Mercury Quays Makeover in Shipley – last few units available

A former textile mill, Mercury Quays on the canal side in Shipley, has been undergoing a makeover, and several businesses have now moved in – with just a few units left for local small businesses or organisations to snap up.


Purchased by West Yorkshire Commercial Property Firm, Gaunts Ltd, in June 2017 for £1.7m, they have since invested up to £250,000 in fully renovating and refurbishing the 20,000 square feet of space which includes a new attractive main entrance and reception area on the canal side, redecoration throughout, including new wash facilities and kitchen areas, high speed internet, a new heating system, repairs to the roof and drainage systems and improved secure car parking for up to 50 cars.


“We are pleased to help contribute to the regeneration of the Shipley area by improving Mercury Quays” says Managing Director Chris Pratt. “We wanted to create bright, clean, modern, quality space in a historic mill setting, which is attractive but affordable for small businesses to help them grow.”


“Good quality office and work space at a reasonable price is hard to find”, continues Chris. “We have four or five units left (from 400 – 1400 sq ft) and we’re sure that there may be new and developing Shipley enterprises who may need such space and don’t know about Mercury Quays.”


If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Gaunts Ltd on 0113 236 3555 or visit www.gauntsproperty.co.uk


You’ll find Mercury Quays, on Ashley Lane, off Salts Mill Road, Shipley BD17 7DB

21st February 2020

Schofield Sweeney announce employment law breakfast seminars

Schofield Sweeney have announced a series of employment law breakfast seminars aimed at businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

The firm are holding several of these events this year to help employers in business, education and charities address some of many issued faced and ease HR and management headaches.


Simon Shepherd, Partner in Schofield Sweeney’s Employment team said: These events are suited for business owners, HR managers and those who have line management responsibilities. Each are held across our offices in West Yorkshire; offering practical examples, actionable insight, valuable networking as well as a Q&A with our experienced employment team”


Topics covered include how to effectively handle sickness absence, transfer of undertakings (protection of employment), redundancy and poor performance.


Seminars are £25 +VAT per person but Schofield Sweeney are offering a limited-time discount to those booking on all four seminar topics for £75+VAT. To qualify, apply code leeds2020 at checkout (Leeds) or bradhud2020 (Bradford and Huddersfield)


Clients on their HELP and Just Teach schemes receive two complimentary places to each of our breakfast seminar topics this year.


To book your place, head over to their events page at  https://schofieldsweeney.co.uk/news-events/events/. Further events will be added throughout the year.


To find out more, or if their team can be of further assistance, please phone 0113 849 4000 or email employment@schofieldsweeney.co.uk.

21st February 2020

Scarborough law firm champions Britain’s Armed Forces

Solicitors North Yorkshire Law has pledged its commitment to support the UK’s military.

The firm, which has offices in Scarborough, Whitby and York, has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant to formally show its determination to treat military reservists, veterans and their families fairly – whether as employees or as clients.

“Scarborough is hosting the national Armed Forces Day event this June so we wanted to do our bit to show our support,” said partner Natalie Foster.

“As a company, we are passionate about making the justice system accessible to all and this is just another way of reaching out to a community which may need reassurance that it will be treated the way it deserves.”

As well as signing the Armed Forces Covenant, the company is also offering a 10 per cent discount to the military and veterans.

“We take our social responsibilities seriously and try to support community initiatives across the East Coast area and York,” said Natalie.

The Armed Forces Covenant is part of the Government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and is administered in the area by the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for Yorkshire and The Humber (RFCA).

The RFCA’s regional employer engagement director Richard Lenton said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is a great way for companies and organisations to show their commitment to the military. With Scarborough soon to play centre stage in one of the biggest military events of the year, we are delighted to have North Yorkshire Law on board and hope others across the East Coast will follow suit.”

Learn more about the here.


