>meet the colchester ambassadors.

Simon Cudmore
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Simon Cudmore

Area Business Manager, Barclays Bank
Simon Cudmore Simon Cudmore

Simon Cudmore

Job title: Area Business Manager, Barclays Bank

Website URL: https://www.home.barclays/about-barclays/backing-the-uk/east-anglia/history.html

I am the Area Business Manager for the Barclays Business Team which covers Colchester, we look after aprox. 600 businesses with a turnover of between £400k-£5m in and around Colchester, and have Business Managers based in the town that visit clients on a face to face basis. I pride myself on the fact that I have built my career in North Essex and not only do we support local businesses we also undertake a lot of work in the community which raises many £1000’s of pounds for local charities and good causes.

Peter Blanc
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Peter Blanc

 Group CEO, Aston Scott
Peter Blanc Peter Blanc

Peter Blanc

Job title:  Group CEO, Aston Scott

Website URL: https://www.astonscott.com

Aston Lark was formed in 2017 as a result of the merger of Aston Scott and Lark Group Ltd and we are now the 5th largest Chartered Insurance Broker in the UK.

We are in the process of building new headquarters in Middleborough, Colchester, where we will house up to 100 staff out of our full complement of over 600 staff operating from 18 offices across the UK.

We are specialists in business insurance and Employee Benefits but also have a thriving Private Client division so we can look after all aspects of insurances on behalf of companies and their directors personal requirements, in and around Colchester.

We are growing both organically but also through strategic acquisitions of high quality brokers throughout the UK and our stated aim is to become the UK’s most trusted Chartered Insurance Broker delivering for our clients with care, passion, integrity and expertise.

Paul Bleck
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Paul Bleck

Managing Director, Bartech Marine Engineering
Paul Bleck Paul Bleck

Paul Bleck

Job title: Managing Director, Bartech Marine Engineering

Phone: 01206 791552

Email: pbleck@bartechmarine.com

Website URL: https://bartechmarine.com/

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe Bartech Marine Engineering and its values?

The core values of Bartech emanate from our family ownership, and are to work in partnerships, providing the highest quality and service whilst continuously improving. We apply this philosophy as diesel engine specialists working in the oil and gas, marine, power generation, nuclear and locomotive industries. The structure of the business means we are able to work with some of the world’s biggest companies, overseas navies and national railways, but always with a flexible, responsive, personalised service.

Who started Bartech Marine Engineering and when; how has it evolved to date?

The business was started in 1987 utilising the extensive diesel engine knowledge of my father-in-law, Gerald, which began in 1966 as an apprentice, then a service engineer for Paxmans, the famous Colchester diesel engine producer. He was joined by his wife Jane, who’s experience as a legal secretary was invaluable in establishing the administrative procedures and templates vital for any professional company. There are now five shareholders, all of whom are family members, who have continued to grow the business, taking on several major multi-engine maintenance contracts and representing major engine brands MTU, Moteurs Baudouin and Bosch.

How big is Bartech Marine Engineering now?

Bartech employs 23 staff, operating with a current turnover of £3million out of our dedicated 1,700mworkshop.

How do you see Bartech Marine Engineering evolve further over the next five years?

We are entering into more long-term maintenance contracts with blue chip companies which means we can provide increased benefits for our clients and more stability for ourselves. This will continue to grow across more sectors. Also, we are in discussions aimed at forming the right partnerships to develop our market in both the UK and overseas.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Companies like Paxman Diesels and Colchester Lathes have ensured a very strong engineering heritage in Colchester, which has continued with many ex-army engineers in the area. This army history has also given an underlying strength of respect, discipline and community.

As a location, Colchester provides easy access to engines in use as standby generators in London as well as many marine applications around the East Anglian coastline. 

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

I would like to see further support and promotion of engineering in the town. With such a strong heritage, this should be celebrated and encouraged to continue. I want to see more recognition of our past achievements in the hope that young people become passionate about a career in it.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Bartech Marine Engineering and for the town generally?

With the growth of the town, we see its profile overseas increasing, creating more opportunities for overseas investment and business expansion locally and abroad. Further business growth will result in more employment and local development.

Of the four themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

‘No Better Place for Your Family and Business to Live and Grow’. Whilst running a local business, it is important that I can continue to grow the company, providing local employment and contributing to the local economy. As a father of two, my priority is to give my children the support they need to develop and would look to Colchester to continue to expand its current offerings, to facilitate both.

Tim Price
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Tim Price

Operations Director, Park City Consulting
Tim Price Tim Price

Tim Price

Job title: Operations Director, Park City Consulting

Phone: 01206 752100

Email: tim.price@parkcity.co.uk

Website URL: https://www.parkcity.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

Park City is an award-winning provider of outsourced Human Resources, Health and Safety Consultancy and Training and Development services, enabling businesses to improve, develop and flourish from a best practice compliance foundation to commercial solution-driven employment relations management.

People are at the heart of our organisation working collaboratively creating innovative solutions for our clients with our service delivery model based on face to face trusted relationships. We genuinely seek to become an extension of our client’s organisation.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

Park City was founded by Juliet Price in 1997 and is a pioneer in the field of outsourcing. Our mission has been to create organisations with engaged, well trained staff all working towards a common goal. We employ professional staff who enjoy a supportive environment with shared learning and knowledge passed between colleagues.

How big is the organisation now?

Park City started out as a Human resources service provider to local Colchester clients and has expanded significantly to now deliver services across East Anglia, the South East and exclusive London brands also. With 20+ staff Park City has grown organically over the last 20 years and expanded its services to include Chartered Management Institute, CMI level 3, 5 and 7 training courses.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next 5 years?

Park City are leading the way locally in the field of Leadership and Management Development being the only Company in Colchester offering Level 3-7 Diplomas. Workplace well-being and Employee Engagement are key over the next 5 years. Developing the Leaders of the future is our mission and Health and Safety has more focus on the practical elements of management and monitoring as well as the compliance framework. “It’s all about what you do not what you say you do”.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Juliet Price, our MD, was for many years a member of the Boadicea Ladies Network in Colchester and group of Leading Business Women Entrepreneurs in Colchester. Colchester certainly develops leading business women in addition to supporting our initial growth from a diverse range of businesses available in Colchester and the surrounding area; today it offers great links to major towns and cities in the South East and London via the rail network, all important areas for client development.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Workplace well-being and Employee Engagement are key over the next 5 years. Staff retention will also increase in its importance as will the restructuring potential of the labour market because of the continued increase in automation and AI technology, we are well placed to manage this transition for businesses. Continued management and leadership development underpinning retention as the job market increases and opportunities for staff to move an alternative employer as business growth continues. We may also continue to experience skills shortages thus increasing the need for internal training and development strategies.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

It is important to retain the excellent business network and sense of community all working together for the greater good. Increased housing will increase footfall to the benefit of retail and leisure, business will benefit from a growing labour market and with excellent Schools, Colchester institute and Essex University, the potential for highly skilled and available staff is a real benefit. Our digital infrastructure and creative industry sector, already identified as a significant contributor, can only continue to flourish against a background of growth.

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

It is important to identify with the history and heritage of Colchester, it is Britain’s oldest recorded town and we are very proud of our heritage whilst also looking forward and to be a fast moving, agile, forward looking and innovative town ………..our mission should be to be the best location to live, work, play, invest and learn in the UK.

Growth will stretch existing infrastructure networks in the short term, particularly roads; a more radical and innovative solution is required to complement park and ride to shorten journey times across and through the town. Time for autonomous travel vehicles or pods to move in, a la Milton Keynes.

