Friday 29 April 2011


The Queen was all smiles ahead of The Royal Wedding today as she greeted well wishers in the parish of Bucklebury.

Her Majesty stopped by ‘Kate Middleton Country’ to thank villagers for welcoming her grandson and family into the community.

Flown first-class in the Goodyear Blimp, the Queen was also on hand to officially kick-start Bucklebury’s wedding festivities, which is set to attract up to 20,000 visitors.

Eddy Geerdink, UK marketing director for Goodyear, commented: “We feel very privileged to have flown the Queen today. It’s the only way to travel quickly, but safely from Buckingham to Bucklebury and back.

“Over the past few weeks, the Goodyear Blimp has been spotted flying across the skies of London and we couldn’t think of a better way to end the Goodyear UK safety tour then sending a good luck message to the happy couple.”

For further information about the Goodyear Blimp visit


For more information please contact Lee Southen or Becki Oake on 01902 714957 or email /

Thursday 21 April 2011


Wednesbury workers this week stepped up to the oche to throw some arrows with World number three darts player James Wade to help a local charitable cause.

Sales people from MSC/J&L on Pacific Avenue in Wednesbury took a break from normal day to day business to play darts with current Premier League darts player, James Wade, at their head office on Wednesday.

WD-40 Multi-Use product, one of James Wade’s main sponsors, invited him to the industrial supplier to meet the team and challenge them to an exciting darts competition.
Staff at the site played James Wade in a 9-darts competition and key staff were thanked by WD-40 Company for their excellent sales figures across their newly launched Blue Works brand, with gift vouchers as a reward for their hard work.

James‘s appearance will also benefit a worthwhile cause. A professional dart board has been donated and signed by the world number three and presented to staff at MSC/J&L, who have chosen to raffle it, in house, to raise money for a local boy suffering with a terminal illness.

WD-40 Brand manager, Amy Long, said: “It is fantastic we could brighten up the day for staff at MSC/J&L by bringing James Wade to Wednesbury.

“It is great to also be able to work with James in support of a very worthwhile charitable cause and we really hope the dart board raises lots of money.”

Nadine Taylor, marketing communications supervisor for MSC/J&L added: “Having James with us for the afternoon was a great way to boost staff morale whilst creating a bit of fun.

“We appreciate WD-40 Company’s help in bringing him in to town and hope we managed to make a decent game of it with some of the darts we threw!”


One of the Midlands finest stately home gardens and parkland is welcoming the Plant Hunters’ Fair on Mayday Bank Holiday Monday.

Weston Park, on the Shropshire / Staffordshire border, is hosting a Spring Plant Fair for green fingered enthusiasts, taking place on Monday 2nd May 2011.

Plant Hunters’ Fairs organise a series of events across the UK from prestigious venues including the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and Adlington Hall in Cheshire and has turned to Weston Park as one of its Shropshire location.

Visitors will enjoy an explosion of planting expertise provided by a collection of specially selected, nurseries such as Plantagogo, Hall Farm Nurseries, Special Perennials and the famous nursery, Cotswold Garden Flowers.

For true ‘plantaholics’ there are little horticultural treasures to be discover that cannot be obtained elsewhere in addition to the impressive array of plants.

Entrance to the fair will also include access to the stately homes 1,000 acre of parkland, formal gardens and children’s adventure playground.

Andrea Webster, Marketing Executive at Weston Park said: “We are delighted to welcome Plant Hunters’ Fairs to Weston.

“The Stables Lawn, in front of the stately house, will provide the perfect backdrop for this gardening event which we feel will make for a great Bank Holiday day out.”

The Spring Plant Fair takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May from 10am – 5pm. Admission is £2 per person.


The exquisite Ford Collection has left its London residence for a rare and exclusive exhibition in the Midlands.

The Granary Art Gallery at Weston Park on the Shropshire Staffordshire border will display the private works-of-art, which were bestowed and nurtured by the late Sir Brinsley Ford, a distinguished connoisseur and former chairman of the Art Fund.