18th February 2020

DLA Piper appoints Andrew Dyson as new office managing partner in Leeds

Global law firm DLA Piper has appointed Andrew Dyson as the new office managing partner in Leeds, replacing Allison Page who is stepping down following a successful three year term at the helm.

Andrew leads the firm’s UK privacy and security practice as well as co-chairs the practice on a global basis. He will continue in these rolls alongside his new position heading up the Leeds office.

Andrew joined DLA Piper in 2003 and has been a partner since 2006. He is an internationally recognised leader in the field of data protection, privacy and cyber security, advising major banks, insurers and airlines on privacy matters on a UK and global basis, through a team of lawyers based in Leeds. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of Leeds in the field of data ethics and retained advisor on privacy matters to the UK Government and Information Commissioner’s Office.

Andrew commented:  “Leeds is an integral part of the heritage of DLA Piper and although we are one of the largest law firms in the world, our origins can be traced back to a founding office here in Leeds, 250 years ago. The Government’s recent commitment to continue the development of HS2 is a clear illustration of the interest and investment in the north of England. Our Leeds office is perfectly placed to support the continued growth in the region, it is made up of a tremendous community of partners and people delivering outstanding client service and knowledge at a local level. This is key to the success of the firm and I am looking forward to supporting everyone at this exciting time.

UK managing partner Liam Cowell added: ““Andrew brings to this role a real energy, focus and determination that will add a real boost to the great work that Allison has put in to developing the Leeds office over the past three years.  Our Leeds office is a critical part of the firm , doing world class work for our local, national and international clients within the Leeds city region.”

18th February 2020

Beech Tree backed BCN Group Strengthen their Cloud Services presence with Polymorph...

Leading cloud and managed IT provider continues growth via acquisition by merging with digital transformation, Microsoft Cloud and IT security services firm  


14th February 2020 – BCN Group, the Manchester based IT cloud and managed services specialist, has completed the strategic acquisition of Polymorph for an undisclosed sum.


Polymorph is a leading provider of digital transformation, Microsoft Cloud and IT security services to more than 160 business clients in the North West of England and across the UK. The acquisition means BCN Group can offer clients cloud and Microsoft application development capabilities for the first time, bolstering the suite of solutions offered to customers. The takeover strengthens BCN Group’s position as the leading cloud and managed IT services provider for businesses in the North of England and beyond.


Following the merger, Polymorph’s employees will continue to provide support and development from its offices in Runcorn alongside BCN’s 140-strong workforce based out of offices in Manchester, Leeds and Chorley. The Group anticipates further expansion of sales, development and support in Merseyside area as the company continues to grow.


The deal will allow both Polymorph and BCN Group clients to enjoy access to a wider set of products and services through the combined expertise of both business units.


In particular, the scale of the combined Group’s skills capabilities in Microsoft Cloud Technologies where Polymorph currently holds seven Gold Competencies and is a Tier Microsoft CSP.


The combination of the Microsoft services provided by Polymorph and the wider BCN Group will make BCN Group one of the leading regional Microsoft Cloud Managed Service partners in the UK.


Polymorph was established in 2000 and has built an unrivalled reputation for exceptional quality in designing and providing leading edge technology, cloud solutions and IT security. The company has enjoyed strong growth in recent years and now has an annual turnover in excess of £4m. The merger is expected to boost BCN Group revenues to £30m+ per year with more acquisitions in the pipeline set to drive additional growth.


Simon Kelf, CEO of BCN Group, said: “The essence of BCN Group’s success is to provide market leading IT and cloud support to local businesses from a local centre.


“The acquisition of Polymorph is a critical step in our journey as it provides us with a technical development hub to add further complementary services and value to our clients’ infrastructure.

“I have been very impressed by the skills and expertise of the team, and I am incredibly excited about the growth potential we have created to accelerate our business.

“This is a real strategic step for our Group. BCN will now have a wider skill set especially around application development within the Microsoft stack.”