Jeremy Newman
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Jeremy Newman

Managing Director, Newman Commercial
Jeremy Newman Jeremy Newman

Jeremy Newman

Job title: Managing Director, Newman Commercial

Phone: 01206 854545

Email: jeremy@newmancommercial.co.uk

Website URL: http://www.newmancommercial.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and it values?

Newman Commercial are an independent firm of property consultants based in Colchester with a specific emphasis on providing all our clients a personal, professional and pro-active service.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

Newman Commercial was formed in March 1996 and from small beginnings evolved to become one of Colchester’s leading commercial property consultancies. In August 2017 Newman Commercial merged with the Fenn Wright Group to provide an even greater width of professional services we can offer.

How big is the organisation now?

There are over 140 staff actively involved in residential, commercial and professional property advice within the Fenn Wright Group of companies it makes us one of the largest and most diverse property consultancies within the region.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next five years?

We expect to see the company expand into other areas within Essex and Suffolk with the aim to become the largest property advisor within the area.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Colchester offers the ideal location from which to run our business as it is centrally located within Essex and Suffolk with excellent access to London, Stansted Airport, the east coast ports and the national motorway network.

What are the biggest challenges for businesses in Colchester?

Managing growth in a sustained way. We need to see continued investment in the transport infrastructure in particular, in order to make ease of movement a priority for businesses.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

With Colchester being one of the fastest growing areas within the UK, businesses will benefit from a large local catchment of highly qualified personnel capable of working within their businesses.

Which of the four key themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors is the most important to you and why?

They are all equally important as we need to have a vibrant town to attract the most talented and skilled workers, in order to support our businesses and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit.

Stephen Clark
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Stephen Clark

Chief Executive, Churchmanor Estates
Stephen Clark Stephen Clark

Stephen Clark

Job title: Chief Executive, Churchmanor Estates

Phone: 01473 215854

Email: sc@churchmanor.com

Website URL: https://www.churchmanor.com/

Category: steering group members

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

The Churchmanor Estates Company plc was established in 1985 to specialise in property investment and development across the Eastern Region. To date the company has built in excess of 2.5million square feet of commercial accommodation across the commercial property markets including in-town and out of town retail development, research and development buildings, industrial and logistic buildings together with office development both in-town and on business parks.

What are your most memorable schemes across the region?

We have carried out many of our commercial developments with a range of partners including major Institutions and Pension Funds, Local and District Councils and Cambridge Colleges, notably St John’s College and Peterhouse. Our schemes have included Chelmsford Business Park with Essex County Council, the 250 acre Chesterford Research Park with Avivia and Uttlesford District Council and the Peterhouse Technology Park in Cambridge.

What schemes have been completed in Colchester?

We have been active in Colchester for some 28 years and over that time we have developed some major schemes. Colchester Business Park, a collaboration with Colchester Borough Council, was conceived as an office park and it is pleasing that 25 years later the scheme is still seen as the premier out of town office address in the town. As well as several developments on Severalls Industrial Park we completed in 2006 the 190,000sqft Flakt Woods development and this still remains the largest factory to be built in Essex over many years. We have also been active in the town centre forming a joint venture with the local Co-Operative Society redeveloping the majority of their store in Long Wyre Street.

What are your current developments in Colchester?

We are developing a 20 acre site known as Stane Park in Stanway opposite the existing Sainsburys. The first phase is a public house and a number of restaurants which are currently being built and with phase two, a proposal has been made for a retail park anchored by B&Q.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next five years?

We believe that the economic prospects in the Eastern Region will see steady progress over the next five years and this will enable our business to bring forward commercial development opportunities. Such developments will provide a range of  employment opportunities but will also make a significant enhancement to the built environment of the towns across the region in which we work.

How do you see Colchester developing over the next five years?

Colchester as a town has been very accepting of growth which has led to house building numbers over the last 10 years achieving some of the highest in the country. This trend is set to continue with the potential development of two garden villages either side of the town which will be accompanied by large allocations of employment land to provide the facilities for companies to grow in the Colchester catchment. Every job created has a ripple effect throughout the economy and this will help keep Colchester a buoyant place to do business for many years to come.

How do you see your future in Colchester?

We hope that we can play a continued role in the growth of Colchester assisting where we can to bring forward retail and commercial development to the benefit of the future prosperity of the town. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Local Authority, private landowners and  private and public companies to help improve the infrastructure of the town and to create viable development opportunities to help grow the employment base of Colchester.

Paul Beresford
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Paul Beresford

Chairman/Managing Director, Beresford Group Ltd
Paul Beresford Paul Beresford

Paul Beresford

Job title: Chairman/Managing Director, Beresford Group Ltd

Website URL: https://www.beresfords.co.uk

Beresfords started in Essex 50 years ago this year. We are an independent family business that has grown from a single office practice to a multi-disciplined estate agency business employing around 230 local people across sixteen sites across the County whilst still retaining our original values of professionalism and personal service.

We opened in Colchester just over 10 years ago and, despite the challenging economic climate at the time, it has proved to be a valuable addition to the Beresfords branch network which extends across Essex from Greater London to the Suffolk borders.

Ken Jenkinson
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Ken Jenkinson

Former Head, Colchester Royal Grammar School
Ken Jenkinson Ken Jenkinson

Ken Jenkinson

Job title: Former Head, Colchester Royal Grammar School

Email: kenjenkinson@hotmail.com

Website URL: https://www.crgs.co.uk

Category: steering group members

Simon Blaxill
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Simon Blaxill

Managing Director, Kent Blaxill Group
Simon Blaxill Simon Blaxill

Simon Blaxill

Job title: Managing Director, Kent Blaxill Group

Website URL: https://www.kentblaxill.co.uk

Simon Blaxill is the Managing Director of Kent Blaxill Group Ltd, a family owned building supplies company, founded in 1838 as an ‘oil and colour merchant.’

The first shop was in opened in front of Colchester Castle in the time of Victorian cobbled streets. The business outgrew its various town centre locations and moved its headquarters and operations to 7-acre site 2 miles south of Colchester.

Kent Blaxill now has 16 stores from Norwich to Milton Keynes and from Chelmsford to Stamford. The company has a niche strength in the supply of quality trade and consumer paints and is opening 3 new branches a year.

Seven generations of Kent and Blaxill families have managed the business since its formation 181 years ago.

Tony Willson
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Tony Willson

Managing Director, Helmsman Services Ltd
Tony Willson Tony Willson

Tony Willson

Job title: Managing Director, Helmsman Services Ltd

Website URL: http://www.helmsmanservices.co.uk/

Established 20 years ago, the company has three main services.  First is an outsourced service to manage the training and development for companies that don’t want their own in-house department and who want to maximise their training budgets.

Second is health and safety advice, documentation and training, offered with annual contracts to watch over a company’s obligations.

Thirdly, the provision of a comprehensive range of health and safety e-learning titles.

The company has been based in Colchester throughout this time as we feel that the town has the right skills that we need.

Laura Mansel-Thomas
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Laura Mansel-Thomas

Partner, Ingleton Wood
Laura Mansel-Thomas Laura Mansel-Thomas

Laura Mansel-Thomas

Job title: Partner, Ingleton Wood

Phone: 01206 224270

Email: laura.manselthomas@ingletonwood.co.uk

Website URL: https://www.ingletonwood.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

Ingleton Wood LLP is a building design consultancy with six offices, the largest of which is in Colchester. We strongly believe that having a local presence in the communities we serve allows us to provide a better service and our staff to have a good work / life balance. 

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved? 

