Westcombe’s a real success story

Cllr John Holdich
Cllr John Holdich
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It gave me great pleasure this week to see Westcombe Engineering given national recognition in this year’s Parliamentary Review, writes Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich.

The Parliamentary Review showcases best practice that has been seen in the public and private sector in the past year.

Westcombe Engineering has given disabled people in Peterborough active employment opportunities since it launched in 1970 and is one of the city’s big innovation success stories - a precision engineering specialist with a difference. As well as creating machined components for a wide range of industries, it also equips disabled workers with the skills needed to pursue careers in the wider economy.

It has seen sales over the last two years rise by 40 per cent and it has significantly expanded its customer base.

This council-owned business is a great example of what companies can achieve when they place corporate social responsibility at the heart of everything they do.

Key to its success are its skilled, committed and loyal workforce, which gain as much from the business as what they bring to it. This two-way mutually beneficial relationship was something which was realised keenly by its founder, the late Royce W. Westcombe as the ideal business model and is why the business is being showcased as a national example of best practice.

At present it employs 20 people, 13 of which have disabilities, and it has a turnover in excess of £1.5 million.

I hope the national recognition which will come from the Parliamentary Review will persuade other employers in the UK to consider workers from a range of backgrounds for employment opportunities in the future.

I’d also like to congratulate St John Fisher Catholic High School which was also featured in the Parliamentary Review. It highlights the transformation that has taken place in recent years, which now sees the school consistently performing well, especially at GCSE level.

It’s fantastic these local success stories are being recognised as deserving of the national stage.

Tonight (Thursday 28 September) I will be attending the Opportunity Peterborough Bondholder Dinner. Highly regarded as the city’s premier business event it is once again sold out.

It is again being held at Peterborough Cathedral and will see almost 500 top businessmen and women from across the city discuss future opportunities coming up in Peterborough.

So far 2017 has been another great year for attracting new businesses, and jobs, to the city.

Peterborough has already been highlighted nationally as one of the best places to invest in retail and we have seen Middletons Steakhouse and Grill open its doors to the public earlier this month.

Other new ventures coming to the city include Metro Bank, which opens this week. Also, Joules Clothing and stationery retailer Smiggle which will occupy the former BHS site in Queensgate.

Further recent good news includes an £18million investment in the city by garden products retailer, Smart Gardens Products.

Sticking with the business theme, another important development taking place is of course, Fletton Quays.

Cabinet approved the decision on Monday to loan up to £15m to developers over the course of two years to accelerate the construction of the hotel.

The entire Fletton Quays development is a vital regeneration site for the city and something which will benefit the city both in the short and long term.

The loan, which will be repaid in full with interest in two years time, will also generate much- needed income for the city council at a time when our Government funding continues to plummet. It’s my view that anything we can do to create additional income for essential council services can only be welcomed.