Friday, 27 July 2012

BANES lose both Judicial Reviews against SAVE WOOLLEY VALLEY ACTION GROUP

BANES lose both Judicial Reviews against SAVE WOOLLEY VALLEY ACTION GROUP
Save Woolley Valley Action Group


BANES lose both Judicial Reviews against

In a judgement passed down on 27th July 2012 Mrs Justice Lang DBE ruled against BANES and in favour of SWVAG Ltd. ( the fundraising vehicle of The Save Woolley Valley Action Group) on the two Judicial Reviews heard in the High Court on 3rd,4th and 5th July 2012 and refused BANES request for leave to appeal.

SWVAG represented by their barrister Mr. Richard Harwood, appointed by Richard Buxton Solicitors a leading environmental practice based in Cambridge, argued successfully that BANES had acted unlawfully in deciding that the 10 bungalow-sized poultry sheds placed by Golden Valley Paddocks Ltd (GVP) on their land in the Cotswolds AONB in Woolley on the outskirts of Bath did not require Planning Permission or an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Woolley Valley is a sensitive area protected from normally permitted agricultural development by a restriction that the Council requested the Secretary of State to impose there after a long running battle over the development of The Bath Deer Farm some 20 years ago. SWVAG’s arguments were supported by Mr. James Strachan the barrister instructed by The Treasury Solicitor and representing The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

SWVAG also argued in a second Judicial Review that the Council had acted unlawfully in granting Planning Permission on a Retrospective Planning Application for a stock pond without paying attention to all the other developments on the site.

SWVAG was formed in 2010 when it appeared that BANES were not taking any steps to curtail the desecration of this site that is highly valued by visitors from near and far as an important amenity in the gateway to the city.

SWVAG’s solicitors, Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, had raised their concerns about how BANES were interpreting both UK and European law and forewarned of an expensive and futile legal battle unless BANES’ Planning and Legal teams reconsidered their position.

Numerous offers of meetings were turned down as BANES refused to engage in a process that could have saved them a significant sum in paying for their own legal team, which included two High Court barristers and the significant legal costs incurred by SWVAG which the judge ruled BANES must also pay.

The Honourable Mrs. Justice Lang DBE ruled in favour of SWVAG on the two Judicial Reviews heard on 3rd, 4th,5th July as follows:

“The Chicken Sheds”
My conclusion on the judicial review in respect of the poultry units is that the Council misdirected itself in law in its interpretation and application of the term “development” ….

“The Stock Pond”
In my judgment, the screening opinion was inadequate, and thus the Council acted unlawfully by granting planning permission without having carried out a lawful screening opinion.

One of SWVAG’s directors, Bill Murphy said

“Whilst we are delighted by the outcome, as tax payers we are horrified by the avoidable costs that have been incurred. It was obvious to us from the outset that there was scant regard being shown by BANES to the desecration of this beautiful area. We are also glad the Judge refused BANES' request for leave to appeal, saying that it was in everybodys interest that instead they got on with acting lawfully, otherwise they would now be opening up an exposure to another large set of costs, potentially as big as the £150,000 or so they have already wasted.

Intensive farming does not work in an AONB , near to where people live, at the gateway to a UNESCO Heritage City. This area has been grazed for centuries and that is what works here. The land is hilly pasture not suitable for intensive poultry rearing.

Surely we should be able to expect our local government officers to know the law and apply it for the good of the community? This case proves that we cannot always rely on them and must be prepared to take action to have common sense prevail and the law upheld”

We and the community would like to know if BaNES Planning
• will now enforce the removal of the caravan they recommended nearly 2 years ago .
• will act with respect to the planning permission for the 10 bungalow-sized Chicken sheds development which is currently without planning permission for nearly 3 years.
• will enforce restoration of the area where they previously granted retrospective planning permission for a stock pond.

GVP, through their agent Marc Willis, have admitted that they want to build at least one house here and started out with an alpaca farm business plan claiming that alpacas need 24/7 attention and therefore a farm worker living onsite. As the returns on alpaca farming fell they turned their attention to chickens and now ducks.

They have chosen the wrong site and by their approach have alienated the communities of Woolley and Swainswick and our thousands of supporters who include such august bodies as The National Trust and the AONB administration. We tried to engage with BANES Planning Dept. and legal officers to avoid taking the issue to Court but with no success.

However we feel this is an important step in saving this beautiful valley and other green belt land, both locally and throughout the UK. We hope that BANES will now enforce against this developer who has consistently, over a three year period, taken the approach of develop first and then apply retrospectively for Planning Permission expecting that the Council would find it“not expedient” to enforce.”