Ingleton Wood started as a small building surveying practice in Shenfield in the 1950s and has grown organically to a team of almost 200 people. We have been multidisciplinary – representing all aspects of building design and property services – for some 20 years, growing our disciplines and our staff numbers. The practice is managed by seven partners who between them represent our biggest disciplines of building surveying, architecture and mechanical and electrical engineering. The partners are now supported by a very strong practice management team and a dedicated senior staff body. 

How big is your organisation now?

We now employ over 180 people with, at the time of writing, 52 in Colchester.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next five years?

We opened our fifth office in Cambridge three years ago and this brought structural engineering into our practice. After a period of consolidation and general growth in all five offices, we are actively looking for the next location to build our coverage.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Our Colchester office is very successful for many reasons. The location is key; we not only have a strong local economy, supporting public and private sector clients, but great road and rail access to London, Kent and the Midlands. Our partners and employees love living in and around a town which is very family friendly, with a breadth of educational opportunities for their children right the way through to university. 

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Traffic and transport is an emotive subject in Colchester! Perhaps victims of our own success, we suffer the usual issues with parking and travel times at peak hours. Whilst the centre of the town is quite compact, the region as a whole is large, and dependency on the car is high. Many members of staff do not live within walking or even cycling distance of work and public transport links are erratic and often expensive. 

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

Ingleton Wood work with many local businesses and organisations – schools, contractors, housing developers – both social and private – and expansion means construction activity which is always an opportunity at whatever scale. Development of property portfolios by key landowners such as the University of Essex, Colchester Garrison and Colchester Institute benefit the town in terms of aesthetics, employment and business opportunities. Sustainable growth will result in a town which continues to be a great place to live, work and bring up a family.

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

Colchester will continue to grow because it has so much going for it and therefore the most important thing is joined up thinking. We need housing, employment opportunities, transport infrastructure fit for the future as well as an approach to the environment and sustainability which must be second to none. It is simply not possible to prioritise any one of these because the interrelationships are too great.

Chris Newenham
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Chris Newenham

Joint Managing Director, Wilkin & Sons
Chris Newenham Chris Newenham

Chris Newenham

Job title: Joint Managing Director, Wilkin & Sons

Website URL: https://www.tiptree.com/

The Wilkin family have farmed at Tiptree, Essex, since 1757, making quality preserves since 1885. We grow a wide range of traditional English fruits and use them to make conserves, condiments, and other treats in our factory by the farm.

Fruit is inspected and prepared by hand then cooked in small batches using traditional recipes. We supply an extensive range of conserves, marmalades, honeys, sauces, condiments, fresh fruit, teas, cakes, biscuits, gift packs, fruit gin liqueurs, and even Christmas puddings to markets both at home and in more than 60 countries around the world.

Tiptree products can be found in the finest hotels, cruise liners, airlines and stores. We have been proud Royal Warrant holders for the last 107 years.

As the business heads into the 21st Century every full-time member of staff is part of our Employee Benefit Trust, giving each a keen interest in the future of the business.

Ian Vipond
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Ian Vipond

Strategic Director of Policy and Place, Colchester Borough Council
Ian Vipond Ian Vipond

Ian Vipond

Job title: Strategic Director of Policy and Place, Colchester Borough Council

Phone: 01206 282222

Email: Ian.Vipond@colchester.gov.uk

Website URL: https://www.colchester.gov.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

As part of the local Council, the Corporate and Policy team looks at the future of Colchester, striving to facilitate the best options for local residents, business and future investors. What sort of place do we want to live and work in tomorrow.

How is the local economic strategy created? 

The Team put together the Local Plan and the Economic Strategy for the Borough of Colchester with the latest Local Plan, planning through to 2033, which considers how significant economic and housing growth can be accommodated. 

How big is the Borough now? 

The Borough has a population of about 180,000 with the main Historic Town of Colchester being the main regional Centre of about 125,000.

How do you see your Borough evolving over the next 5 years?

 We currently expect the Borough to grow at the rate of just short of a 1,000 new homes per year with an equal number of jobs being created,  perhaps leading to a population of 220,000 by 2033.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation? 

Clearly one of the key advantages is the growing local market on your doorstep, but in addition the international links, through London Stansted airport and Felixstowe/Harwich port and ready access by train to London (45mins) make this a great place to do business. 

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

The Colchester digital strategy has already provided Gigabit connectivity in the Town Centre and this is planned to roll out to  the business locations in Colchester. One of the challenges is how to make use of this ultrafast connectivity while it remains a competitive business advantage. 

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

Colchester’s aspirations place it among the best locations for tech investors, creative businesses and those companies looking for affordable grow-on space in a ‘tech city’ business environment. Located here is a strong international University excelling in AI, computer sciences and gaming and majoring on data analytics and business leadership. it has support programmes for innovators and startups.   

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

Colchester’s heritage and lovely ‘Constable’ countryside and coast make this location a beautiful place to be; the key is to ensure that the benefits of this location are cherished and that the opportunities are enhanced.

Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford
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Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford

Chief Executive, Colbea
Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford

Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford

Job title: Chief Executive, Colbea

Website URL: https://colbea.co.uk

The Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) delivers dedicated business support, and our mission is to Inspire and Nurture Businesses for Success; Positively Impacting People and Communities around us using our network to work with young people; start-ups and growing businesses.

Colbea’s role is to drive entrepreneurship in Colchester, lead the discussion of what entrepreneurship is, and play our part in delivering the next generation of businesses who will be able to take advantage of the opportunities created by the town’s ambition.

Colbea aims to encourage and support Entrepreneurship and Employment through Advice, Training, Networking, Development, Innovation and, of course, Incubation – the Colbea Colchester Business Centres are currently home to a fantastic mix of businesses, creating a supportive ‘community’ environment ideal for taking your first business space.

Tim O’Connor
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Tim O’Connor

Corporate Partner, Scrutton Bland
Tim O’Connor Tim O’Connor

Tim O’Connor

Job title: Corporate Partner, Scrutton Bland

Website URL: https://www.scruttonbland.co.uk

Scrutton Bland is a leading provider of financial services to both business and private clients. From our offices located throughout the Eastern region we provide specialist tax, accountancy, insurance, employee benefits and independent financial planning advice to clients throughout the UK.

Our philosophy is simple: we believe in delivering clear, jargon free advice for our clients and in finding effective solutions for them.

Nominated for a British Accountancy Award, our cloud based service SBLive combines the latest in digital accountancy software with professional business advice to give clients with the support they need to reach their business potential.

Katie Skingle
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Katie Skingle

Director, KAT Marketing
Katie Skingle Katie Skingle

Katie Skingle

Job title: Director, KAT Marketing

Website URL: https://katmarketing.co.uk

KAT Marketing is a creative marketing and communications agency delivering digital and traditional marketing campaigns including public relations, web development, social media and event management services throughout Essex, London and across the East of England.

Our innovative, meticulous and highly-practical approach to all strands of marketing ensures that we channel our clients’ strengths and achieve the desired results such as boosting profiles, profits and, in some cases, turning a business around.

Sean Stuttaford
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Sean Stuttaford

CEO, Thompson Smith and Puxon
Sean Stuttaford Sean Stuttaford

Sean Stuttaford

Job title: CEO, Thompson Smith and Puxon

Website URL: https://www.tsplegal.com

Established in 1879, Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP) is one of the leading law firms in Essex, with offices in Colchester and Clacton. We offer a full range of legal advice to businesses and individual clients.

Our specialist practice areas, with accredited lawyers and attentive support staff, ensure you receive the most professional and practical advice available. We continually invest in staff development and new technology, and are responsive and adaptable to client needs.

