Thursday, June 20, 2019

News: Economic projects promote pride for partnership

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Economic regeneration and high profile business investments have been the main highlights showing how far Rotherham has come in a short space of time.

Projects such as the £12m improvements at the bus station, Gulliver's Valley, the new university centre and the £50m McLaren investment were all used to show how a shared ambition for the borough is becoming reality.

The Rotherham Together Partnership was launched in September 2015 and the Rotherham Plan 2025 was officially launched in 2017. It provides a framework for partners' joint efforts to create a borough that "is better for everyone who wants to live, work, invest or visit here."

The plan is based around five "game changers": building stronger communities, skills and employment, integrated health and social care, a place to be proud of and the town centre.

The partnership brings together a wide range of organisations, including major public bodies. Its Business Growth Board is responsible for the delivery of strategies which feeds into the overarching plan and includes indicators on business starts, employment and skill levels. The Rotherham Employment and Skills Strategy has recently been endorsed by the Council's cabinet.

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At a partnership event at New York Stadium, Council leader Cllr. Chris Read, who is also the partnership chair, said: "We said that our game changers would alter people's lives and today we can see those ambitions transformed into reality with much more still to come.

"Then we had secured £12m to refurbish the bus station, but the building was still falling down.

"Then McLaren has announced a £50m investment in the borough, but we hadn' t actually seen so much as a JCB, let alone a Royal visit.

"Then we had a plan for a higher education building in the town centre, and planning permission for a theme park, a tram extension that seemed like it might never be finished, and a social care challenge that stretched as far as the eye could see.

"And today? Our University Centre Rotherham open, with the first students studying. The bus station rebuilt and reopened. Tram train up and running, with more than half a million journeys taken already. Rotherham has been the fastest growing local economy in Yorkshire for over a year now.

"What began as words and commitments two years ago is taking shape, in bricks and mortar and jobs, in opportunities realised, and in a different way of working."

Cllr. Read also discussed the importance of the devolution deal and how Rotherham continues to benefit from being part of the Sheffield city region (SCR).

He said: "Two years ago it was quite common for people to say to me that we shouldn't bother, because we would only lose out to our neighbours anyway. Other places were cynical about whether the deals were really worth doing at all.

"Today every single local authority in the region – every single one - wants to do a devo deal. The TUC, CBI and Institute of Directors issue joint statements on the subject.

"Last week we secured £7m to complete the retail centre at Waverley, and saw announcements that the UK Atomic Energy Agency will bring some of its work to develop fusion technology – the holy grail of limitless energy – to the borough, alongside a potential £10m investment in battery technology in the McLaren supply chain.

"At the same time we are asking the government for up to £40m of investment to support better public transport and walking and cycling as part of the Transforming Cities Fund. It would be the biggest single investment in sustainable transport for years.

"No one seriously says we shouldn't bother any longer. The reality has changed the perception. Just imagine what we could do if we actually got on and implemented the actual deal!

"That's how much things can change in two years. Attitudes shift. Rotherham is finding its way in the world again. By challenging the established order of things."

Rotherham Together Partnership website

Images: Rotherham Together Partnership

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News: Latest on Rotherham tip reopening

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Grange Landfill has met all pre-operational conditions for their permit to dump waste on Droppingwell, Rotherham and the Environment Agency (EA) is waiting on an intention to commence operations on site.

When landfilling operations ceased at the site, the planning permission and environmental permit allowing landfilling activity in January 1978 remained in place. The Environment Agency said it has been obliged to consider any proposal to resume landfilling and to allow the resumption of landfilling if the operator could demonstrate that the new activity complied with current landfill regulations and environmental standards.

The permit variation granted in March 2016 allows for 150,000 tonnes of inert waste to be imported, and 55,000 tonnes of waste for restoration, each year.

All pre-operational conditions have now been fulfilled by the operator and agreed with the EA's technical specialist. Construction of both the surface water management system and landfill infrastructure is now expected.

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EA also confirmed that it has received notification that the operator will, within the next 18 months, commence work to prepare the site before any installation work or major engineering infrastructure work commences. Initially this will involve repairs to security fencing, constructing a site office, compound and installing haul roads around the site.

Concerns had been raised about the environment, previous activity on the site, as well as the impact on local residents and amenities such as nearby facilities for Millmoor Juniors Football Club and the Peter Cowen Golf Academy.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the people behind the permit application but the EA has carried out its Fit and Proper Person assessments appropriately and in accordance with the designated criteria and consider Grange Landfill Limited is a competent operator.

Cllr. Maggi Clark, who represents the area, said: "The agreement of the permit is deeply disappointing for us. It is unthinkable that this beauty spot will be torn up and turned into a tip. On behalf of all residents I urge the Environment Agency to rethink it's position."

Cllr. Emma Hoddinott, Cabinet Member for Waste at Rotherham Council, added: "Though the beginning of tipping is not imminent, this granting of the permit is one step towards that. The council will look at all avenues to stop this tip going forward, but ultimately the Environment Agency needs to look at it's handling of this permit."

