Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The insider

Your Last Chance to Grill the Candidates

This Free Hustings Breakfast event at the Quality Burlington Hotel in Folkestone on Thursday 15th April, is being hosted jointly by Channel Chamber and the FSB (Federation of Small Business).

Chaired by Clive Lawrence (journalist and ex BBC presenter) this will give you a unique opportunity to question the four main local parliamentary candidates before finally deciding which way you vote in the forthcoming General Election.

Places are strictly limited, and on a first-come-first -served basis, so if you are interested in joining us please email –

Women’s Networking Lunch

G Casino, Westwood Cross are holding a women’s networking lunch on Thursday 15th April from 12.30pm-2.30pm in the Gallery restaurant. Come and enjoy a delicious 3 course set menu plus a glass of wine for only £12.50pp. The event will begin at 12.30pm for drinks followed by the sit down meal at 1.00pm. A glass of wine will be provided with dinner but there will be a bar serving soft drinks, teas/coffees, wine and spirits. (Tea/coffee & water will be complimentary pre-lunch).

Call Sherrill on 01843 579361 to book your place. You are welcome to bring guests just remember your photo ID for registration!

Luxury Serviced Accommodation in the heart of the Creative Quarter by our Chamber Sponsor

One of our Chamber members Quake provides self contained, fully furnished and serviced accommodation available to rent from £230 per week. There is a choice of a 3 bedroom cottage on the harbour with views across to France, or a newly renovated one-bedroom maisonette in the Old High Street with a secluded sunny roof terrace. Both properties are decorated and furnished to high standards. Discounts are available for longer lets depending on the level of service required. An additional discount of 10% is offered to all Chamber members. For more details and pictures go to or email Rachel on

Snapshot Survey

Channel Chamber and other members of the British Chambers of Commerce in South East England are working with partners to understand the level of activity and support given to your business in key areas of Business Support. This is to ensure that you have good access to this support and the services can be shaped to fit your business needs.

Please help us by completing a snapshot survey which will take less than a minute. Your reply will be treated in confidence, in accordance with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct.

To complete the survey just click on the link below
Skills Snapshot Survey

Haven’t signed the NIC Petition yet?

Very disappointing that the previously-announced employer National Insurance rise remains in place after last week’s budget. However, there’s still time for you to sign the BCC petition against the NICs rise.

Free Family Fun Day

Another date for your diary - Friday 16th April, when families across Folkestone are being invited to a fantastic day of thrills and entertainment at the Folkestone Academy (10am – 4pm). This event is being hosted by the Shepway Inspiring Communities Programme and the Channel Chamber team will be signing people up to our exciting digital mentoring project.

All Chamber members and their families coming along are guaranteed a great day out with an amazing range of activities including Bungee jumping, trampolining, climbing wall, music, competitions and lots more fun and games.

New Chamber Finance Hotline

RBS and Natwest have launched a dedicated Chamber specific advice hotline, which is intended to provide impartial financial advice and is available to members regardless of who they bank with.
The phone number 0800 656 9634 is answered “Chamber Finance hotline” and has been solely created for the Accredited Chambers in the UK in order to assist their members in all matters relating to finance.

Chamber Business Choice Healthcare

All Channel Chamber members currently receive AXA PPP healthcare receive two free business services from AXA PPP Healthcare – Health at Hand and Personal Business Assistance. There are no catches or conditions to these services and they are enhancements to the standard Chamber package..

Health at Hand is an exclusive 24/7 service specially designed to provide expert information and peace of mind. The Health at Hand team includes healthcare professionals, such as nurses, midwives, pharmacists and counsellors, who are all experts in their field.

Personal Business Assistance enables members to maintain contact with customers, prospective clients or suppliers, if in hospital or suffering from health problems that prevent them from being accessible or able to communicate effectively.

With the ever increasing pressures of sickness absence on small companies, these two services provide a good level of health advice and support during those difficult times. If you want to find out more information on the Chamber Business Choice Healthcare then please contact Steve Hancock on 07964 502238 or
Are Your Ready to Tender?

Tuesday 13th April, 2010 Ramada Hotel, Whitfield, Dover, Kent

Channel Chamber of Commerce is holding a series of workshops to help small businesses qualify for big money contracts. The workshop is being sponsored by the British Standards Institute (BSI) and will be delivered by David Hall, Managing Director of Business Flow UK Limited, and is an introduction to the essential ISO standards.
Kent County Council's Strategic Procurement Manager - John Tunnicliff will also be taking you through the schedule of tenders suitable for SME's during the year ahead.
Andy Wilson Business Development Manager from the British Standards Institute (BSI) will be showing you the way forward, how to certify and the benefits to your business and a Business Link executive will offer practical help and expert advice on how to take full advantage of these opportunities for public sector procurement.

For more information or to book on, please contact Tracy Reynolds on 01303 270022
Member Price: £15+VAT
Non-Member Price: £20+VAT

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Insider

Quarterly Economic Survey
The latest QES fieldwork period comes to an end TODAY, 15th March.

Thank you to all Chamber members who have taken part so far, but we do need a few more of you to take a couple of minutes to complete the survey.

As ever, the British Chambers of Commerce will be taking the Q1 results to the Bank of England to discuss them ahead of their next interest rate decision.
Kent Excellence in Business Awards
The entry deadline is this Friday 19th March– please don’t miss this opportunity to raise the profile of your organisation and enhance its reputation by promoting the great work you have been doing over the last year.

KEiBA aims to recognise and reward excellence in Kent and Medway businesses of all sizes and across every sector - as well as individuals. Full details of how to enter the awards, entry criteria for each category and entry forms are available at

Ten Years Of Investment
Our congratulations to Chamber member, Boys & Maughan solicitors who have been presented with a 10 Year Award from Investors in People UK, in recognition of their continuous attainment of the Investors in People standard.

In receiving the award certificate Andrew Baker, Quality Partner at Boys & Maughan, remarked that “as an organisation that delivers knowledge on behalf of its clients, we have always invested heavily in our staff to enable them to convey their understanding in people-friendly way".

The Kent Quality Mark
Following a year of hard work, Chamber member, First Learners’ Nursery of Cheriton has been awarded the Kent Quality Mark. The Kent Quality mark is a quality improvement tool that builds upon the strong practice that already exists in the county and supports practitioners to improve their ‘children’ focused outcomes.

Kent Air Ambulance Anniversary Awards
The Kent Air Ambulance Trust is busy organising a high-profile Anniversary Awards evening on 8th May to mark their achievements and celebrate being operational in Kent for 20 years. Both KOS Media and Heart FM will be joint media partners for the project and the Awards ceremony that will be hosted by Hearts Neil Kefford at the Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone.
There are six award categories – Sporting, Business, Youngest, Group/Club, Most Unique Fundraising and the Kent Air Ambulance Special Award – and KAAT are now seeking businesses in the county that will sponsor a category each. They are looking for a sponsorship sum of £600, which will include dinner at the event for the four finalists and a guest plus two representatives from the sponsoring company. This will also include the supply of the award/trophy for the chosen category.

If you are interested in being being involved in this exciting event please contact Lynn Hyder – Senior Fundraiser at

Enjoy Les Miserables in Edinburgh on 22 April
The Aspinall Foundation has been made a beneficiary of a special Press evening performance of Les Miserables in Edinburgh on Thursday the 22nd April 2010. This gives friends and supporters of this Charity and theatre lovers the opportunity to help them while enjoying a splendid break in Edinburgh.

Howletts & Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, are devoted to saving rare and endangered animals and returning them to protected areas in the wild including The Scottish Wild Cat. By selecting the Aspinall Charity Ticket you not only receive a free programme and interval drink but are making a £25 donation to this Charity.

To book tickets: or call 0871 789 1004 and quote “Aspinall Foundation”.

Employ a Graduate at a subsidised rate for three months
The University of Kent is now funded to pay Graduates £500 for three months. to work with local SME’S. Any Business interested would be required to top up the salary to at least the National Minimum Wage. For more information, guidance notes on applying and the application form, please visit their website at

Grand Opening of the New Play Park
Chamber members and their guests are invited to the Grand Opening of the newly built play towers in the child’s play area at New Romney station on Saturday 20th March. Greeting at 11am with a short train ride at 11.30am the opening ceremony at 12.15pm will be accompanied by the music of the Hythe Town Band, concluding with a buffet lunch.


Employment Simplification Report
Employment regulations are the burden that businesses complain about most. It isn’t just the extra cost, but the constant tinkering and changes which are an issue.

The British Chambers of Commerce is publishing a report on Tuesday 16th March - Employment Law: Up to The Job?- which explains the common problems businesses face, and sets out practical measures for reform, not only within the law, but also within the tribunal system.

Luxury Serviced Accommodation in the heart of the Creative Quarter
This weeks Insider sponsor-Chamber member Quake provides self contained, fully furnished and serviced accommodation available to rent from £230 per week. There is a choice of a 3 bedroom cottage on the harbour with views across to France, or a newly renovated one-bedroom maisonette in the Old High Street with a secluded sunny roof terrace. Both properties are decorated and furnished to high standards. Discounts are available for longer lets depending on the level of service required. An additional discount of 10% is offered to all Chamber members. For more details and pictures go to or email Rachel on

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Insider

HEADLINE - Lydd Airport Planning Permission Granted

At Channel Chamber, we take the views of our members seriously. We don't rely on one-off polls to gauge their opinions, but go out and speak to them personally on a regular basis. We applaud those councillors who took the time to go out into their communities to discuss the issues that matter to them in relation to Lydd Airport’s planning application.

The rich wildlife and ecosystem of the Marsh is something we are all interested in protecting, and supporting opportunities for green jobs and eco-tourism for local people is also a priority for Channel Chamber. We listened carefully to all the experts who spoke to us about the potential impact of the Airport on our Marsh, and we are fully convinced that Lydd Airport and local wildlife will continue to co-habit successfully, and indeed flourish. Lydd Airport have gone above and beyond what is required to protect the local area, and we strongly urge the various groups such as the RSPB to work together with - not against - the Airport management team in the protection of our local environment.

The whole community can be proud of seeing the democratic process in action. We also feel great sadness that certain minority interest groups, who represent the views of only a handful of our community, seek to waste public money on challenging the carefully considered views of our elected Council. These bully-boy tactics are not only a challenge to our democratic process, but are based on incorrect information and self-interest. We are confident that they will fail.

The entire proceedings from last Wednesday’s meeting – including presentations by Channel Chamber and our former Chamber Manager, Caroline Chambers were recorded on video and can be viewed via the Channel Chamber Website:

Say no to National Insurance Contributions (NICs) increase

Chamber members across the country are calling upon the Government to reverse the 1 percentage-point employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) increase planned for April 2011.

Businesses know that it is imperative for the Government to begin the difficult job of repairing the public finances. But this NICs increase is a 'tax on jobs' - and will discourage companies of all sizes from taking on new staff at a critical point in our economic recovery.

The British Chambers of Commerce urge the Government to work with business groups to find alternative ways to close the UK's budget deficit - beginning with a credible plan to reduce inefficiency in public sector spending. Any Government has to realise that additional taxes on businesses, especially small- and medium-sized companies, must be a last resort, not an easy way forward.

The respected and independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has commented that 'employer [NI] contributions bear no relation to benefits provided under the NI scheme. These contributions are in effect simply a payroll tax'. From our perspective, further rises in NI mean fewer jobs, more people signing on, and a slower recovery for UK plc.

The NICs petition – can be found at

The case is clear. No NICs increase - no tax on jobs.

It’s Time to Ring Fence Your Energy Costs

Looking at the wholesale energy market price indices there appears to be substantial increases in energy costs forecasted in the next 2/3 years. By 2012/13 the kWh price could have risen well in excess of 50%, particularly in electricity.

This is going to have a significant impact on Chamber members’ businesses, at a time when you can least afford it. Especially when you are trying to trade out of a depressed market. Now is the time to start protecting yourselves against increased business costs by taking advantage of the FREE Chamber Energy Service for advice and action

For more information please contact Richard Webber on 0845 120 2410

Business Grants to improve environmental performance

Businesses are facing more and more regulations and increased pressure to reduce their environmental impact and cut greenhouse gas emissions. But “going green” isn’t just about helping the environment – it’s an opportunity to save money and boost profits by slashing energy bills, cutting waste, increasing productivity and improving efficiency.

Channel Chamber has identified Green Grants Machine. a free and easy-to-use funding search website with full details on the hundreds of grants, loans and other funds available to help UK businesses improve environmental performance. This funding can help to develop new eco-friendly products, install more efficient equipment, cut waste and much more – helping to protect the environment, but just as importantly helping businesses prosper

For further information please visit website – and the other funding website

Carbon Trust Offers Mentoring Sessions

The Carbon Trust is offering five businesspeople the chance to win a priceless mentoring session with their local Best Advice business guru on how to survive and thrive in 2010. The business gurus include: Ian Cheshire, Group CEO of Kingfisher and chairman of B&Q (London); Paul Stobart, MD Sage UK and Ireland (Tyne & Wear); Dawn Gibbins MBE, founder & CEO, Barefoot (Lancashire); Paul Thandi, CEO, NEC Group (Midlands); and Chris Harrop, Marketing Director, Marshalls (Yorkshire).

Click here to enter, but hurry - the competition closes Today.

Calling all budding artists

Have you ever dreamt of seeing your artwork prominently displayed for all to see? Well, thanks to Chamber member - Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, that dream can become a reality! The Wild Animal Park will hold a wildlife art exhibition over the Easter Break (2nd April-11th April). All budding artists are invited to enter for this fantastic opportunity; it doesn’t matter whether you do stunning sculptures or perfect pictures, all mediums will be considered.

The art exhibition week will commence with a preview evening on Thursday 1st April opened by Vic Reeves—a keen artist himself. Held in the Marquee at Port Lympne, the preview evening will be an excellent opportunity to view the dazzling exhibition pieces that have been submitted. The preview evening is free, but by invitation only. Entry to the exhibition is free to all paying visitors to the Park. A donation from all sales will go towards The Aspinall Foundation to aid their vital conservation work both at home in Kent at Howletts & Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks and abroad.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


BREAKING NEWS - Michael Howard supports Lydd Airport's Planning Application

Earlier today Michael Howard announced his support for Lydd Airport's planning applications having successfully negotiated two exciting property protection schemes on behalf of local residents. The first scheme will offer protection, outside of any statutory obligations, to people who fear for the value of their properties as a result of the airport development. A new noise protection scheme will also offer local assistance with secondary glazing and/or double glazing.

The scene is now set for a momentous decision by Shepway District Councillors this Wednesday evening when they meet to determine the future of Lydd Airport and their £25 million expansion plans

Graduate Internship Scheme
Channel Chamber can testify to the success of the on-going ‘Business First’ graduate placement project from the two excellent young men we are currently employing as project managers. Chamber members will therefore be delighted to learn that more funding has now been secured by Canterbury Christ Church for a new Graduate Internship Scheme designed to support small businesses in this area..

To find out more about the Business First project and the Graduate Internship Scheme and how you can benefit from them, please contact Samia Abdiche on 01227 782093 or

Graduate Start-up businesses
For graduate entrepreneurs who want to start up their own businesses, Basepoint – operators of the Folkestone Enterprise Centre, on Shearway Business Park is offering six months’ FREE office rental to all graduates. Basepoint provide easy in, easy out agreements and have the latest technology and friendly staff to get you really rolling.

If you know of any graduates who may be interested please ask them to contact Lorraine Grover on 01303 298298

REMINDER - Take part in the UK’s Most Important Business Survey
Your responses to this quarter’s Quarterly Economic Survey will be crucial to shaping business policy during a hard-fought election campaign. We can’t win real policy changes without your responses we can’t win real policy changes – so we’d greatly appreciate your ongoing support.

ATTENTION – All Tourism and Hospitality Businesses
Owners, managers and key decision makers of tourism businesses are invited to

a FREE business advice and networking event on Tuesday 30th March at Godinton House and Gardens, Ashford (10.30am – 1.30pm)

Throughout the workshop you will develop an action plan for your business by hearing specific tourism advice as well as Business Link advisers sharing their experience and the

opportunities to improve your business in 2010 and beyond.

For more information or to book contact Daniel Humphreys on 023 8062 5499 or

For further information on local news and events in the tourism and hospitality sector please visit:

The Quarterhouse, Folkestone’s Performing Arts and Business Centre – with restaurant
If you haven’t been along yet to this sensational venue why not do yourself a favour. During March they have a programme of great music and entertainment music all detailed

In the Hook – Folkestone’s Music Festival e-brochure

Get out and about to explore Folkestone's Creative Quarter with guided walks, Visit Kent's Big Day Out, exhibitions, book readings, music events and more. Enjoy!

In Memory of Rifleman Aldridge
Sadly, Folkestone Invicta’s match with Croydon was called off last week due to the very heavy rain beforehand and the tribute to Rifleman Aldridge was also postponed until a later date.

Please contact Lynn Woods ( about the rescheduled arrangements.