Wednesday, August 5, 2020

News: MP publishes report into support for self-employed

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A report spearheaded by Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey, has shone a "harsh spotlight on how tough trading continues to be for self-employed workers and how flawed the Government's support scheme has been during this pandemic."

The coronavirus crisis has had a big impact on the local economy and stopped many self-employed people from working. In Rotherham and Barnsley, 28,000 people are registered as self-employed.

The survey asked local entrepreneurs how Covid-19 has affected their business, what issues they have faced accessing Government funding and what other support they'd like the Government to provide to help see them through.

300 people responded, mainly from the local area, and the headline findings are that 97% of businesses responding have seen a loss of income due to lockdown and that four in five have had no help from the Government's Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Of those that did receive a grant via the scheme, three quarters said it was not enough to keep their business going during lockdown and half of those receiving a grant think that their business will be at risk when the SEISS ends in August.

13% of businesses responding have had to close permanently.

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John Healey MP, said: "I was concerned that the Government’s financial support package throughout this crisis was leaving out hard-working self-employed workers in favour of supporting large firms and PAYE employed workers. And I want to make sure it's not just big business that survives Covid-19.

"The survey's findings are stark in the extent to which the self-employed have struggled during lockdown, largely without financial support from the Government. It highlights the difficulties that have faced our self-employed workers across this country during lockdown, the flaws in Government assistance and the problems they face as we begin to slowly leave lockdown and try and resume a more normal life."

Healey has written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, challenging him to live up to his promise of supporting the self-employed and those who need it most.

Conclusions show the need for the Government to make changes to the scheme, adding in flexibility for those becoming self-employed since April 2019, and those with savings, as well as rethinking the "one-size-fits-all" approach to scaling back the SEISS as some traders are still unable to resume anything like "normal" business.

Images: John Healey MP

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News: New units at Phoenix Riverside

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Two new hybrid industrial units are planned for a riverside site at Templeborough in Rotherham.

A planning application has been submitted on behalf of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) for land off Sheffield Road in the regenerated area that is now a popular business location.

The plans would seem to end any remaining interest in a hotel being built on the site.

The application, drawn up by The Harris Partnership, shows two, two-storey units, both of around 6,000 sq ft, on land behind the existing units near to the Riverside pub.

Hybrid buildings for B1, B2 and B8 uses, the ground floor space is envisaged as industrial and warehouse space and the first floor space is proposed as complimentary supporting office space.

Occupiers are not yet known.

The plans state: "The proposed development when complete will bring a currently vacant and serviced plot into use, providing new facilities of industrial hybrid use to meet the latest market demands. The proposals are sympathetic to the existing environment, working well with the existing site constraints and surrounding uses."

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In 2012 Rotherham Council's planning board agreed that Whitbread's plans for a 80-bed Premier Inn hotel and restaurant at the site should be refused, with planners considering a number of sites are preferable sites for a hotel in planning terms. A 69 bed hotel is key to the recently approved plans for Forge island in Rotherham town centre.

Rothbiz reported in 2018 that CRT Property Investments Ltd, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT), had purchased Phoenix Riverside for £1.5m. It was initially developed by local brownfield specialist, St Paul's Developments.

Tenants include General Dynamics, In-Tend Limited and The Royal Mencap Society.

At the time of the deal, the trust shared plans for a £40m Coalfield Investment Proposition which would see government provide £30m and the organisation contribute £10m of its own resources. The fund would be used to develop new industrial space to support SME growth in former mining areas and on completion bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to the coalfields over the next five years.

The fund would generate a sustainable income which will be used to support social impact projects creating a wellbeing value of over £500m in the communities and a lasting legacy for the next generation.

Images: Google Maps

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News: Nuclear AMRC continues to help UK manufacturers

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The Nuclear AMRC is part of four new manufacturing R&D projects supported by the Nuclear Innovation Programme, and working with two advanced modular reactor developers which have secured UK government funding.

With state of the art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative with industry, The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute, and is designed to help build and enhance the UK's civil nuclear new build industry.

The latest projects are part of a £40m funding package to kickstart the development of next-generation nuclear technologies and unlock thousands of jobs in the low-carbon energy sector, as part of the Nuclear Sector Deal launched in 2018.

