Chamber News

Emerging IT skills shortage highlighted by Chamber

Shrewsbury Business Chamber’s recent executive committee meeting highlighted the emerging problem of a shortage of business ICT skills in the school leaver workforce, which adversely impacts their employability when compared with other job candidates. The Chamber has now resolved to address this skills shortage problem during their next meeting with Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski. Every month, the executive committee meets  to discuss business-related issues in the town.  As part of the agenda, the committee discusses problems encountered by committee members that may impact other businesses or other organisations. They also have regular and very productive meetings with Daniel Kawczynski, who has been receptive to their concerns on a variety of issues which he has taken up at the highest levels with considerable success. 

A few years ago one committee member, whose work heavily involves them in the education sector, expressed concern regarding a government policy introduced by the then Education Secretary, Michael Gove. It demoted ICT (information communications technology) to a non-core subject in the national curriculum – meaning that secondary schools were no longer required to teach it.  In a speech, the minister had said that the existing ICT curriculum had left children “bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers”. Instead, ‘computer science’ specialists were sought to replace the ICT teachers, or existing staff were encouraged to add programming skills, using such languages as Python, to their skills repertoire.

The impact of this policy change is now becoming apparent. Most young people, as ‘digital natives’, no longer have the employability edge over ‘digital immigrants’. An ability to use Word and Excel are amongst the skills that almost all employers demand – even for the most simple of jobs. Without them the country’s young workforce does not have an edge even over those who are technically challenged, because computing had not yet been integrated into education when they were at school.  Unless they have chosen ICT specifically as a subject at GCSE, many school leavers often do not possess the business ICT skills that the majority of employers have come to expect in a young workforce.

“Some of our members have noticed – with concern – that increasingly fewer and fewer younger job applicants/employees are able to use basic business IT tools such as spreadsheets and word processing,” said Val Edwards, Partner at Hatchers and Chair of Shrewsbury Business Chamber. “We are working to find a solution to the problem, and will be lobbying our MP to take up this cause which we think poses a fundamental threat to the economy.”

27th July 2018

Chamber networking eve draws local construction crowd

Shrewsbury Business Chamber’s February networking eve and buffet, at Berrys’ impressive offices on Shrewsbury Business Park – a venue providing the perfect opportunity to view new high quality offices, and assess the advantages of moving to purpose-built accommodation – attracted almost 50 attendees from local businesses, many of whom hailed from the local building industry. The Pipekit-sponsored event included presentations on ‘Construction in Shrewsbury’ from Charles Howell, Commercial Property Consultant at Cooper Green Pooks; Howard Thorne, Managing Director of Shropshire Homes; and Stuart Thomas, Head of Planning & Development at Berrys.

Following an introduction from Chamber chairman Valerie Edwards, Charles Howell opened the evening, discussing the aspects that should be considered when relocating premises, from reasons for moving through to publicising the new location. He underlined the importance of assembling a team to advise on detailed matters including solicitor, surveyor, bank, accountant, IT and insurance advisors. He also talked through the steps  to move from initial assessment of requirements through to the handover of keys.

After showcasing some of Shropshire Homes’ prestigious developments, Howard Thorne described the current housing crisis, presenting statistics for increased demand and reduced supply, and introducing possible medium term solutions, while touching on planning legislation.

Stuart Thomas, previously Shropshire Council’s Area Planning Manager, then provided an introduction to ‘Planning, Policy and Decision Making – the Rules of the Game’. This was a broad overview of the planning system in Shropshire, focusing on the issues and opportunities for housing and employment land in the county, and detailing the planning policies which would influence the Council’s decision making over the coming years.

Shrewsbury Business Chamber has a series of other events planned for the rest of the year. ‘The New GDPR Regulations - will your Company be Compliant this May?’ – is a special networking breakfast at 9am on Thursday, 8th March 2018, at University Centre Shrewsbury, sponsored by PC Net Solutions. Featuring presentations from Brian Evans of Lanyon Bowdler, and Neil Hambley of CID Marketing, it is designed to arm attendees with the valuable, practical, hands-on knowledge and resources required to prepare for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before they come into effect towards the end of May this year.

The Chamber then returns to Origins Restaurant on London Road – at 6pm, Thursday 22nd March 2018 – for a Cybercrime-themed networking event & buffet, sponsored by Henshalls. Attendees can expect to see presentations not only from the sponsor, but also Barclays and PC Net Solutions.

