Interest in business group is booming

Northumberland Business Network Chairman Charles Sellers, left, with Matt Gray, who heads up the Ponteland Business Network.
Northumberland Business Network Chairman Charles Sellers, left, with Matt Gray, who heads up the Ponteland Business Network.

EFFORTS to bring Ponteland’s business community closer together have got off to a positive start.

About 140 entrepreneurs in the area have responded to messages and leaflets about a new group which will give traders a combined voice.

And 86 registered for the Ponteland Business Network’s first session at the Memorial Hall last Friday.

Headed up by Matt Gray, who owns carpet and flooring specialist Bonner and White, the network will be split up into steering groups to look at particular issues that will affect economic development in Ponteland.

He is being supported by Northumberland Business Network Chairman Charles Sellers, who said: “It has been a very encouraging start and we’re pleased with the significant turnout for our first session. We’ve received dozens of positive emails from attendees as well as those who were unable to make it along.

“There is a wealth of talent in this area and we’re looking to give these entrepreneurs a stronger voice. We believe the business network, which uses the Linkedin website, is a low cost but effective method of engaging with the business community.

“There is still a way to go because there are hundreds more businesses and entrepreneurs in Ponteland than are currently registered by local authorities and we need to continue to reach out to them. You can’t get feedback if you don’t ask them in the first place.

“Another reason to establish a voice for the Ponteland business community is to make sure it plays an important part in the upcoming neighbourhood plan process.”

One of the main topics discussed during the session was Lugano Group’s outline application for up to 280 homes and other facilities on a site at Birney Hill.

Executives from the firm gave a presentation about the community trust aspect to the bid. It says millions of pounds would be made available to the trust, which would be owned and run by residents, to enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of Ponteland.

Mr Sellers said: “I’ve looked into the community trust part of Lugano’s submission in detail and I believe it’s an innovative approach to furthering economic and social development.

“In my opinion, this model should be used as a template and replicated for future housing applications throughout the county and region, regardless of whether Lugano gets planning permission or not.”