Steve Harris, Founder of Polymorph, said:

“We are a leader in digital transformation utilising award winning Microsoft Cloud Solutions. The cultural fit with BCN Group and complementary service portfolio creates one of the leading providers of IT services in the region.

The BCN acquisition provides a huge opportunity for our customers and employees to benefit from such an innovative, agile and customer-centric organisation.”

18th February 2020

Keighley school achieves first Ofsted good rating

University Academy Keighley has achieved an Ofsted rating of good for the first time in its history and is now the only school in the town with the rating.

Prior to the inspection the Green Head Road academy and the predecessor school had always been judged to be requiring improvement or had been judged as a satisfactory school.

The good rating comes after a significant effort from the school and its partner academy Carlton Bolling, together with the support of sponsor the University of Bradford.

The Ofsted report noted the ‘considerable improvements’ that have been made and how ‘pupils have positive attitudes to learning and work hard’. It also says that pupils ‘are proud of their school and their work’.

The report particularly highlighted that:

  • Leaders have high expectations for all pupils
  • Pupils are polite and respectful and the school is calm and orderly
  • Behaviour in class and around school has improved significantly
  • Pupils achieve well and enjoy school
  • The leadership team is making a real difference
  • The quality of teaching has improved and is delivered via a good curriculum
  • Pupils receive high quality pastoral support
  • There is a strong safeguarding culture where pupils feel safe

Head of School Jon Skurr said: “To receive a good judgement is testament to the significant efforts that pupils, staff and governors have put in. The transformation of this school into a hub of positive learning is something that we are very proud of as an organisation. The pupils, staff and governors all firmly believe that we can be an outstanding school and the whole team is committed to making this happen.

“I would like to thank everybody who has played their part in promoting and supporting the academy, particularly our sponsors at the University of Bradford and our partner school Carlton Bolling who, with the Carlton Academy Trust, have helped transform our school.”

Adrian Kneeshaw, CEO of Carlton Academy Trust, said:  “It’s fantastic to see that Ofsted have recognised the considerable transformation of University Academy Keighley. This has been driven by the staff and students at the academy in collaboration with the Carlton Academy Trust. By utilising the systems and structures from our partner Carlton Bolling, we have been able to oversee a rapid improvement in standards and expectations at University Academy Keighley. The future is very exciting, as this is only the start of our journey.”

Joanne Marshall, Director of People and Campus Services at the University of Bradford, said:  “The University of Bradford as a sponsor to the Academy and myself, as the previous Chair of Governors, are very proud of all the hard work and dedication that has gone into achieving this result. The Academy has undergone significant transformations since 2017 and it is due to a large team of people, their perseverance and tenacity to achieve this fantastic result for the school and the local community. It has been a real team effort from the University, from Carlton Bolling, with whom we have worked in partnership, from all the staff, pupils and the governing body, who have contributed to this result.”

18th February 2020

Renewables revolution delivers decade of decarbonisation

  • The transition to renewables led to a 107 million metric tonne reduction in annual carbon emissions from Britain’s power sector.
  • Sustainable biomass generated more power than solar energy and provided an outsize contribution to reducing emissions and wholesale power prices.
  • Decrease in power demand was the single biggest driver of emissions decline in the electricity sector in the past decade.


Great Britain’s move towards renewable energy sources has helped drive a faster rate of decarbonisation over the last decade than anywhere else in the world, according to a new independent study.


Over the period, carbon emissions in Britain’s power sector fell by around two thirds to 54 million metric tonnes in 2019 from 161 million tonnes in 2010 as the country’s generators shifted away from coal and natural gas to renewables such as sustainable biomass.


Electricity demand, which fell 13% over the decade, delivered around a third of the decline in carbon emissions in the sector over the period, while wind energy delivered a quarter of the reduction, according to an independent analysis by academics from Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights.


The fall in power demand came even as the population grew by 7% and GDP rose by a quarter as measures such as more energy efficient lighting, manufacturing and other efficiency measures took hold.


