Ilfracombe topics

Conservative candidates response to election questions from businesses

Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listed the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, below is the response from Conservative candidates:

  • Peter Heaton-Jones – Parliamentary candidate, North Devon
  • Paul Crabb – Ilfracombe Central ward candidate, North Devon Council
  • Paul Yabsley – Ilfracombe Central ward candidate, North Devon Council
  • Lynda Courtnadge – Ilfracombe East ward candidate, North Devon Council
  • Felix Milton – Ilfracombe West ward candidate, North Devon Council
  • Edward Short – Ilfracombe West ward candidate, North Devon Council

COMBEbusiness thanks them for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.

Conservative responses

These are the responses to the wishlist and questions put to all candidates:


We support the national campaign for a cut in VAT for accommodation businesses.  Whilst recognising that it leads to a short-term loss of revenue for the Treasury, we believe in the long term more customers would be attracted and the tax take would recover.  A sliding scale would be better than the current system. The priority must be to support our small tourism businesses which are vital to the local economy.  Peter Heaton-Jones raised this point with the Chancellor in North Devon this week.

Business Rates

We want the system to be streamlined so that every business knows when and if they have to pay anything.  There is no advice on this, unless you look into it.  A review of business rates to make them more equitable is also necessary. We also support the Chancellor’s suggestion that local authorities should be allowed to keep business rates revenue to invest specifically in the local area, and will urge the councils here to apply for this.

Bus Services

We are concerned that Devon County Council is looking at reducing bus services, although they do guarantee that nowhere that currently has a bus will be left without a service altogether.  We welcome the provision of some community services.  We would encourage all bodies involved – the councils, bus operators, passenger groups and voluntary organisations – to work together to try and ensure we get the best possible services within the financial constraints.

Business Support

We agree with all the suggestions made.  Peter Heaton-Jones is working hard with the North Devon Marketing Bureau to promote North Devon, and arranged for a government minister to launch the lorry on its tour.  More generally, he believes not enough has been done in recent years to promote North Devon as a place that’s ‘open for business’ and will use the position of MP to bang the drum more  effectively.  It’s not  just to make businesses richer, but to make sure that they can employ more people, on better wages.   District Councillors can also promote NDMB  and North Devon generally, and will of course do so.


We’re happy to look at all those options.  Following pressure from councillors, there is now a period of grace for in certain circumstances. The fact is there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for every location and we will need to look at different answers for different places.


Everyone must play their part.  In this area, we can work with One Ilfracombe.  By forging stronger links, the people of the town will have more control over cleanliness and their environment. National guide to citizenship  is an interesting idea, but we think a local version would be of more value.  We would be happy to peruse this as a possibility.

Other party responses

Click to read the responses from candidates from Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP parties.

Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe businesses’ election wishlist

On Wednesday 1 April, businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe met to raise the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address.

Below is a summary of the issues raised and some of the points made. There was a full discussion with different views expressed on issues. As can be imagined, time ran out and these are just some of the issues affecting businesses and comments made.

COMBEbusiness requests local candidates and parties to consider these questions and respond as to how they will address them.

If you encounter a candidate, ask them about any of the issues below.

Update: Responses from candidates

Click to read the responses from Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP candidates.

We will add more responses as we receive them.

Business issues

Topic: VAT

Response: national. Although councillors should be more aware of this.

A comprehensive review of VAT and how it is applied to businesses is requested due to seasonal businesses deliberately closing to avoid crossing the VAT registration threshold. Businesses reaching the threshold have to start applying VAT, where applicable, to goods/services they supply. This can mean increasing prices by up to 20% or absorbing the 20% themselves.

An example of this is bed and breakfast establishments that block off accommodation in high season. It is paradoxical that the business community is working hard to attract more visitors to the area only for some businesses having to turn down this extra custom. It is also likely that some business transactions are not being recorded for tax so that they do not count towards the threshold. The present VAT regime is limiting the growth of the economy.

Suggestions included a lower rate of VAT for new businesses or certain sectors and extending VAT to all businesses so there is a level playing field. There was also a call for a friendlier regime for small entrepreneurs, balancing efficient collection of taxes with a fairer system.

Topic: Business rates

Response: national and local

A fairer system was called for as the present system is levied on a small base of businesses that occupy business premises. The tax is calculated on the property and does not take into account either business turnover or profit. Also it does not take account of businesses that can operate from any location, such as a desk at home or a laptop on the move.

One suggestion was for a profit-related tax.

