Thursday, January 23, 2020

News: Legal case over smart motorways

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The grieving widow of a driver killed on a smart motorway has instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to begin work on a High Court legal challenge calling for them to be scrapped.

Jason Mercer was one of two men killed when they were knocked down by a HGV near junction 34 of the M1 at Meadowhall in South Yorkshire. Moments earlier Jason, of Rotherham, and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgreanu, from Mansfield, had been involved in a minor collision.

The stretch of road is classed as an all lanes running (ALR) motorway, meaning there is no hard shoulder in operation. Jason, 44, and the other man had pulled over as far as they could to exchange details. However, after they left their vehicles a lorry collided with the pair. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Their deaths mean that five people have died on that route in the past year.

Highways England schemes through the borough include the £106m scheme on a ten mile stretch of the M1 between junctions 32 (south of Sheffield and Rotherham) and 35a (north of Sheffield and Rotherham) and a 20 mile stretch of the M1 between junction 28 (South Normanton) and 31 (Aston).

The projects include converting the hard shoulder to an extra traffic lane in both directions and variable mandatory speed limits and they deliver benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening, and with less impact on the environment during construction.

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Helen Smith, solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: "The safety of smart motorways which operate without a hard shoulder has been called into question on a number of occasions in recent years and the number of fatalities on such routes both locally and nationwide is a major cause for concern.

"In fact the Transport Select Committee has previously published a report warning that the government should not go ahead with all lane running motorways because they posed a dangerous risk to drivers and emergency services.

"Through our initial investigations and the increasing amount of families which have been torn apart because of fatalities on smart motorways, it is clear that a full and urgent review of their use needs to be completed."

Leading a Parliamentary debate this week, Rotherham MP Sarah Champion challenged the Government to improve safety on ALR Smart Motorways or face the prospect of more deaths.

She said: "The safety of motorists must always be paramount. It is totally unacceptable to risk lives in the name of cost savings.

"There is no evidence that shows me that ALR can ever be delivered safely. I therefore strongly believe the government must stop the rollout with immediate effect.

"Until the obvious and intrinsic risks which come with removing the hard shoulder are addressed, existing schemes should be revert to traditional motorways from today."

Images: Highways England

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News: Plans to reopen Rotherham village pub

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Plans have been submitted that would see an old established pub in the heart of Brampton en le Morthern in Rotherham, rise again.

The Rising Deer closed over 12 years ago but now proposals have been drawn up that would see the village pub reopen, if planners approve an extension to the existing building.

The site is in the conservation area of Brampton en le Morthen and the plans focus on retaining and re-furbishing the current historic building. At the rear, the extension that houses the storage and toilet areas would be demolished and replaced with a two storey building that would take architectural reference and design from the original main building.

The plans have been submitted on behalf of Mr I Wild, an established publican with experience of running The Robin Hood pub at Aughton.

The extension is required as the pub in its present state and size does not allow for a viable business. The increase in trade area should create a traditional drinkers pub and a dining area for around 40 customers.

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The plans include "back up" areas of a commercial kitchen, storage and new customer toilets. The current bar is deemed totally in-adequate, having not been altered in the last 50 years. The car parking area is also set to be re-surfaced.

DRD Architecture state in the application: "There will be no change to the appearance layout of the original main building, the proposed extensions
equate to an overall increase of 64% increase in volume of the original building, which would ordinarily seem to be an in-appropriate development in a green belt area but we consider that in this instance special circumstances show the need for a development of this size."

The aim is to make the village pub the heart and soul of the village again, being "advantageous for the community, its societies and local groups to utilise and benefit from." New jobs will also be created.

2018 plans to convert the existing building to a pair of semi-detached dwellings was refused by Rotherham Council planners as the applicants could not demonstrate very special circumstances for residential use that was considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

Images: DRD Architecture

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News: Engineering firm offers new services to customers thanks to Skills Bank

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Engineering design firm PES Performance has used Skills Bank to increase services available for existing clients, as well as target new customers.

The high-performance engineering solutions business based at Rotherham's Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) recently put four of their senior engineering design team through training with the support of the city region's Skills Bank.

The team attended Finite Element Analysis (FEA) after the company spotted the opportunity to grow their offer to existing and new clients.

Mike Maddock, managing director at PES Performance, said: "We had a positive experience of working with Skills Bank through a previous tranche of funding, and so when we heard that the opportunity for further support was available, we decided to contact Skills Bank again.