However, this decline could be reversed in the years ahead with the rise in the use of electric vehicles and household heat pumps, meaning further decarbonisation cannot be achieved through a reduction in demand alone.


The report warns that with the greater reliance on weather-dependent sources ‘system operability will undoubtedly become more difficult in the years to come’, with a need for increased system support services and greater flexibility.


Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London and lead author of the quarterly Electric Insights reports said: “In the past decade, we’ve seen unprecedented changes in Britain’s power system, which has transformed at a speed never seen before.


“Several factors made significant contributions to falling emissions including carbon prices, coal retirements, conversions to biomass and the growth in wind capacity. But reductions in electricity demand dwarfed all the others – helping to push down power prices and environmental impacts.


“If this pace of change can be maintained, renewables could provide more than half Britain’s electricity by the end of this decade and the power system could be practically carbon free.”


Biomass provided a bigger reduction in emissions and wholesale power prices than solar power relative to the size of its installed capacity, according to the report.


Andy Koss, Drax CEO of Generation, said: “Replacing coal with sustainable biomass at Drax has cut our carbon emissions by more than 80%, transforming the business to become the largest renewable power generator in the UK, accelerating decarbonisation over the decade as well as supporting lower wholesale power prices.


“As the UK strives to achieve its world-leading net zero carbon target, it’s clear the power system will have to continue evolving and many different solutions, including negative emissions technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), will be needed alongside more renewables.


“BECCS, which Drax is pioneering, has the potential to permanently remove 16 million tonnes of carbon a year from the atmosphere and help other sectors like aviation to reach net zero.”


Drax supplies 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity using sustainable biomass. Last year, the company set a world leading ambition to become carbon negative by 2030.

18th February 2020

Apprentices are perfect solution at chemical company

A chemical manufacturer in West Yorkshire is investing in the next generation through the recruitment of local apprentices.


Airedale Chemical in Cross Hills pledged to increase its number of apprentices across various departments including engineering, health and safety and finance.


The chemical company has recently recruited Lucy Sage to the team as a safety health and environment technician as she begins her career in the chemical manufacturing industry. After completing an Applied Medical Science Extended Diploma at Craven College, she gained work experience at Keighley Labs.


She will be working alongside head of regulatory, Andrew Ramsey, to identify health and safety matters and communicate advice to the business and staff. Lucy will also be conducting fire training, risk assessments and site inspections for the firm.


Lucy, who lives in Silsden, says: “I have always been interested in health and safety as a close family member specialised within this field. After studying at college, I developed an understanding for chemicals and the precautions associated with them.


“This apprenticeship gives me the opportunity to put all the theory I have learnt to practice in a working environment. I live locally and have always been fascinated by Airedale Chemical and look forward to an exciting career ahead.”


The firm has also recently welcomed Josh, an apprentice maintenance engineer, who works alongside the company’ six-strong maintenance team to carry out maintenance and regular checks on equipment to ensure the smooth running of the site.


Andrew Ramsey adds: “It’s a pleasure to have Lucy on board at the company. She’s learnt impressive theory at college and it’s fantastic to see her applying this in her role. We’re all really looking forward to watching her develop and hope this will be the start of a long-term position for her.”


Airedale Chemical employs just over 100 members of staff and has been based in Cross Hills since 1994. The firm manufacturers and distributes commodity and speciality chemicals domestically and across Europe to markets including manufacturing, detergency and dairy.


For more information visit www.airedalechemical.com.

18th February 2020

Whitby family acquire historic castle with support from HSBC UK

A Whitby-based family-run business has purchased the historic landmark Sneaton Castle with the support of a seven-figure funding package from HSBC UK.

John Morley, owner of Cross Butts restaurant and hotel, recently purchased Sneaton Castle, located on the outskirts of Whitby, and is now driving forward with plans to transform it into a new luxury hotel and wedding venue on the 297,000 sq. ft. site.