Around £5m total has been awarded to seven new R&D projects through the Nuclear Innovation Programme. All the collaborative projects are led by UK companies, including several SMEs.

The Nuclear AMRC is part of four projects:

- Cavendish Nuclear, part of Babcock and a member of the Nuclear AMRC, is leading the Awesim project to develop automated inspection and monitoring techniques for high-quality welding. The proposed technology will enable early detection of flaws as they occur, reducing rework, repair and removing redundant mid-stage weld inspections, with significant cost and time benefits in the manufacture of nuclear components. The project will draw on researchled by the Nuclear AMRC in the Simple project (pictured above), with a factory-scale demonstrator to be built at the centre's Rotherham facility as part of the new project.

- Createc is leading research to improve the safety and performance of weld radiography. The Cumbrian company will work with the Nuclear AMRC and TSP Engineering to combine 3D position-sensing techniques with autonomous robotics for an in-process radiographic system which is is safer, less obstructive and has higher performance than other established techniques for industrial weld inspection.

- Laser Additive Solutions (LAS) is leading the SonicSMR project to develop high-quality additive manufacturing techniques for small modular reactor components. The project will use power ultrasonics, optical process monitoring and AI-based automated defect recognition to enable defect-free additive manufacturing, with LAS creating a fully operational additive cell at its Doncaster facility to demonstrate the technology. The Nuclear AMRC will lead research into high-power ultrasonics to improve the components’ material properties.

- Nuclear Energy Components is leading the PITCO2C project to quantify the benefits of supercritical carbon dioxide coolant for nuclear machining, and develop a rotary coolant adaptor to allow widespread deployment of the technology on legacy machine tools. Supercritical CO2 coolants offer significant improvements in material removal rates, cost savings and reduction in environmental impact. The project builds on the Nuclear AMRC's previous research into advanced coolants for nuclear applications, including part of the Inform project.

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In the second phase of the government's advanced modular reactor (AMR) competition, three companies have been awarded £10m each to bring their AMRs closer to market.

- Westinghouse is developing a lead-cooled fast reactor, a high-temperature fission reactor which allows flexible generation to balance intermittent renewable sources. Westinghouse UK, based at Springfields near Preston, will collaborate with 10 companies and research institutions including the Nuclear AMRC.

- U-Battery, a subsidiary of Urenco, is working on a small high-temperature gas-cooled fission reactor for industrial applications including hydrogen production. The project is supported by UK companies and organisations including the Nuclear AMRC.

- Tokamak Energy is developing the ST40 spherical tokamak fusion reactor, which exploits high-temperature superconductor technology to achieve the temperatures required for fusion.

Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business and Industry, said: "Advanced modular reactors are the next step in nuclear energy and have the potential to be a crucial part of tackling carbon emissions and climate change. Through this vital research, the technology could also create thousands more green collar jobs for decades to come."

Tim Bestwick, chief technology officer at the UKAEA, which is building a new research facility alongside the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham, added: "This is really good news – not just for Tokamak Energy, but also for the wider fusion community. This £10m Advanced Modular Reactor award recognises the potential importance of fusion in future low-carbon energy generation, and illustrates the depth of talent in this field in the UK."

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Tokamak Energy

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

News: Work underway at Maltby auction facility

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Work has started on a major £1.6m plant auction facility for the world's largest auctioneer of construction, agricultural and transport equipment, Ritchie Bros., at the former Maltby Colliery in Rotherham.

Rothbiz reported in April that, having secured temporary approval to use 4.7 hectares of the pit yard at the mothballed colliery, plans were submitted for a long term use of the site.

Leeds-based Edward Architecture has been appointed to design and deliver the Canadian company's first permanent purpose-built plant and machinery auction facility in the UK.

Planning permission was granted earlier this year for the 40-acre plot to accommodate the auction facility, which will hold both live and online auctions, and Edward Architecture helped agree the specification, site layout and building design as part of the original planning submission and also assisted Hargreaves in the deal to bring Ritchie Bros. to Maltby from its former base at Donington Park, which it outgrew.

Following on from their worldwide auction facilities including the Middle East, Australia, Japan, the United States, and Canada, the first UK purpose-built facility for Ritchie Bros. will feature a new auction building, auction lot yard for equipment display, check-in building, and office space, as well as external works.

Auctions began taking place at the new site in 2019 and the firm is creating approximately 30 full time jobs.

A 15,000 sq ft auction building will be constructed with a public sales auditorium with a fully glazed wall overlooking the "auction ramp" where immense lots, including massive diggers, hydraulic excavators, rigid dump trucks and wheel loaders will be showcased to potential buyers.

The development will also feature a four-acre small lot yard, as well as 5,000 sq ft of office space with a registration area, auction back up and UK head office facility.

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Ritchie Bros. auctions are attended by bidders globally in person or online and the scheme will deliver 3.5 acres of customer parking for auction days and a 2,000 sq ft check-in building.  The remainder of the 40-acre site is an open display yard following demolition of the former mine buildings.

Whilst auctions are taking place regularly using temporary facilities and a marquee, the next key milestone will be the completion of the auction building in October 2020 and the inaugural auction from the new facility. Externals will be finished in May 2021. The contractor appointed for the external works is MHH Contractors Limited and the Auction building contractor is O & P Construction. The wider project team includes JNP Group as Structural Engineers, MRB as M&E Consultants and NPS Barnsley as Quantity Surveyors.

Graham Edward, managing director at Edward Architecture, said: "We are delighted to help facilitate and design the first purpose-built plant auction facility in the UK for such a prestigious, international auctioneer as Ritchie Bros. It's fantastic to bring this unique and exciting development to Maltby, designed to conduct large multi-day auctions. Ritchie Bros. has auction facilities around the globe so it's great that they have added Maltby with its long, rich heritage to its list of high-profile locations."

Rupert Craven, sales director at Ritchie Bros UK, added: "We are very pleased with the plans put together by Edward Architecture and cannot wait to welcome our customers at our new facility once it's complete. At Ritchie Bros., we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best buying and selling experience possible and this site provides a great central location for equipment storage and inspection—even when all our auctions are virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Ritchie Bros., website

Images: Edward Architecture

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News: Rotherham campsite up for awards

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Having only opened last year, the new £3.7m caravan site within the popular Rother Valley Country Park (RVCP) in Rotherham, has been shortlisted for a number of industry awards.

Six hectares within the Greenbelt site have been used to create an attractive caravan site with 163 pitches which complements the country park and combines with the leisure facilities.

The Waleswood Caravan & Camping Park has been shortlisted in three categories at the 2020 White Rose Awards.

Welcome to Yorkshire's White Rose Awards ceremony is an annual celebration of Yorkshire's brilliant businesses and amazing attractions and is the largest tourism awards ceremony in the UK. This year plans are in place for an exciting night to remember, in-line with Government guidelines, following COVID-19.

There are 17 categories in total for 2020 and the winner of each category will be ranked as gold, with the two runners up being rated silver and bronze.

Waleswood, which is operated by Rotherham Council, is in with a chance of being named the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year and is also in the running for the New Tourism Business Award and the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award.

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James Mason, cheif executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Huge congratulations to everyone who has made it onto this year's shortlist of finalists for the White Rose Awards. The ceremony is one of Welcome to Yorkshire's fantastic flagship events and it will be a real privilege to be able to honour the shining stars of Yorkshire tourism, particularly during such a tough year for all in this hardworking sector.

"Once again, competition has been tough, with exceptionally high standards, incredible innovation and many excellent examples of business brilliance demonstrated across the county. This will be a fabulous opportunity to promote and celebrate all that's great about Yorkshire. Good luck to everyone!"

Elaine Lemm, chair of the White Rose Awards, added: "During a difficult year for so many, it's been such a positive experience for the White Rose Award's panel of prestigious industry-wide experts to see the excellent entries this year.

"The standard, has again, been incredibly impressive and has made choosing 2020 finalists pretty difficult. However, it’s truly inspiring to see the range of fabulous venues and wonderful attractions out there, offering such high levels of service in this beautiful county. As always, it is easy to see why Yorkshire has an outstanding and continued reputation for top-class tourism and hospitality excellence."

The Rotherham site has also been named as a finalist in the Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome Magazine Top 100 sites and reached the gold standard with The AA.

It has been a difficult first year of trading though, not least due to the COVID outbreak. Last summer, facilities at Rother Valley were restricted due to fears over toxic algae.

Waleswood Caravan & Camping Park website

Images: RMBC

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