Paula Basnett said that since 1993 (Invest Wirral had formerly been called Wirral Direct), it had been involved with 941 investment projects and sixteen thousand jobs had been created or safeguarded. In 2010/11 Invest Wirral had been involved with £13 million of investment covering 652 jobs, had an average of engaging with 800 companies a … Continue reading “Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 7th November 2011 Part 4 Invest Wirral, Wirral Direct, jobs, investment, planning, vetting”
Paula Basnett said that since 1993 (Invest Wirral had formerly been called Wirral Direct), it had been involved with 941 investment projects and sixteen thousand jobs had been created or safeguarded.
In 2010/11 Invest Wirral had been involved with £13 million of investment covering 652 jobs, had an average of engaging with 800 companies a year and in the last three years had helped with £50 million of investment covering 3,000 jobs.
She finished by giving the contact details for Invest Wirral which were email@example.com, telephone 650 6915 and their website.
Cllr Denise Realey asked if they helped fund planning applications?
Paula Basnett said they didn’t reduce planning fees, but they could help businesses attract business rate relief on their business rates.
Cllr Denise Realey asked about the over 2,000 businesses registered on the website. She asked how they check they do good work, had they been into every business or did they just rely on the information the businesses had given? What would they do if the businesses were not doing a good job? How did they check these businesses out?
Paula Basnett said they ask for turnover, contracts and employees. If they are receiving support they measure this over six months and twelve months to see how it’s changed.
Cllr Realey asked again if any of the businesses work was actually checked.
Paula Basnett replied that for businesses that just register, they don’t vet them for the online forum as they’re not Trading Standards.
Paula Basnett gave a case study of a business that had run for thirty years in Birkenhead, Hankinson Painting Group. She said that Hankinson Painting Group had “not been complimentary about support” [from Wirral Council] but “wanted to grow” and were “eligible for funding”. They had received a Business Investment Grant (BIG) to diversify into new markets. £64,000 had been given to Hankinson Painting Group which equated to £250,000 of support and had secured sixty-eight jobs and created sixteen jobs. Hankinson Painting Group had secured new contracts in the rail industry and now had a turnover of £5-6 million and employed 244 employees. Steve Hankinson was now “very complementary” of the support received to develop the business.
Paula said that they tried not to duplicate the work of the Manufacturing Advisory Service who worked with Graham. She said they give Mark a lot of referrals. The business forum had 2,030 members. This gave members access to business opportunities, procurement, tenders, a directory, information on major developments such as the Peel Project, information on the intermediate labour market and apprenticeship information. Businesses could also search for a local plumber or architect in a forum which Paula said was “unique in the North West”. She said that other Merseyside local councils wanted access to it. She had some great case studies of inter-trading and joint working. Paula also mentioned the workshops and how businesses could use CHEST which contained details of public sector procurements over £10,000. Businesses could also sign up to a daily or weekly list of tenders.
Paula Basnett continued by saying that there were the business forums and businesses were increasingly contacting Wirral Council more and more. Under the new structure, they would go out to see businesses, agree an action plan and bring in support from sector experts (not local authority employees). From referral to action plan, the relationship manager would agree the needs and requirements of the business. The action plan would go to Paula. This support was for two types of businesses, those with five or more employees with a turnover of over £100,000 and micro-businesses with one to five employees and a turnover of £100,000 or less.
The New Brighton conference had brought business angels with money (a bit like Dragon’s Den) looking to invest in businesses that couldn’t get help from banks with their projects. There was a business angels network and a new focus on social enterprises. She said social enterprises were a business and make a profit, the only difference was in the commercial sector that the profit went to owners or shareholders but in as social enterprise it was given to who the social enterprise supports.
Paula also detailed help and advice they give businesses in the areas of development control, business rates, planning permission, schools (entrepreneurship) as well as support to schools. She said there was a SME Project Manager, Micro-business Manager, Business Angel scheme and Social Enterprise Team.
She said they were also working with social enterprises with their business plans specifically to do with working with the Department for Adult Social services.
Cllr Mark Johnston (Chair)
Cllr Simon Mountney
Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis
Cllr Tony Cox
Cllr Denise Realey
Cllr Pat Hackett
Cllr Stuart Wittingham
Cllr Steve Niblock
The agenda and reports for this meeting can be viewed by clicking on the link.
The Chair, Cllr Johnston started the meeting by telling everyone that Cllr Kelly had to go home as his daughter had banged her head. He asked for declarations of interest. Cllr Hackett declared a personal interest with regards to Reach Out. The minutes of the meeting held on the 5th September 2011 were agreed. Cllr Johnston said he wanted to raise a couple of things from page six, which would lead to the work program being amended.
Cllr George Davies (Cabinet member for Housing and Community Safety) arrived.
Cllr Johnston referred committee members to an email from Cllr Phil Davies and Cllr George Davies which he gave councillors a couple of minutes to read.
Once they had read the email, the Chair invited Paula Basnett, Head of Investment in the Department of Regeneration, Housing and Planning to give a presentation to the committee.
Earlier problems with the computer in Committee Room 1 meant a laptop had to be used instead for the Powerpoint presentation. Black and white paper copies of the presentation were handed out to councillors on the committee.
Paula Basnett, wearing something that reminded me of dazzle camouflage on ships, explained what the business support team does and that since September with more funding they had given extra business support they hadn’t previously. At the end of October Business Link North West had gone along with all its business advisers. Business support was given through five relationship managers. These managers had a target of contacting five businesses a week to make businesses aware of what support was available.