The Morley family established the Cross Butts restaurant and hotel after their dairy farm was affected by ‘foot and mouth’ disease in 2001. After years of rebuilding the farmyard premises, including the renovation of a farmhouse and outbuildings, the family decided to diversify into the high-end restaurant and accommodation market. Sneaton Castle is the family’s second property and their most ambitious project to date.


John Morley, Owner of Cross Butts and Sneaton Castle, said:


“We’ve worked with HSBC UK for over 50 years, with the bank supporting us through some very tough trading conditions during this time. When the opportunity came to purchase Sneaton Castle, HSBC UK was quick to understand the scope of our thinking and match our ambition to create a perfect, fairy-tale wedding and events venue for North Yorkshire. We’re thrilled to be starting this next chapter with the opening of the Castle and hope to welcome the public soon.”


Phil Look, Area Director for West & North Yorkshire, added:


“Over the years the Morleys have been quick to react to a seismic change in their business from farming to hospitality and are now proud to boast one of the most exciting event spaces in the region. Cross Butts is an established destination restaurant and wedding venue, this latest acquisition will enable the family to diversify its business with the unique offering of Sneaton Castle in a spectacular location.”


This deal has been funded as part of HSBC UK’s £14 billion SME fund, with £1.05 billion dedicated to helping Yorkshire businesses realise their ambitions for growth.

18th February 2020

Bradford Garden Centre to host free planting advice sessions

A Bradford garden centre is launching a series of six free planting advice sessions.


Tong Garden Centre is holding the first of its ‘Learn with Joe’ events on Saturday, 7th March, when its resident expert, Joe Appleyard, will be sharing his hints, tips and advice for planting up spring containers and baskets.


The free demonstrations will take place in the outdoor plant canopy at the Tong Lane centre between 11am and 3pm and visitors are encouraged to ‘drop in’ at a time to suit them.


Tong’s Head of Marketing, Jo Dales said: “We have a wealth of knowledge in our plant team and Joe’s planting sessions are always so popular, so we’ve added more dates to this year’s calendar. In his first demo, Joe will create colourful spring containers using primroses that are locally-grown in Huddersfield, exclusively for us, and planted with pansies, violas, ivy and bellis for a welcome pop of spring colour.


“We’re looking forward to inspiring people to create an early splash of colour in their gardens and there’ll be a printed guide with Joe’s hints and tips available to take away after the demonstration.”


The spring containers planting demonstration will be followed by a planting vegetables and herbs session on Saturday, 21st March and a session on planting alpines on 4th April, with more taking place in May and June.


Tong Garden Centre occupies a 17 acre site in Tong village. It is one of Yorkshire’s biggest garden centres with 110,000 square feet of retail space and parking for up to 1,000 cars.

18th February 2020

B&M Waste Services further support the Lily Mae Foundation

B&M Waste Services, a local waste management company, have further pledged their support to Birmingham-based charity, the Lily Mae Foundation, with a cheque donation of £2,500. The Lily Mae Foundation support parents and families who have tragically and traumatically lost a baby to stillbirth, neonatal death or medical termination.

Despite its frequency, there is still very little public perception of the devastating impact of stillbirth, neonatal death and baby loss through medical termination on parents, their families and friends.

Throughout the year, B&M Waste staff members will take part in fundraising activities and challenges, with the hope to raise even more much-needed funds for the charity.

Commenting on the donation, Ryan Jackson, Founder and Managing Director of The Lily Mae Foundation, said: “Once again we would like to say a huge thank you to B and M for their continuous support for The Lily Mae Foundation.  We are extremely grateful to be chosen once again to be the beneficiary of such a fantastic monetary donation. The money donated will help us to continue our support for those families living locally who have suffered the loss of a baby through stillbirth, neonatal death or medical termination.”

Jayne Kennedy, Senior Marketing and Social Value Manager, from B&M Waste, said: “Having worked with The Lily Mae Foundation over the past few years, it was fantastic to be able to donate such a great amount to support their vital work. As our nominated charity for Birmingham, we have a close relationship with the team at the foundation and we look forward to helping them in any way that we can throughout the year.”