For further information or clarification please contact:
In the first instance: Kieran Higgins, Director, SWVAG Ltd. 07776 463859
Or Bill Murphy 07778 474 896

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Fickle, Foolish or Fab? The Business Zone Video Responses to #NotAnSME


Fickle, Foolish or Fab? The Business Zone Video Responses to #NotAnSME
Good news for us.
I think that HP, O2, Nokia and Regus deserve our thanks, as small and micro business owners. They’ve all provided Business Zone video responses to the statement that the big corporates and government are ‘clueless’ about us.  It’s a start and it is re-assuring that Robert Craven’s prevalent and accurate blog is influential.. (see the original blog post)
Sadly, the eloquent Lord Young in his Business Zone video, and new report on Enterprise, shows that this Government, like the previous two Governments, regard the self-employed, small and micro business owners as the ‘Great Unwashed’,  as they were once referred to me as.
The spin will suggest Government are supportive of people ‘going it alone’, the unemployment figures would be a disaster if they didn’t, The reality is that they’ll continue to give 95% of government business, infrastructure, employment and training support funding to big organisations. .   
Daft and fickle maybe but still not ‘going native’
I know I’m daft but I don’t agree with the many that say I’ve wasted  my time, for twenty years, in trying to influence government and corporates to recognise and support the fab contribution to TeamGB that start-ups and micro enterprise owners make. The signs from the Business Zone videos are that some leaders are willing to listen to our views and that’s good enough for me. 
Some will say I’m fickle even being willing to believe that some big organisations will listen to us. After all I can be accused of paying a lot of my own dosh to some of  the world’s biggest companies, who don’t yet give a damn about micro enterprise, in order for family and friends to enjoy the Olympics and Paralympics.
Anyway, fickleness is a family trait. My mother would say she was a 'lapsed vegetarian' if she liked the look of the main, meat course more than her pre-ordered 'vegetarian option'. 
Slap up dos in ivory towers and in cloud cuckoo land are just so blooming appealing and behaviour changing. I've seen star struck micro business owners invited to sit on government committees agreeing to final recommendations not one of which they recognised as having contributed to.
Instead of ‘going native’ and agreeing with Government and Big Corporate policies we should help them see ‘what’s in it for them’ from understanding  pre-start, start-ups and micro enterprise.       
Good news for them
It’s a year ago since Robert Craven's excellent blog here about corporates and government being ‘clueless' about small businesses (20,000 reads) to which I did a follow up blog '#NotAnSME-Part Two', (8000 reads)  which featured the #MicroBizMatters government e-petition
There are 4.5 million micro businesses (0-9 employees), 95% of all businesses in the UK. They provide a third of UK employment and a fifth of UK turnover. Nearly half a million new micro businesses start each year. Nearly all the new jobs in the UK come from these newer micro businesses and most of the innovation and community support too.
One in seven of the adult workforce is already running their own business and each year our number significantly increases. It does make good ‘income generation’ sense for corporates and government to be micro enterprise savvy.
Purleese, do understand us but don’t advise us.
One common theme in these Business Zone video responses is the speaker claiming that they do understand small business because of their own business experience. This is the nub of the problem which many of us have highlighted.
If you haven’t started and run your own micro enterprise you shouldn’t really advise, coach or mentor people that are starting and running their own enterprise. I can’t do brain surgery just because I’ve worked in a hospital and I  can’t cut my wife’s hair even though I’ve had a few goes at cutting my own.  
Let’s not slip backwards - leave it to the private sector 
Sadly this attitude still exists since back in the day when we first got all the major national small business membership organisations together to try to improve the overall standard of publicly funded start up advice.  Much of the advice to pre starts then was poorer than it is now.
In fact some of the ‘support’ was downright dangerous to the new start up’s chances of earning a living. Help mostly constituted a ‘training course’, not learning by doing, and focused on the business idea, business planning processes and business finance,  rather than winning customers, bootstrapping, managing cash-flow and test trading.
I remember the Federation of Small Businesses saying that not only did the person providing the support to a start-up need the competences as a business adviser, coach or mentor but they also should have successfully started and  run their own business for a minimum of three years. Many of us, with long memories, get very agitated that so many people that are in or have just left corporate life feel they are qualified to help start-ups.
The skills and know how you need to start and run your own unique business are gained by doing and from help from those that have already got the T shirt. Business studies and support from corporate management types and academics is not and never will be the answer to improving survival and growth rates. 
Our Buying Power – the key to positively influencing big organisations regarding #NotAnSME and #MicroBizMatters?
In January, we launched the free-to-join Enterprise Rockers movement, a community interest company, where micro enterprise owners make life better and fairer for micro enterprises everywhere. Although we are achieving our aims, primarily, by trading with and helping each other we also know it is important that we recognise those larger organisations that deal fairly with us.
We cannot compete with large organisations influencing government with their lobbying power but we do have significant buying power. We can exercise that power if micro enterprises primarily buy from other micro-enterprises and those larger organisations known to treat us fairly.
So, from September, we are launching a support and recognition programme for larger organisations which commit to and then achieve five principles of our #MicroBizMatters Challenge. The five principles are:
1. To pay our bills on time (normally within 30 days)
2. To provide products and services that meet our needs
3. To listen to and understand us
4. To communicate with us in plain English
5.  To be inclusive, irrespective of business age or type. 
We’d be very interested to hear from Business Zone readers what they think about these five principles.  We’ll ensure that the feedback the larger organisation will get from micro enterprise owners will be very beneficial to the organisation trying to achieve these principles.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Corporates are Clueless - BlackBerry, HP, O2, Nokia, Regus, Dell respond...

