The Business


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’s 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 ‘gogetting’, ‘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 UK’s top 2% for job creation Exeter has outperformed most rivals. Bridgwater’s results are impressive too. By 2012 Sedgemoor had surged into the top 35 districts for business based growth.

It’s time to mastermind Taunton Deane’s renaissance. 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 that. To meet the challenge, top employers led by Dr John Newton, Head of Taunton School, have formed TauntonForward, a non-political team set on bringing together Taunton’s best brains. TauntonForward 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 deliver. We need your support. Join us! February 2014

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 nighttime 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.

Our Mission

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. TauntonForward 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. TauntonForward’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, Vicechairman; Kit Chapman; Habib Farbahi; Jefferson Horsley; Lizzie James and Peter Lewis.


 Dr. John Newton, Headmaster, Taunton
School - TauntonForward Chairman

 Lizzie James, Director, LJ Assist  Peter Lewis, Trustee, Music on the Quantocks  Chris Marrow, Chair, LEP Business Forum,

 Richard Haste, Partner, Amicus Law –
TauntonForward Vice-chairman

 Chris Alcock, Headmaster, Queen’s College  Keith Bigwood, Proprietor, Bigwoods Agri
Ltd, Walford Cross

 Andrew Maynard, Partner, Alder King  Paul Munro, Regional Director, Galliford Try
Partnerships South West

 Guy Bottard, Future Law Ltd; Chairman,
Taunton Town Centre Company

 Rory O'Donnell, Partner, Dixon Walsh

 Kit Chapman MBE, Proprietor, The Castle at

 Barbara Richardson, Director, Yarlington

 Douglas Cordeaux, Chief Executive, Fox
Brothers, Wellington

 Rebecca Pow, Prospective Conservative
candidate for Taunton Deane constituency

 Cllr Habib Farbahi, TDBC LibDems, Shadow
Economic Development portfolio

 Cllr Mike Rigby, Independent Somerset
County Councillor, Lydeard Division

 Michael Finn, Owner, Wellington Motors  Sidney French, Proprietor, Charles French &
Son, Farmers & Property Developers

 Chris Tester, Local Director, Debenhams  Tony Wardell, former CEO, Swallowfield  Simon Willetts, Owner, Combers Taunton  Chris Winter, Managing Director, Summerfield
Developments (SW) Ltd

 Brian Haimes, Owner, Scotsgrove Holdings  Cllr Jefferson Horsley, LibDems Leader,
Taunton Deane Borough Council February 2014

Your Return

on Investment
TauntonForward needs your membership. We need your investment in time, knowledge and money. Above all, we need your ideas to drive Taunton Deane forward. You decide the amount of time you invest. If you are unable to play an active part either at TauntonForward meetings or regular planning and networking events, you are free to pick-up the phone at any time to feed-in your ideas to our Executive Team. The sum you contribute to TauntonForward’s working capital depends on your ability to pay. We use a sliding scale of annual fees because we want membership to be inclusive – open to small and large employers and to individuals. Membership fees are set out in the table below. To join us please email Dr John Newton:

By becoming a member of Taunton Deane’s taskforce of ‘all the talents’ you will be in good company. Our members include many leading employers and some of the best brains and the most influential people in the area. As a member your views will be heard and are more likely to carry weight when shared and backed by a membership of such high calibre. We will provide ample opportunities for you to build your business profile among members, including frequent networking events, newsletters and a ‘members only’ area on our website (under construction). We will also organise regular promotional events to help your business grow. Our first, in February 2014, is a Retail Masterclass by Rowland Gee, retired Chief Executive of Moss Bros Group plc. Rowland is an inspirational speaker and his masterclasses are much in demand throughout the UK.

Individuals Employers £50 full-time employed £25 retired / student £125 turnover under £250k £250 turnover between £250k and £500k £1,000 turnover between £500k and £1m £2,000 turnover between £1m and £5m £2,500 turnover above £5m
Payment: Cheques should be made payable to “TauntonForward” and sent to: Richard Haste, Partner, Amicus Law, Rumwell Hall, Rumwell, Taunton, Somerset TA4 1EL (Tel: 01823 462500) February 2014

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