Category: News

Business hub will be the catalyst for future growth

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Ambitious plans for a new innovation hub that’s set to create 100 new businesses and more than 250 new jobs will help transform Wrexham’s economic prospects.

More details will be unveiled by the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, at the next meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals (WBP) at the Ramada Plaza on July 14.

The group is made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professional firms of solicitors, accountants and other business professionals working together to raise the profile of enterprise and expertise that exists in the region and beyond.

They’re expecting a bumper audience of around 150 people.

Mr Skates said: “The Welsh Government has been working with the Welsh Centre for Enterprise to develop the new innovation hub that will support the creation of 100 new businesses and at least 260 jobs in Wrexham between now and 2020.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Wrexham to carve out a distinct identity as a place of innovation and technical excellence.

“This will build on some investments that we’ve already announced concerning job creation in financial services.

“Wrexham has a huge opportunity to become known as a centre of excellence for financial services and innovation and there are also particular strengths in the area in life sciences and the digital economies.

“I’m very optimistic for the future of the economy in Wrexham. The development of 100 companies with many new jobs associated with that is going to be hugely exciting and will also contribute to the regeneration of the town centre and be enormously beneficial the people of the area.

“It will only take one or two of these businesses to flourish as, for example, the Village Bakery,  Pendine Park and Moneypenny have done and we could be looking at hundreds more jobs in addition.

“I’ve got great belief in innovators living in and around Wrexham and by supporting them to make their ideas and thoughts a reality we’re hoping that prosperity will be created for a huge number of people.”

Mr Skates, who is the Assembly Member for Clwyd South, added: “We’re aiming for the innovation hub to a town centre building so it’s accessible to as many people as possible and also contributes to the regeneration of Wrexham.

“I’m not able to disclose what building we’re looking at the moment but there will also be a strong link with further and higher education institutions like Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University as well as existing employers.

“Crucially, it will have Welsh Government business support. It will also have space for businesses to grow and shared space to enable innovators to develop their ideas together.”

Gill Kreft, the Chair of Wrexham Business Professionals, said: “We are delighted that Ken Skates is able to join us once again, especially as he will be sharing such exciting news.

“The new innovation hub is not only a vote of confidence in the Wrexham area but also an investment to stimulate and generate future economic success.

“It will help cement Wrexham’s position as an entrepreneurial powerhouse at the heart of the regional economy. Business is at the heart of promoting our community’s prosperity and this will help transform Wrexham’s economic prospects and act as a catalyst for future growth.”

Mr Skates will also speak about the latest developments with the North Wales Growth Deal, a vision jointly developed by the region’s six local authorities, business and college leaders to boost the local economy to £20 billion by 2035 and connect with the Northern Powerhouse across the border in England.

He said: “I’ve announced that as a Welsh Government we’re going to be creating a specific economic regional development unit for North Wales.

“This will align well with the new regional way of working with local government and, crucially, the emerging North Wales Growth Deal, which will be subject to negotiations between local authorities and the Welsh and UK governments next month.

“The vision for the growth of the economy and of the prosperity of its people has been developed by local authorities and the North Wales Business Council with some exciting prospects and keen to ensure we can maximise the value of all the proposals, in terms of improving public transport, creating jobs and enhancing the quality of our towns and villages.

“A key component of that growth bid will be the improvement of transport infrastructure right across the region.

“Transport improvements have to be decided on a cross-border basis and for that the growth deal in Cheshire and Warrington has to dovetail with and compliment the deal in North Wales.

“I’m keen to ensure the components of each of the deals tie together so that we have major improvements in transport infrastructure, can deliver the vision of a North Wales Metro over the coming decades along with some game-changing integrated travel investment and major upgrades to our roads network.”

Mr Skates will also give an update on the new Development Bank of Wales, which is due to be located in Wrexham.

“The development bank is a huge project for Wales. And because we recognise the need for it to be an all-Wales service with a presence right across our communities it will be quartered in North East Wales,” he said.

“A number of locations are being examined in the Wrexham area so that it will be a flagship body not just for Wales but for Wrexham itself and will enable easy access to a development bank that will be challenged with raising the level of investment in small and medium-sized enterprises.

“It will be a huge benefit  to those innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to see their businesses grow but, to date, have struggled to get the finance for growth from the market.”

The Minister said he was looking forward to speaking again to Wrexham Business Professionals.

“The organisation is incredibly important to the economy, not just of Wrexham but the region as a whole,” he said.

“It’s always a pleasure to be with so many friendly faces – local and regional leaders who are driving our economy to create jobs, wealth and prosperity for the people of Wrexham and beyond.”

Housing development wins award for top builder

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An environmentally-friendly development has won a top builder a major construction quality award.

Residents of Cwrt y Glowyr in the village of Penyffordd, near Holywell, stayed warm this winter and helped save the planet thanks to an advanced heating system installed by builders Anwyl Construction.