18th February 2020

New Shopmobility Service Opens at the Merrion Centre

  • The first William Merritt Centre branded Shopmobility service officially opened in the Merrion Centre on Friday 17th January


  • It offers a fleet of powered scooters and manual wheelchairs, enabling people with limited mobility greater independence for shopping and visiting local attractions in Leeds city centre


The first William Merritt Centre Shopmobility store has opened at The Merrion Centre in Leeds Arena Quarter, enabling customers with limited mobility to visit an array of leisure and commercial facilities within the centre and wider city region.


Working in partnership with Leeds City Council, the William Merritt Centre provides a much-needed service, offering easy access to a fleet of powered scooters and manual wheelchairs through an affordable annual membership package (ad hoc hire packages are also available).


The store officially opened on Friday 17th January with a celebratory event to mark the occasion which was attended by current William Merritt Centre members and partners together with representatives of Leeds City Council and owners of the Merrion Centre, Town Centre Securities PLC (TCS).


Located opposite Citiparks lifts on the ground floor, it will create 2 new employment opportunities who will be on hand to offer advice and support Tuesday to Saturday 10am-3.30pm.


David Blythe, General Manager of The William Merritt Centre, said:
“The William Merritt Centre is proud to provide the Shopmobility Scheme within one of the busiest commercial destinations in Leeds, the Merrion Centre.This has all been possible due to the close partnership with Leeds City Council, who continue to support the third sector in service delivery across the City.


The introduction of the new Shopmobility store will complement the existing services we provide at the William Merritt Centre, which includes offering impartial information and advice on daily living equipment and encompassing all aspects of driving and outdoor mobility for disabled children, adults and the elderly.We are delighted with the positive feedback we have received from our regular users and look forward to welcoming new customers who will benefit from this life enhancing service”.


Helen Green, Associate Director for TCS, said:
“It’s always great when new partnerships come together and we are delighted to have worked with the William Merritt Centre team and Leeds City Council in bringing this important facility to the Merrion Centre.


The William Merritt Centre are long-established mobility experts in our region and we are confident that this new addition will prove extremely popular and give users the independence to visit our ever-expanding choice of retail and leisure destinations across both the Merrion Centre and the wider Arena Quarter”.


The William Merritt Centre Shopmobility Service officially opens from Friday 17th January.


Visit https://www.wmdlc.org/shopmobility for further details. Booking in advance is preferable in order to secure your scooter/wheelchair hire for preferred day and time.

11th February 2020

Bevan Brittan boosts Leeds office with new property partner

Law firm Bevan Brittan has appointed James Teagle as a partner in its property disputes team. James joins Bevan Brittan’s Toronto Square based Leeds office from Blacks, where he was a partner and the head of the property disputes team.


James has extensive hands-on experience of resolving land and property-based disputes, including those centring on business tenancy renewals; service charge, rent review and dilapidations disagreements; and disputes around restrictive covenants, easements, trespass and claims for possession. He is regularly involved in complex, high value claims. As well as owners and tenants, James also frequently works for receivers and secured lenders.


James Teagle said: “I am delighted to be joining Bevan Brittan. They have a thriving Leeds office and a strong national presence advising clients on property and estates disputes and litigation as well as a host of related issues. It feels like a great fit for me and I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my career.”


James’ arrival marks a further strengthening of Bevan Brittan’s Leeds office, following on from the appointment of Christian Hunt who joined as a Corporate partner in September. The Leeds office has now grown to encompass 12 partners and an overall team of 47.


Michael Boyd, Head of the Leeds Office at Bevan Brittan said: “We are very pleased to welcome James to Bevan Brittan. With his impressive experience in property disputes and litigation, he will be a real asset to the team. Welcoming a new partner to the Leeds office is a great way to start the New Year, and I hope is a sign of a strong year to come as we continue to grow and expand.”

