Welcome from Cllr Heather Timms

Hello and welcome to the May edition of Warwickshire Means Business – this month we bring you a special 'green edition' which outlines and explores our commitment to a sustainable future.

We want to be a County with a sustainable future which means adapting to and mitigating climate change and meeting net zero commitments, so that our generation ensures that future generations than live well and reap the benefits of a sustainable and thriving Warwickshire.

That ethos is at the heart of our Council Plan and taking action on climate change is therefore one of our key strategic priorities. Our vision is for a Warwickshire that is low in carbon with vastly reduced energy bills, which has landscapes with plenty of wildlife that people can enjoy and farms that provide us with local food, supported by a thriving sustainable economy and resulting in communities that are happier, healthier and empowered.  

This is a big ambition, and we can’t do it alone – and neither can you. We hope that this special green edition of Warwickshire Means Business is just one step in our role to support and coordinate activity between local government and our business community. We are fully committed to leading the way in this and so are keen to work with you, ensuring that you can manage the risks from climate change, but that you are also ready to take the opportunities that a growing green economy will bring. 

I hope you find plenty to interest you in this newsletter. Please have a read about how WCC’s Green Recovery Grants have brought enormous benefits to a diverse range of local business including Frank Parkers Butchers, Farmers Fayre, Disco Bowl Nuneaton and Oakridge Golf Club.

We feature the breadth of green schemes which WCC is delivering along with our partners. In a Guest Column, our Head of Economy & Skills, Kim Fraser-Bell outlines the significant economic as well environmental savings to be made by making your business green. Paula Deas, Coventry & Warwickshire Business Partnerships Strategic Lead, discusses the importance of making green thinking “fundamental” to the future.

If you are as passionate about this as we are, and something sparks your interest or gives you an idea that you’d like to share with us, please do - we’d be delighted to hear from you. Maybe the new role of Future Skills Advisor, to which the Net Zero agenda will be key, may be of interest?

We look forward very much to working with you all to deliver a Warwickshire that is sustainable now and for future generations. You can keep up-to-date with the very latest climate change and sustainability news from across Warwickshire by subscribing to the monthly Climate Change in Warwickshire newsletter:


Featured News

From candles to solar panels: Frank Parker Butchers powers on

“We date from 1896 but are always looking to the future and are very grateful to the County Council for helping us put in place something that will benefit us for years to come.”

A family business which has helped power the Nuneaton economy for 123 years is looking to the future as strong as ever after installing solar panels at its shop.

Frank Parker (Butchers) has been serving the people of Nuneaton from its Abbey Street base without a break since 1896. Founded by Frank Parker, whose great-great grandsons are now on the board, it has survived and thrived by always having one eye to the future.

That remains the case more than ever following huge recent increases in power costs – and help has been at hand through a Green Recovery Grant from Warwickshire County Council.

Whether the County Council, itself then only eight years old, helped Frank Parker with the cost of candles when he set the business up in 1896 is undocumented. But 12 decades on its support has been integral to work which has helped the business plan for more decades to come.

“We have been looking at ways to cut costs for a long time,” said Tim Parker, great-grandson of Frank. “Then with the increases in fuel costs ours went from £2,700/month to nearly £12,000. That shook us, so we looked at various options and went for solar panelling and I’m very glad we did.

The help we have had from everybody has been absolutely great, starting with Laura at the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub who assessed our needs and then introduced us to Jo Smith and Gaynor at the County Council. Everybody has really helped us. We have done lots of little things, like putting curtains on all the fridges to further insulate them, to make our energy bills come down, but are planning for the next 20 years so the solar panels are great for the long term and to get the grant towards them was a big bonus.

“Even when it’s not sunny, the panels generate 20 per cent of our power which all adds up. We haven’t had many sunny days yet this year but then, as soon as we had one, all of a sudden we were able to put a lot of energy in ourselves.”

Green Recovery Grants were created by Warwickshire County Council to help businesses make efficiencies on revenue costs to support their recovery from the impact of Covid lockdowns. As part of the programme, business receive a free energy audit which identifies key areas that could change to improve annual carbon usage. This free energy audit is managed and delivered by Coventry City Council as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme (funded by the European Development Fund).

The solar panels at Frank Parker Butchers are significantly helping the business – and word of the benefits they bring is spreading.

“A lot of people saw the scaffolding when the panels were put in and asked what was going on and we have had so much interest,” said Tim. “We have a computer in the shop which shows customers how much energy we are creating ourselves and people have really taken note. A local pub and quite a few householders have said they will look into it.

“It’s a busy shop with quite a lot of staff who have been with us over 20 years but this week I’ve had a couple of youngsters in with a view to starting. We’ve given employment to a lot of people over the years and aim to do so for many more, looking after them and their families. We all work very hard and I think people know and appreciate that. We are Nuneaton born-and-bred and proud of it and anything we can do to support the town we will do.

“We date from 1896 but are always looking to the future and are very grateful to the County Council for helping us put in place something that will benefit us for years to come.” 

Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture, said: "As a county council we are committed to not only reducing our own emissions but also working with our communities, and especially the business community, to support them in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and at the same reduce their costs.

"I am delighted that the Green Recovery Grant has helped Frank Parker Butchers build a strong foundation for the future to go with its long and proud history in Nuneaton." 

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Green Recovery Grant helps bring massive savings for Farmers Fayre

“The project has made a massive difference and we are really grateful to the County Council for delivering just the sort of support that was needed at the time.”

A farm shop and cafe in rural Warwickshire is facing the future with renewed confidence after its energy costs were massively reduced following the installation of solar panels.

Supported by a Green Recovery Grant from Warwickshire County Council, Farmers Fayre, in Stoneleigh Park, installed 80 solar panels on the roof of their restaurant and farm shop. This work, carried out by local firm Ineco Energy, has helped to reduce both Co2 emissions and energy bills.

Like all businesses in the food and drink sector, Farmers Fayre was severely affected by the Covid lockdowns. Forced to close its doors, its future was under threat. But the business showed the resilience and adaptability needed to survive. A Retail & Hospitality grant from the County Council helped with the development of an e-commerce website to enable a click-and-collect service which meant they could stay open as a food shop - and now Farmers Fayre, having evolved as necessary, is blossoming again.

"We've gone through a kind of whole life-cycle through Covid,” said Finance & Operations Manager Becky Taylor. “When the pandemic hit, we were distraught that we might have to close, but the owners decided they weren't going down without a fight! We put together a spreadsheet with all our stock on, advertised it to customers and starting doing grocery collections - and it really took off.

“We developed a new website with help from the county council which kept us going and we came out of it with a whole new customer base. Previously most of our customers worked at Stoneleigh Park and came for lunch but now, with a lot of people working from home, more of our customers are external and drive to come here.

“That was really positive, but then came rising energy costs and the Green Recovery Grant from the County Council was incredibly helpful. There was lots of advice and support given along the way and it’s all been really quick and smooth project.”

Green Recovery Grants were offered by Warwickshire County Council to help businesses make efficiencies on revenue costs to support and accelerate their recovery from the impact of Covid lockdowns. That has emphatically been the case at Farmers Fayre where the future is now much more stable for the army of part-time staff which equate to 24 full-time employees.

As part of the programme, the business first accessed a free energy audit which identified key areas of the business that could be changed to improve annual carbon usage. This audit was managed and delivered by Coventry City Council as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme (funded by the European Development Fund).

“We started looking into energy costs a year ago when electricity prices were going crazy,” said Becky. “Our prices went from 13p per kilowatt hour to 85p and we couldn't even begin to get our heads around that so had to look at other options. We invested in 80 solar panels and it has proved a fantastic move. The project was completed early by a local company, Ineco Energy, who were great to work with.

“The project has made a massive difference and we are really grateful to the County Council for delivering just the sort of support that was needed at the time.”

Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: "I am delighted that the future of Farmers Fayre, the jobs of their employees and the pleasure they bring to all their customers have been safeguarded by the Green Recovery Grant. These grants have brought so much benefit to businesses in cost savings as well as environmental terms."

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Net-Zero agenda will be a key strand of new Future Skills Advisor role

Supporting the skills aspect of Warwickshire County Council’s new-zero agenda will be a key strand of a new role now being advertised in the Council’s Economy & Skills team. 

Warwickshire Skills Hub, which operates under the Economy & Skills umbrella, is recruiting for a Future Skills Business Support Advisor to join its team based at Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton. 

The role will focus on building and maintaining an advanced understanding of the future skills needs of Warwickshire. This will entail working closely with employers and education and training providers in areas such as vehicle electrification, battery technology, digital skills and activity supporting the net-zero agenda in general. 

The Future Skills Advisor will work proactively to identify key skills trends and emerging skills themes to support the development of new programmes and support, linking to a number of local Employability and Skills plans and strategies. 

The role will have a focus on future innovation. It will provide businesses with impartial and specialist support, helping them develop a well-skilled workforce which will reflect their growth plans and associated innovation led skills needs. The support to be provided by the Future Skills Advisor will be designed to help businesses attract and harness new local talent and re-skill existing staff which will enable businesses to grow and prosper in Warwickshire. 

Warwickshire County Council’s Lead Commissioner (Employability & Skills), Fay Winterburn, said: “As a local authority, we pride ourselves in being collaborative and barrier-breaking, whilst demonstrating strong team cultures by encouraging creative thinking, personal development and embracing new ways of working. We look forward very much to increasing our team with this exciting new role which will heavily focus on the Council’s net zero objectives. 

“Our ideal candidate will be an experienced skills advisor with two years or more business skills experience, ideally with a future skills focus. The candidate must have a broad understanding of local and national skills initiatives, with previous experience of working with businesses to address local skills needs at a strategic level.”  

The post will be based at the Warwickshire Skills Hub in Nuneaton, with county-wide travel and visits to neighbouring authorities are anticipated.  

Closing date for applications is Monday 19th June with interviews to take place in the week commencing 26th June. 

For any questions regarding the roles available, please contact Vicki Haslam on vickihaslam@warwickshire.gov.uk or Fay Winterburn on faywinterburn@warwickshire.gov.uk 

Seamless and speedy green grant support helps golf club turn the corner.

