Chamber Raises Digital Concerns

One of the region’s biggest business organisations has backed national calls demanding improved digital and mobile connectivity for businesses.

East Midlands Chamber* has countersigned a letter to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale highlighting how a lack of investment in – and action on – digital technology is impeding business growth, including mobile coverage, supplier competition and insufficient broadband coverage and speeds.

The letter, signed by all 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, formed part of the Chamber Network’s response to the Government’s consultation on the UK’s future digital strategy.

It called for the Government to match the scope and ambition of other countries to create a solid foundation for future business growth. Specific areas of concern highlighted by the submission were:

Broadband – 24Mbps is the speed the Government defines as superfast, but this does not compare favourably with many other EU countries which define it as 30Mbps+. To ensure strong performance, there must be funding equivalent to the rollout of superfast broadband to extend ultrafast broadband across the UK.

Improved competition – Improved competition and investment in the broadband market will boost access and choice for businesses. Ofcom’s review of the UK’s digital communications markets has come at the right time, and we look forward to the full findings and recommendations of this review.

Mobile coverage – Mobile phones are crucial to businesses for many aspects of their daily work and for this reason poor mobile coverage must be eliminated. The Government, regulators and service providers must act now to target areas of low connectivity, including many business parks and primary road and rail routes.

5G technology – The Government must ensure necessary funding is in place to drive research into 5G in order to make this a reality in the next decade. If the UK is a leading player in technologies like 5G, it can roll out the technology more quickly to give businesses a strong competitive advantage and boost productivity.

Diane Simpson, the Chamber’s Deputy Chief Executive and digital technology lead, said: “The digital landscape is always evolving and firms here in the East Midlands have an enviable track record as global innovators and leaders. However, the infrastructure they rely on is failing to keep pace.

“The UK may lead the world in ecommerce, but many offices, business parks and road and rail routes lack reliable, fast and affordable mobile and broadband connectivity.

“It is unacceptable today that businesses should have to operate with poor broadband connectivity. Access is fundamental and should be viewed as being equally as important as other utilities.

“The Government must address connectivity shortcomings for businesses on industrial estates, in cities and rural areas to allow them to compete in a global marketplace.

“In addition, the Government should have the ambition to lead the rest of the world in developing our digital infrastructure for the next generation.”East Midlands Chamber logo

Posted in Business

Small Businesses Views Wanted on Cyber Crime

A major research programme aimed at exploring the impact of cyber crime on small and medium-sized businesses in the East Midlands has been launched.

The two-year initiative will be led by researchers from De Montfort University’s Psychology School, as part of the East Midlands Police Academic Partnership (EMPAC).

The consortium, which includes East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), East Midlands Police and local cyber security experts, will explore how risky behaviours by employees can impact attitudes towards cybercrime.

It is hoped that a better understanding of such information will help businesses and police to develop better methods of protection against cyber crime, as well as giving SMEs a better awareness of current threats and issues.

The project will help support firms to provide better training for their employees, along with boosting their understanding of the types of cyber crimes currently being committed.

It is hoped the research will also lead to greater collaboration between academia, business and law enforcement to help prevent future attacks.

Andy Watterson, the Chamber’s Business Crime Manager, said: “Cyber crime is a huge and rapidly growing threat to businesses of all sizes, which makes increasing awareness of cyber security and its importance to local businesses an urgent priority.

“The Chamber has already hosted a number of seminars across the region as part of an ongoing events programme aimed at equipping local businesses with the information and knowledge they need to protect themselves online.

“This research is a key piece of work which the Chamber is delighted to be involved in and supporting. We will continue to work closely with our university, police and information security partners to push this agenda forward.”

Dr Lee Hadlington, Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology and Cyberpsychology at De Montfort University, said: “This type of work is critical if we are to gain a better understanding of how businesses are viewing cyber crime and also develop strategies to help communicate the current threats in an effective and useable manner.

“By establishing enhanced collaborative links between business, the Police and academic researchers can we make sure every enterprise, irrespective of size, is better supported when tackling the threat from cyber crime”

Detective Sergeant Carole Walton, East Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Protect Coordinator, said: “Cyber crime is recognised as a growing issue nationally and all five police forces within the East Midlands are involved in cyber crime investigations, with larger investigations led by the Regional Cyber Crime Unit within the East Midlands Special Operations Unit.

