The past year has been a great success for Ilkley Business Forum and this year is going to be better.

The invitation to meet George Osborne at Number 11 in January 2015 was the start of a full year for IBF. It was followed by many successful monthly meeting and the launch of the Ilkley Business Awards together with a dynamic THRIVE Yorkshire conference, both in September. The December meeting, incorporating a Market, was a great success too.

“I enjoyed the trip to London as part of the government Northern Powerhouse Initiative” says chairman Steve Butler, “but the important thing for IBF is to keep it local. All LS29 businesses (not just those in Ilkley!) need help and our aim is to provide as much as possible. I have a very hard working committee and team of helpers doing just that, giving up their own time to do so.”

There is a full programme of meeting planned with speakers covering subjects as diverse as Workplace Pensions / Auto Enrolment in January; Entrepreneurship in March; Preparing students for work in April; Time Management at the AGM in May; with HR, social media, staff management, mentoring and business funding covered later in the year. All meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month (except August) at a variety of local venues.

Two of the most successful meetings last year involved business owners telling their stories – Mohammed Aslam from the Aagrah Group and Johnny Hayes from York about the Bishopthorpe Road Traders Association. There will be more of the same this year, for example in March with Paul Thompson, originally from Ilkley, and a co- founder of the international baby and toddler swimming programme sensation, Water Babies.

IBF also aims to recognise fantastic local firms. There have been over 50 entries for the Ilkley Business Awards, in 12 categories. Judging is now being carried out by three independent experts and the final awards will be announced at the gala black- tie event on Friday 12th February at the Kings Hall in Ilkley. Julia Forrester, the IBF Honorary Treasurer, is taking the lead in organising this.

“We also act as a voice for our local businesses, helping to make running a business in our area less difficult,” says Mr Butler. “For example, many of our members are incensed by the unilateral blanket ban of A-Boards in Ilkley to be imposed by Bradford Council, and we are actively facing up to this issue.

“Let’s be clear about this, running a business of any size in the current economic climate is hard-work, even in LS29 which is supposed to be relatively affluent. IBF aims to give our members tools to assist them in this task; support them and inspire them to make the most of their efforts.”

“We are not stopping there. The committee are meeting this week (7 January) to consider how to increase membership, improve the benefits for members and encourage members to work together, a theme which will be running throughout the year,” he continued.

The next meeting is on Wednesday 13 January when the main speaker will be Suzanne Shaw from the Colour Works speaking about “Results Through Relationships.” There will also be a presentation about the Workplace Pensions / Auto Enrolment process which firms are currently going through. It starts at 5.45pm as usual at the Clarke Foley Centre, Cunliffe Road, Ilkley. Entry is free for members and first time visitors.

“IBF is going to grow in 2016, in size, scope and influence,” said Mr Butler. “I’m looking forward to it.”

3 January 2016

Steve Butler
Ilkley Business Forum