Business - Page 164

Business stories in and around Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Niche law firm recognised as leader in its field

Andrew MeehanA niche family law firm that launched in Harrogate last year is to be officially recognised as a leader in its field in one of the legal profession’s most prominent guides this autumn.

Chambers UK, an independent guide to the legal profession, lists Harrogate Family Law as one of the Leaders in their Field in the 2012 edition of the publication which is launched in October.

The firm’s ranking position in the field of family law will be revealed in October. Rankings are assessed on criteria that include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service and commercial awareness.

Lawyer Andrew Meehan, who founded the firm, was named in last year’s Chambers UK edition as Yorkshire’s up and coming family lawyer.

He welcomed the news that one of Harrogate’s newest firms had been recognised so prominently.

Andrew Meehan:

Chambers researchers speak extensively to lawyers and clients when compiling their guide so a listing like this for a firm in its first year of operation is highly significant

We have just been told by Chambers that we will have recommended lawyers and firm rankings in the field of family/matrimonial in the forthcoming edition but we will have to wait until publication to find out exactly how we rank against other recommended law firms in the region.

Exciting role for Solicitor at Harrogate Town FC


Harrogate Town Football Club has appointed a Partner from Yorkshire’s leading sports law practice as an Associate Director.

Richard Crabb of McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate was involved in the negotiations which saw Irving Weaver take over ownership of the club from Bill Fotherby in June. Mr Weaver has now invited Richard to join the directors to help steer Harrogate Town to future success.

Irving Weaver, Simon Weaver and Richard Crabb


Richard, who is part of the team headed by Senior Partner Peter McCormick advising the Premier League, advises the Ryman League, a regional league covering London and the South East, as well as Northern Premier League clubs. His background in football dates back still further to when he played as a junior with Harrogate Railway and Knaresborough Town before captaining Durham University Football Club.

He said: “I’m thrilled to be asked to work with Irving, manager Simon Weaver and the wider team at Harrogate Town FC. The Club has ambitious yet sensible plans to grow both on the field and off it as part of the wider community and I believe it has the team in place to achieve this.”

Irving Weaver said: “I am delighted that Richard has taken up the challenge to join the leadership of Harrogate Town AFC. As a Partner of McCormicks, the experience in football through the Premier and other established Leagues, legal prowess and business connections will add great value to the management team.”

The AA expands its fleet compliance portfolio with Harrogate acquisition

AA DriveTech, part of the AA Group, announced today that it has purchased Intelligent Data Systems, based in Pannal near Harrogate, a leading provider of driver risk management products and services; the purchase price has not been released.

Intelligent Data Systems provides a suite of online management tools allowing those who manage both company-owned and employee-owned vehicles to have detailed, consolidated information about both drivers and vehicles, allowing them to meet their duty of care obligations with the minimum of effort.

Specifically, Intelligent Data Systems delivers:

  •  Driver licence verification services
  •  Insurance and MOT verification services
  •  Company-owned vehicle driver risk management data
  •  Employee-owned (grey fleet)vehicle driver risk management data

The company will continue to trade as a separate legal entity while becoming a trading operation within the AA DriveTech business. Jonathan Jerome, Commercial Director at Intelligent Data Systems will join the AA DriveTech Management team and oversee the integration of the company into AA DriveTech. Mike Routledge and Ben Liddicott will remain in their respective posts of Sales & Marketing Director and IT & Systems Director within Intelligent Data Systems.

Jonathan Jerome of Intelligent Data Systems commented, “Having worked very closely with the AA for a number of years, we’re delighted to be joining the AA family which will underpin our growth and provide access to resources to expand on our existing market leadership position. We have also been very innovative in the ‘grey fleet’ arena and see many opportunities to offer our services to AA DriveTech’s customers and vice versa. It’s very much ‘business as usual’ as our customers will continue to deal with the same teams and people as they always have; this was a particularly important element of the deal for the Directors and management team at Intelligent Data Systems”.

Commenting on the acquisition, AA DriveTech MD Jim Kirkwood said, “This deal is all about outstanding strategic fit and expansion of our duty of care portfolio. By combining both company’s existing market positions as well as our complementary technologies, we believe we can significantly grow both businesses in the short and long term. It also strengthens our ability to deliver technology-based solutions to the fleet risk sector and improves our reach in the North of England”.

Grant Thornton, led by head of North East corporate finance Ian Marwood, advised the shareholders of Intelligent Data Systems alongside a team of lawyers from Yorkshire law firm Gordons, led by partner James Fawcett.