The air-source heating systems were an integral part of the £1.1 million nine-home scheme built by Anwyl for major North Wales social housing company Grwp Cynefin.

The new estate of five three-bed and four two-bed properties has just scooped the Flintshire Local Authority Building Control award for the Best Social Housing Development for Anwyl, one of two awards they have won across North Wales this year.

They are now in the running for the North Wales award which will be announced later this month at a ceremony at St David’s Park Hotel, Ewloe, just a stone’s throw from the company’s new headquarters.

Cwrt y Glowyr’s nine homes are arranged in a block of three and three pairs of semi-detached houses and as well as air-source heating each also has photo-voltaic solar panels to provide electricity.

Councillor Kevin Jones, Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “This is an extremely well laid out rural development which enhances the area and I would welcome similar cost effective schemes in the future.

“It’s good to see developments in the rural villages helping to keep young people in their historic environment – villages age together but often they lose the younger generation.

“The use of air source heating and solar panels is also a benefit and it would be good to see more developments like this across the county.”

Anwyl Construction Director Tom Anwyl said: “The development here in Penyffordd has gone very well under out site manager Dave Haken and I think the residents are very happy with it.

“It’s a very ‘green’ development with the air-source heating and the solar panels and it is important to have these sorts of skills.

“We are always delighted to win a Local Authority Building Control award as we consider them a hugely important accolade and a benchmark for the construction industry.

“It’s always nice to have your work recognised and to have it done by the people whose job it is to oversee all the building work that goes on in Flintshire is very satisfying.

“We do feel it is important to work with the local authority building control departments in North Wales. We have a good working relationship with them which has been built up over the years. You can talk to them about issues and it works very well for both sides.

“We also value our partnership with Grwp Cynefin with whom we have worked before because they believe in using North Wales-based builders to make sure that the local community and its economy benefits from their projects.”

Grwp Cynefin Development Manager R Bryn Davies said: “We congratulate Anwyl Construction on their nomination for this award.

“The homes at Cwrt y Glowyr are part of our commitment to providing high quality homes in rural communities.

“The inclusion of energy efficient heating systems helps keep down the running costs of the homes, and is part of our commitment to reducing fuel poverty.”

Flintshire Council Building Control Team Leader John Wilkinson said: “Anwyl and their site manager have been keen throughout this project to liaise with Building Control to ensure full compliance without the need to rectify matters later.

“This ensured a very smooth construction phase as no significant problems arose. It also enabled a fast and smooth completion of properties with no difficulties.

“The developer has built up an excellent understanding with Building Control over a number of years and consistently delivers high quality work in all aspects of the build programme.”

Big increase in demand for private hospital services

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A zero infection rate in blood-borne MRSA and C.Diff. is helping a private hospital to expand its services.

The number of self-pay patients going to Spire Yale Hospital has doubled over the last five years and is continuing to grow.

As part of the strategy for future growth, the hospital has now appointed a new business development manager, Heidi Parker-Jones.

Since it first opened in 1988, skilled surgeons at the hospital have successfully carried out more than 52,000 procedures ranging from hip and knee replacements to bariatric and cosmetic surgery.

Throughout that period it has also managed to achieve a zero rating for both the bloodstream infection MRSA bacteraemia and Clostridium Difficile – C.Diff – which has been once again maintained over the past 12 months.

According to Mrs Parker-Jones, a mother-of-two, she had always wanted to work at Spire Yale Hospital.

With a background working in facilities management, she joined the team at Spire three years ago, initially as customer service team leader before being promoted to business development manager.

She recalled: “I used to drive past Spire Yale and I thought to myself, I’m going to work there one day.

“I love working with people and I think that was a big attraction for me, and I always thought that was something I would really enjoy.

“When the job for customer service team leader was advertised I applied and I was absolutely thrilled to be appointed.

“I’ll now be managing the customer sales team which looks after the self-pay patients that enquire within the hospital. It’s a big challenge but one that I am relishing

“I think for us the biggest message is that you don’t have to have insurance to come into the hospital, and we’re finding that people don’t always know that. They can some in and self-pay for consultations, treatments, they don’t have to have insurance.

“We need to let people know it is affordable and we offer zero per cent finance. So it’s just about us getting that message out and helping the patient along with their journey and getting speedy treatment.

“The facilities here are second to none and we have spent more than £500,000 on improvements over the past couple of years. We’re also doing some refurbishments to the patient rooms at the moment.

“In the 28 years we’ve been open we’ve seen over 300,000 patients for consultations and treatment and that number is growing all the time.

“Since the very first operation on November 22, 1988 our surgeons have carried out many thousands of procedures with differing levels of complexity.