“Initiatives such as this are important to develop our knowledge of this area of criminality to better prevent and support victims of cyber crime. We are all vulnerable to cyber crime and better understanding of what makes us vulnerable, as individuals and businesses, helps to tailor prevention programmes to counter the rise of these crimes”

Businesses can take the survey online at and are being encouraged to share the link throughout their organisations to ensure the overall results reflect responses from all levels of seniority and understanding.Cyber Crime

Posted in Business

Chesterfield Business has Recipe for Growth

Chesterfield based business MSK Ingredients, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of specialist food ingredients and equipment, is to expand and take on more staff following £750,000 in new funding from Santander Corporate & Commercial. The funding includes a £200,000 Growth Capital loan, which is aimed at fast-growth, ambitious UK businesses.

Established in 1999 and currently 15-staff strong, MSK is now recognized as a major supplier of premium ingredients to the dining, hotel and catering markets. The firm, which also supplies chocolatiers, mixologists, bakers and the general public, has built a large customer base of around 3,500 clients – including many of UK’s leading chefs. 

Kevin Bateman, founder and owner of MSK Ingredients, said: “Our trading philosophy is to supply the finest quality ingredients available and to source and offer innovative and unique products which will provide a point of difference. This strategy has worked well for the firm and we are in a strong position to invest for growth and capitalise further on the strong momentum we have in the market.”

Donna Butler, relationship director, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “MSK is rightly considered the market leader in supply of ambient specialist food ingredients and equipment to the hotel and restaurant trade in the UK and, increasingly, beyond. The team at MSK have a track record in continually bringing in new and innovative products and ingredients to market, and has a strong pipeline of exciting new products and initiatives. Santander is delighted to be able to support the firm at this key time.”

MSK Ingredients

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business

Chesterfield Businesses are Shining Stars for Charity Appeal

12 Days, 60 volunteers, almost 1000 mince pies donated (and eaten), plus a 16ft Christmas Tree all helped to raise a fantastic £6424.29 for Macmillan’s Chesterfield Cancer Centre Appeal and the event also supported the Chesterfield Royal Hospital Charity.

Mitchells Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers and BRM Solicitors, both based on Saltergate in Chesterfield, joined forces to sponsor The Shining Stars Christmas Appeal. Central to the appeal was a huge festive fir tree which greeted people at the entrance of the hospital during December where volunteers stood in the cold, wind and rain raising vital funds.

Richard Trueman, managing partner of Mitchells said: “We’re delighted to have supported the Shining Stars Christmas Appeal and to have raised such a fantastic amount for two worthy causes.”

As part of the Shining Stars Appeal items were donated from Gunstones Bakery, Thorntons, The Hospitals Cafe, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and local school St Peters and St Pauls Independent School brought their local choir to support the event.

Rob Woodhead, director and Head of Wills and Probate at BRM said, “Both charities do such fantastic work and to see the local community really get behind this Appeal is so heart warming. My colleagues and I are very proud to have supported this campaign.”

Shining Stars

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Christmas

Free workshop aims to help Chesterfield businesses shine

A free 90-minute award writing workshop that will help Chesterfield-based businesses achieve the recognition they deserve is being held on Wednesday 10 February at Dunston Innovation Centre.

The free workshop – Awards: The Benefits and How to Impress the Judges – is being delivered by local award writing specialist Lucinda White, managing director of Pure Events.  This is the second time the workshop has being run. Last year three of the delegates who attended went on to win and be shortlisted for a number of local business awards following entries they had written.

The workshop, which is organised in partnership between Destination Chesterfield and Chesterfield Borough Council’s Innovation Support Project, will give people the skills, information and top tips they need to submit creative and well-written award entries.

The workshop was shortlisted for the ‘Business Idea of the Year’ Award in the 2013 Derbyshire Times Business Awards and Pure Events itself has a 75% success rate, with its clients either being shortlisted or winning prestigious awards across all industry sectors.

Dominic Stevens, Manager of Destination Chesterfield said: “With entries soon to open for the Chesterfield Retail Awards and other local and regional business awards, attending the workshop is an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the competition and get your business noticed.

“The town has many great business success stories that aren’t being told or recognised. By organising this free workshop we hope to give business the skills and know-how they need to get valuable recognition for their business.”

Place are limited and people are advised to register early. To reserve a place on the Business Awards Workshop visit

Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards 2015 with Theo Randall.

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards, Chesterfield Retail Awards, Destination Chesterfield

Mitchells launches #AskMitchells on Twitter Tuesday

Designed to share its team’s expert knowledge and answer any questions on a given financial or business topic, #AskMitchells will start on Tuesday 26 January and then be held, from 2.00pm to 3.00pm, on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Each month will have a different topic and focus and Mitchells’ experts will be on hand to give crucial help, information and advice on that particular area.

This month Auto Enrolment will be the subject of the inaugural #AskMitchells, and will be hosted by Mitchells’ Auto Enrolment expert Hari Mehta.