The collection, which is on loan from the Ford family to the stately home’s art gallery from Saturday 2nd April through to Sunday 3rd July, features works by the eighteenth century landscape artist Richard Wilson alongside architectural fantasies by Giovanni Paolo Panini and portraits by Augustus John.

The origins of the collection lie with the family’s ancestor, Benjamin Booth, whose indulgence and love of art was born through his marriage to wealthy Shropshire heiress, Jane Salwey. The collection then passed to the Ford family through marriage.

The late Sir Brinsley Ford took great pride in the stewardship of the family inheritance by sharing it with others. He passionately cultivated the collection studying its historical influences, such as, the Grand Tour, where young gentlemen travelled Europe to complete their education.

Gareth Williams, curator to the Weston Park Foundation, said: “We are especially grateful to the Ford family for their generosity in lending a part of their family collection to the Granary Art Gallery.

“Their collection contains some of the very finest works by Richard Wilson and artists connected with the Grand Tour.

“It is an immense honour for the Weston Park Foundation to be hosting this outstanding collection as well as a fabulous opportunity for visitors to the gallery to see a remarkable and rare group of paintings,” concluded Gareth.

Sir Brinsley Ford was unstinting in his devotion to art causes, ranging from the National Gallery, the Society of Dilettanti, the National Trust Foundation for Art and the Art Fund.

The Ford Collection at the Granary Art Gallery is generously supported by Sotheby’s and Lycetts insurance brokers.

The Ford Collection at the Granary Art Gallery runs from Saturday 2nd April to Sunday 3rd July from 11am – 4pm and is free to enter.

For further information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714 957 or email


Talented artists from across the UK are invited to enter an open art competition organised by a Midlands stately home and sponsored by a leading fine art auction house.

The Granary Art Gallery at Weston Park, on the Staffordshire Shropshire border famous for hosting royalty and world leaders, has joined forces with Halls to launch a Fine Art Open Competition.

The winning artist will receive a prize of £2,000 and will also see their work of art featured in the Weston Park Granary Art Gallery’s August exhibition. In addition to the national prize, a regional prize of £500 will be awarded to entries from the Staffordshire and Shropshire area.

A third ‘junior’ category is open to budding artists under the age of 18 with the chance to win a selection of fine art equipment.

The recent sponsorship strengthens the auction house’s partnership with Weston Park as Halls will continue to hold regular fine art advisory days at the stately home. Experts are available throughout these events to give visitors free appraisals on fine and decorative art, jewellery and collectibles.

Gareth Williams, curator to the Weston Park Foundation said: “Weston Park is an educational charity and we are passionate about fostering and encouraging talented artists. We feel this open competition will provide an ideal platform to promote the country’s emerging artists.

“We are delighted that Halls has committed to supporting the Fine Art Open Competition and look forward to welcoming both national and regional submissions.”

The Halls Fine Art Open Competition will be displayed in the Granary Art Gallery throughout August 2011. Artists may submit up to five works of art for a registration cost of £15.

Weston Park’s Granary Art Gallery was opened in a restored granary building in 2009. It has rapidly established a reputation for its changing catalogue of selling exhibitions by acclaimed artists from the around the country as well as displaying historical artefacts and paintings, on loan from private collections.

For information on the Halls Fine Art Open competition and to download the registration form visit

For further infromation please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714 957 or email connect


Gardening enthusiasts can embrace the colourful spectacle and scent of Rhododendrons during a series of evening walks at a Midlands stately home.

Weston Park, the former ancestral home to the Earls of Bradford, is opening sections of its woodland on Thursday 12th, Saturday 14th and Thursday 19th May for exclusive guided walks along its Rhododendron and Azalea lined pathways.

Introduced to the Weston Park estate by the Victorians it was a further 60 years later in the early 20th century, that the 4th Countess of Bradford expanded the floral collection with more fashionable hybrids. The shrubs were aimed at creating a riot of colour and fragrance designed at impressing visitors.

The guided walks commence at 6.30pm capturing the intense aroma and rich colours of purple, mauves, reds and pinks.

Weston Park’s Head Gardener Martin Gee said: “Early evening is the ideal time to witness the impressive beauty of this ‘king of the shrubs’.

