Monday, May 20, 2019

News: Rotherham has fastest growing economy in Yorkshire again

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The positive signs for Rotherham's economy continue as the borough again places top in Yorkshire for economic growth according to recent research.

Rotherham's £4.4 billion a year economy has been a top performer for a number of years, staying at the top of the UK Powerhouse rankings for GVA growth.

The UK Powerhouse study is produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and provides an estimate of GVA growth and job creation within 46 of the UK's largest cities at least 12 months ahead of the Government's official figures. It uses a range of more timely indicators to create a "nowcast" of GVA and employment for a range of key cities across the UK.

For GVA growth rate in Q4 2018, Rotherham is ranked 18 out of 46 with a year on year growth rate of 1.6%. Ahead of the national average, this is the top ranked economy in Yorkshire and is only bested in the North by Aberdeen (1.8%) and Manchester (1.7%).

Reading, Cambridge and Oxford make up the top three for economic growth with no locations in the North in the top ten with annual growth in all three Southern locations on or above 2.5%.

Over 2018 as a whole, the UK economy expanded by 1.4%, compared with 1.8% in 2017.

GVA, or Growth Value Added, is the increase in the value of the economy due to the production of goods and services. It is widely recognised by Government and policy makers as a measure of local economies.

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Predictions for Q4 2020 are also provided and Rotherham's economy is estimated to continue to grow, but at a slower rate of 1.3%, to £4.6 billion.

The report also ranks economies in terms of job numbers. It plots Rotherham's economy as having an employment level of 105,900, up 1.1% on the same quarter in the previous year. Another 1.1% growth is predicted for the coming year with a Q4 prediction for 2020 of 108,200.

The forecasts are based on the assumption that an amended version of the Brexit withdrawal agreement will form the basis of the future UK – EU relationship. It also assumes a transitional arrangement will be put in place that allows a continuation of the current relationship without any major disruptions until at least 2021.

Paddy Sturman, partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: "Brexit has and will continue to take up a lot of Government time, but it is vital that it refocuses its attention on rebalancing the UK economy and building on the potential within the Northern Powerhouse."

Irwin Mitchell website
CEBR website

Images: Sheffield Business Park

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News: Ritchie Bros. bids to make Maltby its long term home

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Ritchie Bros., the world's largest auctioneer of heavy equipment and trucks, wants to use a former colliery in Rotherham as its UK location for the next 27 years.

Rothbiz reported in March that temporary approval was granted to enable 4.7 hectares of the pit yard at the mothballed Maltby Colliery to be used as an auction site which could accommodate large plant, machinery and equipment when auction events would be held up to ten times per year.

Having hosted two successful auctions already, now plans have been submitted that would provide approval for the operation on more of the pit site and over a much longer term.

A covering letter from WYG, agents for the scheme, explains: "This planning application for the Auction Scheme is submitted with a view, subject to securing planning permission, to enabling [sic] Ritchie Bros. to use the proposed 11.1 hectare Site (which includes the temporary 12 month scheme site and adjoining land) for their auction activities for a 27 year period, securing the 30 full time jobs and 40 additional temporary jobs for each auction event (over two days) up to 10 times per year, along with a proportion of such jobs commencing the week before the auction and also during the following week."

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It is estimated that the scheme would involve the investment of £3.58m by the landlord, Hargreaves Land, and Ritchie Bros. to develop the site, including the modification of an existing building to form an auction house, construction of a new check-in building and use of the existing workshop, along with associated works elsewhere on site, with the demolition of some redundant former colliery buildings.

Annual investment by Ritchie Bros. would involve a further spend of around £0.75m, which over the 27 year life of the venture, would total around £20.25m.

Ritchie Bros. has been holding auctions since 1958, initially in Canada and then expanding to now operate on an international basis. The UK auction operations had previously been based on land at Donington Park.

If approved, the new facilities could be in place for Spring 2020.

Ritchie Bros. website
Hargreaves Land website

Images: Ritchie Bros. / Hargeaves land

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News: Millers extend Mears deal

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Rotherham United have extended the business partnership with Mears Group, who have signed a new deal which will see them continue as the club's away shirt sponsors.

The Mears branding first appeared on the Millers' change strip in the 2017/18 season and will now remain a prominent feature until the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign as a result of the new agreement.

Morrison Facilities Services, the company that maintains council properties in Rotherham, was acquired in 2012 by Mears, the UK's leading provider of social housing repairs and maintenance services.

This new deal further strengthens the relationship between the two parties, who are already in regular contact with the Mears National Training Facility based at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Millers will soon be unveiling the designs of the two strips that they will wear on the road next season, which will proudly sport the Mears Group logo across the front following the signing of the new agreement.

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Steve Coakley, commercial director at Rotherham United (pictured, left), said: "We are delighted to have agreed a deal that takes the shirt sponsorship into a third season.

"We are in regular contact with our friends at Mears, who have a heavy presence both here at the stadium and in and around the local community, they're held in very high regard.

"It is fantastic that we will be able to continue to work with David, who has been incredibly supportive in a number of ventures with the club.

"To have such a successful national PLC organisation on board is fabulous for the reputation of both parties and I am sure this new deal will see both ourselves and Mears continue to grow."

David Miles, chief executive officer at Mears (pictured, right), added: "The relationship that we have built up with Rotherham United over the years has been incredibly mutually beneficial and we are tremendously proud of our association with the club.

"The football club shares so many of our beliefs and we had no hesitation in extending what has been a partnership that has continued to flourish over time.