The partners and staff at TSP bring together local and regional knowledge with City firm experience enabling us to compete effectively with large London practices.

Pete Chapman
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Pete Chapman

Station Manager & Breakfast Show Presenter, Actual Radio
Pete Chapman Pete Chapman

Pete Chapman

Job title: Station Manager & Breakfast Show Presenter, Actual Radio

Website URL: https://actualradio.com

Actual Radio is the Local Radio station for Colchester. From concept in 2014 to forming the company in 2016, today we take great pride in being located in the centre of Colchester at our Queen Street studio.

Our central location enables us to connect closely with local businesses, charities and associations to support and promote what they do. We are a forward-thinking media outlet run by a growing team of industry professionals, who are dedicated to producing outstanding local radio.

Radio is no longer just “on-air” we are an audio and multimedia platform promoting all that’s great in Colchester.

Chris Morgan
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Chris Morgan

Local Director, Metro Bank
Chris Morgan Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan

Job title: Local Director, Metro Bank

Website URL: http://www.metrobankonline.co.uk

Metro Bank launched in 2010 as the first new high street bank in more than 100 years.

The revolutionary UK bank offers personal, business, commercial and private banking services, focusing on creating FANS by providing an unparalleled banking experience.

Priding itself on giving customers the choice to bank however and whenever they want, it's continuing to grow its UK store network, while offering customers an award winning app, full internet banking facilities and UK based contact centres manned by people not machines.

It has already over 1.6million customer accounts, with new customers voting with their feet and joining every day.

Karen Ainley
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Karen Ainley

Chief Executive, Mosaic - The Integrated Marketing Agency
Karen Ainley Karen Ainley

Karen Ainley

Job title: Chief Executive, Mosaic - The Integrated Marketing Agency

Phone: 01206 841933

Email: karen@mosaicpublicity.co.uk

Website URL: https://www.mosaicpublicity.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

Mosaic is a progressive, innovation-led integrated marketing agency, at the forefront of digital marketing trends when it comes to website development and content. We also have a training division, Mosaic Media Training. Most of our clients are entrepreneurial in ethos and our remit is to make their ideas come to life.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

Mosaic launched in Colchester in 2000 after its directors left the BBC. It began as a traditional PR and marketing agency but has transformed over the years to embrace digital technology. CEO Karen Ainley has a masters degree in digital marketing and runs the CIM Digital Strategy course in the area for the Academy for Marketing.

How big is the organisation now?

Mosaic has a 12-strong team, supported by a number of associates, and works with clients all over the UK, delivering integrated marketing strategies, creating websites, videos and content, running PR campaigns, managing events and designing a full range of marketing collateral, and more.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next 5 years?

Mosaic always has its eye on the future and, because it is also a training organisation, is committed to ensuring its own team remain fully up-to-date in all relevant technologies, through the company’s in-house Mosaic Academy. Our ambition is to continue to grow organically, both in terms of staff and clients and we remain committed to staying in Colchester, where we see numerous opportunities for the future.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Colchester has become a leading player in the creative and digital sector in the region and we are proud to play an active role in the Creative Colchester community. Our CEO Karen regularly attends the Creative Colchester committee meetings. This gives us the advantage of understanding the many opportunities that are available to our own digital community, through investment in broadband, collaborating with specialists locally or taking advantage of the opportunities being offered through partnerships with the University of Essex. As a company, we also benefit from the great transport links, being close to the railway station and the A12, as many of our clients are based across the UK.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Any growing town faces the same challenges, particularly traffic congestion caused through housing growth. As long as investment follows in infrastructure – such as roads and rail, health and education, the town will maintain its position as one of the most charming places in the eastern region for people to live and to grow their businesses.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

The great thing about Colchester is that it is full of entrepreneurs who have ‘made it’ – and although we are growing, there is incredible camaraderie and excellent networking opportunities which encourage people to trade with each other and to share skills, knowledge and experience. 

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

Colcheter needs to remain entrepreneurial to stay ahead of the game. It’s one of our strongest USPs and provides opportunities to create jobs and wealth, which are then reinvested into the local community.

Adrian Pritchard
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Adrian Pritchard

Chief Executive, Colchester Borough Council
Adrian Pritchard Adrian Pritchard

Adrian Pritchard

Job title: Chief Executive, Colchester Borough Council

Phone: 01206 282211

Email: Adrian.Pritchard@colchester.gov.uk

Website URL: https://www.colchester.gov.uk

Category: steering group members

 How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

Colchester Borough Council provides a range of services to its 183,000 population. Its values are to place shape the borough; provide the leadership for sustainable development; to enhance the life chances of some of our residents and improve the quality of life of people in our communities.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

Colchester Borough Council is a District Council created in 1974 providing a large range of public sector services to its residents, businesses and visitors. It has also embraced commercialism by creating new companies to deliver income to the Borough Council in order to deal with the public sector austerity measures.

How big is the organisation now?

CBC employs over 1000 people and has a net budget of approximately £40 million.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next five years?

CBC has ambitious plans for the development of Colchester. It will work with businesses to deliver on those ambitions and accommodate the increase in population in a sustainable manner.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Colchester is uniquely placed for businesses to be based here as it has excellent connectivity in all senses of the word and has such a rich mix of offerings for businesses and their staff.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Being at the forefront of technological developments and keeping pace with the new ways smarter cities operate.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

There are massive opportunities in Colchester both in terms of business, retail and development. It is both a vibrant and creative borough where businesses thrive and expand.

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

To deliver a truly sustainable development of place which integrates the new thinking and ways of doing business whilst respecting the great traditions, history and culture which Colchester offers.

Rachel Skells
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Rachel Skells

Partner, Whittles
Rachel Skells Rachel Skells

Rachel Skells

Job title: Partner, Whittles

Website URL: https://www.whittles.co.uk

Established 1991, Whittles is an independent firm of chartered accountants and registered auditors, with clients across Suffolk, Essex and into London.

From our offices in Colchester and West Mersea, our team looks after small and medium sized organisations, carrying out year-end accounts, annual audits, VAT returns and payroll services as well as providing business compliance, tax planning and advisory services. We also work with a number of trusts and charities.

For our private clients we support with self-assessment tax returns, estate planning, retirement strategies, trusts and executorships. We are committed to regular client contact and investment in staff and technology.

Janus van Helfteren
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Janus van Helfteren

CEO, Vancols
Janus van Helfteren Janus van Helfteren

Janus van Helfteren

Job title: CEO, Vancols

Website URL: https://www.van-cols.co.uk

Janus van Helfteren is 2nd generation in the UK business Vancols Ltd, school photographers. He has been working there since he was 19, and running it since he was about 28. The business is in its 60th year and, depending whose stats you believe, is the 3rd or 4th largest in the UK. Vancols mantra has always been quality, of photography and service to schools.

He has also been involved with advertising photography and marketing in and around the Essex area for many years.

VanCols went into Processing (production) late, only some 14 years ago, previously having outsourced to various UK labs; this changed with the onset of digital, mainly because of quality, more than price.

Vancols has had an online solution (they build websites as well), dealing more directly with parents for the last 6 or so years, and are about to launch their 4th version of their online ’shop’.

We employ around 70 full time, up to 100 when flat out busy, most from Colchester, with a few coming in from Suffolk.

Janus has been involved in trying to further Colchester, one way or another, for several years .

Janus is 60 years old,  married to a personal trainer (you won’t believe that) with 3 kids, one a graphic designer, one an expert in social media marketing, and one carpenter (none work in the Vancols Business). He may well be known to quite a few of you, if only for asking difficult questions!

