Innovation at Hebden Bridge Mill

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Innovation at Hebden Bridge Mill's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Innovation at Hebden Bridge Mill is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.hebdenbridgemill.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | BOURNE FURNITURE
Alongside this, we have also outlined
the health and social care market
as a future area for focus. As more
and more operators are pushing
hotel-style residential care facilities –
ensuring comfort and contemporary
surroundings – there is definitely
greater opportunity for us in this
sector. We have already worked with
two or three providers in this regard
and look forward to future work.
Before considering new sectors,
however, it is important to recognise
that any business like ours is only as
good as its last job; with everything
we supply, we operate by a strict
“no-quibble” policy and consequently
resolve any issues with Bourne
products as soon as we feasibly can.
We use our own vehicles to handle
delivery and provide placement
on-site to ensure our service is as
comprehensive as it possibly can be.
European import and labour
issues
With paperwork and VAT regulation
post-Brexit yet to be finalised, we can
only hope that any legislative changes
relating to import do not slow us down
any further. We run vehicles in from
Italy and Portugal on any given week
and have planned as best we can in
this regard.
When it comes to labour, however,
things are slightly more difficult. Skilled
and experienced large-goods vehicle
drivers are not exactly commonplace
in the UK – there are two large
distribution centres nearby, and these
alongside local army bases absorb most
of the local drivers. As a result, we took
on and trained two Romanian drivers –
although they can stay until December
31, 2020, what happens after that?
Post-Brexit “settlement” status for EU
citizens has yet to be finalised, and it
would be good to have some clarity so
we could planaccordingly.
Remaining competitive
Going forward, we want to maintain
our position in the marketplace and
continue to grow steadily. We are on
track to recover from our downturn in
the financial year ending September
2018 and hope this upward trajectory
only continues.
Every contract we work on is semi-
bespoke, and our attention to detail
has been celebrated by the vast range
of clients we have already worked
with. We only hope that we can
remain competitive in a truly unique
marketplace through our outstanding
service and comprehensive response to
customers’ needs.
We are already
a Carnival-
approved
supplier for
marine fit-out
contractors,
and are looking
now at working
with other ferry
lines
Bourne Furniture supply
conference theatres
29INNOVATION AT HEBDEN BRIDGE MILL |
TRADE & COMMERCE
Managing Director
David E. Fletcher MBE
Hebden Bridge Mill: over 700 years of
history and heritage. Now environmentally
sustainable and commercially successful
innovation, based in Hebden Bridge Mill, have fought to preserve
the industrial heritage of their local area. The threatened
demolition of the 1314 Manorial Corn Mill led to the creation of
the company as they sought to prevent the removal of a key part
of the local history. After extensive renovations, the mill is now
home to a shop, a café and ten small business tenants. Having
reactivated the 14-foot waterwheel, added a modern turbine
and twin heat pumps, they aim to produce all of the energy they
require. David Fletcher tells
TheParliamentary Review
more.
Our project is rooted in conservation of the industrial heritage and the social and
economic wellbeing of the local community. The sudden demise of the town’s
traditional textile industry brought depopulation, dereliction and demolition.
However, Hebden Bridge is a resilient town. In the absence of any external support,
it fought back to reinvent itself through energetic voluntary effort and campaigns
to save its historic mills for later adaptive re-use. We were very much a part of this.
The evolution of our project
It was, however, the threat of demolition of the 1314 Manorial Corn Mill at the
heart of the town that spurred us into personal action. With great trepidation, we
borrowed and bought it to save it. With the building derelict and abandoned for 20
years, full of dry rot and almost at the point of collapse, our only way forward was
a ten-year DIY effort alongside our day jobs.
Years later, we now have a shop and a café on the ground floor, 13 full- and part-
time staff, and a further ten small business tenants on the upper floors, collectively
FACTS ABOUT
INNOVATION AT HEBDEN
BRIDGE MILL
»Managing Director:
David E. Fletcher MBE
»Founded in 1972 with the
purchase of Hebden Bridge Mill
»Based in Hebden Bridge, West
Yorkshire
»Services: Retail and property
restoration/letting
»No. of employees: 13
Innovation at Hebden
Bridge Mill
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | INNOVATION AT HEBDEN BRIDGE MILL
employing a couple of dozen more
people. Working with others, we then
established a charitable trust, Pennine
Heritage, to replicate this model to
save further historic mills and a former
church. This has created additional
workspace for around 150 people in
the mills, plus valuable community
facilities in the Birchcliffe Centre, a
former church.
The spirit of entrepreneurship is once
more alive and well, attracting new
residents and investors to our visitor
economy and digital start-up scene.
