 when the young person starts, and a further £1,000 after 12 weeks.

Employers will be asked to sign an agreement which commits them to employing the apprentice in paid employment for the duration of the Apprenticeship training programme, and to pay the apprentice at least the minimum Apprenticeship wage of £95 per week.


For further information, visit:
http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/employers/age16and17.aspx

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Reaction to the Monetary Policy Committee meeting minutes for January 2010

By Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy

Reacting to the contents of the published minutes of this month’s Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting published today, Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy at the Chamber, said: “After yesterday's, higher than expected, inflation figures businesses across Greater Manchester will be encouraged by today's publication of the minutes of January's Monetary Policy Committee minutes by the Bank of England. Whilst the inflation figures raised expectations of interest rate increases sooner rather than later, the minutes reinforce the committee's stance that although volatile, it is the medium term prospects for inflation that are the "key consideration when setting monetary policy", and therefore we expect that interest rates will be held at 0.5% in the coming months.


“The minutes also show that the Bank anticipated higher than predicted inflation for December, though it still expects CPI inflation to fall back towards the 2% target in the medium term as spare capacity and a disruption to the supply of credit acts as downward pressure on inflation. Accordingly the committee voted unanimously to hold interest rates and continue the asset purchase programme at £200bn and did not consider alternative propositions.”

Unemployment figures fall or remain unchanged across Greater Manchester


By Samantha Barker, Policy Manager for Employment and Skills

Unemployment across Greater Manchester has fallen or remained unchanged according to figures released today.

The total number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance last month was 80,745 compared 81,249 the month before.

Unemployment fell in December in Manchester, Stockport and Trafford, and stayed the same in the remaining Greater Manchester boroughs.

Samantha Barker, Policy Manager for Employment and Skills at Greater Manchester Chamber, said: "Today's news will cause many people across Greater Manchester to breathe a sigh a relief as unemployment appears to have levelled off. Areas such as Trafford and Stockport, with concentrations of highly skilled residents, have actually seen a drop in unemployment this month, suggesting that some of the white collar professions that were hard-hit during 2008/9 are gradually re-recruiting. Manchester too has seen a drop, highlighting that the city's economic hub may once again be coming into bloom.

"Although a positive result, people still need to be mindful that this month's figures reflect the climate in December and not January. Next month's figures may see a shedding of seasonal jobs which may have masked the true situation."

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Chamber members invited to attend groundbreaking citizenship event

The Institute for Citizenship is hosting a groundbreaking event for 1,000 – 2,000 young people on Politics, Economics and Citizenship at the Opera House, Manchester on Thursday 4 February 2010. The line up includes Jane Hill (BBC ONE Newsreader), Andy Burnham MP (Secretary of State for Health), Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion) and Alvin Hall (TV Financial Adviser).

The event is focusing on the importance of developing important life skills and engaging young people in taking an active role in society – issues that directly affect business and its workforce.

The organisers are also interested in inviting members of the local business community ot this event for the ‘workforce of the future’ as VIP guests and to attend the evening drinks reception.

The event will run from 1.30pm – 4.30pm and the Drinks Reception will be from 4.45pm for networking and it is hoped that many of the special guests from the event will attend.

VIP places for the event are limited. For further information and to reserve places please contact Nina Negusse on 0161 602 3651 or email nina@citizen.org.uk

BBC seeking husbands and wives in business

BBC Radio Manchester is getting excited about the season of love!

Leading up towards Valentines Day, Radio Manchester is planning a series of love and marriage themed programs with a large event on Sunday the 14th February: a mass renewal of wedding vows by 100 couples from across Greater Manchester.

Radio Manchester is seeking participants from the Greater Manchester area (any faith, background, age) to come out and celebrate their love.

The event will be held in the Armani building at Spinningfields in Manchester city centre, and will be a non-religious celebration that will be an enjoyable day out for the couples. They are looking for 100 couples who want to renew their vows.

While the event is radio based not everyone will have to go on air; the idea will be to collect some romantic and fun stories of how people met, remembering their wedding days, etc… at the same time giving people the opportunity to do something a bit romantic.

For further information, or if you are interested in participating, or know of any one else who is - call or send an email. They are keen to hear all of your stories!

E-mail lucy.taylor@bbc.co.uk.
Or give them a call at 0161 244 4295 and ask for Lucy or Cauley.