Gillian Marshall
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Gillian Marshall

Executive Principal, Colchester County High School for Girls, CEO Alpha Trust
Gillian Marshall Gillian Marshall

Gillian Marshall

Job title: Executive Principal, Colchester County High School for Girls, CEO Alpha Trust

Website URL: https://www.cchsg.com

Founded in 1909 with the aim of providing high quality education for girls, CCHSG continues to fulfil that mission as an academically selective state school combining both tradition and innovation.

With around 950 students on role, CCHSG is one of the top performing 11-18 state schools in the country, both for student progress and attainment.

Providing a challenging academic environment alongside exceptional opportunities for personal development the school prides itself on educating the leaders of tomorrow.

With an active role in education development, research and teacher training, the school leads the Colchester Teacher Training Consortium (CTTC) and the North East Essex Teaching Schools Alliance (NEETSA).  CCHSG is an academy within the Alpha Trust group of schools.

Mark Jarman-Howe
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Mark Jarman-Howe

Chief Executive, St Helena
Mark Jarman-Howe Mark Jarman-Howe

Mark Jarman-Howe

Job title: Chief Executive, St Helena

Website URL: https://www.sthelena.org.uk

St Helena is the local hospice care charity since 1985. We help people face incurable illness, supporting them and their families, friends and carers. We also support children and adults who are facing bereavement.

By visiting them in their homes, over the phone with our 24/7 advice line, through our day therapies, and at The Hospice we reach out to members of our community, helping them make their own choices and live with dignity.

We work closely with other local health and social care partners, and provide a wide range of palliative and end of life care education and training.

Richard Bowdidge
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Richard Bowdidge

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation
Richard Bowdidge Richard Bowdidge

Richard Bowdidge

Job title: Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation

Website URL: https://www.tombowdidgefoundation.org

Richard takes an active role in the management of the Colchester headquartered Foundation as well as developing and implementing the strategic vision alongside the Chief Executive Officer and the rest of the Board.

In addition Richard takes an active part in managing and creating fundraising opportunities, including events and especially corporate partnerships. Recently the Foundation has invested over £57,000 into Colchester Hospital to provide facilities for teenagers and young adults with cancer.

Born in Colchester, Richard went to school in the town and has lived in the area all his life.

Richard works for a Lloyd’s insurance broker in London and is responsible for the management of a specialist team advising corporate clients on their complex insurance requirements. He has worked in the insurance market for some 30 years.

Jon Neill
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Jon Neill

Managing Director, Sportsafe
Jon Neill Jon Neill

Jon Neill

Job title: Managing Director, Sportsafe

Phone: 01206 795265

Email: Jon@sportsafeuk.com

Website URL: https://sportsafeuk.com

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe Sportsafe UK Ltd and its values?

We aim to be the company of choice for the service, repair and provision of sports equipment to schools & colleges, sport & leisure services, uniformed services, gymnastic clubs, trampoline clubs, sports clubs and hotels. We provide a professional and highly competitive service to all of our clients, ensuring personnel have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and authorities. We encourage and train all employees to seek continuous improvement in their work and enhance customer satisfaction, thus ensuring our work is carried out to the highest possible standards.

We have 6 core values which employees ‘sign up’ to: Trust; Integrity; Pride; Passion; Enjoyment; Respect. Our values are extremely important to us and we will hire and fire by these values.

Who started Sportsafe UK Ltd and when, how has it evolved to date?

I started the business in January 1997, one man and one van initially, growing in its first year to one office in Colchester with three people, two vans, servicing 250 sites. By 2007, we had opened a second office in Scotland, with 25 people, 13 vans, a fitness department and servicing 5000 sites on 19 contracts. Today we have five offices across the UK, with 95 staff, 32 vans, servicing 16000 sites with 120 contracts.

How big is Sportsafe UK Ltd now?

We are now part of the Abeo Group, global leaders in gymnastics, climbing and locker rooms with a turnover of over 200 million Euros and employing over 1000 people

How do you see Sportsafe UK Ltd further evolve over the next 5 years?

To expand our clothing division ‘Branded’ and to promote our outdoor division ‘Outdoor Spaces’ based in York. To continue to invest in sport for children through our ‘Supporting the Next Generation’ programme. To open another 2 regional bases across the UK and look to open international offices. Plus to retain our headquarters in Colchester.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Its location is very good for us with links to ports, airports and East Anglia region. Employment is also good and the support of local organisations.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Roads needs to be improved as do telecommunication networks. Support from the council for growing business would be good especially around property.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Sportsafe UK Ltd and for the town generally?

For us it is access to more employable people, in the present climate employing the right people can be difficult. The younger generation are very important to us as they are the future of Sportsafe so we encourage apprentices, some of our best team members started as apprentices

Of the 4 key themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Creating Capital in Colchester. Although they are all very important, creating capital and entrepreneurial growth for me are the most exciting parts, having started the company from one man to its present form. It’s what drives me to continue and grow the company.

Steve Mannix
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Steve Mannix

Chief Executive, Mercury Theatre
Steve Mannix Steve Mannix

Steve Mannix

Job title: Chief Executive, Mercury Theatre

Website URL: https://www.mercurytheatre.co.uk

The Mercury Theatre Colchester is the most active producing theatre in East Anglia, and a vital centre of excellence in the East’s growing economy.

Rooted in its local community, the theatre touches over 130,000 people in colchester and the surrounding area each year through the vibrant and broad programme we stage across two auditoria, and through community education partnerships.

Under the Made in Colchester brand, the Mercury creates theatre which reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally. The Mercury is a champion of regional arts, both as an active co-producer with other venues and companies and also touring our own productions to audiences across the uk.

Andy Green
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Andy Green

Director, Comfort Services Group
Andy Green Andy Green

Andy Green

Job title: Director, Comfort Services Group

Website URL: https://www.comfortservicesgroup.co.uk

Comfort Services Group offers wide range of bespoke services including HVAC commissioning, water hygiene and water treatment. We pride ourselves on cost-efficient, practical thinking, and safety centric approach.

Our customers benefit from our 14 years of experience in delivering integrated environmental services for companies across London and the South East.

We believe in offering advice as well as providing a service to our customers and we make sure our clients enjoy tailor-made solutions that meet their individual requirements. Not only are we passionate about providing services that help reduce harmful impacts on the environment, but we are passionate about giving back to our community as a business.

We proudly sponsor a range of local teams and charities and believe giving back to the community helps to shape it for the better, providing a safe, welcoming environment for generations to come.

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

Managing Director, XS Items Ltd
Ian Montgomery Ian Montgomery

Ian Montgomery

Job title: Managing Director, XS Items Ltd

Phone: 01206 851722

Email: ian@xsitems.com

Website URL: https://www.xsitems.com

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe XS Items Ltd and its values?

We are the E-tailer of choice for excess stock. We help companies realise value on customer returns, excess stock and end of line products. We take stock, add value and then sell online. It is purely an online business. Our values include trust, integrity, loyalty, honesty, enthusiasm, passion, knowledge and learning.

Who started XS Items Ltd and when, how has it evolved to date?

The business was started in 2005 with 3 employees. There are 4 shareholders and we now employ 52 people.

How big is XS Items Ltd now?

We deal with around 8,000-10,000 items per month, and are currently in the top 10 sellers on eBay.

How do you see XS Items Ltd evolve further over the next 5 years?