"We couldn’t be more impressed by the support we have received...the savings are huge and the process of getting the grant was amazingly seamless from all the people involved."

Applying for business support grants can appear an intimidatingly complex and time-consuming process, especially for a business run by a small team which is already working at full stretch.

So when Shane Lovric, Owner of Oakridge Golf Club, Nuneaton, applied for a Green Recovery Grant from Warwickshire County Council, she was very pleasantly surprised by the “seamless” process.

It is the first business support the golf club has received in its 30-year existence and Shane is also delighted by the savings from the work enabled by the grant – installation of LED lighting and addition of solar batteries to the existing solar panel system.

The business first had a Green Energy Audit carried out by Coventry City Council as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme. They then applied for the grant element of the programme and received £10,144 towards the costs of installing the energy-saving measures. These measures will result in the business reducing their carbon emissions by 12.68 tonnes per year..

Quite apart from the environmental benefits, the improvements have put the business back on a secure footing after the colossal challenges of recent years. 

“We couldn’t be more impressed by the support we have received,” said Shane. “Our future would have been unpredictable without that support...it has saved us around £750 per month. The savings are huge and the process of getting the grant was amazingly seamless from all the people involved.

“We first spoke to Linda Savitri at the Growth Hub and explained that we had been hit very hard by Covid and were very concerned by increasing fuel bills. We have a very big clubhouse which takes a lot of power to light and heat.

“Linda put us in touch with Jonathan Howell at the Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme. He was brilliant and worked out what we could save and how we could save it. He knew about the County Council’s Green Recovery Grants so then we spoke to Jo Smith, business growth advisor at the Council, and she helped us with the application based on Jonathan’s calculations.

“Jo was very good, as were Gaynor Valente and Louisa Smith from the County Council's Business & Economy Commissioning & Programme management team, and they all helped make it a very easy process. We submitted the application in January and all the work was completed and connected up by April. It couldn’t have worked better." 

Oakridge Golf Club and its emplloyees are now looking forward again with confidence after a uniquely testing few years.

“The perception is that golf clubs are rolling in money but we are a proprietary cub and really just a small business like any other,” said Shane. “Golf clubs nationally have been really struggling since Covid, it has been a case of hand-to-mouth, and we are a very small team so the support we received has been crucial. I am eternally grateful to all those involved.”

WCC Business and Growth Support Programme Manager, Jon Stead, said: “Warwickshire County Council is always working on making access to finance as seamless as possible so it’s great to see this feedback on one of the most recent funds. It also fantastic to see another Warwickshire business accessing the Green Recovery Grant and lowering both their carbon emissions and their monthly outgoings.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Let's make green thinking 'fundamental'

“Every aspect of business thinking has to be green as a fundamental rather than something to be tacked on if possible. It is absolutely crucial for the future - and it also makes huge business sense."

To mainstream green thinking into the business world as a ‘fundamental’ is high among the priorities of Paula Deas in her role as Coventry & Warwickshire Business Partnerships Strategic Lead.

Paula, former deputy chief executive of Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, has taken up the new position created jointly by Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council following the close of the LEP.

Her role as the local authorities’ business engagement lead is to ensure that the voice of businesses is fully heard and listened to at both national and local levels. A key plank of that is to continue and accelerate the move towards Net Zero and ensure that businesses understand its significant economic as well as environmental benefits.

As the 21st century deepens, green thinking in business must become a must-have rather than a nice-to-have, she insists.

“I am very excited about my new role and one of my top objectives is to set up a new way of engaging with businesses of the region - the Coventry and Warwickshire Economic Business Forum,” she said. “And one of the key priorities of that will be how we must do more to ‘green’ the economy.

“That’s not just about putting ‘green’ in front of every word and feeling good about it - it’s about action. It’s about how we go about genuinely mainstreaming green into the way we think about economic decisions, whether that’s road-related or skills-related or the digital economy.

“Every aspect of business thinking has to be green as a fundamental rather than something to be tacked on if possible. It is absolutely crucial for the future - and it also makes huge business sense.

“Warwickshire County Council’s Green Recovery Grants are a great example. It is clear from each of the four case studies in this edition of Warwickshire Means Business – Farmers Fayre, Frank Parker Butchers, Disco Bowl Nuneaton and Oakridge Golf Club – how much money can be saved from a diverse range of businesses. They are all great good-news stories - in some cases, businesses that were fighting for survival are now looking to the future with confidence.

“This is a big part of what we want to do with the forum - to convince people that this is the way we should all run our affairs. The commercial benefits as well as the wider ones are there for all to see and we just want all businesses to buy into that and also realise that there is a lot of support out there to help with the logistics and costs of making any necessary changes.

“A lot of progress has been made but there is a long way still to go. Whether it’s individuals, businesses, councils or governments, you have to go on a journey before you realise the importance of the decisions you make about becoming more green, and that it makes enormous sense on an invest-to-save basis.”

Nuneaton leisure outlet halves energy costs

"The County Council has been brilliant and that reflects the support we have had in Warwickshire in the last few years."

A Nuneaton leisure outlet is on target to halve its energy costs after becoming the first recipient of a Green Recovery Grant from Warwickshire County Council.

Disco Bowl Nuneaton was awarded £45,020 towards the installation of new carbon efficient replacement pinsetter machines in its 24 bowling lanes. The rapid delivery of the grant means the work was complete by the end of March, leaving the business, which employs 25 full-time staff, better equipped for both the short and long term. 

Disco Bowl director Pete Terry says the grant is another element of the “brilliant” support that the business has received from local authorities in Warwickshire as they bounce back from more than a year shut due to Covid.  

 “We are genuinely very appreciative of the County Council’s support,” Pete said. “With energy costs going up 220% we had to think about how we maintain Nuneaton Bowl to make sure we can carry on. 

“The pinsetter machines, which reset the pins for customers as they play, were traditionally mechanical with five motors on each machine. They were fascinating to watch but ludicrously inefficient and old-fashioned. The new way is with the pins on high-tension strings and we have installed this at our Banbury and Nottingham sites and seen a 50% saving in electricity costs.  

“Nuneaton Disco Bowl has 24 lanes so, with a cost of £14,000 per lane plus VAT, that’s in investment of circa £400,000. So to have roughly ten per cent of that funded by the council makes a huge difference. All the major operators in the bowling industry are moving this way and now we can keep pace with them which is great because we have put a lot of investment into the Nuneaton centre and are very proud of it.” 

Nuneaton Disco Bowl, which did not have to close during the work as some lanes always remained open, is now well-placed for the future thanks to the backing of a scheme devised by the County Council to deliver support tailored to where businesses most need it. 

Green Recovery Grants are there to help businesses make efficiencies on revenue costs to support and accelerate their recovery from the impact of Covid lockdowns. As part of the programme, Nuneaton Disco Bowl first accessed a free energy audit which identified key areas of the business that could be changed to improve annual carbon usage. This free energy audit is managed and delivered by Coventry City Council as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme (funded by the European Development Fund).

“The County Council has been brilliant and that reflects the support we have had in Warwickshire in the last few years,” said Pete. “We have found different local authorities around the Midlands have different approaches but Warwickshire has been great and Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council were brilliant with us. We love being in Nuneaton and we love being in Warwickshire.” 

Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson said: “I am delighted that the Green Recovery Grant has enabled Nuneaton Disco Bowl to carry out such important work with huge economic as well as environmental gains. The scheme is part of the Council’s commitment both to green business and to helping our businesses bounce back from the challenges of Covid and rising costs.”

Green technologies showcased at transport events

Warwickshire is at the forefront of green transport technologies that are going through a major global transformation. Three recent and upcoming events look at these challenges and provide opportunities for industry to learn and collaborate.

The county of Warwickshire is a leader in vehicle design, development and manufacturing in the UK. From offsite dumpers made in Cubbington to large electric motors used in naval ships to aircraft braking and control systems to Aston Martin hypercars and everything in between, it can be found here in the county.

Transport is going through major global transformation around decarbonisation and autonomy, so it comes as no surprise that the city and county are home to some of the leading conference and trade shows around net zero vehicles and decarbonisation.

Micromobility UK, organised by Warwick Manufacturing Group in its second year, was recently held at NAEC Stoneleigh Park. The UK’s only live, dedicated micromobility event, it included exhibitors of smaller vehicles on two, three and four wheels and, as well as trialling vehicles, attendees heard from speakers discussing the latest data from industry and technology experts and listened to panel discussions.

Next month sees the annual return of Rail Live at the Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, home of rail technology company Porterbrook. The event takes place on June 21st and 22nd and is the only exhibition to bring the entire rail industry together in a real railway environment. It includes the largest outdoor rail exhibition in the UK, attracting more than 5,000 rail professionals a year, representing all aspects of the industry, including developments in hydrogen and electric rail propulsion.

The Big Zero Show, on June 20th at Coventry Building Society Arena, will cover a range of net zero issues and include information on electrifying transport solutions. Later in June sees the NEC host Battery Cells & Systems Expo which will bring together automotive manufacturers, electric utilities, battery system integrators, cell manufacturers and the entire manufacturing supply chain. It is a truly unique showcase as companies from around the world will use the show to launch products and demonstrate their technology to an audience of over 4,500 professionals.

Battery Cells & Systems Expo, Vehicle Electrification Expo, The Advanced Materials Show and The Advanced Ceramics Show bring together four connected industries for two days of networking, lead generation and education at the NEC, Birmingham. A four-track, free conference featuring global experts covers the latest innovations and developments across these four exciting industries.

These events are showcasing new and emerging decarbonisation technologies and providing opportunities for our local supply chain to exhibit and engage and collaborate with local and global industry. Invest Coventry & Warwickshire will have a presence at all of these events. If you would like to speak to us about the support we provide, drop us a note via our website, and we’ll see you at one of these events next month!

Inclusive Careers Tours prove an immediate success

"One young person loved the environment at Studley Castle so much that he asked if he could come back - and the team immediately offered him kitchen work experience."

