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Small business rate relief warning issued

Credit: South Lakeland District Council

The owners of around 1,500 small businesses are being warned to act fast or face a surprise bill.

South Lakeland District Council has written to those currently receiving small business rate relief saying they must reapply for 2017/18 or risk missing out.

Last month the council sent letters to around 4,500 small business owners informing them of a review and enclosing an application form.

The council says while around 70 per cent of businesses responded quickly - and have already reapplied for small business rate relief - around 1,500 still have not returned their application forms and will now receive a polite reminder.

“The review is to ensure that those who receive small business rate relief are entitled to it. We have no choice but to ask every business owner who currently receives it to reapply so that we can be absolutely sure they meet the criteria.”

"Businesses need to act swiftly. Those who have not reapplied will not have the business rate relief on their bills from 1 April which are due to begin arriving this week.

“Some of these bills could come as a big surprise, particularly for businesses which haven’t been paying any business rates for a number of years. However, I’d like to reassure small business owners that they still have time to reapply and those who remain entitled to it will continue to receive this important financial assistance. We want businesses to receive this relief and if they have any questions our officers will be ready to give help and advice.”

– Cllr Peter Thornton, SLDC Leader

Canadian company completes takeover of Wigton-based firm Innovia

Innovia manufactures a film used in the new polymer £5 bank note Credit: PA

Canadian company, CCL Industries, has completed the purchase of Wigton-based firm Innovia Group of Companies (Innovia) for the total of £694million (1.14billion Canadian dollars).

The acquisition was first announced in December.

We are extremely pleased to welcome the employees of the Innovia Group of companies to the CCL family.

– Geoffrey T. Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of CCL

Innovia employs 1,200 people globally and more than 600 at Wigton, where it manufactures the polypropylene film for used in the new £5 bank note.

CCL Industries employs more than 20,000 people in 35 countries.

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Call to tweak haggis recipe for US export market

Credit: ITV Border

The recipe for haggis should be "tweaked" to get round a decades-old ban on the food in the US, Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary has said.

Richard Lochhead, who will be in the US this week, said selling Scottish haggis to the Americans would be worth millions to the Scottish economy.

Haggis imports have been outlawed in the US since 1971. The country's food standards agency prohibits sheep lungs - one of the key ingredients - in food products.

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Eden businesses urged to make most of Tour of Britain boost

Credit: Eden District Council

Businesses in Eden are being encouraged to take advantage of the Tour of Britain coming to the area on 10 September with the help of an online business toolkit available via www.investineden.co.uk

The toolkit has been produced by the Economic Development and Tourism teams at Eden District Council and contains practical advice about how different business sectors from accommodation providers to shops can benefit from the Tour.

It has information about:

  • How businesses can benefit
  • Practical information
  • Sponsorship and branding
  • Promoting Eden
  • Becoming cycle-friendly
  • Using special offers to add value
  • Joining in the story online via social media

"The ToB coming to Eden is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to showcase their services and products. The ToB gives a shop window to a worldwide audience via TV and will bring many spectators to the area for the Cumbria stages.

“We have seen in Carlisle and Kendal the economic benefits the race brought in 2013 and I encourage local businesses to maximise this opportunity. The Business Toolkit we have developed contains loads of practical advice; including how your company can become cycle-friendly, promote special offers and encourage your staff to get involved. So visit the Invest in Eden website to find out more and to see our other business support services.”

– Cllr David Hymers, Eden District Council’s Economic Development Portfolio Holder

To download a copy of the Eden ToB Business Toolkit visit: http://investineden.co.uk/supporting-your-business/tour-of-britain/

No smoking signs reminder to South Lakes businesses

SLDC Environmental Health Officer Peter Adams with a no-smoking sign that businesses are legally required to display at all entrances to their premises Credit: South Lakeland District Council

Businesses in South Lakeland are being reminded that it is a legal requirement to display ‘no smoking’ signs at all entrances to their premises.

Spot-checks by council officers have revealed a significant number of businesses are still not complying with the legislation.

The government introduced smoke-free laws in 2007, which made it an offence to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and public and work vehicles.

Managers of smoke-free premises have a legal responsibility to prevent people smoking and part of the law requires no smoking signs to be displayed in a prominent position at every entrance to the premises.

Failure to comply with the laws is a criminal offence. Failure to display no­ smoking signs carries a fixed penalty notice of £200 imposed on whoever manages or occupies the smoke-free premises or vehicle, or a maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) officers are responsible for enforcing the law and can offer information and support to help businesses meet their legal obligations.

The council operates a ‘progressive enforcement’ policy, giving advice to businesses initially and only resorting to prosecution if the business fails to act on the advice.

“So far everyone we have spoken to has listened to the advice and we haven’t needed to issue any fixed penalty notices.

“But our recent checks have shown there are still many businesses that are not complying with the law. We just want to remind them that there is the risk of a fine or prosecution if they don’t do something about it.’’

– SLDC Environmental Health Officer Peter Adams

Free lunch networking event for South Lakes businesses

Retailers are being invited to think about innovative ways to boost their businesses at a free lunch and networking event in Bowness.

The ‘Retail Special’ business lunch, organised by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), is being held at the Laura Ashley Hotel The Belsfield, in Bowness, on Wednesday, 11 March from 11am to 1pm.

Guest speakers will be encouraging retailers to think about everything from their shop window first impressions to their on-line offering.

Visual display trainers from York-based ‘Made You Look!’ will be offering handy hints on how to create eye-catching window and interior displays and on how retailers can raise their profile and increase sales.

There will also be a presentation from a second speaker about how retailers can complement and enhance their high street trading by using effective on-line promotions, sales and marketing.

The council’s Invest in South Lakeland economic development team holds regular free working breakfasts/lunches and networking events throughout the year across South Lakeland.

The lunch at the Belsfield is open to all South Lakeland businesses and any that may be wanting to re-locate to this area.

“These events help the council to engage with businesses and provide a forum for businesses to discuss issues that directly affect them.

“They also provide attendees with an ideal opportunity to network with other businesses and make new contacts.

“This lunch is aimed at retailers in South Lakeland to offer some useful advice and support as part of our commitment to work with local businesses to encourage growth in our town centres.’’

– Councillor Giles Archibald, SLDC portfolio holder for town centres and small business

For further details and to register for the lunch on 11 March, visit: www.southlakeland.gov.uk/business-and-trade/business-events/

Big business for small firms in D&G

A scheme set up to help small and medium businesses in Dumfries and Galloway isproving a big international success.

Access Six helps companies to compete in foreign markets. They do everything from giving advice on the demand for Scottish products abroad, to sharing contacts across the world.

Fiona McIlwraith went to two businesses in the region to find out more.

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