Entry is £5.00 for adults, £4.50 for seniors and £3.00 for children and is payable on the evening.

The Granary Grill, Bar & Restaurant is open for dinner after the walk, reservations are advised.

For more information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email



A Bury business is celebrating after being named one of the top Volkswagen retailers in 2010.

Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen was recognised by Volkswagen UK for its high levels of customer satisfaction on sales, service and parts; finishing sixth out of 215 sites nationwide.

Volkswagen monitors all retailers ensuring all areas of the business are performing according to Volkswagen standards and targets. The One Business Awards then recognise the top 25 retailers in the UK.

Steve Thomas, brand manager at Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen, said: “I’m delighted the business has achieved such a high position in the country.

“In the current economic climate, it’s vital for businesses to ensure consumers are pleased with the service they receive.

“This recognition is testament to the hard work from all staff in the retailer, as it requires everyone working together to achieve this award.”

Wednesday 20 April 2011


A Timperley sales manager is celebrating becoming one of the first in the UK to graduate from a new two year management training programme.

Steve Jones, who works at Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen in Altrincham, recently completed the course launched by Volkswagen’s training academy to retain some of the top talent in the industry.

The 41-¬year-old has almost 25 years’ experience in the automotive industry and graduated with one of the top marks in the country.

He said: “I am delighted to be one of the first people to complete the course and impressed at getting one of the top overall marks.

“The qualification has given me extra knowledge and experience to ensure customers are provided with the service they need from all staff.”

Steve was marked on three sections, role play, interview and 100 question exam to gain the NVQ Level 4 equivalent qualification.

Alister Stones, brand manager at Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen, said: “We believe having knowledgeable staff is paramount to the success of a business.

“The course is designed to equip some of our senior staff with the very best knowledge to deal with customers and pass on to other employees.

“The fact Steve scored the best overall mark in the UK shows we have the best sales manager in the country.”

New sales manager gives boost to Wigan car retailer

Allen Blake, from Chorley, has taken on the role of sales manager at Volkswagen retailer, Corkills, bringing with him 16-years’ of industry experience.

The 33-year-old began his automotive career began straight from school. He has since secured a number of customer service positions before moving into management.

Having previously worked at Volkswagen car retailers in Preston and Lancaster, Allen possesses extensive knowledge of the Volkswagen brand to give advice and support Corkills’ customers.

Speaking of his new role, Allen said: “I’m delighted to be part of a friendly and professional team that is dedicated to providing the best customer service.

“It’s a privilege to be part of the Volkswagen brand which is renowned for quality and reliability. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that our customers’ needs are met.”

Carl Hazleton, brand manager at Corkills, said: “We are delighted to welcome Allen to the team and believe his enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment to high standards of service will help strengthen business.”


A new management team at a Huddersfield retailer has made an instant impact, after early 2011 customer satisfaction figures were published.

Huddersfield Volkswagen appointed four new sales and business centre managers in late 2010 to mark a new era for the Leeds Road site.

In a successful start to the year, the showroom received praise for its improved customer service, which was monitored through mystery shopper reports and customer satisfaction surveys.

Steve Rimmer and Shaun Cahill, from Halifax are the new car sales manager and used car sales managers, respectively, while Simon Fletcher, from Elland and Kristian Keighley, from Mirfield are the new business managers.

Regional franchise director, Robert Scaife, is thrilled with the new appointments.

He said: “I’m delighted the customer satisfaction figures have improved with the new team as the Huddersfield Volkswagen’s main focus to deliver exceptional customer service.

“Steve and Shaun have given the sales team a boost with Simon and Kristian overseeing the business centre, they are ensuring businesses in the area, both big and small, receive a first class service.”

The four have over 60 years’ experience in the automotive industry something which is already benefiting staff and customers alike.

Robert concluded: “This retailer has enormous potential and I’m pleased the initial hard work has paid off.

“I know the continued hard work of all staff will help give Huddersfield Volkswagen the positive reputation the brand deserves.”