Attendees of the following month’s event will be treated to a Severn cruise, courtesy of Sabrina Boat, and a presentation from Pete Lambert, River Projects Manager of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, who will talk about the environmental issues of the river. Tickets for this event, at 6pm on Wednesday, 11th April 2018, are extremely limited – anyone intending to register should do so early, as many places have already been snapped up!

“Berrys provided superb hospitality and an excellent venue for an even better turnout than usual,” said Martyn Rowlands, Managing Director of Pipekit and Shrewsbury Business Chamber’s Events Committee Chairman. “We’ve a packed programme of events throughout the year for business networkers, old and new; the next breakfast meeting, covering GDPR, is simply unmissable for all companies wanting to stay on the right side of the new data laws.”

Click here to register for all of our events.
27th February 2018

Shrewsbury Business Chamber Launches Christmas Shop Window Competition 2016

Shrewsbury Business Chamber and Shropshire Newspapers are pleased to announce the launch of their annual Christmas Shop Window Competition, free to enter by all shops in the town.

Entries are sought for all four categories: Class 1 – Smaller Shops (up to 18’ total frontage); Class 2 – Larger Shops (over 18’ total frontage); Class 3 – Florists & Hairdressers; and Class 4 – Charity Shops. Entry forms may be downloaded here; the final deadline for entries is Monday, 5th December 2016, with judging due to take place on Friday, 9th December and presentation of trophies at Hatchers Solicitors on Friday, 16th December.

Shrewsbury Business Chamber has been representing businesses in the Shrewsbury area since 1903, and has a dedicated executive committee which meets every month to discuss all issues affecting business in the area. As the main platform for businesses, membership of the Chamber is open to all business types in and around Shrewsbury, and offers monthly networking events on a range of commercial topics. This competition has been held by the Chamber in the town for more than twenty years.

"‘Every year we look forward to viewing the Christmas Window entries and we are always amazed by the imagination and thought that goes into some of them,” said Kevin Lockwood, Centre Manager for Shrewsbury Shopping Centres and Vice Chairman of Shrewsbury Chamber. “I’m sure this year will be no exception and we look forward to seeing the imaginative ideas that the businesses come up with.”
8th November 2016

Brexit or Bremain? Shrewsbury Business Chamber holds EU Referendum debate

With media coverage hotting up for next month’s EU referendum, an additional Shrewsbury Business Chamber networking meeting/debate will ensure that Shropshire businesses and individuals get to question a panel of both ‘in’ and ‘out’ campaigners from various political, business and other sectors. The event is free for all to attend.

The debate, which will be held at 6pm next Thursday 26th May 2016 at Shrewsbury College’s Clayton Hall, will be compèred by BBC Radio Shropshire’s Eric Smith. Persuading voters to leave the EU are Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, and his 2015 UKIP election rival, Suzanne Evans; meanwhile, putting forward the case for remaining in Europe are Shropshire Business Board member and Shropshire Business Ambassador Arthur Hill, and Birmingham University Fellow in Law and contributor for the Huffington Post and New Statesman, Sam Fowles.

Members of the Chamber, local businesses and members of the public will all have a chance to put forward their questions to the panellists by e-mailing before 5pm Wednesday 25th May. Attendees at all networking events must complete registration via the Chamber’s website

“Tickets are selling fast for our debate – it’s important to know the pros and cons of both sides of the argument before the vote on 23rd June,” said Val Edwards, Chairman of Shrewsbury Business Chamber and Partner at Hatchers Solicitors. “We’re looking forward to seeing the questions that businesses and individuals want to put to the experts.”    
19th May 2016

Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Package: have your say!

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has identified Shrewsbury as an ‘urban powerhouse’ and ‘growth point’, and therefore key to the economic wellbeing of Shropshire. It also acknowledges the Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Package (SITP) as a priority project for Shropshire because of the important role transport plays in a successful economy. The SITP is a package of transport measures designed to improve the transport system in Shrewsbury and stimulate a new period of sustainable economic growth within the town and the surrounding area.

in Shrewsbury; improved pedestrian wayfinding within and around the ‘river loop’ to generate a highly accessible and connected town centre for pedestrians; and enhancements to the public realm, such as Pride Hill, Shrewsbury Square and Mardol to improve the public realm and highlight pedestrian facilities.

To secure funding for the SITP, Shropshire Council has submitted a transport business case to The Marches LEP which demonstrates how the SITP will support the delivery of long-term economic benefits and sustainable growth for Shrewsbury and the surrounding area.

