Category Archives: Business News


Two local businesses, RHS Rosemoor and Cross Lane House, were absolutely thrilled to receive Silver in the South West Tourism Awards Small Hotel of the Year category 2016 in a glittering ceremony at Exeter Cathedral last week, hosted by ITV news presenters Kylie Pentelow and Ian Axton.

With a record 490 entries from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Gloucester, Wiltshire and the Scilly Isles, these awards are the biggest scheme of their kind and follow a rigorous three-stage judging process, including individual personal visits. The undercover inspector who came to stay at Cross Lane House reported that, “This is a most attractive property. Having lain derelict for several years, the current owners have invested considerable time and money in refurbishment. This has been matched by the provision of excellent service.”

Cross Lane House, built in 1545, is close to the West Somerset coast and set within Exmoor National Park. Described as ‘romantically old-fashioned and stylishly contemporary’ by hotel guru Fiona Duncan in The Telegraph recently, this small, luxurious hotel has just four sumptuous rooms and an acclaimed restaurant serving light lunches, candlelit dinners and tantalising afternoon teas.

“It’s a team operation,” say owners Max Lawrence and Andrew Stinson, who are committed to a quality and a level of service above and beyond the expected. “We have a passionate team of local people who are focused on delivering a consistent quality experience for our guests.  Our supplier partners are also key to the excellence agenda by providing outstanding produce from the South West peninsula.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “We are celebrating the excellence of the south west tourism offering who are pushing new boundaries in what this region has to offer.  They are the role models in tourism, constantly reinventing their offering and making sure this region stays at the fore in what is one of the biggest and fast growing industries in the world.”

Cross Lane House 01643 863 276

The Royal Horticultural Society garden in Devon, RHS Garden Rosemoor, which recently won Gold in Devon went on to win silver in the Large Attraction category at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Sally Charleton, Head of Site at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said: “I am overwhelmed and so proud that Rosemoor has won this award. It is testament to a great team effort of everyone at Rosemoor, both staff and volunteers, who contribute to providing an amazing visitor experience. From a prospective visitor perhaps seeing a leaflet or searching online right through to leaving Rosemoor at the end of their day out, we pride ourselves in showing a glorious garden in the best light, giving excellent customer service, providing great facilities, and an extensive events programme that give our customers reasons to visit 364 days a year.”

Sally went on to say, “Many thanks to all the wonderful staff at Rosemoor whose hard work and dedication made this possible. This fantastic news will surely drive further visitors to enjoy the stunning horticulture highlights of the garden with its many fabulous events to look forward to, including the month long-rose festival and Rocket Science during the summer holidays.”

RHS Rosemoor 01805 624067



Superfast broadband is coming to Exmoor and a series of community briefings are planned to tell people more about getting connected and how they can get up to speed.
Worcester-based Airband has been contracted by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) to deliver superfast to moorland residents and businesses in both counties.
The briefings, due to run from 7pm-9pm, will include an introduction from Dan James from Exmoor National Park Authority, setting the context for the evening followed by Matt Barrow from CDS who will provide an update on the superfast programme.
The Get Up to Speed team will talk about their programme of free workshops to help people make the most of the vastly improved connectivity, while Dan Jones from Airband will explain the fixed wireless solution for Exmoor.
There will then be an open question and answer session to make sure people have the chance to raise any queries or concerns.
Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: ““We are hugely aware of the importance of connecting our rural communities and the provision of good broadband coverage has been, and continues to be, a top priority for Exmoor National Park Authority. We worked hard to secure additional funding for Phase 1 and have also put in match funding for this second phase which will allow premises and businesses to improve how they work and help reduce costs. We are grateful to Connecting Devon and Somerset for the work they have done to help us get to this exciting stage.”
Cllr Karen Mills, Economic Development Lead Member for West Somerset Council, represents an Exmoor community – Porlock – and said superfast broadband would be widely welcomed. The Council has invested £70,000 in supporting the initiative.
“It’s vitally important for rural businesses, especially those linked to farming and tourism, as well as school and college students who really need to be able to access web-based information for their courses. And, of course, it’s great for people who want to keep in touch with friends and family.”
Sessions are being held at:


  • Winsford Village Hall  – November 2
  • Dunster Tithe Barn – November 16
  • Dulverton Middle School – November 25
  • Porlock – November 26
  • Parracombe – November 30
  • Lynton Town Hall – December 10.
Editor’s note:
I thought it was a myth that super fast was coming to the hamlet where I live but, yesterday morning, the BT engineer arrived to turn on my super fast broadband, so from now on (assuming it works!) emails to the editor will – FINALLY! – be downloaded together at lightning speed. Watch this space.

Old sheep pens demolished to make way for parking in South Molton

Redundant sheep pens in South Molton are being removed to provide extra parking in the town.

North Devon Council is removing the old sheep pens on Southley Road, along with redundant agricultural buildings, to provide 100 more parking spaces to the rear of the Amory Centre.