I wrote a blog  "I AM NOT AN SME, YOU PATRONISING ***!"  on BusinessZone and got 23,000+ views

The message:

Big business and Government are hopelessly clueless about "independent businesses"

We have now had three video responses... 

Check out the video responses from the Big Boys:


More articles on this subject:

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I Am Not A Social Media Guru - the book

*I am not a social media guru*

Due to popular demand I was asked to put together an ebook on social media. 

It was written a few months ago and initially it was only available to paying members of the Business Club. It is now available to lite/free members as well.

Click here

Mastermind Group Links etc - update

After several requests, I am putting together the various Mastermind materials in one place. A new programme commenced in Winter 2012/3 - we have now got one spare seat if you are interested!

Here's Paula's March '13 video for that final seat in the group...

Here's the Nov '12 video for the programme that started in December...

Let's start with a brief video from Ceri Smith about her Mastermind experience:

  • Video: The Mastermind - Quick 'n' dirty video 45-seconds from Bristol

For more info go to the Webpage for The Mastermind Group 

 or contact me on +44 (0)1225 851044 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            +44 (0)1225 851044      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

and a PS from the wonderful Paula Macarthur

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Social Media Musings by Robert Craven

Here's a quick update of relevant musings of mine on Social Media 

Social Media Postings - July 2012

Here's a quick grouping or blogs and articles on Social Media:

27 things to know before you work in social media | Articles | HomeManage a Twitter feed or Facebook account, or write a blog? You’ll be able to relate to many (maybe all) of the items on this list.

Download @HubSpot's free guide to SEO vs. Social Media: Which is Best for Your Marketing?

Quit over complicating social media. It's not rocket science. Develop a plan, execute the plan, measure and optimize. Integrate social media into DNA of business.

All the updates, trends and stats of what is happening in Social Media and Social Media Marketing in 2012 so far

The State of Social Media 2012 with our panel of social media experts - UK »
Social media hit the business world like a tornado. There aren't many businesses out there that aren't experimenting with some form of social media. Hear what our dream-team panel... 

4 Ways to Discover More About Your Audience With Social Media | Social Media Examiner »
Four social media marketing tactics to help you improve your social media content and strategy.

Bob Barker | How Liz Miller, CMO council, uses social media »
Heading up the marketing operations and marketing programmes for the CMO council, Liz Miller is one of the most informed marketers in the world, spending her time talking to senior marketers about how...

Social media? Give me a break... »
Social media deconstructed (with bacon)

Social Media Is No longer Just Social »
Mission creep is the descriptive term which explains how a previously focused goal becomes another things . For those who use social media in healthcare regularly this apparent.. The internet began as...

Tracking the KPIs of Social Media »
Social media receives a massive amount of attention on the web and attracts a great deal of interest from marketers, too. The primary complaint of those who invest seems to be consistent: it's hard to...

What Dylan Can Teach Us About Marketing

It isn't just Jobs or Ghandi that can teach us about marketing and business. Jared Fabac writes a neat blog What Bob Dylan Taught Us About Marketing.

(The 70-year-old is still achieving... 34 studio albums, more than 500 songs, more than 3100 concerts, 11 grammy’s, one Oscar, two doctorates at Universities, several exhibitions around the world with his artwork, listed as one of Time’s most influential people of the 20th century, nominated several times for the Nobel Literature Prize, and so on.)

The key lessons are:

  • Create content that is unique to your product, and deliver it in the way of tomorrow
  • Deliver your content in multiple streams
  • Be where your customers are
  • Don't appeal to everyone
Feels like a pretty neat list that an be reflected on for some time.
  • Create material that people of all ages can relate to
  • Reflect the dreams and aspirations of a generation
  • Don't get stuck in a rut
  • Surround yourself with the best in your field
  • Stubbornly do things the way you want to do them (irrespective of what the people say)
Of course Dylan is very much alive and still touring. 

Final, lyrical thoughts
You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing. – The Times They Are A-Changin’

If you need somebody you can trust, trust yourself. – Trust Yourself– Forever Young
May you always be courageous, stand upright, and be strong. – Forever Young

Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (from his classic 1966 Blonde on Blonde album; get a copy if you don’t already have it!) when I heard this:
    When Ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon
Where I can watch her waltz for free
‘Neath her Panamanian moon
And I say, “Aw come on now
You know you know about my debutante”
And she says, “Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want…”

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. – Like A Rolling Stone
I believe in you, even though I be outnumbered. – I Believe In You