11th February 2020

Handelsbanken supports Weetwood Properties with refinancing deal

Weetwood Properties has refinanced its property portfolio with support from Handelsbanken which provided a £3.8m term loan facility.


The Leeds-based property company is a family owned business which comprises both commercial property and professional and student buy to lets.


Managing director of Weetwood Property Mike Emery commented: “It’s great news that Handelsbanken has supported us and evidence of their commitment to this project – we look forward to developing our relationship with them.”


Legal advice was provided by Philip Dine, Andrea Unwin and Ben Slack of Leeds law firm Clarion with Mike Jackson and Daniel Taylor of BHP providing tax advice.
Ben Slack commented: “It was a pleasure to work with Mike and the family and his long trusted advisers, property agents Moores in securing this refinance for the benefit of the long term future of the family’s property portfolio.”


Nick Wyril of Handelsbanken commented: “We are delighted to welcome Mike and his family as customers of the bank and look forward to working with them. The professional teams, which included Shoosmiths working for the bank and Clarion for the client, were under significant time pressure and had to cope with a few unexpected obstacles along the way, but worked together to make this happen.”

11th February 2020

The Other Person Consultancy release the UK’s first Aunty Knife crime application

The Other Person Consultancy is a brand, design and software development company with offices in Saltaire and Leeds.  We are known for helping our clients increase their impact with the people they need to connect to – emotionally, efficiently and economically.  For this reason, when we were asked to design and develop a knife crime app, we couldn’t say no.

We have had the privilege to work in collaboration with Neesie, the Home Office and four schools in Bradford and Keighley, Carlton Bolling, Bradford Grammar, University of Keighley and Buttershaw (BBEC).

Initially we attended workshops with the four schools. 12 students from each came together, all from different backgrounds and cultures and collaborated on what was important to them.  They were able to meet inspirational community leaders who had all been affected by knife crime. Some of the stories are truly saddening.

We are proud to be part of a team helping students raise awareness in their schools of the dangers of carrying a knife or being involved in a gang. Understanding the lasting effects of what it can mean to them and their families!

Who are Neesie?

Neesie are a grassroots organisation supporting at risk individuals from a broad spectrum of society by providing them platforms to prosper in society.

What is Aunty Knife?

“Aunty Knife is an innovative student-led initiative funded by the Home Office and developed by Neesie, created to act as a tool of reference and protection for youths at risk of becoming involved within criminal activity, particularly knife crime.

This quirky take on the ANTI slogan, derives from the notion of every household having an ‘Aunty figurehead’ who takes responsibility to inform the youngster of the dangers surrounding them.

The aim of the app is to engage young people’s minds to think carefully about the decisions and consequences around knives and their lives.  It will be used to actively engage young people along a journey, where they will experience the true life devastation of knife crime.”

The students have been holding their own in-school roadshows (w/c 3rd February 2020).  The school who achieves the highest amount of signatures from students supporting the app, will have the opportunity to take their white paper down to the Houses of Parliament and present their case.  Seeing the enthusiasm radiating from the students is fantastic.

The future development would include reporting functionality, working closely with the Home Office and police departments.  Ultimately the application will be the go-to place for reporting and helping to prevent knife crime. Fundamentally, we can all work together educating communities and helping to save lives.

By visiting the iOS App Store and Google Play, Android App Store and searching ‘Aunty Knife’, you can download it and do your bit in helping to raise knife crime awareness.

11th February 2020

West Yorkshire Business expands with Barclays Funding new Telford Site for Leisure...

West Yorkshire business R & A Hotels Group Limited today announced the completion of the purchase of their latest hotel in Telford with funding support from Barclays.


R & A Hotel Group Limited was established in 2011 and the business is headquartered at Roundhay Road, Leeds. Owned and operated by former solicitor turned entrepreneur Raj Handa, the latest acquisition is the fourth in recent years, with three further hotels in Chester. The family run business specialises in turn around businesses and The Whitehouse Hotel, Telford, will add a further 90 bedrooms and extensive conferencing facilities to the group’s portfolio.