To take part, and put your question to Mitchells’ specialist team, Twitter users simply need to tweet @MitchellsAcc using the hashtag #AskMitchells between 2.00 – 3.00pm. During the hour the team will answer as many questions as possible.

Richard Trueman, managing partner of Mitchells Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, said: “We really want our Twitter hours to build into mini communities, and would welcome our clients taking part and sharing any other hints, tips and advice, that they feel would help other business owners.”

Upcoming Dates and Topics

Tuesday 26 January – Auto Enrolment
Tuesday 23 February – End of Tax Year / Dividend Tax
Tuesday 22 March – Budget and what this means for you
Tuesday 26 April – Finance and grant funding

To join in just tweet your query between the hours of 2pm and 3pm using the #AskMitchells and a member of Mitchells’ expert team will answer.


Posted in Business

Plan launched to get more bums on bikes in Derbyshire!

An ambition for Derbyshire to be the most-connected cycling county has been outlined in the newly-launched ‘Derbyshire Cycling Plan 2016 – 2030’.

Developed by the Derbyshire Cycling Plan strategic group, the aim is to develop a world-class cycling destination with double the number of people cycling regularly by 2030.

It seeks to double the percentage of commuters travelling by bicycle as their main mode of transport, and double the number of children who regularly cycle to school.

It is hoped that greater participation across Derbyshire will result in healthier communities, more visitors, a stronger and more productive economy and a better environment.

Following a consultation process with partners and the wider public, the plan has been developed by the Derbyshire Cycling Plan Strategic Group which is made up of representatives from Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire’s district and borough councils, Derbyshire Sport, the University of Derby, British Cycling, Sustrans, Peak District National Park Authority, and the National Forest Company.

Hayley Lever, Director of Derbyshire Sport, said: “This Cycling Plan demonstrates the commitment to cycling development shared between all partner organisations, from those strategically involved, to the hundreds of individuals and community level groups who have helped to shape it. We are working together to get more people cycling more often, and the future is very exciting.

“We will work together to bring inward investment for identified priorities, through funding and sponsorship, ensuring that we align our work to the government Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.”

The ‘Derbyshire Cycling Plan 2016 – 2030’ is available to download at

Derbyshire Cycling Plan launch

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Leisure, Summer, Visiting

Unemployment falls again in East Midlands

The number of people out of work in the East Midlands fell by a further 8,000 in the three months to November 2015, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

They showed that between September and November last year, there were 100,000 people registered as unemployed across the region, compared to 108,000 in the three months to August, meaning the region’s unemployment rate has fallen from 4.7% to 4.4%.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, fell by 615 to 29,375 in December, meaning that there were 7,845 fewer JSA claimants in December 2015 than there were a year previously.

In Chesterfield the number of people claiming the benefit in December 2015 fell to 882, which is 503 lower than the figure reported in the same month in 2014 and remains below the national average (1.3% compared to 1.5%).

East Midlands Chamber has welcomed the figures, but warned that the economy faces several challenges in the year ahead which could affect the pace of job creation across the region.

Its Chief Executive, Scott Knowles, said: “Another set of positive employment figures for December shows once again that throughout 2015 the East Midlands was at the front of the pack when it came to creating jobs.

“However, while the strength of the labour market remains an important driver of economic growth, and the economy is continuing to expand, there are several challenges ahead which could impact employment prospects in 2016.

“Several underlying issues will play out in the months ahead, such as the wider impact of interest rate rises in the United States, the developing arguments – and potential vote – on the In/Out EU referendum and the deterioration of recovery in the health of some of the world’s largest economies.

“We also have uncertainties around things like changes to apprenticeships funding, the introduction of a new national living wage and the continued roll out of auto enrolment and we can’t yet fully appreciate what impact these might have on business.

“Overall, today’s figures demonstrate that our flexible and vibrant labour market remains a source of strength for the economy, but more must be done to support the businesses that fuel the Midlands Engine and, in turn, UK plc.

“Business policy needs to reduce barriers to growth and provide the right support and environment to facilitate job creation, particularly in the production sectors, which is where the East Midlands’ real strength lies.”

East Midlands Chamber logo

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business

Have Your say for Development Sites

Chesterfield Borough Council is asking landowners, developers and local businesses to put forward sites that might be suitable for development.

This is part of the council’s land availability assessment (LAA) which identifies land appropriate for development and assesses the suitability of the sites.

This will form the basis of the council’s new local plan and help the council decide which sites should be allocated for a range of types of development including housing, employment, retail and traveller sites.

Councillor Terry Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for planning said: “We are encouraging landowners and developers to send us information on sites which might be suitable for development

“We will then assess those sites and take them forward through the Local Plan process if they are suitable.”