Sinclair Volkswagen boosts its senior managment team

Newport Volkswagen retailer, Sinclair, has boosted its senior management team with the appointment of a new sales manager.

John Booth will head up the team at the Corporation Road site after specialising as a business manager with the brand for the past eight years.

The 41-year-old from Newport began his career in the banking sector as a Lloyds TSB retail branch manager. After 13 years, John turned his financial expertise and managerial skills to the automotive industry, where he held business manager roles with various leading brands.

Speaking of his new position, John said: “I’m delighted to be taking on this role and I’m looking forward to growing the business and enhancing the customer service."

Clive Hyde, brand manager for Sinclair Newport, said: “John has already demonstrated a superb track record during his time at Sinclair.

“We believe he will make a significant impact on the team and customers during this challenging time in the automotive industry.”

An independently owned company, established in 1945, the Sinclair Group has become one of the largest and most successful motor groups across the south and west of Wales. The Group supplies new and approved used Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Škoda, smart and Commercial Vehicles in addition to its car hire, servicing and body shop facilities.

Tuesday 19 April 2011


One of the country’s most important youth track cycling competitions is going ahead after it secured sponsorship from a national brand.

The British Cycling National Tandem Sprint Championship and Newcastle-under-Lyme round of the Northern Area Youth Omnium series, will be sponsored by 3-IN-ONE, the longest established brand in the UK’s lubricants market.

In previous years this meeting has seen the likes of gold medal winning Olympians Victoria Pendleton and Jason Kenny compete, and this year future British Olympians race could be in action.

The 2011 event, on Sunday 22nd May at the Lyme Valley stadium, will form part of the British Paralympian cyclists’ training programme for next year, with Beijing gold medallists, Barney Storey and Anthony Kappes racing.

It offers a great chance of local riders to follow in the tyre tracks of Newcastle-under-Lyme rider, Kian Emadi (18), who has been talent spotted in previous youth omnium races and is hoping to make the Olympic squad for the 2016 games in Brazil.

Event co-ordinator, Paul Barber, said: “3-IN-ONE’s sponsorship of this event means everything, as it allows us to put on a more professional meeting, including the hiring of photo finish timing equipment for race winners.

“It also enables us to divert funds into promoting and sustaining cycling to young people in Staffordshire and beyond.

“This is a key event for British Cycling staff to identify emerging talent for inclusion in the Olympics Talent Team programme and I’m sure we’ll see some fantastic races.”

3-IN-ONE is forging links with British youth cycling, having recently agreed to sponsor a team containing some of the sport’s brightest young talent, Velocity 3-IN-ONE CNP.

Amy Long, brand manager for lubricant specialists 3-IN-ONE, said: “We’re delighted to sponsor this event and look forward to seeing cycling stars of the future in action.

“We have a complete range of 3-IN-ONE solutions, so will be providing expert advice on keeping the cyclists’ equipment in tip-top condition throughout the day, with specific focus on our newly launched Bike Maintenance Spray.

“The company’s commitment to cycling is long-term as it represents an area where the brand has product expertise that cyclists can rely on.”

The meeting will include youth omnium races at under 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 levels, with the two higher age groups split into girls and boys.

Paul concluded: “Cycling in this country is more popular than ever before and this is reflected in the number of youngsters attending the Newcastle track every week.”

Friday 15 April 2011


A Devon man is celebrating joining an exclusive club after being recognised for his outstanding services to the automotive industry.

Paul Beazley, from Brixham was presented with a Volkswagen Gold Pin for exceptional service to the brand, at a recent ceremony in London.

The brand manager at Mann Egerton Volkswagen has over 12 years’ experience in the car industry, including five years at the Marsh Barton site.

Paul, (41), said: “I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Gold Pin, it’s a huge honour.

“The job brings its own rewards through working closely with all members of staff, planning the strategy of the business and working hard to make sure our philosophy of ‘customer first’ is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”

Only about 20 people from Volkswagen are awarded the Gold Pin every year.

Thursday 14 April 2011


A woman from Colchester has been recognised for her outstanding customer service with a national award.