Topic: Bus services

Response: local and national

As bus routes are being cut back, councils expect community transport groups to pick up the slack, but are themselves cutting funding to these groups. For example, Ilfracombe and District Community Transport is running an evening service to/from Woolacombe for seasonal workers who need to travel to/from work but don’t have their own transport. How can these groups continue without funding?

There was also concern that councils are not overseeing the management of bus routes effectively with evening buses frequently seen to be running empty while residents in small settlements have no services at all.

It was felt that councils should be doing more to encourage travel on services, eg effective marketing, and conducting higher quality market research into residents’ travel requirements. Perhaps funding/management of rural bus services should be reassessed at a national level too.

Topic: Business support and funding

Response: national and local

Concern was expressed at how councils and public sector agencies spend funding and provide support. One example was for a work hub in Ilfracombe. It was felt that business support provided regionally, such as previous Business Link support from Bristol and now GAIN in Plymouth, is not designed with the specific needs of this area in mind and provides untargetted generic support of limited value. There was also widespread concern about the effectiveness of funding channelled through North Devon+. Keeping up with a raft of initiatives and funding schemes is difficult for businesses and agencies need to improve their communications.

The feeling was that business support should be designed from the bottom up to answer the specific needs of the local business community rather than those of agencies.

Specific requests

  • North Devon Council must support the North Devon Marketing Bureau – it is a sensible economic decision which will generate more income through theatres, museums, car parking, etc.
  • An M5 brown road sign to advertise ‘Junction 27 for North Devon and Exmoor’
  • What more will a newly elected MP do to raise national awareness of the North Devon business community?
  • What more will MP/councils do to encourage inward private sector investment?
  • More marketing of North Devon at regional hubs

Topic: Parking

Response: local

There was concern over the cost and enforcing of parking with especial concern over the aggressive attitude not only of car parking enforcement officers but also of North Devon Council when residents contact it about parking.

Specific requests

  • Assess whether current charging levels are suitable as a business opportunity.
  • Introduce a single ticket that can be used in multiple car parks.
  • Look at introducing flat-rate charging.
  • For councils to improve the behaviour of their employees to the public and change the perception of people who see Ilfracombe as a place where parking attendants are rude.

These questions are vital for the area as a tourism destination.

Topic: Environment

Response: local and national

A specific request was made about litter collection in Woolacombe after a busy day and that the council services do not meet the demands of a tourism area.

There were also general comments about dog fouling, litter dropped by families/groups and problems caused by seagulls.

Plus more comments about maintaining cleanliness of road signs.

A number of business people said that they already took action to clean/maintain signs, pick up litter etc, but there was concern about public liability and health and safety concerns from government/councils. It was felt that there is a need for light touch regulation to enable the public to take responsibility for minor tasks in their area.

There was also an expression that there should be more education of children regarding litter in schools.

Specific question

  • What more will politicians at all levels do to increase citizen involvement in maintaining the environment?
  • A national guide is needed so citizens are clear on how they can help.

This was the extent of the issues raised after a full evening of discussion. There are, no doubt, many more issues.

COMBEbusiness looks forward to receiving responses from candidates in the forthcoming elections at both a national and local level responding to the questions raised above.

Responses can be made to .

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this debate.

Mortehoe/Woolacombe employers’ views sought

A transport partnership including Jobcentre Plus and Ilfracombe Community Transport needs the views of Mortehoe and Woolacombe employers to help establish a year-round transport service for staff to travel to and from work.

For seven weeks in summer 2014, the partnership ran a seven-day-a-week late night bus service for summer seasonal staff between Mortehoe and Woolacombe and Ilfracombe. Although public transport stops at 6pm, 40% of benefits claimants looking for work rely on it, while generally employers state that, when recruiting, in 80% of cases lack of reliable transport negatively influenced their decision to offer employment. The summer pilot carried 163 passengers who sustained employment with seven employers over the seven weeks.

The partnership is looking to develop a year-round service to help more people into work and make it easier for employers to find staff who can depend on regular transport. To achieve this it needs Mortehoe and Woolacombe businesses to complete a survey at before 30 January.