"The club are particularly active in the local community, as we are, and those values are paramount to us in our decision making when it comes to business partners.

"I am sure that over the course of the next season our relationship will continue to grow and I am hopeful that both parties are able to remain prominent at the heart of the local area."

RUFC website
Mears website

Images: RUFC

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Friday, May 17, 2019

News: SCR seeks £200m for transport schemes

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The Sheffield city region (SCR) is seeking between £170m and £210m from the Government to improve transport links and boost productivity and the economy.

Board members of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will hear next week an update on the transport strategy for the city region which focuses on getting residents and businesses connected to economic opportunity, creating a cleaner and greener SCR, and a safe and reliable transport network.

A series of implementation plans setting out "how" the goals and policies can be realised and Government cash is set to be key.

A £1.7 billion Transforming Cities Fund was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017. The majority of the fund, to improve local transport connections, was divvied up to regions which had elected mayors, for them to control and spend as they see fit. As the SCR did not have an elected mayor at the time, the combined authority has had to bid into the remaining funds to get the cash to back its new transport strategy.

Following a recent transport conference at the New York Stadium in Rotherham, the latest update shows that, having secured £4.2m earlier this year, a draft business case in being submitted next month and focuses on three key transit corridors – the Don Valley, Dearne Valley and Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) corridors.

The bid "would unlock major improvements in transport networks across our region, with a focus on active travel and public transport at its core."

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The paper states: "SCR is seeking between £170m and £210m for a range of schemes across each corridor:

- Public Transport – a series of infrastructure improvements aimed at improving the performance of the public transport network, principally journey time, punctuality and reliability
- Active Travel – drawing on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and the recent appointment of an Active Travel Commissioner to start developing a network of active travel routes
- Rail – enhancing accessibility to/from and at rail stations within the SCR and interventions that support connectivity to HS2/ Northern Powerhouse Rail"

On Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) - a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North's six biggest cities and other economic centres - interest is in the Sheffield to Leeds route via the Northern Loop, "which will include a potential new parkway station in Rotherham and Dearne Valley."

The need to accommodate additional HS2 and NPR services at Sheffield Midland Station means that some local services may need to be moved onto alternative networks, requiring an extension of the tram train system (underpinned by renewal of the existing tram system) beyond Rotherham into the Dearne Valley and Doncaster (and potentially to Doncaster Sheffield Airport).

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, discussed the three objectives for his transport vision at the recent conference. He explained: "One. Residents should be able to walk, cycle, drive or use public transport from their home to their nearest town centre in no more than 15 minutes.

"Two. By using public or private transport, people should be able to travel between the region’s major town and city centres of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield in no more than 30 minutes.

"Three. Journey times to at least four major cities in the North, including Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Hull, will take no more than 75 minutes.

"Stripping everything else away, it will be these three things that drive our investment decisions from here on in."

Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has given direction for Sheffield and Rotherham to press ahead with proposals for a Class C Charging Clean Air Zone and additional complementary measures to address air quality.

Rothbiz reported at the end of 2018 on plans for Rotherham that include reducing speed limits on the Parkway and banning HGVs on the A629 between the town centre and junction 35 of the M1.

SCR website

Images: SCR

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News: Visible progress at Wentworth Woodhouse

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A major milestone has been reached in the restoration of Rotherham's Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse, with over 100,000 sq ft of scaffolding encasing the stately home.

Woodhead Group, experts in heritage and conservation, has been appointed by Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) to carry out the repair, restoration and replacement of the building's vast roof as part of its 25-year masterplan.

A bespoke scaffolding solution is being put in place by subcontractors Lyndon SGB to provide a temporary roof to protect the building during the conservation works.

Visitors are greeted by a unique scene, with most of the building's majestic East Front now shrouded in a steel scaffold shell. Public access areas are also being created so visitors will soon be able to view the works taking place and the mansion house can remain open over the two-year project.

It will take up to three months to fully install the scaffolding which will reach 30 metres in height - as high as six double decker buses. The scaffolding will incorporate almost 300 stairs and two specialist accessible lifts for use by the public when installation is completed, which will reach 18 metres high.

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Tom Woodhead from Woodhead Group said: "This project requires an exceptional collaborative approach with our scaffolding sub-contractors, Lyndon SGB, architects Donald Insall Associates and consultants to design and install such a complex scaffold system."

The scaffolding will comprise approximately 700 tonnes and 500 linear metres of scaffolding poles and 6,000 planks, and is being installed by up to ten technicians per day over the three-month period.

Jonathan O'Connor, general manager for Lyndon SGB, said: "We've been operating across the UK for 100 years and are familiar with creating tailored access solutions for all sorts of buildings and applications. Our team has been working in collaboration with Woodhead Group to progress the scheme which will ultimately allow Wentworth Woodhouse to continue to welcome visitors."

Sarah McLeod, CEO of the WWPT, added: "This much-loved property is one of the largest historic country houses in Europe with some 365 rooms.

"We needed a contractor who understood the complexities of working on a live site and had a strong track record of successfully restoring buildings from a similar era.

"Thanks to their approach, the mansion can remain open to the public and in addition we will soon be able to provide a rare opportunity of roof-top access for visitors while work is taking place."

Woodhead Group's work will also include some remedial repairs and conservation to the interiors, including the oak staircase and the eastern section of the Long Gallery.

The repairs are being supported with over £7m of Government funding through Historic England.

Giles Proctor of Historic England said: "We are delighted to be involved with such a transformative project, which will greatly increase public access to this wonderful building, including during the works."

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: WWPT / Woodhead Group

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