Hayley Seear, from Blackheath, who works at Inchcape Volkswagen in Colchester, received a gold accolade in Inchcape’s annual ‘Leading Lights’ awards.

Over three thousand people across the company’s UK businesses are nominated annually for a ‘Leading Lights’ award, but only 40 are recognised to a gold standard.

‘Leading Lights’ rewards Inchcape staff who have demonstrated outstanding customer service.

Hayley, a service advisor, was rewarded with a weekend of luxury and pampering at a spa in Oxfordshire.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoy my job and can’t believe I was nominated for this award.

“I’m part of a good team at Colchester and I’ll be sharing this honour with my colleagues.”

Chris Norris, Inchcape Volkswagen’s brand manager, said: “I am very proud to have a member of staff given a ‘Leading Lights’ gold award; it’s an exceptional achievement and my congratulations go to Hayley.

“I am delighted that her high calibre of performance and dedication has been recognised nationally.”

Wednesday 13 April 2011


A man from Boscombe is celebrating after reaching the top of his profession.

Jamie Hinchcliffe has just been appointed as the new after sales manager at Poole’s Volkswagen Van Centre, a position he’s aimed for since joining the automotive industry in 1996.

He joined Breeze Volkswagen Van Centre as a service advisor in 2002 and has completed various courses and interviews to realise his ambition.

With over 15 years’ experience in the industry Jamie is looking forward to the challenge.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for me and while I have lots to learn, I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m delighted to have reached this level; it just shows what hard work and dedication can do.”

Jamie’s began his automotive career as a service advisor before climbing through the ranks with various manufacturers in the region.

He added: “I am looking forward to the new challenge. My aim is to replicate the seamless customer experience and fantastic service that is synonymous with Breeze.”

Paul O’Brien, head of business at Breeze Volkswagen Van Centre, said: “Jamie has a superb track record in the automotive industry and brings with him a vast amount of brand awareness gained through experience across all retail sectors.

“His expertise in the after sales business is invaluable to the team with the main focus on delivering consistently high levels of service to customers.”


A young car enthusiast from Macclesfield has embarked on three-year with the aim of becoming the best in the business.

Nineteen-year-old Matthew Wordsworth has been accepted by Macclesfield’s Volkswagen retailer, Gilbert Lawton, to be the latest recruit on the technician apprenticeship scheme.

Over the next three years Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen will invest nearly £40,000 to train Matthew through to technician status.

Matthew has joined after completing ‘A’ levels at college, and is looking forward to achieving his ambition of working on Volkswagen vehicles.

He said: “I love all types of vehicles and this is the only job I have ever wanted to do. I am passionate about the Volkswagen brand and I want to go as far in my career as I can.

“I am over the moon to I be given this opportunity and very grateful to Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen for giving me this chance.”

“This is a great opportunity for me and I want to show everyone how much this apprenticeship means to me.”

Gilbert Lawton’s brand manager, Nick Ashton, said: “Matthew’s passion for cars was one of the main reasons why he’s been given this place on the apprenticeship programme.

“I’m confident he will come through the three years with flying colours.”


A Bolton business is celebrating after being named one of the top Volkswagen retailers in 2010.

Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen was recognised by Volkswagen UK for its high levels of customer satisfaction on sales, service and parts; finishing seventh out of 215 sites nationwide.

Volkswagen monitors all retailers ensuring all areas of the business are performing according to Volkswagen standards and targets. The One Business Awards then recognise the top 25 retailers in the UK.

Barry Morrison, brand manager at Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen Bolton, said: “I’m delighted the business has achieved such a high position in the country.

“In the current economic climate, it’s vital for businesses to ensure consumers are pleased with the service they receive.

“This recognition is testament to the hard work from all staff in the retailer, as it requires everyone working together to achieve this award.”

Tuesday 12 April 2011


A Queensbury man is celebrating joining an exclusive club after being recognised for spending his entire working life in the automotive industry.

Richard Fairbrother was presented with a Volkswagen Gold Pin, for exceptional service to the brand, at a recent ceremony in London.

The 49-year-old has worked at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) in Cleckheaton for over 25 years, having started in the industry as an apprentice technician aged sixteen.