The first Inclusive Careers Tours organised by Warwickshire Supported Employment Service (WSES) proved a great success as dozens of young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism gained behind-the-scenes insights into employment.

WSES, which was launched in February, aims to help over 400 people into paid and sustainable employment every year. It takes them through the whole journey into employment and Inclusive Careers Tours are a big component of that strategy. The aim of the tours is to showcase the various roles available within different sectors and the theme of the first tours was hospitality.

Three mixed groups aged between 19 and 62 years were invited to locations across Warwickshire: Draycote Hotel & Whitefields Golf Club in Rugby, The Crowne Plaza Hotel, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Studley Castle in Alcester.

At each location, the groups were warmly welcomed by the hotel management teams and served refreshments while staff gave a short presentation on the hotels and their facilities. This was followed by a guided tour behind the scenes and a chance to try out some of the leisure activities on offer.

At the Draycote Hotel, the group tested their skills on the golfing range which proved a huge hit. They also 'checked in' to one of the rooms to talk about housekeeping and find out how the rooms are cleaned and prepared for the next guests.

Jo Billings, Business Development Manager at Draycote Hotel & Whitefields Golf Club said: "It was an absolute pleasure to host the group and the team here really enjoyed getting involved. Making sure the group had an engaging experience whilst feeling at ease was our aim, so I am really happy that this was the case."

Following the tour at the Crowne Plaza, one of our group was so impressed, he asked on the day about working in the hotel. WSES is now in the process of arranging some work experience sessions which will give people a real taste of a career in hospitality.

Robin Ford, General Manager at Crowne Plaza, said: "It was an absolute pleasure to meet the group and we are looking forward to seeing all again soon."

Each tour ended with new friendships made and the seeds of some new careers sown. The feedback overall was hugely positive with some people already asking about jobs in hospitality. One young person loved the environment at Studley Castle so much that he asked if he could come back - and the team immediately offered him kitchen work experience which is due to start soon.

Jo Hammick, general manager at Studley Castle, said:I was excited to be able to invite the group into Studley Castle. Their engagement and energy was fantastic. 

“I love working with the Warwickshire Skills Hub team - they give so much and I am always pleased to be able to be part of it. The hospitality industry enriches so many lives and is an excellent career choice for people of all backgrounds and abilities. There is so much support available now to help people into work and I hope that I will see a few of them again on our team.'

Please click here to see the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service's inclusive tour of Studley Castle.

Warwickshire County Council Lead Commission for Employability & Skills, Fay Winterburn, said: “Warwickshire Supported Employment Service is all about ensuring that our customers get the best experience from their journey into employment and the Inclusive Careers Tours are fantastic because they give insights into the world of work from the inside.

“More tours are planned in the near future and we are very thankful to our Fair Chance Employers for taking time out of their busy schedules to host our groups and give them an opportunity to see behind the scenes of how hotels operate.

“It was genuinely moving to see how much some of the people in the visiting groups got out of the day. For some, just the fact that they attended was a huge deal and an even bigger step in building their self-confidence to be mixing with others and walking round a public space. Watching them relax and open up was really great to see and it allowed them to start up conversations with people they didn't know and ask questions without being prompted.”

Electric vehicles cut costs for Rugby security firm

"Our biggest cost in the business is fuel since we’re out on the road with mobile escorting work or travelling to sites to make security patrols and we have already noticed our fuel costs are reducing by £2,000 a month.”

A forward-thinking business in Rugby is securing its future after receiving two grants to go green.

Stonewall Group is split into two divisions at premises in Mitchell Court in Castle Mound Way. Stonewall Security, which was established in May 2008, provides 24-hour business security services from CCTV installation and monitoring to alarm responses to its clients ranging from industrial parks to independent businesses. Stonewall Vaults is a high-tech safe deposit centre for safety deposit boxes for people to securely leave their highly-valued possessions and documents.

Clare Randall, Director at Stonewall Group who runs the business with her husband, Martin, contacted the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub for advice on applying for grants towards electric vehicles and installing solar panels after attending their networking events and seminars.

Adam Plumb from the Growth Hub put Clare in touch with Rugby Borough Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme, which is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and delivered by Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Coventry University Enterprises.

Stonewall Group received nearly £50,000 from the Government-funded Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) which was administered by Rugby Borough Council towards buying two electric vehicles as well as over £3,000 towards installing solar PV panels at its premises from the Green Business Programme.

Clare said the grant support had been a big help towards helping Stonewall Group to become more environmentally friendly and was already paying dividends.

She said: “Our security team is always on the road and we wanted to introduce electric vehicles to our fleet. I’d met Adam from the Growth Hub so I contacted him to see if there were any grants available and we are really grateful for his support.

“Our biggest cost in the business is fuel since we’re out on the road with mobile escorting work or travelling to sites to make security patrols and we have already noticed our fuel costs are reducing by £2,000 a month, which is a significant saving.”

Adam Plumb, Account Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said Stonewall Group, which employs 11 staff and 50 contractors, was a perfect example of a small and medium sized business that has benefited from their help and support.

“In the current economic climate, accessing grants can make a real difference to whether a business goes ahead with investment in green technology such as electric cars and solar PV panels,” he said. “We are really pleased that Stonewall Group is already seeing a noticeable difference.”

A comprehensive energy audit and report was carried out at Stonewall Group, which was used to identify areas of energy inefficiencies within its premises. The report showed that while many areas of the building were up-to-date with the latest cost saving measures, a solar PV installation would provide energy security alongside significant ongoing cost saving benefits for the business.

The Growth Hub is supported by funders including Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire’s District and Borough Councils.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Business Ready support helps bring Educational Musicals back from the brink

“I can’t speak highly enough of the support Gaynor and the team at Business Ready have given us. We’re now feeling much more confident about the future."

A Kenilworth-based innovative musical company helping schoolchildren see the fun in history is undergoing a major revamp after the pandemic almost saw it fold.

Educational Musicals, run by husband-and-wife Tony and Anita Dalton alongside artist Anthony James, provided packages to schools where pupils can learn about periods of history through performing songs and music.

The business had customers in 40 countries and had built up an impressive range of songs covering a huge range of topics and periods for schools to use. However, the pandemic all but wiped their customer base out with the switch to online lessons leaving Educational Musicals’ existence hanging by a thread.

Tony said: “COVID almost killed the business – we’d been going for almost 20 years and it virtually undid all of our hard work. When restrictions were lifted, we essentially had to start from square one, and many of our customers had shifted their priorities.

“But we didn’t want to close Educational Musicals. We just needed some support in helping us get back on our feet.”

After searching for potential sources of funding and support, Anita came across Business Ready at a networking event by meeting Gaynor Matthews – a business growth adviser on the programme.

Business Ready delivers support to expanding companies managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Gaynor later met with the team at Educational Musicals and looked at ways to improve the business model to make it more attractive to schools. A switch to a subscription model was suggested, whereby schools could pay a monthly fee to access an entire range of teaching materials for history – not just music - rather than one-off payments for packages.

Business Ready growth specialists Mark Wisniewski and Hannah Price guided Educational Musicals through the initial processes and encouraged them to attend Business Ready workshops around business development and creating competitive advantages. Following their advice, Educational Musicals is set to launch its revamped website with the subscription model at the heart of its business proposition.

Tony said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the support Gaynor and the team at Business Ready have given us. We’re now feeling much more confident about the future. Schools love it if they can teach children in a fun and engaging way, and that’s exactly what our packages provide.

“With Business Ready’s help, we have made that core idea much more marketable and we can’t wait to see where we go from here.”

Gaynor said: “Tony and Anita are both excellent businesspeople, but needed a little bit of support to give their business the boost it needed after the pandemic. It’s been a pleasure to work with them and we’re sure plenty of schools will soon be keen subscribers to Educational Musicals.

“Business Ready works with many businesses like Educational Musicals to help them reassess their offering and come up with ways they can improve and grow. We’d encourage any small businesses looking for advice to contact the team.”

WCC Business Growth & Support Programme Manager, Gillian Dale said: “It is great to hear that Business Ready support has helped Tony and Anita to stabilise and strengthen their business. The Business Ready programme has provided highly effective support for many small business and Warwickshire County Council is pleased to continue to support it.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Forum will offer expert guidance on employee recruitment and retention

Guidance on recruiting and retaining employees in today's highly competitive market place will be supplied at the third Coventry & Warwickshire Wellbeing For Life Workplace Wellbeing Forum on Tuesday 20th June.

Recruiting and keeping hold of employees has become a major challenge for employers in 2023. Employee turnover rates have increased by 9% since 2019 and are predicted to pass 40% this year. To recruiting and hire a new employee is taking an average of six weeks and estimates of this cost to a business are around of 25% of the employee’s annual salary.

On top of this, uncertainty around the financial future is affecting businesses' decisions on recruitment budgets and wellbeing/total reward packages.

The Coventry & Warwickshire Wellbeing For Life Workplace Wellbeing Forum will take a fresh look at your investment in sourcing, training and retaining strategies. This free event, at Nettle Hill Conference Centre, Brinklow Rd, Ansty, CV7 9JL, will be hosted by Warwickshire County Council's Public Health team for all businesses with five employees or more who are based or have satellite offices in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Experts in Economy and Skills will talk about local recruitment and training opportunities and guest speakers will offer insights into wellbeing ideas to retain happy and healthy staff. Please click here to book your free ticket or visit the Eventbite website:


Free onsite parking and buffet lunch/refreshments will be provided.

Please visit the website for details on past events and information to support your staff wellbeing https://www.wellbeing4life.co.uk/businesses

Interactive Futures: Gateway into Games event is a sell out

"It was great to see so many enthusiastic students, their parents and people looking to move into the industry."

The Interactive Futures - Gateway into Games event, held earlier this month, has been heralded as a great success.

Organisers Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council and the Warwickshire Games Collective are reflecting on an inspiring and motivational event for all involved.

The first face-to-face Interactive Futures event since the Covid-19 pandemic was a sell-out with an audience of hundreds of students, parents and local people seeking to move into the video games industry enjoying a packed programme of talks. The talks were hosted by Marie Foulston, Creative Director and Videogame Curator, on a range of topics ranging from why there is a career for everyone in games, the different routes into the industry and what the future of Games might look like.