The council’s contractors, JTT Contracting Ltd, will also be demolishing the empty, former South Molton Recycle building, including the large storage unit (Bond Store) and garages. This area will then be fenced off and left secure.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor Des Brailey, says: “The old sheep pen area is wasted space at the moment, so I’m glad to see work begin on stripping it out to provide more central parking in the town. Taking down the old SMR building and garages will also improve the look of the central area. Once the buildings have been removed the area will be safely fenced off.”

Work began on Monday (27 July) and will take six weeks to complete.


Miles Tea Make Jumbo Cuppa!

Somerset-based Miles have teamed up with Paignton Zoo to officially launch their company re-branding. A bright and breezy new design is hitting the shelves across the West Country this summer. The elephant logo has undergone a makeover, and now shows the brighter side of being an elephant!

Company directors Derek Miles and John Halls came to Paignton Zoo in Devon to meet Duchess the African elephant – and even found a teacup to match her size.

Derek Miles is the third generation of the Miles family to go into the tea business. He is now in his 80s but his passion for tea and elephants is still strong. Derek visited an elephant orphanage whilst on a trip to a tea plantation a few decades ago, and the experience has been forever etched in his memory.

“The thought of having the opportunity to come face to face with an elephant at Paignton Zoo is very exciting. This is such a privilege; I never thought I would be able to meet an elephant here in the West Country.”

Miles have been tea and coffee specialists since 1888. Their products are blended by the coast in Minehead and Porlock. Paignton Zoo is a registered charity and is open daily.


Devon Seminars Will Outline Renewable Energy Opportunities

Devon agricultural and rural businesses can find out about how to take advantage of new renewable power opportunities at a series of free seminars taking place across the county.

Experts from Thomas Westcott Accountants, Mole Valley Farmers, Stags Estate Agents and NatWest Bank will be on hand at five locations in June to offer advice and answer questions on issues and opportunities regarding solar power and heat source pump schemes.

“The recent sizeable 20 per cent reduction in biomass tariffs effecting new starts, coupled with the significant increase in permitted development size for commercial solar rooftop schemes, has led to renewed interest in solar power,” said Sally Nicholls, agricultural consultant at Thomas Westcott.

“Given the hype that has surrounded renewable energy in the past we felt it was timely to hold these free seminars to review the new opportunities that now exist,” she added.

The free seminars take place at the following locations:

  • Tuesday June 16 – Holsworthy Livestock Market, New Market Road, Holsworthy
  • Wednesday June 17 – Ridgeway Country Hotel, Smallridge Road, Axminster
  • Thursday June 18 – Best Western Hotel, Blundells Road, Tiverton
  • Monday June 22 – Best Western Passage House Hotel, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot
  • Tuesday June 23 – Barnstaple Hotel, Braunton Road, Barnstaple.

To book your place please telephone 01392 288 555 or email

John Arbon Textiles Mill Open Weekend

John Arbon Textiles would like to announce their second annual mill Open Weekend to celebrate the arrival of their new spinning machine. It will take place at their mill in South Molton on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 May (free entry – 10am till 5pm).  As well as being an open weekend (with guided tours of the Mill), it will also incorporate a yarn, tops and sock sale.

At their small-scale worsted spinning mill (one of only a handful still operating in the UK), John Arbon and the team of mill workers happily spend their time making all luxurious tops and yarns, as well as the yarns they use to knit their cosy socks.

The mill is not usually open to the public, but they have decided to have this special weekend (as last year’s was so well received) and open so that people can see and learn about our vintage spinning and processing mill machinery.  Alongside this they will have a  sale – giving people the opportunity to get their mitts on some half-price yarns, tops and socks. To round things off nicely, there will be tea and homemade cakes on hand to refresh and content.

john2013 saw John painstakingly dismantling his cherished vintage mill machinery and moving, revamping and re-assembling it a new, bigger and brighter premises in a unit on Pathfields Industrial Estate in South Molton.

So the company started 2014 with the Fibre Harvest Mill all set up in its shiny new surroundings and running more smoothly than ever. Then, at the end of 2014, their lovely new spinner (who they like to call Kevinson) arrived to enable them to up production and make even more yarn.

Now John, award-winning De Montfort University textile graduate, is contentedly utilising his 19 years’ experience by creating and developing his own warmly-received range of luxury tops and yarns, incorporating local and rare-breed fleeces wherever possible

Alpaca supreme top
Alpaca supreme top

He produces interesting and sumptuous blends of fibres, making perfect tops for hand spinners, which he also spins into hand knit yarns. His most sought-after ranges of the moment are Alpaca Supreme as tops and yarn (a gorgeous blend of alpaca, merino and silk in tonal natural shades), Exmoor Sock Yarn (made from the fleece of his local sheep, the Exmoor Blueface) and Viola (a stunning range of blended dyed British merino tops made using a technique called ‘dry dyeing’ which delivers a rich hand dyed yarn effect without the dirty fingers).

Exmoor socks
Exmoor socks

John has also developed a range of functionally versatile and unbelievably comfortable luxury socks, knitted here in the UK from John’s specialist performance yarns … from hardy walking to cosy bed socks, everyday dress to knee-length country socks – a style to suit every occasion!

