Articles Tagged with Woolacombe

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 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.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: North Devon seaside towns look to the future

Even before the recent submission of Damien Hirst’s application to build 750 high quality homes, businesses in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe had already scheduled a major conference and exhibition in 2014 to promote the area’s accelerating regeneration.

While research by the Centre for Social Justice suggests some UK seaside towns are trapped in a ‘cycle of poverty’, these three North Devon towns will be highlighting the opportunities available at OPEN FOR BUSINESS at the Landmark Theatre and Pavilion, Ilfracombe on Thursday 6 March, 2014.

Hosted by local business group COMBEbusiness, the event will showcase businesses at an exhibition in the pavilion, while a day-long programme of speaker panels presenting on and debating key issues will run in the 480-seat theatre. The event offers free entry to visitors.

“OPEN FOR BUSINESS is an opportunity for people to update their impressions of the area where regeneration is gathering speed,” said Robert Zarywacz, chairman of COMBEbusiness.

“Seaside towns across the country have struggled for decades to establish new identities and we are pleased to see progress in North Devon. Damien Hirst’s Verity has attracted much attention, while JD Wetherspoon’s investment in its new Admiral Collingwood pub is another vote of confidence. A nearby holiday park is investing £2.5 million in its facilities and new, high quality retailers are opening up all the time to transform the shopping experience.

“With hundreds of independent shops, some of the best restaurants and tearooms in Devon, two world-class manufacturing plants and viable new businesses opening all the time, the business mood is definitely optimistic.

“In addition, we are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the edge of Exmoor National Park, enjoy Woolacombe’s award-winning beaches plus Ilfracombe’s unique harbour. Where else would you want to run a business while living on a stunning coastline?”


➤ Recognise and promote existing businesses – from small to large, manufacturing to tourism

➤ Highlight opportunities to increase trade within the three ‘combes’ themselves, across North Devon, regionally and nationally

➤ Detail current investment, promote existing planning permission and discuss opportunities for new development at every level

The conference speaker programme will be confirmed shortly and exhibitions stands are now available for businesses to book online at

Opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs

OPEN FOR BUSINESS is hosted by COMBEbusiness and supported by Devon County Council and North Devon Council.

It offers the opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs to discuss investing in, starting up or running a business in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe plus the chance to talk to existing business owners.

“The area has fantastic potential and we are now seeing interest from larger investors,” said Robert Zarywacz.

“By attending OPEN FOR BUSINESS, investors and entrepreneurs with vision will realise the potential.”

Visitors can register for free entry to OPEN FOR BUSINESS at

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe

COMBEbusiness is supporting Small Business Saturday on Saturday 7 December.

Any small business can participate and we encourage all customers to use small businesses on the day and beyond.

To take part, you can download logos and banners or send for poster and information pack at

You could:

  • offer special deals to customers
  • hold events
  • link up with other businesses
  • or choose your own way to celebrate the day

You can also follow on Twitter at @SmallBizSatUK and on Facebook at

Take the opportunity to explore independent shops and attractions on your holiday

Holidays are a marvellous way of seeking out new experiences of every type. When visiting Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, one of the experiences on offer is discovering the many independent businesses tucked away in the towns and villages.

While in many parts of the UK the decline in small shops has led to domination by supermarkets, here you can buy meat from local farms at a butcher’s shops, a selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables at greengrocers, and bread, cakes and buns made by real bakers. The range of local produce extends from farm-produced clotted cream and ice cream to local beers, jams and chutneys, sausages, pies, chocolate and more. Often the difference between freshly produced food and that produced on an industrial scale is unbelievable.

Finding these treasures can require a bit of a hunt. We don’t have major shopping centres or malls and shops can be scattered about town. This makes exploring lanes and alleys even more fun. As well as food, there are art galleries, stained glass and other art shops, and specialist retailers including homeware, sports vintage clothing and more.

While you have the time, we hope you’ll enjoy browsing and discovering these treasures and receive good service from shopkeepers.


Could you help to build our economy?

COMBEbusiness operates on a volunteer basis and we are looking to expand our board to continue developing and supporting businesses in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.