Richard, the van centre’s workshop controller, said: “I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Gold Pin, it’s a huge honour.

“The job brings its own rewards through working closely with all members of staff, and the commitment to family values ever since I joined in 1985.

“I’ve been amazed by the changes to the industry and delighted with the support from Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) as my career has developed.

“The vehicles and technology have changed over the years, but the one constant is the company ethos of customer service and satisfaction, something everyone at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) strives to attain.”

Only about 20 people from Volkswagen are awarded the Gold Pin every year.

Andrew Caygill, head of business at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire), said: “Richard thoroughly deserves this award after providing invaluable service to the Volkswagen commercial vehicle brand over many years.

“His positive attitude and support of Volkswagen standards is an inspiration to all staff at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire), and is demonstrated with the award of the Gold Pin.”

Monday 11 April 2011

Does your website take the biscuit?

A leading e-commerce lawyer says that businesses that use cookies on their websites have until 25 May 2011 to comply with new regulations.

Amy Hylton, a lawyer in Higgs & Sons’ commercial department, says that UK businesses have until this date to implement changes in the E-Privacy Directive affecting cookies.

Amy explains: “Cookies are data files which gather information about a website user or tell the website whether they are a repeat visitor. The use of these cookies is governed by the E-Privacy Directive for the processing of personal data and collection of information.

“Historically, the requirements relating to cookies were that the use of them was permitted so long as the user had the opportunity to refuse them – for example to ‘op-out'. Moving forwards, the system now permits cookies if the user has given his consent to the use of them. This is now an 'opt-in' system.”

Practically, the UK government has rejected an 'opt-in' system which would mean website users would have to consent to each and every cookie.

The government has also specified that it plans to permit websites to take advantage of Regulation 66 of the Citizens' Rights Directive. This provision allows a user's consent to cookies to be expressed by its browser settings.

Amy says that there is now an obligation for website operators to alert users to the existence of cookies in their site. “The information regarding the 'opt-in' is generally contained in a privacy policy and typically information regarding the use of cookies and 'switch-off' options should be contained here. The regulations and guidance also provide that if the necessary information is provided in a privacy policy, this should be contained in the website pages where a user may enter the site.

“For many businesses, the changes will be easily implemented by small amendments to the wording and positioning of privacy policies on a website. However, a review of your policy is worthwhile, whatever size your business is, to avoid potential enforcement action from the Information Commissioner's Office.”

If you would like a review of your website and privacy policy to ensure that they comply with the new regulations contact Amy Hylton at or phone 0845 111 5050.

Wednesday 6 April 2011


An Ipswich business is celebrating after being named as one of the top Volkswagen retailers in 2010.

Wolsey Volkswagen was recognised by Volkswagen UK for its high levels of customer satisfaction on sales, service and parts; finishing in the top 15 retailers out of 215 sites nationwide.

Volkswagen monitors all retailers ensuring all areas of the business are performing according to Volkswagen standards and targets. The One Business Awards then recognise the top 25 retailers in the UK.

Tim Hargraves, brand manager at Wolsey Volkswagen, said: “I’m delighted the business has achieved such a high position in the country.

“In the current economic climate, it’s vital for businesses to ensure consumers are pleased with the service they receive.

“This recognition is testament to the hard work from all staff in the retailer, as it requires everyone working together to achieve this award.”

For more information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714 957 or


A Chester woman, who has walked over 40,000 miles to work during her career, has been given an exclusive award.

Angela Pupkiss (64), who works at Chester’s Volkswagen retailer, Dane, was presented with the Inchcape Platinum Award at a recent ceremony. Only ten people receive this award every year.

The purchase ledger clerk started work at the Sealand Road retailer in 1976 and has walked the five mile round trip from her home in Newton to work nearly every day since.

In all Angela has walked a marathon a week for 34 years getting to and from work.

She said: “I can’t believe I’ve clocked up so many miles just walking to and from work, but it’s certainly kept me fit.

“I originally walked because I couldn’t afford a car, but it became a habit and I just didn’t stop.

