Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Weymouth BID

A number of business leaders from Weymouth are taking action which could benefit almost everyone who lives in the town. They want to take advantage of a government scheme that allows firms to raise the money needed to make improvements to the local economy.

They are doing this by launching what's called the 'Weymouth BID'. This is a scheme that's worked successfully for other towns, including Dorchester.

What is a BID?

A BID (Business Improvement District) scheme is defined as “a business-led initiative supported by government legislation which gives local businesses the power to ‘raise funds locally to be spent locally’ on improving their trading environment”.

How does it work?

A steering group is created by interested local businesses that defines the BID area and consults other businesses within that area about the sort of improvements that they would support. A BID proposal is then formed and eligible businesses vote on whether to accept it. Over 50% of businesses that vote must be in favour of the proposal and this must represent more than 50% of the rateable value of the votes cast. If accepted, all businesses within the BID area are legally obliged to pay the levy, regardless to how they voted. A BID scheme usually operates for five years after which time its progress is reviewed.

What would this mean for Weymouth?

The Weymouth BID would generate between £900,000 and £1.2 million over a five year period which would then be invested in an agreed programme of local improvements. The money would be largely raised by levying a non-domestic rate of between one and one and a half per cent on all businesses within the BID area which comprises the town centre, harbour, seafront and Preston.

Suggested areas that the BID could tackle are the problems associated with the seasonality of a seaside town by leading marketing campaigns designed to extend the holiday season, as well as improving the experience of people visiting Weymouth, developing better information services and helping the night time economy by increased safety and security measures.

When will it happen?

The BID is currently in the consultation stage which is due to finish at the end of August 2012. The vote on whether to accept the proposals will take place in May or June 2013. There are around 500 businesses with a rateable value of above £6000 that are eligible to vote.

The legacy of the Games

Brian Cooper, Chairman of the BID Marketing Sub Group said: “The London 2012 Games have handed Weymouth businesses a massive opportunity to tackle future seasonality. The sheer scale of the TV exposure for Weymouth, Portland and the World Heritage Coast will make this one of the area’s main legacies, winning gold for businesses in Weymouth. The Weymouth BID, should it get a yes vote at ballot next year, will take a leading role in capitalising on this unique situation - so we are urging businesses to be a part of it.”

For more information, visit the BID website . All businesses in the BID area are invited to fill in the online questionnaire, although only those with a rateable value of £6000 or more will be eligible to vote. There will be an open meeting on 26 September 2012 in the Ocean Room at Weymouth Pavilion.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Natalie’s drawing up her future plans

Dorset home owners who are building extensions and loft conversions are benefiting from the expertise of Natalie Waldman, who’s recently set up The Drawing Office in Dorchester.

Natalie laid the foundations for her business twenty five years ago when she entered the London construction industry as an apprentice building services engineer. She went on to gain a degree in Architectural Technology and has worked as a subcontractor for a number of years.

Around twelve months ago, Natalie decided to form her own business and seek out her own clients. Since then, she’s worked on around 30 projects, a number of which are still in progress. A typical engagement, which starts before a planning application is submitted and runs until building work is completed, can last from six to twelve months.

Her finished projects include a loft conversion to create a master bedroom and bathroom, internal alterations to create a modern, open kitchen diner, and the construction of a two bedroomed annex.

Natalie’s clients benefit not only from her years of building design experience, but also her ability to negotiate with local planning departments. Winning planning approval can often be a challenge, as a balance is sought between the needs of the client and those of the local authority. The key to success is a thorough understanding of local issues and negotiation techniques.

When asked what her service offers to clients Natalie said: “Peace of mind because they don’t need to worry about anything.” She takes care of everything: design, planning permission, building regulations and supervision of the construction or alterations.

The Drawing Office is intended to be a Dorset business with a long-term future. Natalie has made a considerable investment in creating the perfect working environment, both for her and for visiting clients.

Work has been coming in steadily over the last year, with word of mouth proving to be a very effective marketing tool. But Natalie is not taking anything for granted; The Drawing Office now has a website and is also establishing itself in social media.

The Bizoh blog loves to celebrate business success in Dorset. If your firm has a great story to tell, why not get in touch?

Read more Dorset start-up and success stories

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Keep your business secure with confidential shredding

The importance of confidential shredding for business security

Any business is bound to accumulate numerous documents, and many of these will contain sensitive information. Should they get into the hands of the wrong people, these critical records could lead to a company's ruin.

For this reason, businesses in increasing numbers choose shredding for disposal of their confidential papers. Document shredding not only enables a company to avoid the potential theft of its data, but also allows it to meet the strict guidelines of the 1998 Data Protection Act, thereby avoiding any fines for noncompliance.

What sorts of documents require shredding?

Any paperwork that contains a company's financial information and operational details must always remain confidential. When no longer needed, its destruction must be complete. The same holds true for customer files, patient records and credit reports. Companies should also shred any documents containing such sensitive employee information as National Insurance numbers, birth dates, phone and account numbers, street and email addresses, PINs, passwords and signatures.

It is also important to realise the incalculable monetary value of any document that delineates a company's designs and concepts. The ideas outlined in presentations, marketing plans and company reports often have the potential to turn a serious profit, and these must remain confidential within the company.

Choosing a professional shredding company

When destroying confidential documents, many prefer the convenience of dealing with onsite shredding companies. Their machines can handle thousands of pounds of paper an hour, and any company representative can witness the operation firsthand. Many such companies provide locked bins in which the company can store its documents prior to the shredding process.

A company that prefers to shred its data offsite should ascertain that the shredding company of choice does not store the data for any length of time before shredding it. It should also allow a company representative to witness the destruction of the documents.

General considerations

Not all shredding companies are certified and many do not have the appropriate equipment to do the job correctly. In the U.K., a responsible shredding company will belong to the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) Europe. It will provide a signed and dated Certificate of Destruction, and it will allow a company representative to watch as it destroys the documents. It's also imperative to be suspicious of any company that offers document shredding free of charge.

In the end, shredding offers companies the optimal means of destroying their sensitive documents safely, efficiently and, most important of all, completely.

This is a guest post by Andrew Morrell who has been involved in the mobile shredding industry for several years and believes in the importance of business security. He currently works for Russell Richardson.