Chamber news summary: 11th - 19th January 2010

Crompton Produces Winter Grit Packs to keep Bolton Businesses moving

Pinsent Masons and Manchester Academy win Partnership Award

Have your say on a Transport Strategy for Manchester City Centre

Employer Forum Event

HURST Accountants tests the temperature of the North West business community

Geo to connect the Corridor to next generation fibre broadband

36% Annual Growth As Paver Smith Weathers Recession

Find out more about key transport issues

Big freeze brings mixed fortunes for retailers and consumers in Manchester

Chamber member launches new corporate business website and toastmaster partnership

Greater Manchester Chamber Backs Oldham’s Business Awards

Sport Relief - 19th to 21st March 2010


As one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives.

The Sport Relief Weekend is taking place from Friday 19th March to Sunday 21st March 2010 and it’ll be three whole days of energy, entertainment and events for everyone to enjoy.

From the Friday of fundraising fun, and a night of cracking TV on BBC One, right through to the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile on Sunday, it promises to be a brilliant weekend.

And, the best bit is that Comic Relief spends all the cash raised to help people living unimaginably tough lives across the UK and the world’s poorest countries.

During Sport Relief 2008 we received fantastic support from employees working in over 25,000 organisations across the UK and we’d like to encourage you and your colleagues to do the same for Sport Relief 2010.

So be a part of it. Take a break from the 9-5, bring your workmates together and have a laugh as you challenge yourselves to raise loads of cash – all in a day’s work!

To find out how you and your colleagues can rise to the challenge for Sport Relief go to www.sportrelief.com/fundraise/workplace
or contact Emily Heffernan on 0207 820 6956 or e.heffernan@comicrelief.com

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday Guest Blog: Snow chaos and employment law





Chris Hallam, Partner - Pinsent Masons LLP

"Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it", so said Mark Twain about 100 years ago, and how true it remains to this day - at least in the UK where discussions about the weather are a national pastime. In a world where just a slight deviation from our ordinarily bland weather causes panic to set in, shops to run short of food and public transport to grind to a halt, at least the snow, ice and record low temperatures of the last couple of weeks means we actually had something worth moaning about.






Normally, a bit of snow is great fun. Who, hand on heart, can honestly say that their 'inner child' was not delighted by the sight of the six or seven inches of snow that fell last Tuesday morning. But bad weather is not so good for businesses and, according to Greater Manchester Chamber, it has probably cost local businesses in excess of £50 million.




Significant employee absence in the middle of our worst recession since, well, the last bad one is therefore pretty much the last thing that was called for.





In this blog, I look at what employers need to know about the impact of bad weather conditions on their employees. First of all, however, a slight confession. As a specialist in construction law, rather than employment, I cannot claim to know a great deal about the employment law issues around bad weather - so I am indebted to colleagues from our employment law group for their help in putting together (i.e. for writing) the following parts of this blog. For further information on this or any other employment related issue you are more than welcome to contact me, but better still, get in touch with my colleague Simon Horsfield (simon.horsfield@pinsentmasons.com), who is an employment law specialist. If you have queries as to the effects of bad weather on construction sites, however, then by all means contact me!





Minimum working temperature





As the winter weather bites, what protection do you have to provide for your employees from the chill?





For workers who work inside, certain regulations set out the rules on workplace temperatures. The general rule is that the temperature in workplaces should be at least 16 degrees Celsius.








However, there is no legal minimum outdoor working temperature so employers need to rely on thermal risk assessments.





In very cold weather, outdoor workers face two major health problems: hypothermia and frostbite. There is therefore extensive HSE Guidance (www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/index) about protective clothing for cold weather, health issues and management guidelines. (HSE suggests, for example, "allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get hot drinks or to warm up in heated areas").





Paying staff who can't get to work




Do you have to pay staff who are unable to get into work due to snow and difficult transport conditions?





Employees are obliged to attend the office unless they are sick, on holiday or on maternity leave etc. The onus is, therefore, on employees to come into work. Technically, this applies even in extreme weather conditions. Therefore, if the office is open and employees cannot make it into work because they are 'snowed in', one view is that you are entitled to treat their absence as unauthorised and are under no obligation to pay them.