We want to expand our product range and expand our channels to the market. At present, we use Amazon and eBay but will be looking at other platforms for potential growth. Technological advances provide a wide range of products that require repair and refurbishment, thus we are continuously evolving our service to cover all types of audio visual and consumer electronics. One particular fast growing area is smartphone and tablets, where we are able to repair and refurbish to a very high standard. We are now offering this expertise to local companies and individuals as a fast turnaround local service for repair and rectification.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Colchester has a strong local economy with a good pool of potential staff. It is relatively close to London but far enough away too. The countryside is 10 minutes away and there’s generally a good work-life balance.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Employment is high which can impact on the ability to recruit. The town centre could be improved. Plus there is terrible congestion in certain parts of the town, as well as the need for more affordable housing.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both XS Items Ltd and for the town generally?

Growth in the town also means greater availability of workforce. It’s good to see the interest around digital business. Generally, growth means opportunities for all.

Of the 4 key themes being promoted by the Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit. Ensuring that our people are continuously looking at new approaches and services working in an environment that provides rewards for innovation and self-drive.

Toby Freeman
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Toby Freeman

CEO, Robin Cancer Trust Toby Freeman
Toby Freeman Toby Freeman

Toby Freeman

Job title: CEO, Robin Cancer Trust Toby Freeman

Website URL: https://www.therobincancertrust.org

The Robin Cancer Trust is the UK’s only germ cell cancer awareness charity – we raise awareness, reduce embarrassment and save lives through the early detection of testicular & ovarian cancers in young adults.

Based in Colchester, we founded The Robin Cancer Trust in 2012 following the untimely death of our son and brother, Robin Freeman, aged just 24.

We have grown into an award winning non-profit, leading the national conversation on germ cell cancers at events, in print and online – having reached over 9 million people with our life-saving cancer awareness campaigns.

Phil Dennis
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Phil Dennis

Director – Commercial Property, Savills
Phil Dennis Phil Dennis

Phil Dennis

Job title: Director – Commercial Property, Savills

Website URL: http://www.savills.com

Savills is a global property consultancy with over 160 years’ experience and with 600 offices across more than 60 countries.

In the UK Savills has a network of over 120 offices othering a range of property services covering residential estate agency, new homes sales, investment, management, development and commercial property.

Phil is the Director in Charge of the Chelmsford Commercial Team which specialises in providing agency and professional advice on industrial, office and retail property across Essex.

Born in Colchester, Phil went to school in the town and has lived in the area all of his life.

Lorna Fox O’Mahony
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Lorna Fox O’Mahony

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate), University of Essex
Lorna Fox O’Mahony Lorna Fox O’Mahony

Lorna Fox O’Mahony

Job title: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate), University of Essex

Phone: 01206 874052

Email: lfox@essex.ac.uk

Website URL: https://www.essex.ac.uk/

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

The University of Essex is dedicated to exploring new ways of thinking, and putting our ideas into practice to improve the world around us. We’re proud to be Gold rated in the Teaching Excellence Framework 2017 and ranked 22nd in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide (TGUG 2017). We’re committed to excellence in teaching and excellence in research and we deliver these commitments by valuing inclusivity, partnership and creativity.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

We were founded in 1964 with the dual mission of conducting research at the cutting-edge of innovation and technology, and preparing graduates to meet the challenges of the modern world. This mission remains at the heart of everything we do and we’re constantly evolving to meet the challenges of today and the future. We aim to support our students to fulfil their potential as individuals within our truly global community, and we deliver research which helps improve people’s lives in the UK and around the world. We’re proud of our top 15 ranking (for the fifth year running) in the National Student Survey, and to be the 15th most international university in the world (Times Higher Education April 2017).

How big is the organisation now?

The University is home to over 13,000 students and we’re a major regional employer with  more than 2,100 staff. We contribute over £500million each year to the East of England economy, with an economic impact of £478m in Colchester alone. Our students come from more than 140 countries, with over a third from outside the UK. This makes us the most international mainstream university in the UK outside London.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next five years?

We’re just starting work on developing our next strategic plan for the period 2019 to 2025. This will focus on driving forward research and innovation to meet emerging challenges, and ensuring that our graduates have the skills and capabilities they will need for the future. We will be building on the success of our existing strategic plan which has seen us make incredible progress so far towards our target of 50% growth by 2019. At the same time we’ve significantly expanded our academic staff numbers and we’re investing substantially in our facilities.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

We want to help make Colchester a world-class knowledge borough at the forefront of the digital revolution. We’re fortunate to have strong partnerships with organisations and businesses that share our huge ambitions for Colchester and the wider region. We’re working closely with businesses, industry, leading sector organisations, local authorities, and economic growth partnerships to realise our aims by enabling access to the right facilities, business support, and R&D innovation expertise.,

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Colchester is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit: as well as hosting some large businesses, it is home to a high volume of small-scale freelancers and microbusinesses. These businesses typically face barriers of scale that inhibit productivity and growth. This is one of the reasons why we have invested significantly in connectivity and business clusters, on the University’s Knowledge Gateway and at the Creative Business Centre in the town centre. Clustering enables smaller businesses, particularly in key growth sectors like data science, artificial intelligence, digital and creative industries and agri-tech, to access relevant support, workspace, networking, research expertise and finance.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

Colchester offers major opportunities for knowledge-led businesses to build their businesses through a skilled graduate workforce, to draw on the R&D expertise of world-leading researchers, and to be part of a vibrant community working in partnership to meet future challenges and achieve economic growth.

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

To continue working effectively, in partnership, to identify and deliver ambitious plans for Colchester; strong partnerships enable us to go further, faster, in realising the next phase of our ambitions for Colchester.

Julian Lamb
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Julian Lamb

Director, Barkley Projects
Julian Lamb Julian Lamb

Julian Lamb

Job title: Director, Barkley Projects

Phone: 01206 814720

Email: julian@barkleyprojects.co.uk

Website URL: http://barkleyprojects.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe Barkley Projects and its values?

Barkley Projects is a commercial and residential property development company which aims to produce a high-quality product with a personal touch.

Who started Barkley Projects and when, how has it evolved to date?

Barkley Projects was started in 2003 to work alongside a large regional building contractor. It has since evolved and undertakes all kinds of property work. It partners with other businesses and has a portfolio of rental properties. 

How big is Barkley Projects now?

There are 2 partners, but numbers actually working for us depends on the developments we are doing as we employ many Contractors. 

How do you see Barkley Projects evolving over the next 5 years?

We will continue to develop individual sites which is most likely to be housing projects. However, we will continue to look out for commercial opportunities as well, with view to increasing our portfolio of property.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Colchester is an up and coming place. It is has a feel near enough to the benefits of London but without the hugely expensive housing prices. The substantial growth in the area creates excellent opportunities, and business networks in the area are strong. Rail networks are also improving, which will have a big impact on the town. Likewise, the knowledge and use of technology makes the town a real hub for business. 

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

There could be more focus on the town centre with proper investment to make it a place to attract more visitors. Having a pedestrianised High Street, even for part of the day, would go a long way towards this. Also, in the long term, the widening of the A12 which although may initially cause a traffic challenge will then create benefits which most certainly outweigh this, making access in to Colchester and surrounding areas easier and quicker.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Barkley Projects and for the town generally?

For us, growth allows us to re-develop more sites for housing and to look for more commercial opportunities. With the town’s fast expansion also brings the benefit of attracting a wider range of shops, restaurants and leisure facilities. 

Of the 4 themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, what is the most important to you and why?

No Better Place for Your Family and Business to Live and Grow. Colchester is a great place for families. It has a rich heritage with beautiful countryside, including the famous Constable Country, on the doorstep. Plus, if we can develop the town centre we will create an attractive and safe environment for local families to enjoy as well as encouraging more visitors.

Craig Newnes
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Craig Newnes

Franchisee, McDonalds Colchester
Craig Newnes Craig Newnes

Craig Newnes

Job title: Franchisee, McDonalds Colchester

Email: CNewnes@uk.mcd.com

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe CGN Restaurants Ltd – McDonalds Franchisee and its values?

A big brand franchise which is a people-business dedicated to its customers.

Who started CGN Restaurants Ltd –McDonalds Franchisee and when, how has it evolved to date?

I moved to Colchester four years ago. Prior to that I had a franchise in London, but I sold up and moved here and took over the three existing McDonalds restaurants. In 2015 I identified then opened a 4th branch, near to the Stadium.

How big is CGN Restaurants Ltd – McDonalds Franchisee now?

There are 4 branches, 3 of which are drive-through. I employ 520 staff, with 48 managers and a senior team of 10.

How do you see CGN Restaurants Ltd – McDonalds Franchisee evolve further over the next 5 years?

I feel there’s room for another out of town restaurant/drive-through. Branches will be refurbished and mobile ordering will evolve. Despite out of town growth, I would not want to close the High Street branch unless, due to rent and rates, I had to.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

There is fantastic energy in the town. It’s growing rapidly. There’s a great sense of community and of giving back to the community through clubs, volunteering and giving to charities. There are schemes like COLBAC (Colchester Business Against Crime) where businesses work with the Police to fight crime. In fact, last year Colchester got Purple Flag Status, accredited to towns that are diverse, enjoyable and safe town at night.

 What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Traffic control and congestion and road networks. The volume of new people to the town can create issues but that’s a good problem to have.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both CGN Restaurants Ltd – McDonalds Franchisee and for the town generally?

Extra custom. I have seen a lot of change in my 4 years here. The growth makes the town an exciting place to be. Bring it on.

Of the 4 key themes being promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

No Better Place for Your Family and Business to Live and Grow.

Stuart Cock
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Stuart Cock

Managing Director, Mersea Homes
Stuart Cock Stuart Cock

Stuart Cock

Job title: Managing Director, Mersea Homes

Phone: 01206 383159

Email: Stuart.Cock@merseahomes.co.uk

Website URL: http://www.merseahomes.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe Mersea Homes and its values?

Mersea Homes is a regional residential developer delivering high quality homes that will stand the test of time.

Who started Mersea Homes and when; how has it evolved to date?

The business was started by my grandfather in 1947 as a small building contractor. Over the 50+ years it has now evolved into a well respected residential developer carrying out schemes of all sizes including large urban extension for thousands of homes.

How big is Mersea Homes now?

We provide jobs for over 150 skilled tradesmen and professionals and have built thousands of houses in the region.

How do you see Mersea Homes evolving over the next 5 years?

We wish to continue building the business year on year but without compromise to quality.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Colchester is a fantastic place to operate due to its strong economic track record, geographical location and infrastructure making it a growth location. When you put all this together it makes it an exciting, aspirational place to live and bring up a family, so the future is bright.

What are the biggest challenges for your business in Colchester?

Ensuring the increasingly hard battle of building new strategic infrastructure to accommodate growth, as well as overcoming existing deficiencies. Making sure that education and training is directed to all parts of the construction industry so that the skilled work force needed will be readily available.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Mersea Homes and for the town generally?

Being a house builder, growth obviously means that people need good quality homes to live in which, if we do our job well, will ensure we can continue to thrive.

Of the 4 themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Creating Capital in Colchester. If Colchester is successful in doing this, it will ensure that it is a place where people want to live and grow, which will in turn mean that necessary skills and investment will occur. In my view we cannot standstill, the world is changing and we need to adapt to ensure we are ahead of the game.

Tony Fisher
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Tony Fisher

Senior Partner, Fisher Jones Greenwood
Tony Fisher Tony Fisher

Tony Fisher

Job title: Senior Partner, Fisher Jones Greenwood

Phone: 0845 543 5700

Email: TFisher@fjg.co.uk

Website URL: https://www.fjg.co.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

We are a top 200 firm of solicitors. Our core values are Integrity, Expertise and Respect, for our clients, our suppliers and each other.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

We first opened in Colchester in 1983. Our centre of gravity remains in Colchester but we now have offices in Chelmsford, Billericay, Clacton on Sea, Holland on Sea and central London.

How big is the organisation now?

We have grown from two partners with no staff to an organisation employing nearly 200 solicitors, legal assistants/paralegals and support staff over the last 30 years or so.

How do you see your organisation evolving over the next 5 years?

We are focused on further growth to respond to the changes in the competitive environment for legal services over the next five years byboth organic growth and growth by merger. Technology is going to be one of the greatest drivers for change over this period and we are determined to be early adopters for artificial intelligence applications and other innovative technologies which will support the delivery of legal services.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

All of the things which make Colchester a golden opportunity for those wanting to grow their businesses. Good infrastructure, road and rail links, human resources, lifestyle.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Those of any growing and prosperous area, finding the right people to meet the demands of a growing business. Ensuring that the infrastructure keeps up with the growth in population.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for business and for the town generally?

The opportunity to compete effectively with other towns and cities in the region for more investment and a greater focus on attracting growth businesses. 

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

The borough needs to believe in its importance to the region. These positive factors should help all of the different communities develop more self-confidence and excitement. I think the business community can lead that process which is why I am happy to be an Ambassador.

Bryan Johnston
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Bryan Johnston

Senior Partner, GoodyBurrett
Bryan Johnston Bryan Johnston

Bryan Johnston

Job title: Senior Partner, GoodyBurrett

Website URL: https://goodyburrett.co.uk

In the best of times, in the worst of times, in the age of wisdom, in the age of foolishness, in the season of Light, in the season of Darkness, Colchester has thrived.

GoodyBurrett have provided legal services to the people of Colchester for over three centuries. GoodyBurrett and Colchester are interwoven from the stone carvings in the old library and oil paintings in the Town Hall to the property deeds and wills of countless citizens.

Colchester is a town with an exciting future and whether it is the prospect of hard times, or great expectations GoodyBurrett want to be part of it.

Jonathan Hills
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Jonathan Hills

Managing Director, Hills Building Group
Jonathan Hills Jonathan Hills

Jonathan Hills

Job title: Managing Director, Hills Building Group

Website URL: http://www.hillsgroup.co.uk

Hills Building Group, established in Colchester in 1920, is an amalgamation of property investment, development, and construction businesses.

The Group owns and manages property and land throughout the south-east which include tenants such as Tesco, Irish Post, Halfords and St Helena Hospice.

Hills Construction is a long-standing contractor undertaking high quality construction projects including substantial homes, offices, and supermarkets.

Hills Residential is a house building company building 50-100 homes per year. The company pro-actively seeks out the best sites in the most sought-after locations and has planning permission for over 1000 plots to develop over the next few years. The company also owns Milsoms Kesgrave Hall with Milsom Hotels.

The company supports a number of charities and has recently been involved in funding schools in Ghana.

Alison Andreas
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Alison Andreas

Principal and Chief Executive, Colchester Institute
Alison Andreas Alison Andreas

Alison Andreas

Job title: Principal and Chief Executive, Colchester Institute

Phone: 01206 712221

Email: alison.andreas@colchester.ac.uk

Website URL: https://www.colchester.ac.uk

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe Colchester Institute and its values?

Colchester Institute is a provider of education and skills to all sectors of the community from entry to degree level, offering full and part time learning to all age groups. We support the economic wellbeing of the community by providing to individuals the skills, knowledge and attitudes to secure, and then succeed in, employment and by providing to employers, a pipeline of skilled and qualified employees.