The event also shone a light on how well the industry responds to issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. Dozens of ‘Silicon Spa’ studios exhibited, including Kwalee, Rebellion, Playground Games, Lively- A Keyword Studio, SEGA HARDlight, Ubisoft, Third Kind Games, Lab 42, Sumo Leamington, Secret Mode, RiVR and Soul Assembly. There was the opportunity for those in attendance to enjoy some valuable one-to-one time with developers, artistic creatives and recruiters to review portfolios and CVs.

Chris McCarthy, Head of Recruitment at Third Kind Games, said: “As an integral part of the thriving video game hub in Leamington Spa and Warwickshire, Third Kind Games was proud to support Interactive Futures and inspire the future generation of game creators.

"From our perspective, it was great to see so many enthusiastic students, their parents and people looking to move into the industry at Interactive Futures. It further bolsters the work we are already doing alongside other local gaming studios in schools and colleges to engage students of all ages and backgrounds to understand the career options available to them within the industry."

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy, said: “We were delighted to be able to support the local studios to host this event which has engaged with so many people. The video games sector is a crucial part of the Warwickshire economy and offers incredibly rewarding careers due to the variety of opportunities and skills required which we need to showcase as a viable career option in order for us to support its continued growth.”

"We are really fortunate that so many of the video games studios in our area got involved to make this years event a success and made it fun for anyone attending."

Businesses showcase their offers at Meet the Supplier event

"The County Council understands that a strong economy is underpinned by partnerships and in this case the food, tourism and hospitality sectors will benefit from working alongside each other."

The strength and breadth of suppliers to the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector in Coventry and Warwickshire have been highlighted at a key industry event.

Around 100 people attended the inaugural Meet the Supplier Event at Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse, which was organised by Destination Coventry, in partnership with Shakespeare’s England and Warwickshire County Council.

It saw over 30 businesses set-up at the racecourse to highlight their services to businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector. Exhibitors ranged from artisan food producers, distilleries and hospitality venues, to marketing companies, AV suppliers and business support services. It presented an opportunity for suppliers to get in front of decision makers in the region and enhance their presence in the Coventry and Warwickshire tourism, leisure and hospitality market.

The event featured two panel sessions on the day, with experts highlighting the benefits of sourcing locally and giving top tips on how to become a preferred supplier to a hospitality business.

The first panel featured Marc Frankl from Amadeus Food, Tom Barber from The Barn at Berryfields, Richard Harrison of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, Dave Ayton-Hill of Warwickshire County Council and Luke Truslove from the Jacobean Hotel and The Green Dragon in Coventry. The panel discussed the importance of sourcing local products, the benefits for businesses in doing so, and highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities that come with buying local. It was highlighted that customers care about the origins of their food, and in many cases are willing to pay more for the provenance and story that comes with local produce.

Panellists emphasised the sustainability benefits of sourcing locally and how building relationships is vital for suppliers seeking to break into the market. But challenges around managing expectations when working with smaller suppliers, accreditations and food safety were also discussed.

For every £1 spent locally, £2.50 extra is generated for the local economy, according to Warwickshire County Council.

The second panel discussed how to become a preferred supplier to a hospitality business and featured Ron Terry of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, Mark O’Shea from Coventry Building Society Arena, Charlene McCalla from Amadeus Food, Dave Blick of Warwickshire Gin Company and Dal Dhillon, managing director of Dhillon’s Brewery.

Factors including industry standards and procurement processes were discussed, as well as examples of how the producers on the panel had been able to get their products in front of potential customers.

The panel discussed being bold and reaching out directly to hospitality businesses through social media and the importance of consistent marketing, with the businesses on the panel highlighting that LinkedIn is an excellent tool to reach potential customers.

David Ayton-Hill, Assistant Director for Communities with Warwickshire County Council, said: “We were delighted to see the success of the event. The County Council understands that a strong economy is underpinned by partnerships and in this case the food, tourism and hospitality sectors will benefit from working alongside each other.

“This networking event built on connections achieved in previous campaign years of Warwickshire Food and Drink and made others. It makes both economic and environmental sense for local businesses to access produce from our high-quality local suppliers. This event will have strengthened the links that make that possible in Warwickshire."

Paul Jones, Managing Director of Destination Coventry, said: “Suppliers in our region have a lot to offer to venues and this event has helped those businesses to speak directly to potential customers but more importantly gain vital insights on the steps they can follow to take their business to the next level.

“We would like to thank all of the panellists for sharing their expertise and we are sure it will have been valuable to the businesses in the room. The day showed what we can achieve as a sector if we work in collaboration. It was fantastic to see so many businesses in the room, passionate about growing their businesses and supporting the visitor economy in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, added: “The tourism scene in our region is fast surging towards pre-pandemic levels. We are determined to ensure this is done in the most sustainable way, so there has never been a better time for local suppliers to engage with local hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses.

“It was fantastic to see so many businesses of all sizes and sectors coming together to explore how they can help to grow an industry that is going to be crucial to the long-term prosperity of our region.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Region in the spotlight at UKREiiF

Developers and local authority partners came together with Invest Coventry & Warwickshire to showcase a range of opportunities, including a new £40m property development fund, at a leading UK property and development conference and exhibition. 

The partners came together from the city and county to exhibit and present to over 7,000 delegates at the UK Real Estate Infrastructure and Investment (UKREiiF) Conference in Leeds from May 16-18. It brought together the public and private sectors, including national, regional and local Government, commercial and residential developers, investors and a range of intermediaries. 

Invest Coventry & Warwickshire is the inward investment and place promotion service for Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council. The event was a first opportunity to promote the ‘Be Here’ message to the property community for the first time, together with an updated Invest Coventry & Warwickshire Investment Prospectus. The city and county has a pipeline of over 20m sqft of industrial space and 350,000sqft of grade A office, recently delivered or in development. 

The Coventry & Warwickshire programme of activity included an event titled ‘Coventry & Warwickshire – Developing Success’ which featured panels on town and city regeneration and development, and out-of-town development. The panels discussed the positive development environment in the Coventry & Warwickshire region, where major schemes are being delivered, such as SEGRO Coventry Gateway and the Transforming Nuneaton Programme with Queensberry and the local authorities. 

Warwickshire Property Development Group, Warwickshire County Council’s arms-length property company, exhibited together with Invest. The property company, formed two years ago in 2021, was there to promote its new joint venture with Countryside Partnerships which is a unique 30-year partnership which in the first few years will commence the delivery of nearly 2,000 new homes across the County, together with other residential and commercial developments, including its nine-unit 42,000sqft Sucham Park in Southam which is under construction. 

UKREiiF was also an excellent opportunity to promote the recently launched Property & Infrastructure Fund (PIF), a new £40m fund from Warwickshire County Council which can loan between £500,000 and £10m for developer of new or existing property and infrastructure. The fund is being administered by CBRE on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, and is the property strand of the Warwickshire Recovery & Investment Fund (WRIF), a major £100m initiative launched to provide access to debt finance and safeguard businesses in, or those expanding to, Warwickshire from any of the adverse economic effects caused by the pandemic. 

The city and county are a leading area for foreign direct investment - Warwickshire was the leading shire county for FDI investment in 2021, according to recent research. Last year was a record year for industrial letting in the Coventry market, which includes Warwickshire, according to property intelligence company CoStar, with over 5m sqft of industrial and warehouse space let.  

The UKREiiF event also saw the launch of the updated West Midlands and Midlands Investment Prospectuses, which feature six Warwickshire developments, including MIRA South Site in North Warwickshire, Creative Quarter Leamington Spa, and for the first time Rugby Town Centre. 

Martin Watson, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place at Warwickshire County Council, said: “UKREiiF provided an excellent opportunity for a range of partners and teams to come together to promote the strong investment environment in the county of Warwickshire, and the excellent support available here for those wanting to invest in commercial or residential development. 

"Our offer at UKREiiF included the new £40m Property Infrastructure Fund, and we were delighted to work alongside CBRE to promote it to the property community at this major show in Leeds. The property and infrastructure fund is a flexible investment scheme that can be deployed to help the development of new land or commercial space to support employment and the growth of the economy in Warwickshire."

Celebrate SME development with uxplore!

Businesses are invited a final uxplore event next month to celebrate some of the success stories of the project as it draws to a close.

The event will relate successful SME stories, share tips for digital technology in smaller businesses and deliver a ‘how to' session on available grant funding and other funding applications following the end of the uxplore grant.

The two-day event on the 14th-15th June will showcase some of the project's SME client programmes, as well as sharing tips and learning on marketing, social media and brand awareness - all directed at the needs of small businesses.

Attendees will hear from project partners the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on what is available in the local area to support their business. There will also be a session on understanding and using digital connectivity and cryptocurrency from Coventry University’s Electrification Skills Hub Commercial Director Deepak Farmah.

As the uxplore team closes out the project, they will share some tips and essential learning on how to access business funding in the most efficient way. There will be an introduction to other funding schemes available locally and nationally for small businesses, and a workshop of finding, applying for and winning grant funding from the Coventry University Enterprises team.

The event will take the learning from uxplore as a two-year project and put forward all the best learning in this final event to give SME clients the best finishing experience of the project to go into successful business with digital connectivity tools and understanding.

To find out more details and register your interest, please click here.

Happy 120th anniversary to the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated its 120th anniversary. Many of you reading this will have worked with the Chamber over the years and may well have sent good wishes out, noting the anniversary. Here, Cllr Izzi Seccombe pays tribute to the Chamber and notes the strong relationship between it and the County Council.   

New website launched to reflect CWRT's values, mission and vision

Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust has revealed its new website and overhauled their brand designed and created by their team.

Angele Gulbinaite, marketing officer from CWRT, said: “We are thrilled to announce that we have refreshed our brand and have launched a new website. We have created a brand-new online presence that we believe better reflects our company's values, mission, and vision.”