Because a site is considered in the assessment does not mean it will necessarily be considered suitable for development.

Should anyone wish to include a site for consideration, we need to collect as much information possible to ensure an accurate assessment.

Anyone who has a site to be considered for development should complete the form on the council website: and email to the strategic planning and key sites team:

Great Bear Development Markham Vale

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Development

Local employer offers extra holiday for Challenge Derbyshire

As 2016 is a leap year, employers are set to benefit from an extra day of work from employees on Monday 29th February at no extra cost. In light of this, businesses are being challenged to offer an extra day of holiday in exchange for employees making a donation to three local charities.

Part of the new #ChallengeDerbyshire campaign, run by Ashgate Hospicecare, Blythe House Hospice and Helen’s Trust, it is hoped this latest challenge will raise much needed funds to support patients with life-limiting illnesses across North Derbyshire.

Markovitz on Whittington Moor in Chesterfield is the first business to sign up to offer staff an extra day of holiday in return for them making a donation to the three charities. Chief Executive, Rob Turner said:-

“Our staff work hard every year so when #ChallengeDerbyshire asked us to offer them a days holiday in exchange for a donation, I couldn’t say no. Our staff are paid monthly so we won’t be paying them any more in February with it being a leap year so it doesn’t actually cost us anything.

“We have asked staff to donate 50% of a day’s salary and they can take their extra day’s holiday at any time throughout the year. We hope this will raise a lot of money for these three local charities who really need our support.”

One employee, Gemma Wray, was quick to take part. She said: “When I heard from my manager that Markovitz were offering this I thought ‘What an absolutely brilliant idea!’

“The extra day will benefit me and three truly amazing charities. Company employees pay half of what they would normally earn in a day to Challenge Derbyshire and receive an extra days holiday from the company in return. The company get their extra day of trading and everyone’s a winner, especially the charities!

“From personal experience I know Blythe House, one of the three charities that make up Challenge Derbyshire, offer amazing and well needed support to not only the people affected by a terminal illness but their family members too. I don’t know where we would be without them!”

Ashgate Hospicecare, Blythe House Hospice and Helen’s Trust have collaboratively met the needs of local patients through their variety of services for many years. Mary Atkinson, who was diagnosed with Corticobasal Syndrome 5 years ago, is just one of the many patients that receive care and support from all three charities. Her husband and full time carer, Bob, shares his story on the help they’ve both received from the local charities.

Bob says, “For a while I felt like everything was closing in on me. I was finding it really difficult to cope and there were concerns about my health in terms of depression. But the support I received from all three charities really helped me deal with everything – they’ve really helped both of us. It’s much better that I can look after Mary in our own home because that’s what we would both prefer, her here with me. I wouldn’t have been able to look after Mary without the support of these organisations. Because of them, we can continue living our normal lives.”

Ashgate Hospicecare, Blythe House Hopsice and Helen’s Trust joined together last December to form #ChallengeDerbyshire. Supporters can also join in by choosing their own challenge by videoing themselves pledging to complete a challenge to raise money for three local charities and using the hashtag #ChallengeDerbyshire when posting to Facebook and Twitter.

If you are an employer and would like to get involved in the leap year challenge please email or visit for more information.


Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Leisure

Cricket Derbyshire seeks charity partners

Local charities can now apply to be one of Cricket Derbyshire’s official charity partners for 2016.

Three partners will be selected to work closely with the club as well as with the Derbyshire Cricket Board and the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation throughout the year to support the charity’s fundraising efforts and to increase recognition for its cause.

Derbyshire will also promote all three charities through their channels of communication, as well as donating signed cricket memorabilia for fundraising events.

The selection process will focus on association with Derbyshire, project delivery within the county, previous partnership work and the opportunity for Cricket Derbyshire to make a real difference.

Commercial Director, Ryan Duckett said: “We have worked with chosen charities for the past three years and we hope to develop similar successful partnerships in 2016.

“This is a great opportunity for us to use our profile and network to enhance the incredible charity work that is already being done across the county.

“As well as providing exclusive support for our three charity partners – in terms of player appearances, hosting events and fundraising activities – we have also donated almost £20,000 worth of tickets and merchandise to support good causes across the county.”

Charities can be local or national but must be active in the county of Derbyshire. Applications should aim to demonstrate a relevance to cricket in Derbyshire and a positive impact on the local community.

Any registered charity interested in becoming an official partner should email with an expression of interest to or write to the Official Charity Partner panel at

Cricket Derbyshire
The 3aaa County Ground
Nottingham Road
DE21 6DA

The deadline for applications is Friday 19th February 2016.

Chesterfield Cricket Club

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Leisure

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