Businesses and individuals have until only Tuesday, 29th March 2016 to have their say. To download a detailed PDF file about the SITP, click here. To complete the questionnaire on the Shropshire Council SITP webpage, click here and select the 'How to get involved' tab.
16th February 2016

Extended deadline for our Christmas shop window competition

Shrewsbury Business Chamber and Shropshire Newspapers are pleased to announce the launch of their annual free-to-enter Christmas Shop Window Competition, for which the theme is ‘Festive Christmas’. This year, a fifth trophy sponsored by Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID), will be awarded for a brand new category – the ‘People’s Award’ – in addition to the traditional four.

Entries are sought for all categories: Class 1 – Smaller Shops (up to 18’ total frontage); Class 2 – Larger Shops (over 18’ total frontage); Class 3 – Florists & Hairdressers; Class 4 – Charity Shops; and the new Class 5 – People’s Award, where members of the public are invited to choose their favourite window display from photographs shared by local businesses on the BID website. Vote by clicking here from Tuesday 1st-Friday 4th December 2015.

Entry forms may be downloaded here; the final deadline for entries is now 12pm Monday 30th November 2015, with judging scheduled for Classes 1 to 4 on Friday 4th December. Judging for the People’s Award will take place 1st-4th December via

Shrewsbury Business Chamber has been representing businesses in the Shrewsbury area since 1903, and has a dedicated executive committee which meets every month to discuss all issues affecting business in the area. As the main platform for businesses, membership of the Chamber is open to all business types in and around Shrewsbury, and offers monthly networking events on a range of commercial topics. This competition has been held by the Chamber in the town for more than twenty years.

The mission of Shrewsbury BID is to improve the town centre in line with the priorities of the town’s business community, for the benefit of the many people that visit, live, work and invest in the town. Its priorities are marketing and promotion, access and car parking, backing business, and drive and direction.

"The annual Christmas competition is an opportunity to celebrate the creative talents of Shrewsbury’s retailers,” said Kirsten Henly, Shrewsbury BID Manager. “We’re delighted to be supporting the new award, which will encourage people to participate by voting for their favourite display.”
November 2015

Salop Design & Engineering wins prestigious award

Shrewsbury Business Chamber member Salop Design & Engineering was recently presented with the 2015 Shropshire Business Award for Manufacturing Excellence. This award is for a manufacturing company or plant that best demonstrates a continuous improvement to achieve world-class manufacturing standards.

Salop Design & Engineering is a privately-owned company, based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. All of its manufacturing activities take place in its modern, purpose-built factory situated on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. Currently employing up to 100 members of staff, Salop Design & Engineering specialises in the production of metal pressings and assemblies which are manufactured for a wide variety of marketplaces.

The Company has been in existence for nearly 50 years, and has built up an enviable reputation for quality metal pressings and assemblies supplied to the automotive and non-automotive industries in the UK, and also currently exporting to Germany, Americas and Brazil.
July 2015

Salop Leisure hosts Chamber's summer networking eve/ barbecue

Shrewsbury Business Chamber members, businesses and the public are again invited to a free summer networking event/barbecue at Salop Leisure’s 18-acre caravan showroom and specialist plant centre Love Plants near Emstrey Island, Shrewsbury at 6pm on Wednesday, 22nd July 2015. Last year's successful event (see pics) attracted over 50 guests, with this year's set to do the same.

The aim of the event is to provide local businesses with information on the value of tourism within Shrewsbury and Shropshire. It will also provide a great informal networking opportunity for business people from companies large and small in Shrewsbury and the surrounding area.

Salop Leisure has been a member of Shrewsbury Business Chamber for many years, as well as having been actively involved in the Chamber’s Executive Committee. ‘Love Plants’, the company’s specialist plant centre which was opened just over two years ago, took Salop Leisure’s investment in its company’s headquarters to £10 million in just over six years. The previous year, the company opened a £1 million 11-acre holiday home village and secure caravan storage facility, and saw the opening of a five-pitch park for touring caravans, motorhomes and campers.

Click here to register for the summer networking event, and to register for August's Shrewsbury Flower Show breakfast and September's AGM networking events.
July 2015

Chamber networking meetings include hustings event

With an imminent general election in mind, one of Shrewsbury Business Chamber’s upcoming business networking meetings will ensure that local businesses, large and small, will get the unique opportunity to ask all four parliamentary candidates for Shrewsbury & Atcham how they propose to support the economy in both the constituency and the wider Shropshire area.

Shrewsbury Business Chamber has announced the dates for its first monthly networking meetings of 2015, and the hustings event due to be held at 6pm on Wednesday 18th March, at Shrewsbury College’s Clayton Hall, will be compered by Chamber member Jim Hawkins (pictured above) of Radio Shropshire. The Shrewsbury & Atcham parliamentary candidates already confirmed to take part are Emma Bullard (Green), Dr Laura Davies (Labour), Suzanne Evans (Deputy Chairman of UKIP), Daniel Kawczynski (current MP, Conservative) and Christine Tinker (Liberal Democrat). Members of the Chamber will have a chance to put forward their questions just before the event.