If you run a business or have business experience or knowledge, we would be happy for you to join our volunteer board.

Our specific requirements are for individuals to:

  • Manage our accounts – this a relatively modest accounting task
  • Administer our mentoring and training programme
  • Identify and obtain funding/increase income to develop/support our activities

However much time you can spare will be welcome.

We would also like to identify more individuals in the area able to deliver business mentoring and training. Topics will range from starting up a business to sector specific issues. There will be remuneration for time spent on mentoring/training.

Please contact Robert on 07971 176044 for more details.

Could we buy more locally?

Research by GfK shows that British consumers are more thrifty than any other nation, according to a FT article. This could be seen as bad news for businesses because consumers are buying less, but it also provides opportunities. It can be tough persuading consumers to change their buying habits, but those who are looking to change are more open to new ideas. Could your business attract new customers who are looking to change?

There is also a growing movement towards buying locally. Price is not always the biggest concern here: availability, speed of delivery and quality can all make local offerings more attractive.

There is a vast selection of products and services available in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe. We can buy locally sourced and produced bread, meat, vegetables and produce and everything from DIY materials to shoes, clothes, pet supplies, bicycles, bools and videos, flowers, artists’ materials, stationery, photographic supplies and services, homeware and more. There are also business services available including accountants, solicitors, insurance, travel agents, marketing and printers.

Do we want people to use our local businesses more? Do we use local businesses ourselves?

While not everyone will want to use every local supplier, it makes sense to start off by seeing what is available locally before we look elsewhere. After all, if we don’t support other local businesses, why should they support our own business?

If we’re not attracting local business, is there a reason for this? Is our offering relevant? Are there things we could do differently in our business? Do potential customers know we even exist?

There is so much that every business can do to attract more local customers.

Businesses in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe working to increase youth employment

While the Local Government Association has called for local councils to be given a bigger role in addressing youth unemployment, COMBEbusiness is already working to address this in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe in North Devon.

COMBEbusiness hosted its first community apprentice event in February 2012 and is widening this to its youth employment, enterprise and training event from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday 6 February at the Ilfracombe Centre.

Anyone can drop in to this free event:

Young people, students and jobseekers: to find out about opportunities, information and support.

Families: to learn more about how they can support children, grandchildren and young relatives get on to the careers ladder.

Businesses: to find out about what part they can play in employing apprentices and offering work experience as well as the funding and support available for this.

Every section of the community has a part to play in encouraging, supporting and advising young people choosing their future career path. Representatives from Careers South West, Construction Industry Training Board, Ilfracombe Arts College, Jobecentre Plus, Petroc and PLUSS will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions. Businesses will also be there to answer questions on working in different sectors and to give tips on job seeking.

COMBEbusiness welcomes all opportunities to unlock existing local expertise, advice and support within the community which can often produce powerful results.

BT reported to have been awarded Devon superfast broadband project

According to press reports, BT has been appointed as the supplier for the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) superfast broadband project, subject to confirmation and approval by the European Commission.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset web site has not been updated since 6 July 2012, although a CDS spokesperson is reported to have confirmed this to the Plymouth Herald.

However, there are not details of the project and the areas it will cover so businesses and residents of Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are urged to register both at (the main BT programme) and Connecting Devon and Somerset (the mop-up programme). It is important to register at both sites as the best option is for communities to be included in the main BT programme.

See our superfast broadband page for details.


Do you employ staff? Get answers to all your HR questions at 17 October workshop

Our workshop on resolving HR and employment issues on Wednesday 17 October is presented by Advice Bureau Plus, who specialise in employment issues and advice.

If you employ staff and have any questions on legislation and regulations, this workshop is for you. Employment legislation is changing all the time with new pension regulations coming into force today. Are you prepared for them? Do you need help implementing them? Or are you thinking about taking on staff but have questions about recruitment, employment or other HR issue?

Whether you employ one staff member or many, take advantage of Advice Bureau Plus’ expertise to make sure you are managing your people correctly.

Workshop runs from 7pm to 9pm at the Ilfracombe Centre. £10 per person. To book call Tim Cox on 01271 268208 or 07805 906804 or email

See details of our full workshop programme.