Visit the CWRT website to hear all about their services from past borrowers, exciting upcoming news and to find out more about what they can offer your business: www.cwrt.uk.com

Fully funded course places available from Coventry University

Coventry University will deliver a range of business courses over the summer months.

Help to grow: Management

Coventry University is pleased to offer fully funded places on its Help to Grow: Management course.

Online & In-Person - 4 Sessions

This course involves 12 sessions as well as dedicated Peer to Peer sessions to network with businesses alongside 10 hours of 1-2-1 mentoring. Please follow our link below to find out more and register for our sessions in May and September.


Transform your Social Media Marketing & Video Marketing

voco St. John's Solihull (hotel)

Wednesday, 31 May-1 June at 9am

Are you struggling to create content that truly connects with your target audience and drives more traffic to your online presence? Unlock the secrets of leveraging social media and video creation for all platforms, including YouTube. This course will guide you through the process of creating content that stands out and resonates with your audience.


Business Opportunity Spotting

Online event

Tuesday, 6 June 2023 at 11am

If you are looking for profitable business opportunities but are uncertain about which are worth pursuing this webinar is for you.

Find out which opportunities are valuable and which ones are not in this two-hour workshop. You'll be surprised to find out how many chances you can have just by being more observant.


Transform your Social Media Marketing & Video Marketing

Village Hotel Walsall

Wednesday, 14-15 June at 9am

Are you struggling to create content that truly connects with your target audience and drives more traffic to your online presence? Unlock the secrets of leveraging social media and video creation for all platforms, including YouTube. This course will guide you through the process of creating content that stands out and resonates with your audience.


Shopify 101: A Beginner's Guide to Online Selling

Online event

Thursday, 15 June 2023 at 11am

Are you thinking of starting an online store but don't know where to begin? In this workshop, we'll teach you the basics of setting up a store on Shopify. You'll learn how to choose a theme, add products, set up payment and shipping options, and start selling your products to customers.


Coronation sparks quest for coveted King's Awards

"The King's Awards for Enterprise are a great opportunity for Warwickshire-based companies to showcase their innovative and sustainable practices and to gain national recognition."

His Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Tim Cox, is encouraging Warwickshire-based companies to apply for the prestigious King's Award for Enterprise, which are now open for applications following the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.

The King’s Awards for Enterprise are the highest accolade available to UK businesses and offers unparalleled prestige, exposure, and credibility to award recipients, as well as inspiration and pride to a company’s employees. Award recipients also state that this achievement can open new doors and help with securing new contracts, venturing into new markets, or further developing their business.

Applications for the 2024 round close at midday on 12 September 2023, and will be announced on 6 May 2024. Eligible businesses are free to apply for one or more categories. Recipients pass a robust assessment process, judged by experts from industry, academia, the voluntary sector and senior officials in Whitehall.

Green Sheep Group in Stratford-upon-Avon is the latest company in Warwickshire to receive an Award for Enterprise in the category for International Trade, and is one of the first companies in the UK to receive the newly named Kings Awards for Enterprise. Green Sheep Group are best known for their brands Snüz & The Little Green Sheep in the nursery industry, and this is their second Royal recognition, following a Queen’s Award for Innovation which was awarded to the company in 2018.

Successful businesses receive a Grant of Appointment, and are able to fly the King's Award flag at their main office and use the emblem on marketing materials for up to five years. In addition, they are invited to a Royal reception and presented with their award by the Lord Lieutenant, who is The King's representative in the county.

The King’s Awards are awarded to businesses for outstanding achievements in four categories: Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development, and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). They provide a range of benefits, including the opportunity to break into new markets, attract new investment, raise awareness of brand and products, attract new talent, and boost employee morale.

The Warwickshire Lieutenancy team has prepared a locally focused brochure on the benefits of these awards and the appropriate steps that can be followed to apply. The brochure is available online at https://api.warwickshire.gov.uk/documents/WCCC-1980322935-2072

The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Tim Cox, said: "I encourage all Warwickshire businesses to embrace the opportunity to showcase your company's excellence and apply for The King's Award for Enterprise. As the highest honour available to UK companies, it not only brings unparalleled prestige but also offers great exposure and credibility to your business”.

Monica Fogarty, Warwickshire County Council’s Chief Executive, said: "Celebrating our local businesses' achievements and promoting their growth is a key priority for us. The King's Awards for Enterprise are a great opportunity for Warwickshire-based companies to showcase their innovative and sustainable practices and to gain national recognition. I strongly encourage all eligible businesses to apply for this prestigious award and make the most of the benefits it offers."

For companies interested in applying for an award and would like more information, please email the Warwickshire Lieutenancy at lieutenancy@warwickshire.gov.uk.

To find out more about The King’s Awards for Enterprise, visit www.gov.uk/kings-awards-for-enterprise

Special Feature

Sustainability is at the heart of the Council Plan

"Leading and coordinating the effort for Warwickshire to be a net zero county by 2050 means many of our actions are focused on supporting others – community groups, schools and residents, as well as our business sectors – to contribute to creating a sustainable and prosperous community."

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing our county. The continued burning of fossil fuels is affecting weather patterns around the world as well as causing devastating extreme weather events more locally, leading to flooding, heatwaves, drought and wildfires. These events pose a direct risk to Warwickshire’s communities and economy, and we recognise that they will disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable in the County.  

It's therefore clear that the transition to and beyond net zero must be managed in a way that widens opportunities through the growth of high-value, green-related business sectors and jobs.  

“A green economy is broader than a low carbon economy; it aligns to the wider context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. A green economy is an approach to sustainable economic growth with a central focus on reducing societal and environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It embeds climate adaptation into its construct. It transitions from the current ‘growth based’ approach to investments, employment, and skills towards growth without degrading the environment, and the wellbeing and prosperity of citizens.” Warwickshire County Council’s Draft Sustainable Futures Strategy 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals give us a blueprint of peace and prosperity for both people and the planet, now and into the future. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.  

Given the enormity of this task, it’s clear that governments, the business, the not-for-profit sector and communities must all work together. Therefore, leading and coordinating the effort for Warwickshire to be a net zero county by 2050 means many of our actions are focused on supporting others – community groups, schools and residents, as well as our business sectors – to contribute to creating a sustainable and prosperous community.  

There are many things, both big and small, that can make a difference, and we’re encouraging everyone to play their part. For example, by prioritising walking or cycling, improving home energy efficiency, reducing waste, buying sustainable, local products and produce, and taking an active role in the protection and enhancement of our natural spaces.  

Some of our initiatives are below. If you have any feedback on these, or other ideas that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it. Email us at climateemergency@warwickshire.gov.uk.  

Sustainable Warwickshire Podcast 

A new podcast series for those people living and working in Warwickshire who care about climate change and ensuring that Warwickshire is sustainable now and for future generations.  It features conversations with people from our public, private and voluntary sectors, all taking action to reduce carbon emissions, support biodiversity and promote economic growth. There are four episodes already published, and more will follow to cover topics such as energy, the built environment and the green economy. Listen on Podbean or search for Sustainable Warwickshire on Spotify or Apple. 

Warwickshire Climate Emergency Resources 

Did you know that Warwickshire has a climate emergency website? It is a comprehensive summary of all the Warwickshire County Council climate change strategies and plans, as well as links to a range of other useful resources. This includes funding opportunities for Warwickshire businesses where available. Visit: www.warwickshireclimateemergency.org.uk 

Sign up for the latest climate change news 

We publish a monthly newsletter with a round-up of any climate change, sustainability or biodiversity news from the Council. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re keeping up to date. Sign up here: https://warwickshire.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a24b439ef7022ae0d86f9ca6e&id=6f19e0f3a5 

Encouraging your employees to walk or cycle to work 

Our Safe and Active team have a comprehensive programme of support for Warwickshire businesses: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/road-safety/safe-active-workplaces 

Managing your recycling and waste 

If you’re a small Warwickshire business, then please bring your recycling and waste to one of our local Household Waste and Recycling Centres. Each of the nine Centres in Warwickshire offer trade waste, including a recycling permit from just £50 per annum. For more information, watch our video: https://www.facebook.com/warwickshirerecycles/videos/1288532391646069 

Big Green Week (10th – 18th June) 

Although the focus of the UK’s Big Green Week is to celebrate community action to tackle climate change and protect nature, it offers all organisations an opportunity to raise awareness of the need for action amongst employees, and to showcase your commitment to sustainability. It’s also an opportunity for you to get involved with your local community as part of any CSR initiatives – through local schools, community groups or sports clubs, for example. The Big Green Week website has a map of local events as well as lots of other ideas on how to get involved. 

Other national events or awareness days to build into your calendars include: 

Clean Air Day – 15 June 

Plastic Free July – 1 to 31 July 

Cycle to Work Day – 4 August 

Recycle Week – 19-25 September 

Guest column

Net Zero...the economic opportunity of the 21st century!

In this special green edition of Warwickshire Means Business, Warwickshire County Council’s Head of Economy & Skills, Kim Fraser-Bell, outlines why moving to Net Zero makes abundant sense not just for the climate but also for the local economy.

"With change always comes opportunity...Warwickshire is well placed to exploit these opportunities."

The move to Net Zero is often talked about as a moral obligation - something we should all be doing to protect the future of our world for us and the generations that will come after us.

There are certainly convincing arguments behind the need to protect our environment and the planet we call home, but there is also a strong economic case for businesses to reduce their carbon output and often their consumption. The economy and climate change are inexorably intertwined in a future where high emissions will impact on resource availability and disrupt the economy.

The County Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and since then has committed to Net Zero carbon for County emissions by 2050. In 2022 we published our first Sustainable Futures strategy which sets out our vision for reducing carbon emissions as a local authority and as a county. Ensuring that we have a thriving, low-carbon economy is a big part of that vision, and the public sector has a major role in incentivising and supporting businesses to grow in a sustainable way that benefits local communities.

Earlier this year, Chris Skidmore OBE released a report entitled Mission Zero. This report was the result of extensive engagement with businesses from every corner of the UK who were able to share their views on the move to a Net Zero economy.