The Chamber’s first networking meeting of the year, meanwhile, will take place at Origins Restaurant, London Road, Shrewsbury at 6pm on 21st January, where the theme is the work of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Graham Wynn OBE will talk about the LEP, which works closely with Herefordshire Council, Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council, as well as Chambers of Commerce and other LEPs, to maximise opportunities for Marches' businesses.

The theme for the next meeting, to be held on Wednesday 18th February, also at Origins, will be ‘The Strategy for Shrewsbury Transport’, featuring presentations from Shropshire Council’s Cllr Claire Wild and Chris Edwards.

Attendees at all events must complete registration, currently free, via the Chamber’s website, or by contacting Val Povall on 01939 236001 (e-mail

“We’re very excited about this opportunity for local businesses to talk to all of the town’s parliamentary candidates before May’s general election,” said Kevin Lockwood, Deputy Chairman of Shrewsbury Business Chamber and Manager of Shrewsbury Shopping Centres. “Our networking evenings have attracted an ever-increasing number of attendees, with our membership boosted as a result.”
8th January 2015

Direct rail service to increase London business enquiries

With only a few weeks to go (Sunday 13th December 2014) until the capital is reconnected to Shrewsbury via the Virgin Trains direct service, Shrewsbury Business Chamber predicts an increase in enquiries from London-based companies wishing to do business in Shropshire. The weekday service to London will depart Shrewsbury twice daily at 6.39am and 3.24pm, while the service to Shropshire from the capital will depart at 10.23am and 6.23pm.

Business users, students and commuters should also enjoy significant improvements on the new service, including superfast, uninterrupted Wi-Fi and additional seats, as promised by Virgin earlier this year. Trains to and from Shrewsbury will stop at Telford Central, Wellington, Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, Coventry and Rugby. Operated by Arriva Trains Wales, the magnificent early Victorian Shrewsbury Railway Station also serves as a hub for a number of significant rail services from Wales, including Holyhead, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Wrexham.

The new service is the result of a 4,000-name petition promoted by the Shropshire Star calling for the service to Shrewsbury to be restarted after it ceased almost four years ago, as well as lobbying by Shrewsbury Business Chamber and a number of other like-minded organisations and individuals.
“The new direct service will provide a significant business and tourism boost to our town,” said Tony Bywater. “London is no longer cut off and can now see that Shrewsbury is open for business – come and see what we can offer!”
20th November 2014

Chamber member Cooper Green Pooks sponsors student

Shrewsbury Business Chamber member Cooper Green Pooks has rewarded the work of a student from Shrewsbury College of Arts & Technology with a cheque for £100 towards his course equipment/materials. Jamie Burgoyne, a Level 3 Creative Media student, has created a portfolio of photographs for use not only by one of the town’s leading firms of surveyors and estate agents, but also for the Business Chamber’s new web site (see Gallery).

Jamie’s portfolio is comprised of photographs of business parks and town centre properties, incorporating photography and Photoshop techniques taught at the College; some of them can be seen on the Gallery page of, while others will be used by Cooper Green Pooks in their reports and marketing materials. The Level 3 Creative Media course, which is oversubscribed again this year, teaches students skills in video editing, computer animation, filming, graphic design as well as photography.

Cooper Green Pooks are a Shrewsbury-based property consultancy, regulated by the RICS, dealing with commercial and residential sales and lettings, property management and associated professional work primarily in the Shropshire and Mid-Wales area but also throughout the UK.
“It took several months to complete the portfolio, due to the bad weather we had earlier in the year,” said student Jamie Burgoyne. “But it was really good to make use of some of the techniques I’ve been taught for a portfolio that will actually be used in industry.”

“We’re very pleased with the results of Jamie’s work,” said Charles Howell, partner with Cooper Green Pooks. “He obviously spent a lot of time, going beyond his original brief, and we’ve now some very useful pictures for use by our marketing department.”
October 2014

Bench dedicated to former chairman Graham Galliers

Recently, Shrewsbury Business Chamber colleagues and friends braved the April showers at the unveiling of a bench dedicated to our former chairman, Shrewsbury businessman the late Graham Galliers, near the Quantum Leap statue on the banks of the Severn.

We were joined by members of the Shrewsbury River Festival organising committee, of which Graham was also a very active founding member.
5th May 2014

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