However, if an employee's normal mode of transport is out of action due to severe weather disruption, you may need to revise this view. First, you should encourage employees to explore alternative means of transport. However, employees should not feel pressured to risk their safety to get into the office so it may be sensible to consider whether or not employees could usefully work from home until the weather situation has improved.




If this is not a viable option, then the alternatives available are for you to advise employees that:








  • any time off work in these circumstances will be unpaid (ideally, you will have a contractual provision to support this); or




  • they will be paid but will be expected to make up the time at a later date; or












  • they can request to take the time off as paid annual leave or as unpaid time off for dependant's leave (e.g. if schools close – see more about this below).





In practice, few contracts will state that employees who cannot get into work because of the weather will lose a day's pay. Employees have statutory protection against an unauthorised deduction being made from their wages without their consent and deducting pay could potentially be challenged as unlawful under these provisions (although the employer could argue that there was no entitlement to pay as no work was done.)






You should therefore assess whether not paying employees would be in the best interests of your business. It may be that the financial burden to the business of paying staff in these circumstances is outweighed by the benefits that such a gesture would have on staff morale and productivity in the long run – especially if the snowfall is particularly heavy and it is impossible to get into the office.






Enforced holidays






Can you require an employee who cannot get into the office to take a day's holiday?
This is not likely to be an option for employers. Unless the employee's employment contract contains an express right for the employer to direct when their holiday is taken, employers cannot force employees to take a day's holiday without their consent.






School closures





If schools are closed or an employee's nanny is unable to make it to work because of the severe weather and there is no one else available to look after the children at such short notice, what are the implications for employers?






To avoid the office becoming a temporary crèche, there are statutory rules which allow parents to take time off when there is an 'unexpected disruption to childcare' and parents are protected from suffering a detriment for doing so.






Arguably, a school closure is not the same as a disruption to 'childcare', however, if the school closure was announced first thing in the morning and alternative childcare arrangements cannot be made, this could be seen as constituting an emergency situation and employees would be entitled to statutory protection for taking the day off. Strictly, the day would be unpaid but not all employers will take this approach. It is also important for employers to adopt a consistent approach to the policy adopted for employees without children.






Working from home






If it is safe to travel, employees should come into work as usual. If employees are concerned that the conditions are not safe or if they are dependent on public transport systems that are badly affected, many employers take the view that employees should remain at home and do what work they can from there. This is becoming more feasible as many employees have Blackberrys or similar mobile devices and, if not, then they can access their work email and office applications remotely via a laptop, home PC or mobile phone.






However, even though they are at home, employees need to be clear that they must still work as far as possible (and not just watch TV). A home working policy could be helpful here making it clear that working from home is a privilege, not a right and that the employer will, if necessary, monitor output.






Falsely blaming the snow






What if an employee could have made it into work but chooses not to?
If you believe that an employee is using the weather conditions as an excuse for absence (or lateness), particularly if they live locally, this could be a disciplinary matter.
However, it is doubtful that most employers would want to devote time and resources to investigating the circumstances of each individual worker who is suspected of taking a 'snowball' day.






In a blatant or persistent case you may, of course, choose to investigate the matter in the usual way and take any necessary action in line with the company's disciplinary policy. Alternatively, when the initial conditions that made travel to work impossible have subsided, you could let employees know by phone, email or text that any further time off will need to be taken as holiday. You may find that once this has been communicated, employees suddenly start finding ways to get in.






Closing the office






What if you are forced to close the office due to the severe weather conditions?
If you decide to temporarily close your business premises at short notice because of unforeseen circumstances, such as heavy snowfall, and there is no work available for your employees as a result, you cannot usually withhold pay.






If you do, employees could bring unauthorised deduction from wages claims to recover the pay owed. The only exception to this is if you have an 'unpaid lay-off' clause in your contracts of employment, or the employees expressly consent to being laid off without pay.





There are, however, complicated rules surrounding lay-off clauses, including rules about statutory guarantee payments, and you should take legal advice before proceeding.






Should employees who actually make it into work be rewarded?






Employees who have battled into work, often against the odds, may resent the fact that others made less effort, especially if, once they are in the office, they have to work extra hard to cover those who are absent. Ideally, the employees' efforts should not go unnoticed – though days off in lieu or other financial rewards are unlikely.