“To be given this Platinum Award is simply brilliant and totally unexpected. “I thoroughly enjoy my job and the colleagues I work with, so don’t think of coming to work as a chore, more a pleasurable experience.”

Chester’s Dane Volkswagen brand manager, Chris McCabe, said: “Angela is an outstanding member of staff and one we all enjoy working with.

“Most people never run a marathon but Angela has walked one every week for 34 years, quite an achievement.

“The Platinum Award is richly deserved and everyone at Dane Volkswagen is delighted for her.”


A Cheltenham retailer has been boosted after two of its team qualified as Motability specialists.

Cheltenham Volkswagen, now has fully accredited staff members able to give advice and support to customers eligible for Motability allowance.

Paul Glew (49) and Nathan Robinson (33) spent two years training for the qualifications are now able to offer expert advice on the scheme, which enables drivers with a disability to use their government-funded Mobility allowance to obtain a brand new car every three years.

Paul from Cheltenham and Nathan from Tewskesbury have both worked at Cheltenham Volkswagen for over three years, and will now be primarily responsible for looking after Motability customers, helping them choose the right car under the scheme.

Phil Smale, brand manager at the Tewksbury Road retailer, said: “Motability greatly increases the quality of life for disabled people and provides them with much-valued independence without the associated costs of buying a new car, so we felt it was vital to have staff on hand to give honest advice.

“It is great news that we have Paul and Nathan at the retailer who can advise customers on Motability. We find most people with disabilities know about the scheme but do not necessarily know how it works or what cars would best suit them.”

Motability specialist, Paul, said: “I’m looking forward to giving customers clear advice on their eligibility for the scheme and how to apply, as well as details of which cars are available under it.”

Nathan added: “Both Paul and I are happy to share our expertise and suggest adjustments to cars to make driving as easy as possible.”

The Motability scheme is available to anyone who receives the ‘higher rate mobility component’ of the Disability Living Allowance or the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement.

It includes insurance, personal accident cover, after sales servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance from the RAC, an allowance of 60,000 miles over a three-year period, and free tyre replacement.

Mediation the key to resolution in employment tribunals

A leading employment lawyer says that the cost of tribunals for employers could dramatically fall if plans go ahead to reform tribunal procedures.

Tim Jones is head of Higgs & Sons’ employment team and a trained mediator with ADR Group, Talk Mediation and the Association of Midlands Mediators.

He is an experienced advocate and has appeared in Employment Tribunals nationally for clients including Marstons.

He believes that if the proposed changes go ahead, the costs for owners of small to medium sized businesses could fall substantially.

“Tribunal cases have soared in recent years and government proposals are being brought forward to reduce the volume of tribunal hearings by encouraging more workplace-based mediation to resolve disputes.

“The objective is to encourage solutions out of court so that business owners can avoid time-consuming and often expensive court appearances. In addition to this, the Government obviously wants to cut its costs in these difficult financial times as the annual budget for employment tribunals nationally is in the region of £80 million.

“Mediation must be part of the process. For employers, early resolution is good for everyone.

It cuts expensive court time and allows businesses to get on with what they are good at – creating jobs and making money.”

In the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation paper a number of more business-friendly proposals are put forward. These include:

• Increasing the qualification period for claiming unfair dismissal from one year to two, which should reduce the number of claims by 3,700-4,700 (6.4%-8.2% of last year’s total number?).

• Charging claimants a fee to lodge tribunal claims, and requiring all claims to go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) first, before proceeding to the employment tribunal, which could potentially reduce annual claims by another 12,000.

• Introducing a more flexible strike-out power and allow judges to issue a deposit order at any stage of the proceedings.

• Shorter hearings, for example with statements taken as read and more judges sitting alone.

According to Tim, the cost savings for employers could be dramatic: “An average employment tribunal hearing could cost upwards of £20,000. If mediation were brought in at an early stage, matters could be resolved for as little as a few thousand pounds.

“I would encourage employers to welcome these new changes.”