“The majority have been orthopaedic operations, such as hip and knee replacement and spinal surgery as well as surgery on feet, ankles, shoulders and hands.

“Apart from orthopaedics, we have carried out lots of cataract surgery on patients’ eyes and also many gall bladder removals, hernia repairs and operations to correct varicose veins, along with a significant number of gynaecological procedures.

“Abdominal surgery has also accounted for quite a number of our operations.”

Mrs Parker-Jones added that over the years there had also been increasing demand for cosmetic surgery and weight loss surgery in which Spire Yale specialises.

She added: “We now carry out a large number of cosmetic procedures, ranging from breast augmentation and reductions to tummy tucks and liposuction and that number is also on the increase, whilst our weight loss surgery provides gastric bypass and gastric sleeve procedures.

“We’ve seen a big growth in the number of self-pay patients with numbers doubling over the last five years.

“Rather than wait for it to be done on the NHS, patients are deciding to forego their holiday and get their hip or knee fixed so they can get back to normal more quickly. That kind of thing is becoming more and more commonplace.

“Another factor is our zero rate of blood-borne infections which gives people reassurance and peace of mind. This combined with the opportunity to choose their consultant and to schedule treatment when it is convenient for them is making paying for treatment an appealing option for more and more people.”

Veteran snappers help clinch awards double

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An arts-loving housing association has clinched a major awards double – with the help of some veteran photographers.

Cartrefi Conwy were honoured at the prestigious Arts & Business Cymru Awards at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff.

First they scooped the prize in the Arts, Business and Health category and then capped the night off by being named Business of the Year.

The housing association are long-term supporters of Arts & Business Cymru.

The first joint project happened in 2012 when they created a Military Wives-style choir from the Peulwys estate in Llysfaen to perform at the North Wales International Music festival under the baton of royal composer Paul Mealor.

One of their eye-catching projects involved a group of silver surfers who took dramatic photographs which were exhibited to great acclaim at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and Theatr Colwyn in Colwyn Bay.

Around a dozen older tenants of Cartrefi Conwy signed up for the 10-week digital inclusion and photography course, known as the Focus project.

The aim was to encourage them to learn and develop computer skills while having fun and meeting new friends.

The awards, now in their 23rd year, aim to encourage, acknowledge and celebrate exemplary partnerships between the private sector and the arts and reflected the broad range of work undertaken by Arts & Business Cymru.

Cartrefi Conwy chief executive Andrew Bowden said: “I am immensely proud that we have been honoured at the Arts & Business Cymru Awards, not for the sake of winning awards but for what they represent and say about our wonderful organisation.

“Even in times of budgetary challenges, the arts have a big role to play in improving the quality of people’s lives and this is certainly the case for our tenants who have been involved in a variety of arts-related projects in recent years.

“We fully support the ethos of bringing arts and business together for mutual benefit because it helps us in our aim of creating communities to be proud of.”

The digital inclusion course was led by Paul Sampson, curator of the Oriel Colwyn photographic Gallery at Theatr Colwyn.

He explained that photography was used to encourage participants to use computers.

He said: “Most people take and have photographs and have access to a digital camera. So, as well as learning a few photographic skills participants learned how to store, retrieve, manipulate and file their images on a computer. We also looked at how to share images on social media.

“The group went out taking photographs on Llandudno promenade, the Happy Valley Gardens on the Great Orme and at a 1940s festival in Colwyn Bay.

“It gave me the opportunity to teach a few things about photography, such as using light and shade, composition and exposure techniques, and once we returned to the computer room, what to do with those images.”

Some of the most memorable images in the project were taken by 78-year-old great-grandmother Renee Williams, of The Fron, Old Colwyn.

She admitted: “I paid just £20 for a small digital camera from the local supermarket, so I’m surprised and delighted that about our work being shortlisted for such a big award.

“Just to be on the shortlist is enough but to actually win would be amazing.”

Renee came up with a trio of powerful pictures showing a young boy holding a red balloon and an authentically dressed air-raid warden, both from the Colwyn Bay 40s festival, and a shot of smiling Cartrefi Conwy staff at Happy Valley.

She added: “Being part of course has given me a fantastic sense of achievement.

“I’ve enjoyed everything about it, including going out to take the pictures and the comradeship other members of the group.

“I have met new friends and neighbours I didn’t previously know. I think it all helps to keep you young.”

Nerys Veldhuizen, Cartrefi Conwy’s Older Person’s Engagement Co-ordinator, who helped organise the Focus project, was thrilled.

She said: “Originally, we just saw the project as a 10-week photographic and digital imaging course but it became so successful that we just couldn’t leave it there.

“There were the exhibitions at Venue Cymru and Theatr Colwyn and some of the group’s amazing images were transformed into art work at Cysgod y Gogarth, the £5 million development of 30 state-of-the-art apartments and houses for older people in Llandudno.”