AA DriveTech

AA DriveTech is the commercial driver training arm of the AA. Previously DriveTech (UK) plc, the company became part of the AA Group in 2010. ( )

AA DriveTech annually re-trains over 23,000 employees of various organisations who drive for work purposes through its FleetSafe division

It provides many types of risk management services for business drivers, such as online and in-vehicle driver risk assessments, group workshops, driver licence checking and ‘permit to drive’ programmes

The company also provides specialist DriverCPC courses for coach, bus and truck drivers as well as motorcycle defensive riding courses

Through its DriverAware division AA DriveTech provides 41 different driver education programmes for offenders on behalf of 14 different UK police forces

In total over the past two years well over 300,000 UK drivers have attended some form of AA DriveTech course

Intelligent Data Systems

Intelligent Data Systems (UK) Limited was formed in 2003 and is headquartered in Harrogate. ( )

Market leading provider of driver risk management services including electronic driver entitlement checking services (EDECS) via the DVLA.

The customer base of Intelligent Data Systems includes a significant number of blue-chip clients supported by both direct and indirect sales channels

The focus of Intelligent Data Systems is on innovative technology combined with outstanding customer service and quality.

Bruce heads Clean Energy Yorkshire’s sales team

One of the region’s fastest growing renewable energy companies has appointed a UK Head of Sales.

Bruce Blackburn, whose sales experience spans more than three decades, will lead Harrogate-based Clean Energy Yorkshire’s increasing sales force as it looks to expand nationwide.

The company, which was started by husband and wife team Spencer and Tamsin Cassidy in 2008, employs in excess of 25 people and recently re-located its head office to Pannal Business Park, on the edge of the spa town.

Clean Energy Yorkshire specialises in supplying and installing solar panels, ground source heat pumps, turbines and solar hot water systems.

Managing Director Spencer Cassidy said: “Bruce is an extremely focused and driven professional with a hugely successful career in sales under his belt.

“He is also passionate about renewable energy, which made him the perfect candidate to lead and grow our sales force, and promote the Clean Energy Yorkshire brand, products and services beyond the Yorkshire region.”

Bruce said: “Clean Energy Yorkshire is a leading renewable energy company which prides itself on being a family company run on family values.

“My position is a very challenging one, but I’m looking forward to leading Clean Energy Yorkshire’s push beyond the region, and helping the company establish itself as a national name in renewable energy solutions.”



8,000 visits to Harrogate’s older people

Bluebird Care gives Harrogate’s older people a year of independence in their own homes

More than 8,000 care visits were made to older people in Harrogate in just one year, following the launch of care-at-home support services from Bluebird Care.

After 12 months in operation the Bluebird Care team, whose territory covers the whole of the Harrogate District, now supplies care workers to more than 30 customers all of whom live independently in their own homes thanks to the help and support provided.

Bluebird Care has also brought many new jobs to the Harrogate area with the payroll growing from just two people, when it launched in August 2010, to more than 15 local employees, many of whom are new to the caring profession.

The Harrogate operation was established by James & Maggie Poole, a husband & wife team who until recently were running a Residential Care home in the Wirral, but wished to return to their beloved North Yorkshire.

As well as the challenge of starting an organisation just at a time when local authority budgets came under threat, the Bluebird Care team also faced one of the most severe winters on record. However, the resourceful team overcame the weather by pulling together to ensure all their scheduled calls were made to vulnerable customers stranded by the icy conditions.

James Said: “There were many mornings during the winter when we were building up the team numbers, where I would have to drive my wife and one year old daughter out to very rural areas to make sure visits were done and customers weren’t let down. It was minus nine some mornings but my wife and daughter are resilient and own very warm woolly hats; we got through it”.

As a result of this kind of reliability, their reputation for delivering high standards of care at-home has grown, along with their customer list.

For James Poole, Bluebird Care is all about the people: “Our first customer was Ellen who last year celebrated her 95th birthday and is living independently with assistance from our Bluebird Care team. She is just one of many examples of older people in Harrogate who are able to continue living happily and safely in their own homes because of our services”.

Maggie Poole added: “It gives us great satisfaction not only to be able to provide care, but also offer career opportunities to local people who are equally passionate about helping others in the community.”


Harrogate designer swaps Walmart to start Architectural Business

Life became a bit uncertain for Harrogate architectural technician Paul Cowham two and a half years ago when he suddenly lost his job overnight due to the crippling economic recession.

Paul was working for a large Bradford-based shop fitting company who specialised in re-designing and re-fitting buildings for banks and building societies including the Nationwide and the Halifax – both of which were hit hard by the formidable banking crisis – but his Yorkshire employer went under along with hundreds of others across the UK.

But 30 months on the talented father-of-one has emerged from redundancy and the doom and gloom of recession and is feeling enthusiastic about life after recently joining one of the Harrogate district’s most fledgling young businesses.

Paul, 40, of Hutton Gate, Harrogate, has recently become director of Knaresborough-based AA Architecture Services – an offshoot company of the already established AA Office Services Ltd who provide office refurbishment, re-fit, maintenance and removals to commercial premises across Yorkshire and beyond.

He is offering a full portfolio of architectural services to complement AA Office Services’ existing resources ranging from surveys, design and local authority approval and, despite only trading two months, he already has a long list of blue chip clients on his books.

“Alex Adamson, who set up AA Office Services, approached me because we knew each other through a mutual friend and we discussed the prospect of me joining the company as its design specialist and director of a newly envisaged AA Architecture,” said Paul.

“After suddenly being let go in December 2008 with no pay out I fortunately found employment with a Bradford-based building contractor, where I designed internet shopping extensions for ASDA stores across the country for two years, but I decided now was the time to go self-employed and make the jump.

“So far I couldn’t be happier and the work coming in is varied too and I feel I can put my own design flair on things again now rather than rolling out similar schemes for the same client.

“For example I’ve just returned from Puerto Benus where I’m drawing up some designs for a client wanting to renovate and extend a derelict three bed Spanish villa – I can’t complain at work out in the sun like that now can I!”

Paul’s jump into the world of self-employment has meant he can now focus on doing the design work he ultimately feels passionate and inspired about.

“In my very early days as an architectural technician when I worked for Jackson & Calvert Architects in Harrogate I worked on some exciting and inspiring projects including the Henshaws Society for Blind arts and crafts centre in Knaresborough and Morrisons in Harrogate where the entrance was designed to mimic the historic Pump Museum,” said Paul.

“I also helped design a lot of million pound plus projects on the Hornbeam Park business estate including the current Kindercare nursery building and what was Cannons health club, now Nuffield, which really used to motivate me.

“I envisage heading up AA Architecture as being a way to allow me to do this sort of varied design work once again rather than rolling out the same scheme for the same client as I did when I worked for the Bradford firms dealing with the banks and massive corporate outlets like Walmart.

“It’s a new beginning and who knows where we’ll be in two years time. I think the AA group will certainly be expanding and getting a lot more clients over the next 24 months because we’re competitively priced, passionate, friendly and we go the extra mile for our clients.”


Boost for Dales as Harrogate care firm expands

Bespoke home care is available for the first time to the elderly or disabled living in far-flung communities in rural North Yorkshire following the expansion of a Harrogate-based business.

Continued Care officially opened its newest offices on Settle’s Commercial Yard last week, creating seven new jobs.

A team of carers are now available to those who would otherwise struggle on their own, offering whatever level of support is required to allow them to remain at home.

Services offered include personal care, help with meal preparation medication, cleaning, ironing and shopping, night time and even live-in support.

However, the company consults each customer to develop a unique package – whether it’s help with the internet, a handyman service, a companion for short breaks and holidays or trips to family or social events.

Samantha Harrison (centre) and Christine Mitchell (second from left) join staff at the new offices of Continued Care to welcome special guest and Mayor of Settle, Coun Ian Robinson

Mayor of Settle, Coun Ian Robinson, representatives from North Yorkshire County Council’s social services team and members of the business community were among the guests at the official launch.

“This sort of service is becoming more important with an increase in the aging population – particularly in the rural areas away from the main conurbations like Leeds and Bradford,” said Coun Robinson.

“There isn’t anything else like this in the area at the moment so it could be vital in giving people the confidence to stay at home for longer.

“We have to acknowledge the Dales are popular with people looking for somewhere to retire so the need is likely to be sustained in years to come. We’re delighted to welcome the business to Settle.”

Continued Care from Oakville, run by mother and daughter Christine Mitchell and Samantha Harrison – both qualified nurses – has its head office in Harrogate. Christine also owns and manages the Oakville Park Care Home on the town’s Duchy Road.

Samantha said Settle seemed a natural choice for expansion after a “field trip” to study the levels of home support available in the Dales.