However, employers should carefully observe weather warnings and let employees leave when appropriate to avoid any treacherous travel conditions on the way home. Never ask staff to disregard official weather and travel advice.






Minimise the chaos






It may seem that the UK is beset by 'unexpected' snowy weather every year. It is therefore worth thinking about alternative ways to manage the situation. Employers should consider introducing an 'adverse weather policy' so employees know what you expect of them when severe weather strikes. This will also help avoid confusion and conflict when the snowfall arrives.
Alternatively, you could amend your normal absence policy to cover such instances. The policy should contain guidance about workplace closures, disruptions to public transport, working from home and remote IT access, whether employees will be paid if they fail to attend work, disciplinary sanctions for 'snowball' days and whom employees should contact once they know they will be unable to make it in.






With occurrences of severe weather on the rise, putting in place a clear adverse weather policy could be a worthwhile investment.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Have your say on a Transport Strategy for Manchester City Centre


By Richard Critchley

Manchester City Council is currently developing a city centre transport strategy in close co-operation with the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) and would like your views.

The public consultation starts today (14 January 2010) and will run until 26 March 2010 with the full consultation document available on the City Council and GMPTE websites.

By 2020 it is expected that an additional 50,000 people will be working in the city centre and to sustain this we need to ensure that the city centre is accessible and that traffic can flow within it.

Now, the latest Transport Strategy for the city centre aims to support the economic success of the last 15 years by identifying key transport policies to deal effectively with the future needs of a growing city.

One of the key objectives is to ensure that the city's transport system can cope efficiently with the expected increase in employment, through boosting the capacity and efficiency of public transport and improving facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

The strategy supports a number of the key schemes in the Greater Manchester Transport Fund - including the Cross City Bus package and Metrolink Second City Crossing. Significant improvements to the public realm in places like St Peter's Square and Mosley Street are also part of the plans.

Councillor Richard Cowell, Manchester City Council's Executive Member for Environment said: "We have worked closely with a number of organisations in putting together our view of how transport should support growth in the city centre.

"The diversity of the city centre and the number of stakeholders who have an interest in its future means that there will be a range of views on what the right mix of measures is and whether our proposals are the right ones.

"The success of this strategy is essential to the continuing economic success of the city - and therefore it is important that we have your feedback on it."

Councillor Keith Whitmore, Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, said: "Manchester city centre is key to the prosperity and economic growth of Greater Manchester; but to secure its continuing success we need to ensure that it is properly served by its transport system.

"This consultation allows for everyone - businesses, commuters, residents and other interested parties - to examine the proposed transport strategy and to have their say."

You can make your comments on the strategy to: transport.consult@manchester.gov.uk or you can write to Transport Strategy Consultation, Transport Policy Unit, Manchester City Council, Room 308, Town Hall, Manchester M60 2 LA.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Greater Manchester Chamber Backs Oldham’s Business Awards


Posted by Sharyn Lewis, Oldham Local Manager

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce will once again be supporting the ‘One Oldham Business Awards’, which take place on Monday 22nd March at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural awards ceremony, the number of categories has now been expanded. This year’s ceremony will now include the brand new Environmental Award, which will recognise the company or individual who has shown the greatest awareness of environmental issues. As per last year, the ceremony will also include the categories of Business Man/Woman of the Year, Young Entrepreneur and Retailer of the Year, to name but a few.

Nominations will be accepted from any business based within the Oldham region. Companies need to nominate themselves, then three finalists will be selected from each category and the winner presented with a crystal trophy and bespoke prize at the awards evening. Last year, organisers received almost 80 nominations and the finalists were treated to a five-course meal and cabaret entertainment.

Sharyn Lewis, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s Local Manager for the Oldham area, said:
“The ‘One Oldham Business Awards’ is a great platform on which to raise awareness of the work that takes place within the region. Recognition is given to companies who have excelled in their field, and business leaders are provided with the opportunity to learn about other high-achieving and innovative companies in the area. The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce fully supports events which highlight the successes of local businesses, and encourages originality and rewarding models of best practice.”

The Awards are supported by the Oldham Evening Chronicle and are run in conjunction with Oldham Council, Natwest Business Banking and a number of other Oldham-based organisations.

For more information and to complete the online nomination form, please visit: www.oldhambusinessawards.co.uk