The learning curve
Life as small shopkeepers, landlords
and environmental activists has been
a steep learning curve. Initially, our
shop Innovation stocked a colourful
“Aladdin’s cave” of decorative
items, seeking to be all things to all
people, but we soon realised the
need to better understand our local
market. Consequently, both our
shop stock range and café menu
changed character over time and
continue to do so as we move with
contemporarytrends.
The 2008 financial crash brought
uncertainty and caution. People
thought more and bought less.
Extravagant home décor was out,
but, interestingly, personal items and
gifts survived. Greater specialisation
in selected areas is a trend that
continues to accelerate as online
shopping increasingly erodes high
street trade.
The combination of the online
revolution, austerity, current political
uncertainty and four floods in three
years, including the worst one
at Christmas 2015, has seriously
impacted our business. The last flood
cost us an uninsured £40,000, as we
could no longer get cover. Recovery
has not been helped by the continuing
30 per cent reduction in footfall,
largely due to subsequent lengthy
Environment Agency works and related
trafficchaos.
The future of the high street:
resetting the balance
We are much encouraged by the
government’s obvious commitment
to helping the high street through
the small business rates relief. This is
a good start, but much more will be
needed to create a truly level trading
platform. The high street offers so
many social benefits beyond mere
shopping, while delivery drivers,
making multiple deliveries, bring the
serious disbenefits of congestion
and pollution, with related public
health problems: almost 20 per
cent of urban traffic congestion and
pollution is caused by these vehicles.
Taxation needs to reflect better this
very real cost–benefit imbalance,
perhaps through total replacement
of town centre business rates
with a commercial delivery vehicle
mileagecharge.
Retail and catering add
interest and income
to support heritage
restoration and
management
The high
street offers
so many social
benefits
beyond mere
shopping
31INNOVATION AT HEBDEN BRIDGE MILL |
TRADE & COMMERCE
We applaud the government’s
successful approach to renewable
energy whereby we take the risk and
borrow the money, to be repaid,
eventually, by the feed-in-tariff and/
or the renewable heat incentive
according to output. A similar system
could be applied, indirectly, to online
shoppers by imposing realistically
increased delivery costs to take
account of the costs they impose
onsociety.
While we are encouraged by the
government’s approach to the
matters above, we must also
express our dismay at the gulf that
seems to exist between the positive
spirit of legislation and the more
ritualistic approach of some regional
and local agency staff responsible
for its delivery. Dogmatic local
interpretations by regulatory officials
are one of the challenges we are
currently facing. One can be forgiven,
at times, for wondering who is
actually the boss.
Promoting diversification
Clearly, we are once again at a
watershed moment and need to take
stock of all our assets: the shop, café
and mill as a package. We have a
listed heritage building; an attractive
riverside setting; a popular but less-
than-profitable shop; a cheerful,
well-patronised, licensed café; and
adequate rental income, plus my
wife and our very loyal and hard-
workingstaff.
To continue to sustain the business,
we are actively working to launch an
online shop, starting carefully with
our own branded products. We are
also planning to develop the café.
Our café has an attractive riverside
terrace and a rather quirky front
forecourt. Plans are in hand at the
latter to install protective canopies and
create a better sense of enclosure,
subject to necessary listed building
consent. Beyond this, we are aiming
to make the mill a heritage destination
and are planning free leaflets, wall
panels and guided walks. Building on
this, we have recently submitted a
planning application for eight holiday
apartments above 21 craft studios
for rent in another nearby semi-
derelictmill.
Our most ambitious plan has been our
ecopower initiative to return Hebden
Bridge Mill to total dependence on
waterpower. The restored 14-foot,
four-ton waterwheel, plus installation
of a five-metre Archimedes’ screw on
the 1314 weir, produces all of our
electricity and more, as we also supply
the grid. The two added powerful
water source heat pumps provide
all the hot water needed for three
kitchens and full central heating for
the entire building. Even our small
jazzy runabout parked outside carries
the slogan “Innovation hydropower
– this car runs on water”. And so it
does – hydropower straight from the
river, not second-hand electricity from
some distant fossil fuel power station.
We must be one of the few totally
carbon-neutral businesses in the land.
It doesn’t cost the earth to shop, eat or
drink at Hebden Bridge Mill.
We must be one
of the few totally
carbon-neutral
businesses in the
land. It doesn’t
cost the earth to
shop, eat or
drink at Hebden
BridgeMill
Sustainable renewable
energy brings clean air,
clean rivers and a return
of wildlife to the town:
we reached zero carbon
emissions in 2014, 36
years ahead of the new
government target
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | INNOVATION AT HEBDEN BRIDGE MILL
employing a couple of dozen more
people. Working with others, we then
established a charitable trust, Pennine
Heritage, to replicate this model to
save further historic mills and a former
church. This has created additional
workspace for around 150 people in
the mills, plus valuable community
facilities in the Birchcliffe Centre, a
former church.
