A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by WMS'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 WMS 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


Highlighting best practice
46 | WMS
Michael Sussex, managing
The WMS senior
management team
Starting a new business is daunting, but when Michael
Sussex established Westcountry Maintenance Services
(WMS) in October 2007, the economy was experiencing
a particularly serious downturn. Although it was a particularly
difficult time, he strongly believes this has contributed to the
successful business it is today. Starting in a recession meant
that WMS had to tailor everything to clients’ requirements,
trade keenly and keep overheads to a minimum, and, moving
forwards, they have continued to trade with these principles. He
started the business after an MBO, and was fortunate enough
to novate all previous customers across, which provided them
with a solid foundation to continue.
I started my career as a carpenter and joiner through an apprenticeship scheme,
and then continued to supervisory level before moving into management. My
understanding of site logistics and what things are like on the ground has helped
to contribute to our success. From the outset, my wife Anthea, who has extensive
experience in finance, has been our finance director, and a massive asset to the
Family values
Our approach right from the offset has been not to be the largest company, but
to aim for high standards, flexibility and quality. Our company values are honesty,
trustworthiness and a constant focus on delivery. This in turn has led to establishing
»Managing director:
»Established in 2007
»Based in southwest England
»Services: 24/7 responsive,
planned and cyclical painting
and decorating, alongside
commercial and heritage
refurbishment for local
authority bodies, housing
associations, architects and
»No. of employees: 78
»Regularly work with around
80 subcontractors
47WMS |
strong, long-term relationships with
clients, which are built on honesty and
a high level oftrust.
We aim to run WMS as a family
business by working as a team and
treating everyone as an integral part
of what we do. We are certified as
Investors in People, and the values
from this accreditation fit with exactly
how we want to run our business. We
want employees that are efficient and
can work as a team, and we endeavour
to retain these people by supporting
them and making sure they feel
valued. All management operate an
open-door policy, and are encouraged
to support their team, which provides
positive working conditions where all
employees are valued and encouraged
to develop their skills.
Employing new people can be difficult
at times, and we work with our clients
to headhunt the correct people within
the marketplace. This approach has
reaped rewards with our clients,
and together, we have been able
to continually improve what we do.
We recognise that the construction
industry workforce is generally getting
older, and the need to train more
tradesmen is of paramount importance
to our future. This is why we actively
work with local schools to support
work experience, and aim to take on at
least four apprentices eachyear.
Remaining local
It is important that we remain a local
SME contractor. Over the years, I have
seen many large organisations “talk
the talk”, but fail when it comes to
delivery. On several frameworks, we
have been the smallest contractor, but
by doing what we say and delivering a
programme both on time and within
budget, we have been able to increase
our work packages to become the
largest. Being a smaller company
means that we have a smaller chain
of command; clients know that all our
staff live within the local community,
and, therefore, we are responsible at
all times for what we deliver. At the
end of the day, I always try to remain
This also means that the cashflow
stays within the local community.
Planning a job
It is important
that we remain
a local SME
contractor. Over
the years, I have
seen many large
‘talk the talk’
but fail when it
comes to
Highlighting best practice
48 | WMS
When we work in our area, 63p in
the pound goes into the regional
economy, as opposed to 40p when a
national company carries out contracts.
We actively look to support local
subcontractors and suppliers. If we win
a new tender, we work with our clients
to use smaller subcontractors, taking
them under our umbrella, offering
programmes such as health and safety
training. We also inform them about
preferred payment schemes, which,
in turn, help them to take on larger
contracts and grow their business.
We are always keen to support local
projects and organisations. Social value
is a vitally important part of what we
can provide, and, currently, we are
supporting a number of projects either
for the associations we are working
with, or local community projects such
as the Mayflower 400-year celebration
bonfire in 2020, hosted by the Great
Torrington Cavaliers.
Going forwards
It is important that we take on projects
that fit with our skill set. While
we are always striving to find new
opportunities within the marketplace,
it is important that we do what we
are best at. We always need to evolve,
challenge ourselves and look to
innovate further, but by delivering on
familiar projects, we have grown year
on year when the funding available
has diminished through social housing
Having this ethos has set us apart from
many competitors as one of the best
providers for social housing and local
authorities within the South West.
Recently, we have started to take on
larger one-off refurbishment projects,
such as working in Great Torrington
to refurbish the town hall through
a grant-aided project supported by
the National Lottery. In 2015, we
diversified slightly by purchasing a
specialist painting company, Williams
and Martin, based in Cornwall. This
has strengthened our existing painting
skill set and capabilities in the county.
Have we been successful? I think so.
In 2007, we employed six people, and
achieved a turnover of over £2 million;
this year, however, our workforce is 78
strong, and we expect our revenue to
reach £10 million. More importantly,
we have put ourselves in a position to
take on larger projects and support our
existing clients in all areas of our work,
whether a contract is commercial,
residential or heritage, whether it’s
refurbishment, painting or decorating.
We’re now operating throughout
the South West with a dedicated
workforce supported by a strong
management team. This growth is
against industry standards and bucking
the trend of our local economy. This
is something I am personally very
proud of, and I look forward eagerly to
another ten years of WMS thriving.
While we are
always striving
to find new
within the
it is important
that we do
what we are
best at
WMS team at work


This article was sponsored by WMS. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister