Find out what's happening at Worcestershire LEP in this month's ezine.
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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter

Bulletin no: 45 - March 2015

Introduction from the WLEP Chair - Peter Pawsey

As you will hopefully be aware, my term of office finishes on the 2 April 2015.  It has been an honour to hold this position for the past four years, I am very proud of the many achievements across Worcestershire to date and of those firmly in the pipeline.

May I therefore start by sincerely thanking the LEP’s many partners from business, the public sector, education and the voluntary sector, as well as the LEP Board and Business Board members, the county’s MPs and of course our executive team under Gary Woodman, for all the help and support they have contributed.

Following the successes announced last month which outlined delivery across Worcestershire against long term economic targets, all of which have already been achieved or exceeded, dramatic new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released last week showed that growth in Worcestershire's economy between 2008 and 2013 is the third highest across England with only Oxfordshire and London growing at a faster rate. This is testament to the collective efforts of the business community and the local authorities of our county over the full five years, and more latterly the LEP since its inception in late 2010. Further details are included in this newsletter.

If I am asked to highlight the LEP's one key contribution over the past 4 years, it would be that it has acted as the economic catalyst by bringing partners together around a common set of goals. I am confident by adopting this 'can do' attitude, then we will really start to punch above our weight and create an even better and more prosperous place in which to live, work and play.

Mark Stansfeld has been appointed as my successor as Chair of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and will formally begin his role after a period of handover during March.  The time is right for the LEP to go forward under new leadership which will bring new ideas and new energies and it is also the right time for me to focus on my other interests.  Under Mark's leadership and with the strengthened executive team led by Gary, I am confident that Worcestershire will continue to go from strength to strength.

There is a lot to look forward to in the year ahead that will place a focus on Worcestershire regionally, nationally and internationally and provide many commercial opportunities. We announced the Friends Life Tour Cycle Ride last week which will take place on 4 October; the 10k run-bike-run has again been announced by Worcester City Council, and the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships is another highlight that will attract visitors from far and wide, with an exciting array of regular sporting and cultural events that further enrich our county.  Why, we even have a reintroduced historic hill climb event at Chateau Impney, Droitwich to look forward to on 11 and 12 July 2015.

May I conclude by saying that it has also been fun and a pleasure to work alongside the many businesses and partner organisations and I wish all Worcestershire businesses a prosperous future. I will be sure to look for your many successes in the media as you continue to raise the profile of your companies and that of the County as a place to do business. All the very best for the future.

Worcestershire Economic Growth – 3rd Highest in England
Dramatic new economic growth figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last month show that Worcestershire’s economy grew by 16.82% between 2008 and 2013.

This represents an annual average growth of 3.21% against a national average of 2.43% and ranks Worcestershire’s LEP area as the third highest performing region in England.

Only Oxfordshire with a figure of 4.24% and London at 3.44% were higher performing areas with Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire being the only other two areas to exceed 3%.

News of this economic growth comes on top of recently reported fourfold growth in apprenticeship numbers across the county over the past 3 years, during which unemployment and claimant numbers have also tumbled to levels not seen since 2007 standing at 1.4% in January 2015 compared with 2.5% for the West Midlands.

Private sector investment in developments and job creation across Worcestershire has also topped £600 million in less than 3 years, with much more in the pipeline.

Whilst a lot has been done, further work is taking place to harness the massive further potential across the County and raise the profile of Worcestershire regionally, nationally and internationally as a world class place to do business.

The full announcement is available on our website here.

Business plan workshop – last chance to book
Following the successes from the delivery of the previous Business Plan, we are currently in the process of developing the Business Plan for 2015/6 and are hosting a Business Plan Consultation workshop which is open to all businesses and partner organisations.

Members of the Worcestershire LEP Board and Business Board will be in attendance and local businesses are being reminded that this is their final chance to book a place.

The consultation workshop will take place on:

11 March 2015
8am – 10:30am
Worcestershire Cricket Club, New Road, Worcester, WR2 4QQ.

If you would like to attend, please email by 9 March 2015.

Worcester to host the Friends Life Tour Ride Sportive - 4 October 2015
Worcester will host the 2015 Friends Life Tour Ride, a mass participation cycle event for amateur cyclists, on Sunday 4 October as the county celebrates a number of world class sporting events during 2015.

The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership is hosting the Ride, working alongside partner organisations, recognising the role that high profile sporting events have in boosting the local economy.

Three route options will be available, headlined by a 100-mile route, which will showcase some of the most attractive, and hardest, roads in Worcestershire. Entrants can also choose 75 and 35-mile options to suit their abilities.

The Friends Life Tour Ride, which was launched in 2009, is the official sportive of the Friends Life Tour of Britain and Friends Life Women’s Tour races, giving amateur cyclists the chance to have the professional experience and enjoy a full supported ride with all route options incorporating elements of the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain.

In addition to having hosted the Friends Life Tour of Britain on three occasions since 2007, most notably in 2014 when World Champion elect Michal Kwiatkowski won Stage Four from Worcester to Bristol, Worcestershire is also a regular host of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series in Redditch, which has taken place annually since 2012 with both elite men and women’s races and this year will take place on 19 May 2015.

Businesses may wish to enter teams and should consider the many commercial opportunities that will be available with the Tour of Britain last year bringing almost £1m to our local businesses.

The full information, including how to enter, is available on the website here.

Pictured: Stage Four of the Tour of Britain in Worcestershire

Get involved in National Apprenticeship Week - 9 March to Friday 13 March 2015
Worcestershire organisations are encouraged to get involved in next week’s National Apprenticeship Week. 

The National campaign, which runs from Monday 9 March until Friday 13 March, is being marked locally with the launching of a brand new website which provides a forum for employers to post any vacancies, job seekers to find the apprenticeship programme which is right for them as well as a host of other information including that for training providers.

To mark the National campaign, apprentices, organisations that offer apprenticeship programmes and those who support the creation of apprenticeship opportunities are being asked to join the Twitter campaign. Materials can be downloaded from the new website so that as well as the hashtag #WorcsApprentices, those taking part can photograph themselves holding up a sign with one of the following messages alongside the new web address which can then be shared via Twitter:

  • I am 1 of 10,000 Worcestershire Apprentices
  • I am proud to employ Worcestershire Apprentices
  • I am proud to support Worcestershire Apprenticeships.

Final reminder - have your say with the apprenticeship surveys

Businesses also have until 15 March 2015, to complete the apprenticeship surveys on the Worcestershire LEP's website or via a link on the new Worcestershire Apprenticeship website. A number of businesses have already taken the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences and the surveys are open until 15 March 2015 to allow others to do so.

Food Enterprise Zone created in Worcestershire to drive growth
A Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) that will unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the Worcestershire countryside and local food producers is to be created, the government announced last month.

The Worcestershire LEP has been allocated funding to create a FEZ in the Vale of Evesham - one of the UK’s leading horticultural areas – and will help extend the current Vale Business Park, which includes food businesses such as Walsh Mushrooms, Prima Fruit and Euro Fresh. The FEZ will support local asparagus producers and will include a partnership with Pershore College to develop ‘field to fork’ educational courses.

This is one of eleven new zones across England that will free up food and farming businesses, making it simpler and easier for them to grow, and will attract new businesses. Local communities will benefit from new jobs and the opportunity to develop local produce, boosting their economies.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Food Enterprise Zones will help unlock the potential of local food and farming businesses, boosting local economies and attracting more investment.

“Consumers both here and abroad want to buy Great British food. These zones will ensure we can grow more top quality produce and expand our food industry, which is worth more than £100bn a year to the UK economy – more than cars and aerospace combined.

“Food and farming is at the heart of our long-term economic plan and vital to securing Britain’s economic future.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire LEP, added: “This announcement is great news for the County with the Vale of Evesham being the only Food Enterprise Zone in the West Midlands. 
“This recognition builds on the strengths of our innovative food producers and growers with agri-tech being one of the County’s priority growth sectors. Local businesses will be further supported to grow, increasing their profitability through improved supply chain and exporting opportunities, whilst creating more jobs and furthering the already excellent educational training available at Pershore College.”
Further information is available on our website.
Vibrant workshop for possible City of Culture bid
Last month a vibrant workshop was held to consider what it would take for Worcester and the surrounding area to bid for City of Culture 2021.

The workshop, organised jointly by Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council, attracted more than 75 representatives from businesses, local authorities, sporting clubs, arts, cultural and other partner organisations.

