Bolsover is on the up and up - thanks to you

Mick Poole and Paul Blakeley Central Polymers
Mick Poole and Paul Blakeley Central Polymers

The district of Bolsover generated more entrepreneurs per head of population last year than any other area of the country outside London.

Those are the findings of industry body StartUp Britain which found that in 2015 the area had 25 new companies registered per 1,000 people.

Robin Penny, Ashley Holmes and Jessica Penny of Penny Hydraulics

Robin Penny, Ashley Holmes and Jessica Penny of Penny Hydraulics

This - coupled with data that shows the authority has the fastest projected rate of employment growth of any Derbyshire authority and higher numbers of self-employed people than the East Midlands and national averages - and the impression is given of a place that is well and truly on the up.

And many of the businesses in the area would seem to agree.

Jessica Penny, general manager of sales at Penny Hydraulics, confesses to some surprise that Bolsover was at the top of the list but identified a number of reasons that this might be the case.

She said: “The council is very active in supporting local businesses, giving training, advice and help with accessing funding as well.

Bolsover District Council CEO Dan Swaines.

Bolsover District Council CEO Dan Swaines.

“They have been very, very helpful and are a real partner to us in what we do.

“And we have also had a great deal of help from UKTI, who have been really helpful in opening up overseas markets to us.”

Penny Hydraulics was set up in 1978 and turned over a record £6.7 million last year.

Around 95 per cent of their staff come from the villages of Clowne and Creswell and the business is still in the same family hands that it was at the beginning, with a number of family members, including Jessica, occupying senior positions within the company.

Mick Poole and Paul Blakeley, from Shirebrook-based plastics company Central Polymers, also think that the Bolsover area is a good place to do business.

“The district council helped us out a lot at the beginning in terms of developing our business plan and they currently discount our business rates by 50 per cent,” said Mick.

“Also, the M1 being so close doesn’t do any harm either.”

Mick and Paul both used to work for a larger company which did the same thing but when that firm moved to Wales the pair ‘had a decision to make’.

“We managed to put together a little bit of money, set up on our own and have gone from strength to strength ever since,” said Mick.

In May the company will have been running seven years and now boasts customers from all over the UK.

And, asked if they would recommend entrepreneurship to others, the pair are unequivocal.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Mick.

For their part, the district council is proud of its record in helping businesses to grow by accessing grants and information without having to wade through mountains of paperwork.

District council chief executive Dan Swaine said: “With one of the highest survival rates for businesses in the country and our established business programmes where we give help and advice every step of the way, we feel Bolsover is the ideal place for people to do businesses and show off their entrepreneurial skills.

“But this is just the start as far as we are concerned. We want to make sure our businesses grow and become sustainable, to invest in our economies and make Bolsover District a thriving business community.”

Judging by their recent success, they are well on the way to achieving that aim.