Colchester Institute puts the success and wellbeing of students and a positive student experience at the core of its values. It sets high expectations of all involved and aims for excellence in everything. The College values equality, diversity and respect and recognises the need to break down barriers to success.

Who started Colchester Institute and when, how has it evolved to date?

Colchester Institute, formerly known as North East Essex Technical College, opened in 1954. In the 1970s, following structural changes, it became known as Colchester Institute. In May 2016, permission was granted to deliver the Higher Education (degree provision) element of our work under the banner of ‘University Centre Colchester’.

 How big is Colchester Institute now?

There are approximately 11,000 student enrolments every year of which around 44% are 16-19 year olds in full time Further Education, 20% are apprentices and 13% are studying at degree level. The remainder are adults on mainly part-time programmes, some of which are fully funded by the government.

The College’s turnover is approximately £40million and there are almost 1500 full and part time staff.

How do you see Colchester Institute evolving over the next 5 years?

Growing the provision of skills and focusing on skills priorities in line with employer and local economic needs, in particular, providing the skills needed to support local plans. These include the growth in housing locally and regionally and opportunities related to the upgrade of the road and rail infrastructure as well as large-scale off shore and nuclear energy projects.

Construction and engineering skills will be vital to these. Additionally, the acute need for skills in the health and care sectors as well as in creative and digital media creates a huge demand which we must support. We anticipate growth in apprenticeships (with a larger volume of students choosing this route as opposed to full time study at all levels). The government’s proposals to develop T Levels (Technical Levels) will require us to provide more substantial work placement opportunities to full-time students than is currently the case.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

  • The College benefits from the good relationships that exist in the town with schools and other education providers.
  • The highly respected University of Essex, our partner University, is located in the town and as such, our degree students can access many of the University’s resources in addition to our own.
  • The diverse range of employers who engage with Colchester Institute as their skills provider.
  • The pro-active Borough Council.
  • The town’s proximity to London and to major ports and airports.

 What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

For us, challenges come from the fact that the town does not have a distinct predominant business sector, and there are relatively few large organisations in the borough. This means, as a skills provider, the engagement is with many different small and medium sized organisations.

The current unreliable road infrastructure, especially the A12 and A120, makes travel between our sites in Tendring, Colchester and Braintree unpredictable.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Colchester Institute and for the town generally?

Expansion is good for students as they can see the opportunities that new and different businesses in the town can bring in relation to employment opportunities.

The growth is exciting. There will be opportunities for new partnerships with businesses which will lead to further opportunities for work experience and for apprenticeships – a great way of providing skills training to people of all ages.

Nationally, there is likely to be an increase in the demand for a wide range of  skills once, post-Brexit, labour and skills cannot so easily be imported from abroad.

Of the 4 key themes being promoted by the Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

To me they are all important and they stand together to make Colchester great, but if I had to choose one, it would be ‘Creating Capital in Colchester’. Colchester Institute’s mission is to deliver first-class education, professional development and technical skills training to develop careers and strengthen the local economy.

The strategic plan from 2017 to 2020 contains five priorities – the second of which is to ‘play a greater role in driving local and regional economic growth’. We’re excited about the very real contribution we can make to this ambitious and fast growing Borough.

Paul Milsom
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Paul Milsom

Managing Director, Milsom Hotels and Restaurants
Paul Milsom Paul Milsom

Paul Milsom

Job title: Managing Director, Milsom Hotels and Restaurants

Email: paulmilsom@milsomhotels.com

Website URL: https://www.milsomhotels.com

Paul Milsom is the Chairman and Managing Director of Milsom Hotels & Restaurants, a progressive and forward thinking group of hotels and restaurants in north Essex and Suffolk.

The company was founded in 1952 when Paul’s father, the late Gerald Milsom, ‘discovered’ Le Talbooth in Dedham, followed several years later by Maison Talbooth and then The Pier at Harwich which was acquired in the late 70’s.  Since then the company has gone from strength to strength with the addition of Milsoms in Dedham and Milsoms Kesgrave Hall in Suffolk (which is co-owned by fellow ambassador Jonathan Hills).

Each property is unique in style and character and continued investment is key to the success, such as the reinvestment in Maison Talbooth with the addition of a day spa, pool house and outdoor pool and the rebuild of The Pier with a redefined restaurant, bar and private dining room. Work is about to start on the building of a day spa at Kesgrave Hall, a much anticipated addition to the hotel and local area.

Besides all the above, the busy and successful outside catering arm of the business, Milsom Catering, looks after the best parties in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk; while Milsom Weddings offers everything today’s couples need when they are getting married.

In any one year, MH&R serves in excess of 350,000 people between the four restaurants, and employs around 300 local people rising to 450 on a full and part time basis in the height of the busy summer season.

 

Sara Thakkar
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Sara Thakkar

Chief Executive, Colne Housing
Sara Thakkar Sara Thakkar

Sara Thakkar

Job title: Chief Executive, Colne Housing

Phone: 01206 244700

Email: sara.thakkar@colnehousing.co.uk

Website URL: https://www.colnehousing.co.uk/

Category: steering group members

How would you best describe your organisation and its values?

Colne Housing is one of the country’s fastest growing housing associations. With a commercial head and social heart, we want to help end the housing crisis in Colchester and surrounding areas. We do this by providing affordable homes for people who need them. Our services are available to customers as an when they need them to achieve their aspirations and live as independently as they can.

Colne’s values are important to us. They reflect our culture, ethos and are an integral part of the services we deliver. Customers are at the heart of what we do, we are proud of our local reputation and focus on working with like-minded organisations so we can do more to end homelessness and improve communities.

When did your organisation begin and how has it evolved to date?

In 1973, Colne Housing Society was established as a charity to provide decent homes for those in ‘desperate housing need.’ We started modestly by building houses in St Andrew’s Avenue, Colchester. Over the years we expanded beyond Colchester to meet changing demand and the population’s different needs. Almshouses, bungalows, sheltered accommodation for older people, supported and shared homes for those with learning disabilities make up our portfolio – along with leasehold opportunities and shared ownership homes to part-buy, part-rent. By modernising our businesses we have embraced the economic, social and political challenges that have affected housing in recent years. 

How big is the organisation now?

Currently we provide 3,000 affordable homes across seven local authority areas and are building around 150 new homes each year. We have over 50 people working for us at our main office in Colchester. We are very proud that many loyal staff have been with us for over 20 years. We have a good mix of people of all ages from different work backgrounds from inside and outside the housing sector.

How do you see your organisation evolve over the next 5 years?

Colne is building on its strong foundations to enable it to be bigger, better and bolder.  We will grow so we can continue to develop homes in our core footprint of Colchester, Essex and Suffolk. We will remain a great employer become a regional player in the East of England.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Proud to be based in Colchester, we manage around 1,500 affordable homes in the borough. We are more than a landlord. We work with others to empower residents to improve their communities – so they are thriving places where people want to live and work. The diversity of businesses, organisations and community groups in the area means Colne is part of a fantastic network. Colchester is a great place to build relationships and partnerships which allow the town to be the best it can be.

What do you see as the most important focus for Colchester’s future and why?

In our view it is housing. Everyone has a right to a stable home. With a roof over your head you are best placed to succeed – to get into work, develop a career, start a businesses or charity, bring up children, get a good education, inspire others and achieve your dreams. We want all organisations in Colchester who can play a part in solving the housing crisis to foster a joined up approach. Together we can build communities where people want to be – and make a lasting difference to the lives of Colchester people for generations to come.