Raj Handa, Managing Director, R & A Hotel Group Limited said: “Purchasing The Whitehouse Hotel has been a quantum leap for the group as it is a much larger hotel than the others in our portfolio. Boasting 90 bedrooms, the new site will take our business to the next level and we’re delighted that Barclays were able to support our rapid expansion.”


Handa gave up law 16 years ago to support his father’s textile business and also ran his own plumbing business in Leeds. He recently completed the Barclays Scale Up programme in conjunction with Cambridge University, which provides a bespoke hands-on approach to support customers accelerating their business growth.


The new hotel employs 20 people locally and hope to recruit additional staff as the business expands. Turnover for the group is expected to exceed £1.25 in the current year.


Craig Moore, Barclays Business Relationship Director put together the funding package for the deal and said; “Raj and his family are passionate about the service they provide for their customers and are continually looking at ways they can improve their customer’s experience. The group is growing at pace and with the support of his family we look forward to the continued success of the business as it grows its brand and increases its capacity.”

11th February 2020

New Vice Chancellor for York St John University

Professor Karen Bryan OBE has been appointed as the next Vice Chancellor of York St John University.



She joins York St John from the University of Greenwich, where she has held the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) since 2017.


Announcing the appointment, Ann Green CBE, Chair of Governors at York St John said: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Professor Bryan to our University community. We know she will build on our positive achievements as an inclusive, ambitious institution where higher education transforms the lives and careers of our students”.


Professor Bryan has extensive experience in senior leadership roles at Greenwich and previously at Sheffield Hallam University, where she was Pro Vice Chancellor for Regional Development and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. Prior to that, at the University of Surrey, she was Head of School of Health and Social Care in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.


At each institution she has made a lasting impact on leadership across academic and student experience, organisational and structural change, regional partnerships and external relationships.


In addition to a PhD in Speech Science from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Professor Bryan is a Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  She has a strong track record in research in the field of communication disorders and continues to publish her work.


Commenting on her appointment, Professor Bryan said: “I am honoured and excited to be joining York St John University as Vice Chancellor. The University is recognised for its outstanding student experience and for its commitment to regional economic, social and cultural development. I look forward to working with staff and students to continue to develop as a University focussed on academic excellence, community and raising aspirations for all”.

11th February 2020

Chamber celebrates apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week

The West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the success of its apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week.

The Chamber is committed to investing in the development of young individuals and demonstrates this through its successful apprenticeship programme. Following an internal promotion of a past apprentice, the Membership Services team has appointed a new apprentice to assist the team.

The team welcomed its first apprentice in 2015, and five years down the line their traineeship programme has become an essential part of their approach to recruiting a regular intake of loyal, professionally developed staff.

In 2016, the team welcomed apprentice Jessica Jordan, who worked towards Level 3 Business Administration qualification. Jessica successfully completed her apprenticeship and became a valued member of the Customer Services team, leading to her promotion last summer. As a newly-appointed Membership Services Executive, her role is crucial in retaining and recruiting members.

Jessica commented: “Studying for A levels wasn’t really my cup of tea – I wanted to work and gain a qualification at the same time.  While completing my apprenticeship I was responsible for processing new member registrations and maintaining the database.

“Three years later, I have more direct contact with members, where I follow up with customers and partners to ensure they are happy with our services. I attend networking events and work closely with the Membership Services Manager to make sure we are constantly meeting members’ expectations.”

Membership Services Apprentice Anita Watson is the latest addition to the team. Joining the Chamber as a school leaver, Anita is currently working towards a Level 3 Business Administration qualification.

Liz Wood, Head of Membership, said: “I’m confident that we’re now offering our customers an even better level of service, which is really important. I know that the team is now working to a recognised, professional standard and that this has greatly contributed to the continuous improvement within the department, which is increasing our customer satisfaction all the time.”

7th February 2020