John Arbon Textiles and Fibre Harvest are small family-run businesses running side by side under the watchful, enthusiastic eyes of John and his wife/business partner Juliet. Their production concept is simple – a return to old style textile manufacture … sustainably sourcing raw fibre locally wherever possible and converting it in Britain into high quality tops, yarns and textiles.

A Helping Hand for Local Firms

Businesses in West Somerset are being supported by the council to help them develop their ideas.

West Somerset Council launched the scheme for small businesses and start-ups last month and during the three-week window for applications, 17 firms put forward their ideas with ten approved.

Grants were awarded to businesses which could most clearly demonstrate how their proposals would help make a step change in the business that would ultimately raise profitability.

Applications were received from a wide range of small businesses throughout the West Somerset area.

Those successful included Lisette de Roche, of Priestlands Birch Products, Raddington (pictured), who said:  “As a start-up business, the grant will help me purchase treatment and filtration equipment for the birch-based products that I make.

“I am also receiving support from Cornerstone Business Mentoring which is proving to be extremely helpful and the most important motto I have learned is ‘Never give up!’”

Also successful is Oak Funeral Services Ltd, Williton. Jonathan Mees, from the company, says, “We are using the grant to help convert a derelict area into a workshop to build and fit coffins. By converting the space we will be able to finish our own products locally rather than buying them in from elsewhere, potentially creating local employment and offering a more bespoke service.”

The Business Development grant has now closed for applications. However, customer-focused businesses located in Minehead or Alcombe are still able to apply for a maximum of £300 from the separate scheme running in those areas. For details see

PHOTO by Clare Moffat.

Opportunity to Run Street Food Events at Tiverton Market

Expressions of interest are being sought to run the monthly street food events at Tiverton Market.

Last year, a series of successful street food events took place at Tiverton market comprising a number of street food vendors offering high-quality, locally sourced – and very tasty – food, alcoholic beverages and live music. The events attracted up to 3,000 visitors at each event and brought a welcoming, feel-good, fun evening out for all the family in our town centre.

Amy Tregellas, Head of Communities and Governance at Mid Devon District Council, says, “We were delighted with the overwhelming positive feedback and support we received from local people for these events last year. We offer a massive thank you to the TASTE organisers for all their hard work in establishing this local event. Unfortunately, TASTE is unable to continue the street food events at Tiverton Market in 2015 and we wish them well with their future business ventures. We want to continue to offer the people of Tiverton (and beyond) this fantastic event and are asking anyone who is interested in running these events in 2015 to get in touch.”

The street food events are proposed to run on the following dates in 2015:

Saturday 2 May
Saturday 6 June
Saturday 4 July
Saturday 1 August
Saturday 5 September
Saturday 3 October

Anyone who is interested in running these street food events, or is a street food vendor interested in trading at these events, please contact Amy Tregellas at for more information or to submit your expression of interest.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 11:59pm on Sunday 29 March 2015, with interviews scheduled to take place on Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 April 2015

Minehead Vision Group Public Consultation

This Thursday, 19 March, the Minehead Vision Group will be holding a drop-in consultation from 3pm until 8pm at the Minehead Information Centre in the YMCA Beach Hotel. The event will be showcasing the achievements of the Vision Delivery Team over the past two years and will be looking for public input into shaping the next stage of the project.

The first phase of the Project comes to a close at the end of the month and sees the end of the Vision Manager and Vision Assistant’s contracts. Vision Manager Stephen Hooper says, “We have achieved a lot over the past two years and feel we have attracted in significant additional investment to enhance the town’s offer as a visitor destination for the cultural tourist.  We would like to acknowledge the support from the Vision Group that we have received, in particular, our Project Mentor – Bernard Maynard Smith, and West Somerset Councils Economic Development Officer – Corinne Mathews.”

Find out more:

Stephen Hooper, Vision Manager: Email:

Corinne Matthews, West Somerset Council Economic Regeneration Officer: Email:


Wheels in Motion to Establish Employment Hubs

Could you help people in your community find a job? If the answer’s yes, you could be the just the volunteers we need to help staff two Employment Hubs being developed in Watchet and Williton.

West Somerset Council won funding from the Our Place Project to support communities in the district to find work and access training. The Council was awarded an initial £2,500 to identify the needs of local people and a further £10,000 was awarded to develop the work in partnership with other organisations.

One of the first schemes is the setting up of Employment Hubs where people can get together to help those who want to find work and equip them with the skills they may currently lack.

The Employment Hubs will at first focus on offering practical advice such as CV writing, searching and applying for work, how to deal with online application forms, help with interviews and signposting people to the relevant agencies if they are having problems finding a job.

To become a volunteer, you do not need any particular skills or qualifications, other than the desire to help others access the job market using good common sense and general life experiences, as well as enthusiasm and the ability to motivate others.

The Hubs will also provide free computer access so that job seekers can search for and apply for vacancies online. If you think you could be a volunteer, please contact Emily Wishart at West Somerset Council on 01984 635221.