One message came through loud and clear…that Net Zero is the economic opportunity of the 21st century! The consulting group McKinsey estimates that the global market opportunity for UK businesses from Net Zero could be worth more than £1trillion in the period 2021 to 2030. It is possible to have a pro-growth and pro-business transition. With change always comes opportunity.

Warwickshire is well placed to exploit these opportunities. We have the West Midlands Gigafactory whose mission is to create the UK’s largest battery Gigafactory, securing the future of our automotive industry as it transitions to an electrified future. We are also home to a wealth of research and development institutions such as those situated on the Mira and Wellesbourne campuses. These campuses are researching everything from electric car design to Agri-tech. They are internationally renowned and bring huge scope for Net Zero technology adoption across our County.

Alongside the opportunity which Net Zero presents now, we must also recognise and support our existing and new businesses to capitalise on the future opportunities that a carbon neutral economy will bring - whether that is using waste products to generate heat, or even new products, to retrofitting homes.

I have spoken a lot about the opportunities that Net Zero brings, but I also recognise that our businesses will require support. The Council has provided a variety of support so far in supporting businesses to transition to a low carbon economy through the Green Recovery Grants and our partnership with Coventry City Council and the Coventry University through the C&W Green Business Programme. Looking to the future we are actively working on new programmes to support our businesses in becoming net zero.

Currently we are working on drafting our new strategic economic plan for Warwickshire (we will be carrying out some engagement work soon, so watch this space). A key strand of this strategy will be the identification of actions that we and our partners can take to ensure an affordable and cost-effective transition to a low carbon economy - from ensuring that our residents have the right skills to be able to take advantage of well-paid, low carbon technology roles to providing information on how a Circular economy can reduce costs and improve supply chains.

This is a journey that we will all take together and one from which we at Warwickshire County Council are committed to ensuring that everyone will benefit.



2023.05.25 hUBClub Brand Workshop with Guest Speaker - Henley
Join us and local Warwickshire and Solihull businesses at Forward House for a free and friendly brand workshop.s in our self-employed community.
UBCUK 09.00-12.30 Forward House, Henley-in-Arden Weblink here
2023.05.25 Leamington Networking Breakfast
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer
Leamington Business Network 07.00-09.00 Audley Care, Binswood Weblink here
2023.05.26 BIGBreakfast - Let's Talk Business Networking at The Farm
Let's Talk Business Breakfast. Bringing the members & guests of Talk Business UK together for a live networking event.
Talk Business UK 07.30-09.00 The Farm, Stratford Weblink here
2023.05.26 Leamington Coffee & Coworking
A coworking space for businesswomen to gain support and empowerment because no woman has to build a business alone.
Women's Business Club UK 09.00-12.00 Mallory Court Weblink here
2023.05.26 BAB Networking - Brandon Brunch - LEC
BAB Brunch in Brandon. You will be welcomed and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers.
BAB Networking 10.00-12.00 The LEC - Learn2 Education Centre Weblink here
2023.05.27 MG Centenary
Celebrate 100 years of MG in this special event at the British Motor Museum.
BMM 10.00-16.00 British Motor Museum Weblink here
2023.05.30 BAB Networking - Bulkington Breakfast
BAB Brunch in Brandon. You will be welcomed and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers.
BAB Networking 08.00-10.00 Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Weblink here
2023.06.02 Business Buzz Leamington Spa
Business Buzz Leamington Spa is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. First Friday of the month.
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 1 Mill Street Weblink here
2023.06.02 First Friday networking lunch at Coventry Cathedral
oventry Cathedral is now one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation and its work in recent decades has involved it in some of the world’s most difficult and long-standing areas of conflict. We will hear from Mary Gregory, Canon of Arts and Reconciliation who will host our visit and share the Cathedral’s story before we have a guided tour.  James Holden, formerly the Managing Director of one of our member firms and now a deacon, will outline the work that the Diocese does with the local business community and share plans for future business engagement.
CW First Professionals 12.30-14.00 Coventry Cathedral Weblink here
2023.06.02 Coventry Transport Innovation Event
Midlands Connect will host an innovation event at the beginning of MotoFest in conjunction with Coventry City Council to highlight and showcase the great work going on the city and beyond to use innovation and technology to tackle some of the big questions we face in transport. Join us for a morning of discussion and debate at Friargate in Coventry.
Midlands Connect/ CCC 10.00-13.00 Friargate, Coventry Weblink here
2023.06.03 Coventry Motofest - 2 days
This event will feature a live speech from George Freeman MP (Minister for Science, Research and Innovation), and introduction to the report by Alexis Brown (the report author), and an interactive panel discussion featuring a range of experts, chaired by Dr Joe Marshall (Chief Executive of NCUB). Discussion will be based around the recent HEPI report: The role of universities in driving overseas investment into UK R&D.
Motofest Coventry All Day Coventry City Centre Weblink here
2023.06.06 BAB Networking - Coleshill Brunch
Face to Face Networking in Coleshill -Business at Breakfast. You will be welcomed, included and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers. Including a 10 Minute Education slot 15 Min Spotlight and one to one Networking Opportunities.
BAB Networking 10.00-12.00 Coleshill Hotel Weblink here
2023.06.07 Warwick Uno - Talk Business Networking
LIVE NETWORKING Twice a month - face 2 face. Come along and help create the Talk Business Warwick UNO group A 'single seat' business networking group - WHAT SEAT WILL YOU WANT?
Everyone has the opportunity to introduce themselves and their business.
Talk Business UK 07.30-09.00 Delta Marriott - Warwick Weblink here
2023.06.07 Midlands Economic Summit - Reimaging the Midlands
Event to explore the opportunities and challenges of the largest economic region outside London.
Nachural All Day The Vox, Birmingham Weblink here
2023.06.08 Talk Property Brunch - Coventry/ Warkwickshire (Networking)
Fantastic to be able to once again host the popular monthly Talk Property Brunch. Just 18 Property ProfJust 18 Property Professionals meeting for Brunch, one table, one conversation ....mostly around property!
Estate agents, mortgage brokers, planners, conveyancers, property lawyers, bankers, insurers, architects, interior designers, garden designers, builders, trades etc.
Talk Business UK 10.00-11.30 Virgins and Castle, Kenilworth Weblink here
2023.06.08 Business Buzz Rugby
Business Buzz Rugby is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takres places on the 2nd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. 
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Gallachers of Rugby Weblink here
2023.06.08 Leamington Networking Breakfast
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer. 2nd and 4th Thursdays.
Leamington Business Network 07.00-09.00 Audley Care, Binswood Weblink here
2023.06.09 Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon
Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session which takes place on the 2nd Friday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Cork & Tile Portuguese Weblink here
2023.06.12 FindaBiz Networking Nuneaton
FaB Networking with FindaBiz is a local business networking and business support organisation. Serious about helping you grow your business, in a positive and friendly setting with no scary rules. Help for business owners to make connections, build business relationships and find opportunities to do business. 2nd Monday of the month.
FaB Networking 18.00-20.00 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here
2023.06.15 Business Buzz Warwick
Business Buzz Warwick is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 The Globe Weblink here
2023.06.15 Warwickshire Investors Network
Every 3rd Thursday of the month, come join us for a relaxed and friendly meeting in the Coventry & Warwickshire area from 6pm. Whether you're an established investor or just starting your business journey, this event is perfect for learning new strategies and opportunities in property investing, wealth creation, tax planning and inheritance planning.
Sam Cooper and Jo Davies 18.00-21.00 Draycote Hotel, Rugby Weblink here
2023.06.16 Coventry & Warwickshire Business Networking Event with Taiwo Owatemi MP
Join Taiwo Owatemi MP and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden MP, for a networking event for small and medium-sized businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire! This is a great opportunity to meet other local businesses and discuss how elected leaders can support our business community to thrive.
Taiwo Owatemi MP 10.00-12.00 The Oculus, University of Warwick Weblink here
2023.06.20 The Big Zero Show
The Big Zero Show, where you will network with hundreds of businesses and public sector organisations taking bigger steps to net zero. You’ll hear from great thought leaders across various sectors and we will help you with practical advice and solutions.
Future Net Zero 09.30-17.30 CBS Arena, Coventry Weblink here
2023.06.21 Warwickshire food and drink network
We hope to hear about Access to finance from WCC Business Support, as well at networking opportunities over breakfast.
Warwickshire County Council 09.30-11.00 Hilltop Farm Weblink here
2023.06.21 Midlands Development Conference
The Midlands is aiming to grow the region’s economy to £34 billion by 2030. The region is set forThe Midlands is aiming to grow the region’s economy to £34 billion by 2030. The region is set for over £10bn in inward investment to improve infrastructure, deliver housing, logistics and commercial space in the next 18 months. This conference will provide a platform for regional leadership to share insight into their plans to develop an inclusive, innovative Midlands.
Built Environment Networking 08.00-15.45 CBS Arena, Coventry Weblink here
2023.06.26 Battery Cells & Systems Expo
Battery Cells & Systems Expo will bring together automotive manufacturers, electric utilities, battery system integrators, cell manufacturers and the entire manufacturing supply chain. A truly unique showcase, companies from around the world will use the show to launch products and demonstrate their technology to an audience of over 4,500 professionals.
Event Partners 09.00-17.00 NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
CWCDA Workshop 27th June - Resilience for Social and Community EnterprisesCoventry and Warwickshire CDA are running a free, online workshop on Tuesday, 27th June: 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
The workshop is open to any social or community enterprise with a registered office address in Warwickshire.The focus will be organisational resilience in the face of the constant challenge and disruption currently being experienced.
There will be a presentation in the first hour followed by time for questions.
10.00-11.30 Online Weblink here
2023.07.05 Geotechnica
Bringing together the UK’s biggest and best geotechnical suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and clients. A single focussed event, helping to promote the very best specialist services, products and innovations the industry has to offer.
Equipe Group 09.00-17.00 Warwickshire Exhibition Centre Weblink here
2023.08.03 UK Corporate Games
UK Corporate Games Coventry & Warwickshire – get your organisation involved in Europe’s largest multi-sport festival for businesses! The UK Corporate Games will be staged in Coventry and Warwickshire from the 3-6 August, where hundreds of companies and thousands of participants will compete in up to 21 different sports. The Hub of the Games will be at the University of Warwick, hosts to up to 16 sports, welcome festival and the great games party celebrations. The event is a great platform for companies to integrate and engage employees, promote health & wellbeing, address CSR objectives and raise brand awareness. There is a wide range of fun and engaging sports to get involved in that include Badminton, Dragon Boat Racing, Tennis, Basketball, Karting, Hockey, Netball and more. For more details on the Games – please visit our website – www.corporategamesuk.com. Find your sport and represent your organisation!
Corporate Games UK 03-06 August 2023 University of Warwick Sports Hub Weblink here
2023.09.06 LCV CENEX
Cenex-LCV is the place to meet UK decision makers and industry experts; the perfect opportunity to showcase your business, your industry and your technology.
Cenex All Day Millbrook Weblink here
2023.10.03 Tomorrow’s Science and Innovation Clusters - 2 Days
Tomorrow’s Science and Innovation Clusters is the new INDUSTRY LEADING destination event for investors, developers, occupiers and policy influencers across LIFE SCIENCES, MANUFACTURING, SPACE, BUSINESS PARKS and TECHNOLOGY convene and talk about how the built environment sector is delivering major regeneration schemes allied to their industry. UK Government has pledged £25bn per year to unlock schemes that support economic growth, skills stagnation and which keep UK PLC at the forefront of emerging markets and over it is estimated that over £100bn of private capital will be deployed into projects by the end of 2024.
Built Environment Networking 08.00-1530 The Custard Factory, B'ham Weblink here
2023.10.11 Engineering Design Show
The UK’s biggest event dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design. Design engineers benefit from direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector.
Cenex 11 - 12 October  Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2023.11.01 Be inspired by innovation at Advanced Engineering 2023
The 14th edition of Advanced Engineering will celebrate innovation, collaboration and sustainability within the engineering and manufacturing industries. Engineering professionals from all sectors come together to network, learn and discover innovative new solutions and suppliers from the engineering supply chain across two action-packed days.
NEC 1st and 2nd November NEC Weblink here
2023.11.18 Motorcycle Live - November
Motorcycle Live in association with Bikesure Insurance welcomed thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the weekend as the doors swung open to the UK’s biggest motorcycle show. 
NEC 18-26 November NEC Weblink here

