AEDG Minutes Jul 2013(5)

THURSDAY 18th July 2013
Richard Lavender (RL)
Terry Botfield (TB)
Graham Galpin (GG)
Geofrey Hilton (GH)
Andrew Osborne (AO)
Jo James (JJ)
Richard Stafford (RS)
Donna Person (DP)
Sezen Seki (SS)
Paul Rickards (PR)
Nick Dowling (ND)
Sezen Seki (SS)
Hugh Summerfield (HG)
David Maddison (DM)
Christopher Calcutt (CC)
David Maddison (DM)
Heather Grigson (HG)
Gemma Hawthorne (GH)
Minutes of last meeting:The minutes of the 20th June 2013 were passed.
Matters Arising:- No matters arising
Actions:No actions outstanding
Chairman’s Report:RL welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced Gemma Hawthorne from Whitehead Monkton,
Maidstone based Law Firm. Gemma although based is Maidstone is a Local Ashford Person with a wish
to help and improve the business network here in her home town.
Update on current business activities:Lower Thames Crossing, (LTC). We carried out a successful KICC membership survey with the
following results:Ashford, Option A 11%. Option B 11%. Option C + variant 77%.
Canterbury Option A 8.3%, Option B 12.5%, Option C + variant 79%.
Maidstone Option A 8.3%, Option B 25%, Option C + variant 66%
North Kent Option A 3%, Option B 22%, Option C + variant 74%
RL said that after the Radio Kent Debate in Dartford he was surprised with the North Kent vote, however
it was mainly parents and environmentalists that did the talking leaving very business organisations a
chance to question the panel.
Davies Airport Review:- RL said he had responded on the KEB draft letter to Highways Agency by
saying that he considered their letter should be more forceful and not quite so tame. Suggesting, 3rd
runway to Heathrow, possible 2nd runway to Gatwick, fast dedicated rail link between Gatwick and
Heathrow, (Bus service dependent on M25 traffic conditions), together with direct train link from Ashford
International to Gatwick. Parkway station for Manston, more dedicated air freight at Southend, (Stobart
We have had good feedback from Shepway District Council who with us would like to make this a regular
annual event.
Chief Executive’s Report.
Membership has increased and our retention rate is now in the upper 90%.
Our Chamber Benchmarking went well and feedback will be given to the staff shortly.
From the 54 Accredited Chambers KICC were 3rd in the Growth League with Manchester No 1, and we
are the 2nd largest Chamber in the South East of England. Only 12 Chambers in the Country had positive
growth over the past 12 months. We are supplying Business Support Contracts across the County,
including Medway & Swale and West Kent. We are getting our marketing strategy right ready to deliver
the contracts.
Exports are going well with new local companies taking up the service.
We have a new events management system and will be concentrating on delivering bigger and better, but
fewer events in the future.
The After Hours Club attendance is up, but this is possibly because there is no charge.
There is a meeting taking place between KICC and Channel Chamber next week and JJ will give results
to RL for next meeting.
Patrick our Membership Manager is off for a further 3 months and his recovery is very slow, however he is
managing to carry out some work from home, which gives him something to focus on.
There is a proposal to change the make up of the SELEP which could see a East and West Kent area,
here in Ashford we would be considered in East Kent.
TB asked if LEP funding would be limited with the distribution, JJ said there was no decrease in the
overall budget, but more regional interest would be catered for.
Group Reports:SME’s Report (GH)
GH said that SME’s were surviving but there are many obstacles that legitimate Companies have to
overcome. His own company is finding that contract work is being taken down to the lowest level of safety
and security. Companies are making do and asking for a reduced service to cut costs. The other area of
concern is the black economy whereby the lead question is what about discount for cash, no VAT, no
TAX. GH also said he was worried by the empty properties in New Street and the Lower High Street.
Commercial Property (RS)
RS said that there was good progress on large sheds with the enquiries rising. However the Town Centre
is experiencing a return of Tramps in doorways again which is putting off customers when viewing. GG
said he would look into this and see that action is taken.
RS also mentioned street cleaning with GG responding that the street cleaning unit is now in operation
and should respond to calls for help in this area, restating “if it needs to be done they will do it”.
Construction (PR)
PR could not be with us, but has forwarded the KCFG Barometer for this month which he will explain at
next month’s meeting
Top Line last month’s as a comparison .with current month JULY in RED
Level of Client Tender Enquiries (Private Sector):9% Decreasing
32% Constant
59% Increasing
Level of Client Tender Enquiries (Public Sector)
25% Decreasing
21% Constant
54% Increasing
Level of Newly secured Projects (Private Sector)
13% Decreasing
39% Constant
48% Increasing
Level of Newly Secured Projects (Public Sector)
38% Decreasing
29% Constant
33% Increasing
Perception of Future Trading Opportunities
0% Decreasing
29% Constant
71% Increasing
Opportunities for collaborative working with KCFG members in the last month
62% Yes
38% No
Not green shoots but some good results if you look for them.
Education & Training (TB)
TB gave an update on the current situation
Overview and big issues:
EU has agreed that a priority for the whole of EU is youth unemployment, skills development and exposure
to work is important. Plans being developed and future funding will be made available.
From 1st August all 17 yo must be in full time employment, education or training.
Government funding review in June – key points:
Further emphasis on supporting young people into work
New traineeship introduced fo 16-24 aimed at those who do not have level 2
Removal of Government funding for employees in SME’s to gain second level 2 qualification
Introduction of 24+ learner loans for level 3 and above, (funding removed).
Reduction of number of qualifications funded or part funded
Reduction in BIS budget by a further 6%
Opportunity for employers to be involved in traineeships and deliver funded training in house extended
Less 16-18 year olds available for employment in market place
:Less government support for work based training
Increased activity to engage employers in young peoples agenda
Further reduction/consolidation of trainer provider base
Similar direction of travel in HE
Government will publish response to Richard report, Heseltine review and others in autumn.
Kent and Local:
K college procurement exercise continues
KCC published paper on changing the nature of how it does business, further cuts.
SELEP economic development plan prepared KCC will have big input
Sectors declining in Ashford – Production, construction and business admin, growth in health and
wholesale Largest sector Professional Services 15.3%
Number employees within Ashford increased 49,400 to 51,200 in 2010/2011
Need to plans for skills needed to support growth.
A full unedited version of this report can be sent to all members once I have received the electronic copy TB.
Environment (RLl)
RLl not available
Local Authority (AO/GG)
AO gave an update on the Marshmillion which Ashford contributed £50k. More details will be given when
KCC have published the full report. However RL said 10 Parishes within ABC would be eligible for loans
from the fund. Pre funding applications would be available on the KCC website in September. RL will get
details of eligible companies within our area.
Town Team is progressing well and various applications will put into place within the few weeks.
GH had had a very constructive Anti-social meeting and pointed that anti-social behaviour had reduced
The Clean-Up squad was now in operation and if it needs doing they will see that it is done.
Funding for the covering of the lower high street was now not available, this was after further discussions
on the necessity of the project.
Tourism & Marketing (DM)
DM not available
Transport & Infrastructure (HG)
No report this month
Membership (SZ)
SZ not available
Actions from meeting.
RL to find out businesses eligible for Marshmillions
AO to see if Allan Ballie is available to address the next meeting regarding 2-1-2 method of education and
business working together.
RL to confirm Chris Hare,s attendance at next meeting to discuss K College progress.
Meeting closed at 5:45 pm. Next meeting 15th August 2013.