“We had only stopped in Settle for a cup of coffee but got talking to the owner of the café who said there wasn’t really anyone offering the sort of services we supply,” said Samantha.

“After that, we decided we’d investigate available office space but it was so easy to find our new base at Commercial Yard, it almost felt like fate.

“We’re definitely here for good; everyone has been so welcoming and we’re very much looking forward to a long and happy relationship with the Dales community.”


Forget properties with room for a pony – room for a Helicopter too!

When it comes to tempting prospective “upwardly mobile” tenants with properties boasting room for a pony, leading Yorkshire letting specialists Linley & Simpson have gone one better.

For the Wetherby branch has taken instructions for two homes which come with the added benefit of private helicopter landing pads!

Whilst the Wetherby team manage hundreds of properties, this is the first time any have come with this feature. And, as if to prove a point, the owner of one of the properties – a barn conversion near Tadcaster, arrived by air!

Branch Manager Emily Wilkinson said: “This is a first for Linley & Simpson’s Wetherby branch and having two properties boasting private helicopter landing pads is a very exciting prospect.

“Both homes are very different in character and will appeal to a wide range of clients – in particular those looking for something that will set them apart from their neighbours.

“In addition to room for a helicopter, the property near Tadcaster has room for a pony too!

“Having a helicopter land in front of your house is certainly a talking point around the dinner table! However, for those not looking for a helicopter landing pad, we have plenty of properties for tenants to choose from with prices starting from as little as £400 a month.”


Businesses asked to support the Harrogate Christmas Lights

Harrogate at Christmas, the group that is responsible for providing the superb Christmas lights in Harrogate, had a successful start to its fund raising campaign.

Last Friday the group linked up with local radio station strayfm for a live broadcast and all day appeal featuring ‘How Big Is Your Bauble?’ where businesses and residents phoned in to pledge money for the Christmas lights.

Cllr John Fox said “The initiative is to encourage people to stay and shop in Harrogate this Christmas rather than going to Leeds or York. The Christmas lights are not just about making the town attractive, they will also add vital economic value in keeping shoppers here”.

Harrogate Borough Council contributed £10,000 but this has to be match funded.

Cllr John Fox, Chairman of the Harrogate at Christmas Group said “ Our aim was to raise £20,000 towards our budget of £27,000. At the end of the day over £22,510.00 was pledged. It is a fantastic achievement by the Harrogate community in these hard economic times”.

Anyone who wishes to contribute can send their donation to Harrogate at Christmas, PO Box 8, Harrogate HG2 8XB.


Harrogate Spa inspires a new drink set to ‘chillax’ the country


A local entrepreneur has captured the essence of Harrogate Spa town in a unique, new, natural soft drink and mixer which is launching across the country in a selection of shops and bars, promoting the ethos of ‘relaxed drinking’ inline with the chilled out atmosphere of Harrogate’s many bars and clubs.

Having spent 5 years in Dubai as a property investor, Ray Averre moved to Copgrove, Harrogate with his wife and two children to retire in a relaxing, yet vibrant town. Hit by the concept of Harrogate Spa water, Ray decided there was a gap in the market for a natural, low calorie drink to take the edge off today’s hectic lifestyle.

Two years in the making and developed by the UK’s top blend house, Chillax is a natural mixer, made with a unique combination of ingredients including Rosehip, Hibiscus and Passionflower. Drunk alone, or mixed with spirits, at just 17 calories it is the most slim-line mixer on the market, and provides 30% RDA of Vitamin C, E, B6 and B12.

Ray said: “Harrogate has lots of lovely places to eat and drink and tranquil areas like The Stray which inspired my thought process behind Chillax. I’ve created a drink that people can sit back with and leisurely enjoy at their own pace and Harrogate is a town that can appreciate a need for that.”

Chillax is stocked at Oracle in Leeds and Ray is currently in talks with bars across Yorkshire, many of whom are interested in stocking locally sourced products.

Ray said: “We’re excited to be launching Chillax in Yorkshire first, before going nationwide as there is such a great nightlife across the cities and towns here. There is also a really great chilled out vibe in the music scene and we want to bottle this and then help spread it nationwide. Our ultimate aim is to get people to enjoy their time off more, helping them to unwind and relax, rather than ramp up their energy levels, when they have a drink”.

In a bid to slow down the tempo and learn a few tricks from our International neighbours Chillax has also launched a cocktail competition, where facebook fans submit Chillax cocktail ideas, for the chance for theirs to be created and added to the summer menu.

To find out more, or get involved visit


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