News in Brief

A round up of latest business news around Warwickshire and the region...

Warwickshire Automotive to share in £77 million Zero-Emission funding

£77 million in new funding for projects developing clean transport technologies has been announced, with companies from across the county part of the consortia. The schemes, which range from work on battery-powered buses, to a hydrogen-powered version of the iconic Ford Transit van, will support more than 4,400 jobs across the UK over the next decade. The funding has been awarded through the Advanced  Propulsion Centre (APC) Collaborative Research and Development programme, to help build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the UK. Local companies receiving the funding include Jaguar Land Rover, Leamington Spa-based Altair, and Warwick based Aeristech.


Electric vehicle training facility is upskilling technicians across Warwickshire

An electric vehicle training facility which was created after a £477,000 investment is helping to upskill motor vehicle technicians from across Warwickshire. Staff from Warwickshire County Council have become the first cohort to complete an electrified vehicle course at Warwick Trident College’s electric vehicle training facility. The technicians, who day to day handle maintenance on council vehicles, completed the Level 3 Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Systems Repair and Replacement at the college.


TATA Battery cell decision Imminent

The government is said to be in serious talks with Tata, the Indian owners of West Midlands-based Jaguar Land Rover, to build a gigafactory at Gravity in Somerset. According to reports, the Treasury has developed a multi-million pound package of incentives to encourage Tata to invest in a gigafactory in the UK rather than Spain, the other preferred location.


Southam Light Industrial Scheme in Biodiversity Offset Scheme

Warwickshire Property and Development Group (WPDG) has completed the purchase of Biodiversity Net Gain Credits which will support work at the 4,000-acre Alscot Estate, which is three miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. WPDG was formed last year by Warwickshire County Council to realise the potential of its development sites. Work is underway on its first commercial development which is a 42,000sqft multi-let industrial scheme at Holywell Business Park, part of the Kineton Road Industrial Estate in Southam. The development is being undertaken by Warwick based contractor MCS Group.


Improved outlook for Coventry & Warwickshire economy

The economic outlook for Coventry and Warwickshire has improved since the start of the year, according to new research. The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce's latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) shows a small uptick in the potential performance of the regional economy based on firms' current and future orders, their plans to invest and take on new staff and their overall confidence. The survey, which is developed in partnership with Prime Accountants Group, is analysed by the Economy & Skills Group at Warwickshire County Council.


China’s Geely doubles stake in Aston Martin

Automotive group Geely has doubled its stake in British luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin, with a £234 million investment, taking the stake it owns to 17%. Geely also owns major stakes in local brands London EV Company, Lotus and Polestar.


Chancellor of the Exchequer visits MTC

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt recently visited the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre as part of the Government's national Business Connect programme. Accompanied by more than 50 captains of British industry, he discussed the importance of advanced manufacturing to the UK economy. The visit agenda included presentations from the Chancellor, ministers and the MTC chief executive Graham Hoare, round table discussions with industry leaders, and a visit to the world-class MTC training centre and apprentice workshop, which was one of the reasons the MTC was chosen as a venue.


Turnover and profits rise at Leamington dumper-maker Thwaites

Turnover and pre-tax profits rose at dumper truck maker Thwaites during its latest financial year. Thwaites, which is based in Cubbington, designs and makes a range of off-highway dumpers which can take loads from one to nine tonnes. The company serves the plant hire and construction markets on five continents and in more than 70 countries.


Exhall defence and aerospace firm in restructure

The board of Exhall-headquartered Nasmyth has announced the completion of a holding company restructuring that it said will "provide both the financial security and capital base it needs to continue to prosper into the future". The move safeguards more than 450 jobs. Nasmyth, which has a growing orderbook and improving financial performance, will continue to be owned by Rcapital.


Vodafone and Coventry University partner on UK-first 5G SA Media Innovation Lab

A collaboration between Vodafone and Coventry University will open the UK’s first 5G Standalone (5G SA) Media Innovation Lab in Coventry. Working alongside Vodafone engineers and academics from the University, broadcasters, media companies and the software development community will be invited to the lab to develop 5G use cases for the media industry.


Local games development cluster in spotlight

While the Midlands is famous for being at the heart of UK manufacturing, it is also a powerhouse for one of the world’s largest and fastest growing sectors, games development. Video games will be a $192bn industry by the end of this year, significantly bigger than music and film combined, and with predictions of three billion gamers in the world by 2027, and Warwickshire is in important UK base.  


Shakespeare greets visitors at Birmingham Airport

The world’s greatest playwright has visited Birmingham Airport to sample a new installation providing millions of international visitors with a taste of south Warwickshire’s tourism scene. Tourist numbers look set to take off in the county thanks to Shakespeare’s England’s bold new wall artwork which greets passengers as they arrive at BHX. The wall banners total 75 metres in length, and feature key attractions in the region including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, the RSC Theatre and Compton Verney.


DP World sails into Baginton

Global logistics firm DP World Logisitcs/ Synchreon is taking a  pre-let for an almost 600,000 sq facility at SEGRO Park Coventry, the 200-acre development site on the Coventry border near Baginton and Coventry Airport. The new 598,050 sq ft unit will be the fourth building at the development following last year's 300,000 sq ft pre-let to DHL and SEGRO's decision to build two speculative units of 140,000 sq ft and 220,000 sq ft, which complete in September 2023.


Views sought on Midlands Rail Hub

Views from businesses are being sought regarding a regional transport body's plans for the Midlands Rail Hub. Midlands Connect is urging businesses throughout the route to complete a short survey, which will support its future strategy. Midlands Rail Hub is a £900m - £1.5bn blueprint for faster and more frequent connections across the Midlands. The scheme aims to add more than 14 million more seats on the rail network each year and provide faster, more frequent or new rail links for in excess of 30 locations, including Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Nuneaton, Worcester, Hereford, Cardiff, Bristol, Cheltenham and Leicester.


Ansty HQ building wins BCO major award

Cadent Gas, the UK's largest gas distribution network, has been awarded a major title for its new HQ building in Coventry. At the recent Midlands and Central England regional finals of the British Council for Offices Awards Cadent Gas won the ESG award for its 100,000 sq ft purpose-built headquarters at Ansty Park. The building was the largest out of town office development in the UK during the pandemic.


SEGRO and WMCA announce strategic partnership

Real estate investment trust SEGRO, developer of the 3.7m SEGRO Coventry Gateway, has been announced as a strategic partner of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), with a commitment to invest £2 billion over the coming decade to deliver next generation, net-zero warehouse facilities in the West Midlands. As a strategic partner, SEGRO aims to deliver 13.5 million sq ft of sustainable warehouse space across the West Midlands by the end of 2033, focused on tech-enabled logistics facilities as well as purpose-built space for Research & Development and light manufacturing.


Leamington’s Squab Storage in prestigious UK award

Leamington Spa-based Squab Storage has landed a prestigious UK award – and is now in the running for a top European title. Business centre and self-storage company Squab Storage has been named as the UK’s Independent Operator Store of the Year at The Self Storage Association United Kingdom (SSA UK) Awards in Birmingham. The firm will now compete for the European Operator of the Year award at the FEDESSA Awards in Rotterdam in October. The award comes on the back of a period of strong growth for the company, having expanded its Leamington site in 2022 to provide more than 90,000 sq ft of storage space, resulting in revenue consistently growing by a around a quarter over the past 18 months.


People Profile

Preserving and improving the places of Warwickshire is Aoife's mission

"What is clear from every town I’ve visited is that people really care about their places and that applies across the county. People just want their places to be the best they can be."

Aoife O’Gorman admits that she looks at places in a different way since taking on her role in the Regeneration and Place Shaping team at Warwickshire County Council.

Aoife has always appreciated lovely places, as might be expected from someone who hails from one of the loveliest of all – Ireland.