The event at Worcester Racecourse, which was open to all stakeholders, sought to bring as many interested parties as possible together to explore:

  • The process to make a City of Culture bid
  • Who would need to be involved
  • What a local bid could look like
  • Resources required, financial costs and benefits
  • The feasibility of a potential bid.

Attendees heard from Gary Woodman, our Executive Director, and Duncan Sharkey, Managing Director of Worcester City Council about the economic benefits of such a bid, the resources required and what Worcester and the surrounding areas already have to offer.

Robert Keeling, Worcestershire LEP’s Westminster Cabinet Office representative, provided the perspective of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the latest information on that Department’s current consultation process. Until the consultation outcome is known, there could be some changes to the process including in which year the next City of Culture will be effective.

Keith Blundell, a consultant with extensive experience of having worked on previous bids including those successful in Liverpool and Hull, provided a real insight into what would be required for a successful bid. A further understanding of the resources and finances required was also gained, together with a better feel for the range of arts, cultural, sporting and other opportunities available.

Attendees then provided their feedback, considered what could be Worcester’s unique offer, how any challenges could be overcome and how their organisations could possibly be involved. All of the feedback from the workshop is now being collated and considered by the three organisations to understand what the next steps should be.

For further information you can visit our website.


Programme of historic events over next 18 months
This week, thirteenth Century barons stormed their way into the historic Worcester Cathedral, resting place of King John and home of his great tomb, in a re-enactment to publicise the role Worcestershire has played time and again in the struggle for Liberty and Democracy.

There they confronted him with a copy of the Magna Carta, recreating the moment 800 years ago that put in place one of the most important building blocks on the road to democracy in Britain and the world.

From Magna Carta to the Battle of Evesham that brought an end to Simon de Montfort and his establishment of the first representative Parliament, and on to the English Civil War and beyond, the beautiful hills, lands and rivers of Worcestershire have played a central part in  the struggles and battles that have created the freedoms we enjoy today.

To celebrate this legacy, an unparalleled programme of historic, immersive and fun events are taking place over the next 18 months that will be highly publicised and bring visitors from far and wide and benefit our businesses. Details of all events are at

Upcoming Events

WLEP Board Meetings
 2 April 2015
21 May 2015
23 July 2015
24 September 2015
19 November 2015

WLEP Business Board Meetings
22 April 2015
17 June 2015
9 September 2015
14 October 2015

Worcestershire LEP Business Plan Consultation
11 March 2015, 8am-10:30am, Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

Luxembourg, UK NATO support agency 2015 industry day
30 April 2015

Friends Life Tour Ride
Worcester, 4 October 2015

National Apprenticeship Week
9 March, 2015 - 13 March 2015.

For other events, visit the events page on the Worcestershire LEP’s website

Severn Valley Railway crowned ‘Heritage Site of the Year’
Congratulations to the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) that has won the 'Heritage Site of the Year' Award in the BBC Countryfile Awards 2014/15.

The Severn Valley Railway was shortlisted as one of the UK’s top historic gems by the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine in January, and this week was crowned the number one Heritage Site in Britain. The SVR was one of five famous UK tourist attractions shortlisted in the 'Heritage Site of the Year' category, and were up against stiff competition from some of the UK’s most famous tourism hotspots, including Imperial War Museum, Georgian estate Kew Palace, Welsh architectural wonder Portmeirion and the mystical, pre-historic stone circle at Avebury.

The shortlist was chosen by television presenter Jules Hudson, widely recognised as the face of many BBC lifestyle and history series including Escape to the Country, Britain’s Empty Homes, Britain’s Heritage Heroes and, most latterly, Countryfile. A life-long history lover, he praised the SVR’s Heritage Skills Training Academy, one of a range of projects funded by the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, saying the Railway has a “fantastic conservation element to it, running an apprenticeship scheme for young engineers in order to keep the traditional skills alive” and adding:  “travelling by steam train is also a wonderful way to see the spectacular surrounding countryside.”

The winners will be featured in the May issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. The Severn Valley Railway are currently requesting donations to fund the 2015 intake of apprentices.  If you would like to support this project, please click here.

The Severn Valley Railway has extended its thanks to everyone who voted during their Golden Jubilee year of celebrations. For more information on this award, visit their website here.