The spirit of entrepreneurship is once
more alive and well, attracting new
residents and investors to our visitor
economy and digital start-up scene.
The learning curve
Life as small shopkeepers, landlords
and environmental activists has been
a steep learning curve. Initially, our
shop Innovation stocked a colourful
“Aladdin’s cave” of decorative
items, seeking to be all things to all
people, but we soon realised the
need to better understand our local
market. Consequently, both our
shop stock range and café menu
changed character over time and
continue to do so as we move with
contemporarytrends.
The 2008 financial crash brought
uncertainty and caution. People
thought more and bought less.
Extravagant home décor was out,
but, interestingly, personal items and
gifts survived. Greater specialisation
in selected areas is a trend that
continues to accelerate as online
shopping increasingly erodes high
street trade.
The combination of the online
revolution, austerity, current political
uncertainty and four floods in three
years, including the worst one
at Christmas 2015, has seriously
impacted our business. The last flood
cost us an uninsured £40,000, as we
could no longer get cover. Recovery
has not been helped by the continuing
30 per cent reduction in footfall,
largely due to subsequent lengthy
Environment Agency works and related
trafficchaos.
The future of the high street:
resetting the balance
We are much encouraged by the
government’s obvious commitment
to helping the high street through
the small business rates relief. This is
a good start, but much more will be
needed to create a truly level trading
platform. The high street offers so
many social benefits beyond mere
shopping, while delivery drivers,
making multiple deliveries, bring the
serious disbenefits of congestion
and pollution, with related public
health problems: almost 20 per
cent of urban traffic congestion and
pollution is caused by these vehicles.
Taxation needs to reflect better this
very real cost–benefit imbalance,
perhaps through total replacement
of town centre business rates
with a commercial delivery vehicle
mileagecharge.
Retail and catering add
interest and income
to support heritage
restoration and
management
The high
street offers
so many social
benefits
beyond mere
shopping
31INNOVATION AT HEBDEN BRIDGE MILL |
TRADE & COMMERCE
We applaud the government’s
successful approach to renewable
energy whereby we take the risk and
borrow the money, to be repaid,
eventually, by the feed-in-tariff and/
or the renewable heat incentive
according to output. A similar system
could be applied, indirectly, to online
shoppers by imposing realistically
increased delivery costs to take
account of the costs they impose
onsociety.
While we are encouraged by the
government’s approach to the
matters above, we must also
express our dismay at the gulf that
seems to exist between the positive
spirit of legislation and the more
ritualistic approach of some regional
and local agency staff responsible
for its delivery. Dogmatic local
interpretations by regulatory officials
are one of the challenges we are
currently facing. One can be forgiven,
at times, for wondering who is
actually the boss.
Promoting diversification
Clearly, we are once again at a
watershed moment and need to take
stock of all our assets: the shop, café
and mill as a package. We have a
listed heritage building; an attractive
riverside setting; a popular but less-
than-profitable shop; a cheerful,
well-patronised, licensed café; and
adequate rental income, plus my
wife and our very loyal and hard-
workingstaff.
To continue to sustain the business,
we are actively working to launch an
online shop, starting carefully with
our own branded products. We are
also planning to develop the café.
Our café has an attractive riverside
terrace and a rather quirky front
forecourt. Plans are in hand at the
latter to install protective canopies and
create a better sense of enclosure,
subject to necessary listed building
consent. Beyond this, we are aiming
to make the mill a heritage destination
and are planning free leaflets, wall
panels and guided walks. Building on
this, we have recently submitted a
planning application for eight holiday
apartments above 21 craft studios
for rent in another nearby semi-
derelictmill.
Our most ambitious plan has been our
ecopower initiative to return Hebden
Bridge Mill to total dependence on
waterpower. The restored 14-foot,
four-ton waterwheel, plus installation
of a five-metre Archimedes’ screw on
the 1314 weir, produces all of our
electricity and more, as we also supply
the grid. The two added powerful
water source heat pumps provide
all the hot water needed for three
kitchens and full central heating for
the entire building. Even our small
jazzy runabout parked outside carries
the slogan “Innovation hydropower
– this car runs on water”. And so it
does – hydropower straight from the
river, not second-hand electricity from
some distant fossil fuel power station.
We must be one of the few totally
carbon-neutral businesses in the land.
It doesn’t cost the earth to shop, eat or
drink at Hebden Bridge Mill.
We must be one
of the few totally
carbon-neutral
businesses in the
land. It doesn’t
cost the earth to
shop, eat or
drink at Hebden
BridgeMill
Sustainable renewable
energy brings clean air,
clean rivers and a return
of wildlife to the town:
we reached zero carbon
emissions in 2014, 36
years ahead of the new
government target

www.hebdenbridgemill.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Innovation at Hebden Bridge Mill. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster