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The Business Case for TauntonForward (February 2014)

The Business Case for TauntonForward (February 2014)

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Published by Mike Rigby
TauntonForward is a taskforce of businesses, employers and talented individuals determined to transform Taunton Deane into the prime regional centre for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment.
TauntonForward is a taskforce of businesses, employers and talented individuals determined to transform Taunton Deane into the prime regional centre for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment.

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Published by: Mike Rigby on Mar 04, 2014
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February 2014
TauntonForward is a taskforce of businesses, employers and talented individuals determined to transform Taunton Deane into the prime regional centre for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment.
A central location in the West of England, excellent air, road and rail links, prime development land, a great place to live, glorious countryside, the finest schools, excellent healthcare, world-class cricket
 With assets like these Taunton Deane should have an unbeatable competitive edge. Yet we have failed to capitalise. Held back by a parochial market town mentality, we are losing the fight for major inward investment and new jobs. Instead of being one of the South West
success stories, Taunton is now second best to Exeter, Bridgwater and Weston super Mare. Unlike Taunton, and in spite of the great recession, all are booming thanks to
a ‘go
‘can do’
attitude towards investors. The private sector is playing a huge part in driving Exeter forward. Using the
slogan ‘open for business’
, an impressive entrepreneurial team markets the city with stunning results. In reaching the
top 2% for job creation Exeter has outperformed most rivals.
Bridgwater’s r
esults are impressive too. By 2012 Sedgemoor had surged into the top 35 districts for business based growth.
Taunton Deane must change fast to fight back. Above all, we must act quickly to attract skilled, better paid jobs not only to encourage the brightest members of the existing workforce to invest their futures here, but also to bring more people like them to the area. Equally, more residents must be persuaded to spend more of their earnings locally. Too many shop elsewhere drawn away by a superior retail offer and experience. Taunton
’s night
-time economy is poor for the same reasons. The need for change is urgent. Within 15 years
Taunton’s population is planned to grow to
85,000 (a 30% increase) with the addition of 13,000 new homes. Nearby towns and districts will also grow substantially.
It’s time
to mastermind Taunton
It’s time for Taunton to think like a city, Somerset’s ‘capital city’.
 Taunton must be proactively marketed to investors around the world, as dynamically, as professionally as our competitors. In the West Country, all roads lead to Taunton. We should be the vibrant economic and cultural hub for the region between Bristol and Plymouth. We should be a prime UK destination for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment. Within ten to 15 years Taunton could be transformed by imaginative projects such as:
an iconic, architectural landmark building on the Firepool or Coal Orchard sites.
a redeveloped River Tone waterfront.
a 1,000-seat venue for arts, entertainment, exhibitions and conferences.
an international arts festival.
a private university or a campus associated with an established university.
Taunton Deane Borough Council cannot be expected to have the resources, the people, the entrepreneurial flair, the dynamism, the drive to
spearhead Taunton’s renaissance
Only a taskforce of ‘all the talents’ can do t
hat. To meet the challenge, top employers led by Dr John Newton, Head of Taunton School, have formed
a non-political team set
on bringing together Taunton’s best brains.
 is not a
talking shop
 and our members will have a stake and a major say in shaping policy and decision-making. We aim to build a membership of 300 local businesses and individuals
 a force that will be highly influential and have real credibility.
This is no time for apathy. It’s time to
get involved, to get together.
It’s time to
We need your support.  Join us!
February 2014
Our mission is to
transform Taunton
. Our vision is for Taunton Deane to be the prime regional centre for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment. Taunton
 will be action-oriented. Our core business will be to identify imaginative short and long-term projects to boost Taunton
Deane’s economy and
 to improve
the area’s
appeal for businesses, shoppers and visitors. Working collaboratively with the public sector, employers and investors we will find the resources and the developers to deliver these projects within the next ten years. Throughout, we will market Taunton nationally and internationally competing aggressively for every new job and every pound of inward investment.
The need for a taskforce was first discussed in 2013 when a group of leading business people and local councillors met to discuss Taunton
Deane’s future.
 All shared the widely held frustration that Taunton is stuck in a state of economic inertia, a malaise and parochial mindset that is eroding its competitive edge. Taunton
’s first meeting
 was held at The Castle Hotel on 26th September 2013. The 25
founding members
 are listed below. Members serving on the
Executive Team
 are: Dr. John Newton, Chairman; Richard Haste, Vice-chairman; Kit Chapman; Habib Farbahi; Jefferson Horsley; Lizzie James and Peter Lewis.
Dr. John Newton
Headmaster, Taunton School -
Richard Haste
Partner, Amicus Law 
Chris Alcock
Headmaster, Queen
s College
Keith Bigwood
Proprietor, Bigwoods Agri Ltd, Walford Cross
Guy Bottard
Future Law Ltd; Chairman, Taunton Town Centre Company 
Kit Chapman
Proprietor, The Castle at Taunton
Douglas Cordeaux
Chief Executive, Fox Brothers, Wellington
Cllr Habib Farbahi
TDBC LibDems, Shadow Economic Development portfolio
Michael Finn
Owner, Wellington Motors
Sidney French
Proprietor, Charles French & Son, Farmers & Property Developers
Brian Haimes
Owner, Scotsgrove Holdings
Cllr Jefferson Horsley
LibDems Leader, Taunton Deane Borough Council 
Lizzie James
Director, LJ Assist 
Peter Lewis
Trustee, Music on the Quantocks
Chris Marrow
Chair, LEP Business Forum, Wellington
Andrew Maynard
Partner, Alder King 
Paul Munro
Regional Director, Galliford Try Partnerships South West 
Rory O'Donnell
Partner, Dixon Walsh  Accountants
Barbara Richardson
Director, Yarlington Homes
Rebecca Pow
Prospective Conservative candidate for Taunton Deane constituency 
Cllr Mike Rigby
 , Independent Somerset County Councillor, Lydeard Division
Chris Tester
Local Director, Debenhams
Tony Wardell
CEO, Swallowfield 
Simon Willetts
Owner, Combers Taunton
Chris Winter
Managing Director, Summerfield Developments (SW) Ltd

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