Long term export support confirmed for small and medium sized firms in the West Midlands
The Government will sign new five-year contracts with locally-based providers to deliver export support to businesses, Trade Minister Lord Livingston announced last month.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) have chosen the preferred bidders and the length of contracts will give businesses consistency and underline the Government’s long term commitment to increase the number of exporting companies.
All of the providers will be locally-based, helping companies start exporting or increase their overseas business by finding customers in new markets, taking part in trade shows and exporting online around the world.
The lengths of the contracts also mean that English companies will be eligible to bid for up to £100 million in additional export support through the European Structural & Investment Funds.
The winning bid from West Midlands Chambers of Commerce LLP was supported by all six regional Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as well as the region’s Universities, Science Parks, local MPs and many businesses.
The Chamber teams will be working with the LEPs and other local partners to ensure that International Trade services are delivered to meet the needs of local businesses in line with LEP priorities.
The West Midlands preferred bidder has been decided as West Midlands LLP, a partnership of all West Midlands Chambers of Commerce.
For further information you can visit the website here.

Free Growth Event
On 17 March, Worcester Sixways Stadium will be home to the Going for Growth event, a free event for businesses looking to grow, hosted by Finditinworcestershire and Worcestershire.Business.Central.

Taking place from 6:45am to noon, the Going for Growth event will contain: many workshops with practical guidance on how to grow your business, exhibitor marketplace with over 20 business support stands and an open networking session with over 200 businesses.

Ben Hunt Davis MBE, Olympic Gold medallist and owner of the business: Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?, will also attend the event as guest speaker.

To book your free place at the event you must register yourself as a member at or phone 0300 123 1440 before the event.

Second Worcestershire Innovation Wednesday
Worcestershire Innovation Wednesday offers business professionals the opportunity to develop and hone their innovation skills during the course of an evening. The theme of the evening is based on a given topic – this month, 18 March 2015, 5pm-8pm, will see innovation around cyber security and will be based at QinetiQ in Malvern.

The aim of Worcestershire Innovation Wednesday is to give businesses a platform to exercise their innovation skills, to ask questions of their peers about how they do things, to think about solutions in a different way, to share ideas and thoughts and ultimately to learn from one another.

The group is always expanding and looking for new members and speakers – if you are interested in attending please email

Dates for the next events will appear shortly on Eventbrite. Further information can be found on Twitter using #WIW.

Luxembourg – UK NATO Support Agency 2015 Industry Day
UK Industry receives approximately €174M worth of business every year from the NATO Support Agency (NSPA). The UK MOD and UK Trade & Investment would like to invite UK companies to attend the second Industry Day to find out how they can bid for NSPA-led contracts in the future.

On Thursday 30 April 2015, MOD United Kingdom Liaison Officer to NSPA in conjunction with UK Trade & Investment Luxembourg will be hosting the event at the NSPA Headquarters in Luxembourg.

This year’s Industry Day will consist of several panel discussions/briefings on how to conduct business with NSPA and current UK Government policy on interaction with NATO and its support agencies. 

The sessions will be interactive with expert panelists taking your questions. It will provide businesses with the opportunity to understand NSPA and obtain insights on how to conduct business with NSPA.

To register, please email with your full name, date of birth, passport number, passport expiry date, company name and company address.

There will be a £210 OMIS charge for the event per participant, administered by UKTI, which includes a networking reception on the evening of Wednesday 29 April 2015 at the Ambassador’s Residence in Luxembourg and a buffet lunch during the Industry Day.  On registering for the event, companies are requested to commit to attendance and will be invoiced directly by UKTI.

For an agenda and further information, please visit our website.

Worcestershire County Economic Summary
The summary contains the latest unemployment numbers for February 2015 and the headline figures for Worcestershire are:

  • Claimant count increased by 289 claimants to 5,035
  • The claimant count has fallen by 8,234 since the peak in August 2009.
  • The claimant count shows a typical seasonal increase but is now at a level last seen before the recession started.
  • Claimant count proportion is 1.4% of the 16-64 resident population (West Midlands 2.5%, England 2.0%)
  • The number of 18-24 year olds claiming has increased by 70 claimants to 1,205 (2.7%) (West Midlands 3.8%, England 2.9%)
  • The number of claimants claiming for over 12 months fell by 40 to 1,235, 0.4% of the 16-64 population (West Midlands 0.8%, England 0.5%).

Click here to view this month’s edition. The next edition will be produced and distributed on 18 March 2015.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership
Unit 50-51
Malvern Hills Science Park, Geraldine Road
Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3SZ
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