Celebrate Independents’ Day on Friday 4 July

Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are seaside resorts characterised by hundreds of independent businesses striving to offer the best retail experience to both visitors and residents in North Devon. From butchers and bakers to greengrocers, delis, shoemenders as well as gift shops and galleries, there is a wealth of choice.
COMBEbusiness is encouraging independent business owners to celebrate Independents’ Day on Friday 4 July by displaying event posters and offering promotions. In Ilfracombe, The Cotton Tree is holding a sale on selected items of organic children’s clothing, while the Periwinkle Knitting Café will be offering 10% discount on wool.
While much of the community already values our independent shops and shopkeepers, our mission is to encourage more people to visit their independents on Friday 4 July and every day of the year.
• To download posters and materials for Independents Day, visit

Support local businesses on Independents’ Day

Independents Day 2014Independents’ Day is a national campaign that promotes and celebrates independent businesses across the UK on Friday 4 July 2014.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign has quickly become the voice of independent retailers to reach the local community, giving them a chance to be heard and get on people’s radar.

We want to see as many independent businesses in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe take part and as many shoppers and consumers switching to buying from local businesses.

Download and display poster

To start you can download an official Independents’ Day poster for display on shop windows or notice boards – how many posters can we get around our towns?

Tell us about you special offers/events

Tell us about any special offers you want to promote or any events you will be hosting at @combebusiness or on Facebook or Google+.

For full details, resources and to participate, visit Follow the official campaign on Twitter (@IndieDayUK and #IndieDay) and Facebook.

Mortehoe and Woolacombe transport survey for employers

Barnstaple Jobcentre Plus is working with local transport organisations to see if it can overcome some transport problems in North Devon. It has decided to look at transport issues experienced by employers in the Mortehoe and Woolacombe area to see if there is a demand for transport assistance for employees living in Ilfracombe, especially in the evenings and week ends.

To help gauge the need, please download Jobcentre Plus’ brief questionnaire and email your response back to JOHN.WILLIAMS10@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK

Barnstaple Jobcentre Plus is hoping to arrange any assistance for summer 2014 so please respond fast if this could help your business.

#CBopen4biz exhibitor: PG Print and Office Services

Meet PG Print and Office Services at OPEN FOR BUSINESS on Thursday 6 March 2014 at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, North Devon.

PG Print and Office ServicesPG Print and Office Services provides one solution for all your print and office needs to save you time and money.

With 25 years’ experience of supplying high quality products and services, you can hand over non-productive tasks with confidence so that you can concentrate on your business.

PG Print and Office Services works with customers based locally in North Devon, in the UK and Europe.

Meet PG Print and Office Services at OPEN FOR BUSINESS.


Register for free entry.


Stands available to all businesses – book your stand now.

#CBopen4biz exhibitor: Flint Hosts

Meet Flint Hosts at OPEN FOR BUSINESS on Thursday 6 March 2014 at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, North Devon.

The Flint Hosts team, Ilfracombe, North Devon #CBopen4bizFounded in 2005, Flint Hosts has become an established player in the UK hosting sector with over 4,000 domains and growing.

It focuses primarily on Cloud Managed Servers. With enterprise level security and excellent service at the heart of what we do, Flint Hosts is recognised by its clients for its dedicated support and the friendly, helpful way it goes about business.

Meet the Flint Hosts team at OPEN FOR BUSINESS.


Register for free entry.


Stands available to all businesses – book your stand now.

#CBopen4biz exhibitor: The Electric Store

Meet the Electric Store at OPEN FOR BUSINESS on Thursday 6 March 2014 at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, North Devon.

Meet the Electric Store team, Ilfracombe, North Devon at OPEN FOR BUSINESS #CBopen4bizThe Electric Store is Ilfracombe’s independent electrical retailer.

Established in Octover 2011, Jim Burrows and his team pride themselves on offering the best service by stocking the latest products at competitive prices. With combined experience of over 15 years, the Electric Store team has the knowledge to answer any questions that you may have.

The Electric Store, 10 High Street, Ilfracombe, North DevonHave you seen an item cheaper elsewhere, with the same level of service? Give your local store a chance to match it!


Register for free entry.


Stands available to all businesses – book your stand now.

Will new Ilfracombe homes development benefit local economy?

open-for-busines-logo-master-02The submission of a planning application to build 750 homes to the south of Ilfracombe has attracted a lot of media attention, mainly due to the connection with international artist Damien Hirst.

The decision on this application will have a big impact on the area, whether it is approved or not.

COMBEbusiness is providing an opportunity for the business community to discuss the application along with inward investment in general at our ‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS‘ conference and exhibition at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe on Thursday 6 March 2014.

We aim to have representatives from the scheme’s architects and major business organisations as well as local business people on our speaker panel for our inward investment speaker session.

Regeneration of this nature is too important to be decided in tabloid newspapers – book your place at ‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS‘ for real debate.