The consultation period for Resolving Workplace Disputes ends on 20 April 2011.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Uponor takes plumbing to new heights

Plumbing specialist Uponor has unveiled a new professional fitting system that will take plumbing to new levels thanks to its ‘Tool Inside’ technology and high pressure joint system.

The RTM, or Ring Tension Memory, system eliminates the need for tools to make quick, safe and professional joints and is the latest major launch for the company which has continued to produce industry-leading innovative plumbing solutions.

A built-in visual indicator means installers can never be in any doubt that the joint has been made securely and the constant pressure applied by the connecting device means the joint will never be weakened or disconnected.

Uponor plumbing applications manager, Richard Haworth explains the technology behind the new device. “RTM is a simple yet highly effective new way of installing plumbing systems and signifies a huge step forward for the industry.

“Many years of Uponor product development have resulted in a connection device that is lightweight yet shares the best mechanical features of our well-proven press-fit technology providing exceptional joint security and strength.

“The secret to the joint’s security lies in the high tension metal ring inside the device. Constructed from high carbon steel, the spring-like ring uses the same technology as the automotive industry uses for ABS brakes. Its memory effect ensures watertightness and its constant and consistent pressure acts as the tool itself, applying a pressure of around two tonnes.” Simple and easy to use, the RTM device means making a joint is as straightforward as inserting a length of cut and calibrated pipe into the connector. An audible click is heard when the joint is secure and for added peace of mind, a visual indicator means that the installer can see at a glance that the connection has been made.

Richard continues: “The most important aspect of the joint, the RTM ring fitting itself, is visible through a transparent window. The joint indicators keep the ring under tension until the joint is made and becomes detached upon connection with the pipe. They are also colour coded to indicate the diameter of the pipe. We describe this a s the “tool-inside” concept.

Richard concludes: “Uponor has always invested in moving the industry forward and in developing new products that make installers’ jobs easier without compromising quality and joint security. RTM is the next phase of our product development and offers a full range of fittings that integrate easily with the company’s existing range of plumbing solutions.”

RTM works in tandem with Uponor’s existing multi layer composite pipe which offers numerable benefits over copper including speed and ease of installation, price stability, joint security as well as requiring fewer joints eliminating the need for hot works and is not prone to theft as copper is.

For more information about Uponor click on, email or call 01455 550355.


Uponor is a leading supplier of plumbing and indoor climate systems for the residential and commercial building markets across Europe and North America and a market leader in municipal infrastructure pipe systems in the Nordic countries. Uponor's key applications include heating and cooling solutions and tap water systems. The Group employs ca 3,300 persons in 30 countries. In 2009, Uponor's net sales totalled 730 million euros. Uponor Corporation is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd., Finland.

Monday 4 April 2011


Two Manchester workers have been recognised for their outstanding customer service with a national award.

Pete Davies, from Wythenshawe, and Jill Podmore, from Urmston, who work at Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre, received gold accolades in Inchcape’s annual ‘Leading Lights’ awards.

Over three thousand people across the company’s UK businesses are nominated annually for a ‘Leading Lights’ award, but only 40 are recognised to a gold standard.

‘Leading Lights’ rewards Inchcape staff who have demonstrated outstanding customer service.

Pete, a master technician, opened Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre after it had closed, to ensure a family on holiday in the north west could continue their journey after their vehicle had suffered a breakdown.

Jill, the reception host, ensures every visitor to the van centre is looked after and received over 50 separate messages of thanks from customers for her hospitality.

Pete and Jill were rewarded with a luxury weekend of pampering at a spa in Oxfordshire.

He said: “I was only happy to help out the family reach their holiday destination, and didn’t expect anything as a reward.

“I thoroughly enjoy my job, but the best bit is keeping people’s vehicles on the road and watching them drive off happy.”

Jim Hobson, Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre’s head of business, said: “I am very proud to have two members of staff given ‘Leading Lights’ gold awards in the same year, it’s an exceptional achievement and my congratulations go to both Pete and Jill.

“I’m delighted that their high calibre of performance has been recognised nationally.”

Jill added: “I’ve met some wonderful people doing my job and wouldn’t swap it for any other.”