Consultancy's work on regenerating old brownfield sites reaps triple success 

ENGINEERING consultancy Rodgers Leask is celebrating after a triple success for its work on major regeneration schemes involving brownfield sites.
 
The firm, which has its headquarters in Derby, triumphed at the 13th Brownfield Briefing Awards, a flagship event which recognises all that is best practice in the remediation sector and rewards technical and conceptual excellence in projects.
 
Rodgers Leask won two categories and was highly commended in a third.  In each case the company was linked with schemes by St Modwen Developments. 
 
In the category for the best brownfield infrastructure project, Rodgers Leask won for its work to design surface water and foul water management systems at the 600 acre former Llanwern Steelworks site at Newport in South Wales. The multi-function design for the new residential and business community was praised for its alternative approaches to flood storage, water quality management and bio-diversity enhancement as well as enhancing the landscape.
 
The company’s win in the Best Biodiversity Enhancement category was achieved for its work to re-route the River Ewelme at a former engine works at Dursley, Gloucestershire. The design successfully took the river from concrete culvert to open channel, re-creating a natural river habitat, providing the opportunity for fauna and flora to naturally migrate along the new river channel and increase local biodiversity. 
 
Rodgers Leask was also highly commended for its engineering input on the redevelopment of the former MG Rover works at Longbridge in the West Midlands. Over the last 12 years Rodgers Leask has been involved in all major phases of the development of the 190 hectare site which has transformed into a thriving new town centre and includes major retail stores, educational and office buildings,  a 75-bedroom hotel, and  shops, restaurants, and homes.
 
Andy Leask, chairman, said: “This was the first time we have entered these high-profile and prized awards so we are delighted to have been so successful.
 
“The results are a huge endorsement for the company, and a testament to the commitment and hard work of our staff in both Derby and the Birmingham office in helping to revitalise technically challenging sites for modern uses and to benefit local communities.”
 

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New help scheme for small businesses

A business rates relief scheme which will benefit nearly 200 businesses in Erewash is expected to get the green light at an Erewash Borough Council meeting this week.
 
The move comes following a national government revaluation of all commercial properties in England and Wales, leading to new rates payable by business owners. The last revaluation was in 2010 and the latest one has resulted in the business rates of some premises in the borough increasing significantly.
 
The government has made a funding pot available for local authorities to cover a four year period to help the predominantly small, medium and independent businesses facing the steepest increases in their bills as a result of the revaluation.
 
Erewash Borough Council’s share of this additional funding is £251,000 which will be distributed to local businesses over four years through a new rates relief scheme that councillors are expected to support at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 12 October.
 
The scheme will target the funding at those premises with a rateable value not exceeding £100,000 and work across two bands – those with a value up to £20,000 and those with a value between £20,001 and £100,000.
 
It is proposed that relief awarded to businesses in the lower band will cover the increase in business rates payable as a result of the revaluation between the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years, while the funding will be used to ensure the increase payable by businesses in the upper band will be limited to 1.5%
 
Councillor Wayne Major, Erewash Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Resources, says:
 
“We continue to do everything within our power to encourage business growth across the borough, creating opportunities for local people and helping to generate new jobs.
 
“This proposed scheme will target relief at businesses that are facing a significant increase in their business rate bills in order to minimise financial hardship.”
 
It is recommended to the meeting that the relief is distributed to the eligible local businesses automatically and efficiently without the need for an application process.
 
The funding is ‘front-loaded’, meaning £141,000 is available for the current financial year followed by £68,000 in 2018/19, £38,000 in 2019/20 and £4,000 in 2020/2021.
 
The Full Council meeting is at Long Eaton Town Hall this Thursday 12 October, at 7pm.

New mobile app video gives customers the power of instant credibility in reviews 

A BUSINESSMAN hopes that his new mobile app will revolutionise the way that customers give reviews and comments on services they have used.
 
Innovator Naseem Iqbal has designed the Mobytap app so that people can give their honest views about a service in a shop, restaurant, hotel, or other business on a short video which can go viral.
 
Naseem(45), from Alvaston, Derby, has a background in rubbish removal and re-cycling, and for six years has been running his own business, Junkporters, in Nottingham. Through this experience he learned about online marketing, social media and digital technology.
 
For some time Naseem has had pictures of happy customers on his own liveried trucks which he then uses as testimonials on social media.
 
“Then I asked a contractor on a job if I could feature him giving feedback on my smartphone,” he said. “That was my 'lightbulb moment'.”
 
He did his research, then created the app whereby customers can record a video up to 30 seconds long on their mobile phones, instead of typing, giving their comments or endorsements. Importantly, these are first checked to make sure that there are no rude or abusive words or actions.
 
The app can be applied to any trader who has an online presence. The reviews are uploaded live onto social media networks by the businesses themselves so that potential customers can see them and make informed decisions.  The first five videos are free after which businesses pay an annual subscription to Mobytap for storing them.
 
Naseem said that other people know the reviews are authentic because those giving their comments by this method cannot hide behind anonymity. “No reviews are ever deleted, including bad ones,so that people know they are genuine.”
 
The app cost £60,000 to develop, but is free to download. The company does not have to manufacture anything, and simply depends on cloud-based 4G technology.
 
Naseem, (pictured) whose Mobytap business is based at The Ingenuity Centre at the University of Nottingham's Innovation Park, said: “We keep our overheads very low.”
 
“Now the development is complete we hope to turn over a  profit at the end of this financial year. I'm confident this will be a success. 
 
“Companies always want good reviews or to improve what they provide if they have poor comments. This app and way of publishing comments online will help them up their game.”
 
In September the Mobytap app was downloaded more than 1,500 times.
 
Naseem said the opportunities and potential for the Mobytap are endless. As the concept and company grows it will need to take on staff.