Environment Agency website

Images: Google Maps

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News: ENGIE appointed to extend Rotherham school

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Energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE has been awarded a £1.8m construction contract at a Rotherham school.

The previous owners of Keepmoat, the Doncaster-based affordable housing and community regeneration specialist, sold its regeneration arm to ENGIE, a French headquartered multinational firm, for an estimated £330m in 2017. The regeneration team, now known as Places & Communities, is based at offices in Manvers, Rotherham and was previously Bramall Construction.

The contract has been awarded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to create a new 7,000 sq ft teaching block at St Pius X Catholic School in Wath.

Work began in with the existing building, which is no longer fit for use, being demolished and replaced with a new single storey block. The new building, located on Wath Wood Road, has been designed by Race Cottam Associates.

The building is the second project that ENGIE is constructing for the Department of Education across South Yorkshire, with the recent build of a £3.9m extension at St Bernard's Catholic High School, also in Rotherham.

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The work forms part of the ESFA's Priority School Building Programme 2 to rebuild or refurbish school buildings most in need across the country.

Sean Corcoran, regional director at ENGIE, said: "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Department of Education on this scheme. This project will create a state-of-the-art new facility designed to inspire and encourage students to reach their full potential.

"We're also looking forward to working with the school to roll out a series of student engagement activities and giving them the opportunity to see first-hand how their new school extension is developing."

Sue Smith, headteacher at St Pius X Catholic High School, added: "We are delighted that work on our replacement for our SARTO House block has started and excited to see it develop over the coming months.

"We hope many of our students will have the opportunity to see aspects of the work as it progresses both as part of the careers education and as part of their futures at Saint Pius. We thank ENGIE for what has been a very smooth and professional start to the project."

The project is due to be completed in July 2020.

ENGIE website

Images: ENGIE / Race Cottom

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

News: Record-breaking sales in AESSEAL's 40th year

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Rotherham manufacturer AESSEAL has hit a new high with an unbroken three-month run of record-breaking sales.

With its global headquarters at Templeborough, the company sells to 104 countries around the world and recorded £17.6m in sales of mechanical seals, support systems and reliability-based product and service solutions during May 2019 alone – more than £800,000 over target.

The business had already beaten its previous record in March and again with even higher sales in April this year, achieving over £16.4m in each month.

Designing and manufacturing mechanical seals and support systems for a wide range of global industries including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals, AESSEAL is marking its 40th anniversary in 2019. Founder, Chris Rea OBE purchased Aurora Engineers Supplies in 1979, as a small distributor of mechanical seals, with ten employees and an annual turnover of £400,000.

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Jim Hamilton, general manager and director at AESSEAL, said: "We put this fantastic success down to increased demand for high quality products which deliver reliability, swift return on investment and long-term value for money. AES continues to invest in technology that achieves this goal for our customers.

"This constant pushing forward is not without its challenges, however the excellent AES global workforce, coupled with teamwork across the board continues to respond proactively to overcome them.

"Our success is all the more gratifying in light of this."

Group turnover rose 6.3% from £170.6m to £181.3m in the year to December 31 2018, with organic sales growth of 8% when adjusted for acquisitions and currency fluctuations. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 15.7% to £34.7m.

Group net assets rose to £122.8m, an increase of 18.6% from 2017, and the group held a positive cash balance of £16.5m at year end, despite increasing capital expenditure – which included investment of £6.8m in additional 9 and 11 axis machining capacity.

AESSEAL website

Images: AESSEAL

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News: New cocktail bar set to be added to the mix

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Spirits could be raised among cocktail lovers in Rotherham town centre if a neat set of plans for a new bar are approved.

Rothbiz reported earlier this month that a unit in one of the borough's most iconic buildings could be converted into a sports bar and now a planning application has been submitted to bring another nearby unit back into use.

Currently vacant, and most recently in use as a hair salon, applicant Paul Simms wants planning permission to convert a 2,400 sq ft unit in the Imperial Buildings in Rotherham town centre into a drinking establishment.

The restored Victorian, Grade II listed, Imperial Building was sold in a multimillion pound deal at the start of 2019.

It includes period glass shop frontages and internal galleries that complement the conservation area setting next to Rotherham Minster. 19 residential apartments were created on the upper floors.

The new bar in unit 5 is set to be called the Platinum Lounge & Bar.

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The plans, drawn up by John Box Associates, show how what internal works are planned, including removing partition walls and the installation of new disabled toilet at lower ground floor which requires the relocation of the existing stairs access doorway, the only structural change.

Male and female toilets and a store are to be located in one side of the basement with the remaining basement to include relocated office and cellar.

The only external works, for which listed building consent will be required, is for new signage.

Rotherham Council has requested that a noise assessment be submitted for the proposed new use which considers potential impact on the residential accommodation above the unit. It concludes that the existing sound insulation performance is capable of attenuating sound into the flat above.

Images: Platinum Lounge & Bar Ltd

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