"We anticipated that the introduction of Finite Element Analysis as a new technology would have several benefits for our business, especially around growth. We knew it would increase the range of services that we could offer existing clients, plus allow us to target new clients.

"We are now able to target both new customers within existing market sectors, who would benefit from FEA, and new market sectors yet to be targeted by PES that would benefit from FEA analysis as part of their product development process. There are real prospects of gaining additional revenue from new clients in those sectors, meeting our ambitions to grow our business.

"Also incorporating FEA into our in-house capabilities provides the opportunity to improve our efficiency and productivity as now we don’t need to commission external suppliers to undertake this FEA analysis work in projects."

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PES have also received direct support from one of the Sheffield City Region (SR) Growth Hub's Skills Advisors, to deliver business support by assessing skills problems and offer solutions and finance advisor support; helping a business work out what finance support is available and the best options.

The firm successful secured funding from Funding Circle as a direct result of support received from the Growth Hub, the gateway for businesses to access specialist support.

PES also came through the Growth Hub Enhancement Project, which offered support for high growth companies, including hosting a series of free masterclasses to improve the skill set within the regions businesses.

Skills Bank provides employers across the SCR access to high-quality training and funding, to enable them to develop their business.

Training accessed through Skills Bank can be in the form of an existing qualification or industry-recognised training programme or can also be designed to meet bespoke requirements.

PES Performance website
SCR Skills Bank website

Images: Skills Bank

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News: Atrium takes space in Rotherham

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A new self storage site has opened up in Rotherham aimed at making storage simple and secure for business and household customers.

Based at the popular business destination at Hellaby, Atrium Self Storage aims to give customers safe, convenient, purpose built indoor storage with personal lockable units

Following investment, the local firm has created 200 separate indoor units ranging from 25 to 150 sq ft, all quality checked by the Self Storage Association UK and available to rent on short or long term contract.

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Neil Taylor, facility manager at Atrium Self Storage, said: "we've invested heavily in state of art security and surveillance and proud of our modern, clean and convenient facility for our home and business customers who demand more than a dirty outdoor container unit. Our customer service is first-class, we know self storage isn't something people often rent and make the whole process from getting a price, to moving in, as easy as possible."

Other investments include CCTV surveillance with personalised electronic access to gated premises.

Some of the first customers include a local business wanting to archive materials in secure and GDPR compliant premises, and a customer whose house move was delayed and needed a short term to look after their possessions.

Atrium Self Storage website

Images: Atrium

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Monday, January 20, 2020

News: Henderson's withdrawal is a sauce of disappointment for Yorkshire Crisps

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The Rotherham-based Yorkshire Crisp Company has had to stop producing its Henderson's Relish flavoured crisps.

The luxury hand cooked crisps and popcorn maker is based at Waleswood where its award-winning produce is made by a small, dedicated team using the finest local ingredients for a local, national and international market.

A match made in South Yorkshire saw Sheffield-based Henderson's combine its spicy sauce with Yorkshire Crisps back in 2008 but now the historic firm has decided to stop supplying the crisp maker.

Instead, the manufacturer has launched its new Worcester Sauce flavour.

A statement from Yorkshire Crisps explained: "This is in response to Henderson's decision to stop supplying us as they are exploring expansion opportunities to promote the Henderson’s Relish brand. They are focusing on their future priorities and, after much deliberation, are to no longer supply product to Yorkshire Crisps.

"Our new Worcester Sauce Yorkshire Crisps are now available in single 40g bags and our re-sealable stay-fresh 100g drums. We are very disappointed to be unable to continue our association with the iconic Yorkshire brand that is Henderson's, which is local to our home town, but we respect their decision and hope you will enjoy our new Worcester Sauce Yorkshire Crisps."

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The Yorkshire Crisp range now has four flavours that that are suitable for vegans – the new Worcester Sauce flavour, plus Sweet Chilli & Lime, Natural Sea Salt or Nowt On. The whole range is now gluten-free.

Tim Wheatley of The Yorkshire Crisp Company, said: "After listening to our customers and to feedback from our tasting panels, it became very clear to us that we needed to incorporate more flavours that are plant-based.

"This has allowed us to widen our audience appeal and respond to exciting current market trends and we are thrilled to have launched our new Worcester Sauce Yorkshire Crisps with this in mind."

Yorkshire Crisps website

Images: Yorkshire Crisps

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