Warwickshire is not short of lovely locations, of course and part of Aoife’s role as Regeneration and Place Programme Officer is to help those locations turn their tourist appeal into maximum economic benefit. But while the county is relatively small, it is extremely diverse with rural towns, market towns and former mining towns all facing challenges, some universal, some unique, of recent years.

Supporting those places and the communities that power them is a mission which Aoife is relishing.

“I love the fact that I'm making a practical difference to where and how people live,” she said. “Helping to create and preserve places that people want to be in and can enjoy a good life in.

“This role has really changed the way I look at places. I find myself walking down streets thinking about what really works in an area, and what could make it better - usually annoying whoever I'm walking with!”

After studying European Studies at Trinity College Dublin, Aoife came to the UK to do a Ph.D. in History at the University of Oxford. Having qualified as a teacher, she spent five years teaching history and politics to 11-18 year olds in Buckinghamshire, Cambridge and Solihull. A key component of her role was to support students to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, trying to expand access to help them fulfil their full potential.

After joining Warwickshire County Council on the National Graduate Development Programme, Aoife worked with the Youth Support Team and then the Corporate Policy Unit before going on maternity leave.

“It was while I was on leave that the regeneration role caught my eye,” she said. “So I applied for it and am really enjoying it.

“It's quite an exciting challenge, trying to find ways to preserve the unique feel of a place, while promoting regeneration of high streets and shifting to new ways of living with evolving consumer habits.

“I'm mainly working with Stratford and Bedworth and am also starting to provide support for Nuneaton projects.  They are different towns with different projects and needs but there is still a common denominator because it’s all about making places that work for the people who live there. What is clear from every town I’ve visited is that people really care about their places and that applies across the county. People just want their places to be the best they can be.

“It is rewarding, though a lot of what we do in the regeneration team is often very long-term. Some of the projects are 15 years in the making. It’s about that long-term thinking and not getting disheartened when something doesn’t happen straight away but knowing that every little bit we do is helping towards the bigger whole.

“We have to be practical too, of course. If we had an unlimited budget there are loads of things we would love to do but it’s about prioritising what will happen next and have the most impact with the resources we have. It is just great that in Warwickshire we have such great raw material, fantastic places, to work with.”

Focus on the Towns, Rural Economy and Tourism team

Helping make Warwickshire a great place to work and live...

Recent years have presented town centres, the tourism sector and local high streets with one of the most challenging eras ever. Already under pressure from the rise in online shopping and changing consumer habits, the high streets were hammered by the pandemic. Still dealing with the fallout from that, they then faced the pressure of rising costs.

The resilience and quality of Warwickshire’s small businesses means the county has weathered the turbulence better than most. But those challenges remain - and the sector has a resolute and resourceful ally in the battle to overcome them in Warwickshire County Council’s Town Centres, Rural and Tourism Team.

Through its many connections, the five-strong team works with partners to enable town centres, high streets and rural hub locations to take positive action to bring constructive change. Their work provides support and guidance to enable Warwickshire’s remarkably diverse range of towns to enhance their local offer and remain prosperous and vibrant places. Projects include Our Spaces which began as a mainly government-funded Covid recovery scheme and has advanced to offer many opportunities including Poems for Polesworth and the Atherstone bus station enhancement.

A key delivery mechanism within the team is the Warwickshire Towns Network, which enables best practice and sharing of ideas across the County involving as many key stakeholders as possible. This network, and the team as a whole, strives to bring together as many factors as possible to support our ‘Warwickshire Place.’ Warwickshire's towns have community assets of all types and each has a unique place-based offer, whether green spaces, businesses, or community action.

The recent 2023 Towns Network Conference, attended by a full house at Warwick Racecourse, was a resounding success, further extending the boundaries of the network. The event explored best practice in place management and showed how other places have been able to pool resources with positive collective action to do more with less. Speakers and delegates heard and delivered so many positive stories, in many of which WCC’s Town Centres, Rural and Tourism team has been deeply involved. Each member of the team brings with them a solution-focused and ‘can do’ attitude to match the innovation and enterprise found so impressively all around the towns and communities of Warwickshire.  

Aaron Corsi, who heads up the Town Centres, Rural and Tourism team, said: “I’m really proud to lead the team and the great work they do - work which can only be successful when we all pull together as partners and communities across this wonderful county. Our core aims are aligned to the County Council’s aims to promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth, nurture successful business, and future skills and create vibrant places with safe and inclusive communities.

“Over the last couple of years, the tourism sector and our local high streets in particular have suffered greatly from the impact of the pandemic and we are not out of the woods yet. Future challenges lie ahead for the sector with uncertainties about energy prices while the cost of living increases are inevitably influencing customer behaviour. These challenges remain, but Warwickshire's towns understand that change is necessary and they are finding new ways to innovate and to reach customers and focus on certainty of Warwickshire's tremendous offer. The resilience, innovation and partnership attitude shown by local businesses will help our towns stay strong and become stronger – I have no doubt about that.” 

Warwickshire County Council’s Town Centres, Rural and Tourism Team

Aaron Corsi

Aaron, who heads the team, was bought up around Meriden and surrounding villages before moving to Warwick. He worked in hospitality and the service industry before joining the County Council in 2015 in the Network Management team utilising highway-related skills he acquired while managing the Central Region for a traffic data collection company. Since December 2016, he has worked in, and thoroughly enjoyed, a number of roles supporting the towns and high streets of Warwickshire.

When not at work, Aaron spends his time walking golden lab ‘Rufus’ who was a constant companion at the Commonwealth Games live site last summer. A keen amateur fashion model, Aaron has performed in countless charity fashion shows in the Spa Centre, Leamington. When life allows, he looks forward to getting back on the river and sculling along the Avon under Warwick Castle - or it might be more frantic paddling down the Avon at Tiddington. captaining the County Dragon Boat Team in the Corporate Games.  

Julia Aratoon – Sustaining Communities and Places Officer

Julia’s role at Warwickshire County Council, which she took up in 2021, is the perfect fit as it brings together elements of her previous jobs. “I absolutely love being out and about in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, meeting new people and noticing new details of our wonderfully varied county” she says.

Julia grew up in Kent, spent much of her childhood holidays in Suffolk and subsequently lived in Chester and Manchester before studying in South Wales. After graduating with a BSc Econ Hons degree in Sociology and Anthropology, she took a role in the Civil Service based in Manchester. When a job opportunity came up on the Isle of Wight, Julia relocated with her young family and spent several years living in Godshill and Bonchurch where she fell in love with yet another place. However, Warwickshire offers wonderful cultural and educational opportunities, so the family returned.

Julia has worked for town, district and county councils in various roles in Warwickshire, Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire including legal services, community development, economic development and market towns project management.

“Although so very different, each role has given me a great insight into place. I like to get to know details of place and build relationships with local people who are there every day as we work on specific projects. It is these place-based projects which provide the springboard into working relationships which connect the council with the county.”

Outside work, Julia likes to do more of the same – spending time ferreting around places, walking cycling and spending time with friends in places all over the county. Favourites including Compton Verney, Stratford Upon Avon and Coventry for the arts and culture scene.

Audrey Brown – Commissioning Officer, Place, Projects and Partnerships

Having a passion for place, Audrey has been with the County Council for 18 years, starting out with the Inward Investment Team before seconding to Regeneration and is now the Place Projects and Partnership.  She pretty much ‘does what is says on the tin’ and will be found enabling, co-creating or leading projects which support the Council's place agenda through partnership working.  

After falling in love with Glasgow during the City of Culture in 1990 and studying Business and Consumer Services there, her early career started with English Partnerships promoting projects such as the Coalfields Regeneration Programme and Greenwich Peninsula, before moving to Deloitte to deliver their FTSE350 Financial Controllers' Club and Boardroom Briefings.  

Home life is always a happy busy for Audrey, usually involving a building project or two plus the general taxi services that come with three lively kids.  Weekends include outdoor adventures, exploring Warwickshire's amazing places accompanied by kids, dogs or the local cubs scouts where she is a leader.  She also enjoys a cheeky half (or three) and is happy to sample and support the county’s finest hospitality venues when time allows!  

Alex Holmes - Visitor Economy Officer

Alex joined Warwickshire County Council in 2015 and works part time as the Visitor Economy Officer. He has always loved the role because of its endless variety.

“My role is to provide the glue that keeps our tourism businesses and stakeholders all working in partnership for the benefit of the wider area – to grow jobs, prosperity and make Warwickshire a great place to visit and live” he says.

A long time fan of Warwickshire. and the County’s wonderful tourism offer in particular, Alex has lived in Leamington Spa and raised a family with four children here since 1997. He grew up by the seaside in Somerset, so has always had a passion for travel and tourism. Tourism gave him his first experience of work, and he earned his first wages making miniature Minehead deckchairs for the local souvenir trade.

After graduating from the University of Wales with a BA Hons degree in Romance Languages, he did postgraduate studies in tourism marketing at Surrey University. Alex then worked in a variety of management roles in the private and public sector in Leicestershire, Cheshire and ultimately Warwickshire where he established the area’s first tourist board.

When not at work, Alex spends his time writing songs, singing and playing guitar. He’s also a keen amateur thespian having performed in countless plays and musicals at local theatres and the Spa Centre, Leamington. He is a bon viveur with a passion for life, love, and Liverpool Football Club!

Abi Culley - Rural Policy and Commissioning Officer

Warwickshire born and bred, Abi studied Rural Environment Protection, at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.

Her covers all things rural, from supporting food and drink producers to collaborating with rural partners such as the Canal and River Trusts, Warwickshire Rural Community Council, Warwickshire Rural Hub and the National Farmers Union to add value to economic activity.  

Rural life is Abi’s passion and she loves it with all its joys and challenges. She love growing her own food and her favourite ways to spend time are beekeeping, gardening and walking in Warwickshire. 

Abi started with WCC as Community development Officer in Bedworth 19 years ago, in regeneration team, where her role expanded into community energy saving, supporting community waste management projects and in recent years, mainly focusing on rural work streams. 

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life