North West Business Briefs: Jacobs; Unite the Union; Maguire Family Law; Co-op Live; Network Rail; LSH Auto

Fusion energy machine at UKAE Culham

Nuclear industry specialist Jacobs will use funding from the Fusion Industry Programme, run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), to create a liquid lithium testing facility at its Technology & Innovation Centre at Birchwood Park, Warrington.

Lithium is critical for breeding the hydrogen isotope tritium, an essential fuel for fusion, but there are many knowledge gaps surrounding the behaviour of lithium and the by-products of reactions used to produce it.

The new Jacobs facility will examine: Lithium’s interaction with materials inside the fusion machine and any corrosive effects; the effect of oxygen, nitrogen and other impurities in lithium; the properties of lithium under fusion conditions; the development of instrumentation to measure lithium properties and other elements during the fuel breeding process; the integration of multiple fuel cycle components, for example tritium handling and analysis, fusion materials such lead and beryllium, coupled with the company’s experience of power plant operations.

Jacobs’ support to the UKAEA’s fusion program started in the 1980s with the development of the Joint European Torus experimental tokamak at UKAEA’s Culham Campus, near Oxford. The company’s commitment to fusion includes undertaking research, development, engineering, installation and project and construction management for fusion-related programmes including the UKAEA’s CHIMERA project, based in Rotherham, which is creating a first-of-a-kind facility to test components in the conditions found inside fusion machines – high temperature, heat flux and strong magnetic fields.

Greg Willetts, Jacobs’ Vice President for Technology, Consulting & Innovation, said: “The new liquid lithium testing facility will serve developers of new fusion power technologies.

“It will be an important addition to Jacobs’ already considerable research capabilities, advancing our strategy to build an unrivalled understanding of the fusion fuel cycle from beginning to end, combined with advanced materials science capability and integrated engineering.”


Andy Burnham

Unite the Union says Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, metro mayors for Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, have both pledged their support for its Get Me Home Safely campaign which calls for employers to provide safe and free transport home for all workers past 11pm.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite’s campaign is gathering momentum with council after council supporting our call for shift workers, often women, who do not have a safe route home to be provided with one. The support of Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram is an important step to ensuring that businesses and councils in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region take steps to ensure that workers can get home safely late at night.”

The campaign brings together hospitality and passenger transport members. As well as organising workers to win safe and free transport home from employers, Unite’s campaign seeks to encourage local authorities to make safe and free transport home for late night workers a requirement for new and extended alcohol licences.

Andy Burnham said: “For those working into the night in hospitality – particularly women – getting home after their shift is something that weighs heavily on their minds and it’s time for change. They currently face the choice of parting with a chunk of their wages on a taxi or being in fear if they are walking or getting public transport home.”

Steve Rotheram said: “Whether using public transport or walking home from work at night, too often women in our communities feel unsafe to do simple things that men take for granted. In 2023, it’s beyond belief that this is still an issue – but it is – so we need to act.”


Eimear Maguire

As a predominantly female-led business, Greater Manchester and Cheshire-based Maguire Family Law has reiterated its support for International Women’s Day on March 8, by launching a mentoring programme to support one local woman at the beginning of their career.

The boutique law firm will be providing the chosen candidate with the opportunity to have tailored one-to-one quarterly mentoring with its team. Over the duration of 12 months, Maguire Family Law’s team will provide insight and actionable advice on a range of topics, including interview practice, CV workshops and career progression mentorship.

Director, Eimear Maguire, said: “International Women’s Day is something we are incredibly proud to support. At Maguire Family Law, we offer a defined career pathway to our employees, dedicated to their individual growth and development. We want to harness this passion and offer local Manchester and Cheshire residents the opportunity to utilise our team’s experience and to support a woman who is at the beginning of their career journey.”

The mentorship programme is open to women looking to begin a career in any sector or industry, with applications opening on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Those interested should email their CV and why they would like to win (max. 500 words) to by March 31. A winner will be announced and notified by April 30.


Plans for the Bentley Record Room

Bentley Motors has unveiled what it claims is Manchester’s most exclusive luxe member’s club – The Bentley Record Room – an intimate lounge designed by the Bentley Motors Design Team at Co-op Live, the highly anticipated music and entertainment arena in Manchester.

The Bentley Record Room will be located next to the performers’ Green Room inside the new £365m music and entertainment venue – set to be the largest live music arena in the UK. Luxe members will have access to the space before, during and after events at Co-op Live, with the best tickets to live shows as well as access to an exciting range of special events in The Bentley Record Room.

The 100-capacity club will offer the ultimate in luxury and intimacy for music fans, boasting high-end dining options, a private host and waiter service, designated parking, and a VIP entrance to the venue. Its sumptuous interiors will be designed by the Bentley Design Team replicating the custom finishes and designs of its luxurious cars. The space will include low carbon Beluga leather seating and Bentley Home furniture, created in partnership with Luxury Living Group.

Christoph Hohmann, global head of brand communications at Bentley Motors, said: “We are delighted to offer music lovers a dedicated Bentley Place – an environment that is as luxurious and cosseting as the interior of a Bentley – allowing them to experience the craftsmanship, beauty and luxury that you can find in each one of our cars but on a much larger and totally immersive scale.”

Sam Piccione, president of OVG International, the US group behind Co-op Live, said: “Bentley is number one in British luxury, so it’s the exemplar brand to name this unique room. As the UK’s first private luxe members’ club inside an arena, The Bentley Record Room will put Manchester ahead of anywhere else, including London, for unrivalled quality entertainment.”


Ladies Lane bridge

Rail passengers and road users at Hindley in Greater Manchester are being advised of the next phase of major work to electrify the railway between Wigan and Bolton.

Network Rail is progressing with a £78m investment to upgrade the 6.5-mile stretch of railway to enable electric trains to serve the key North West towns in the future. In preparation for the installation of high-voltage overhead electricity cables, alterations need to be made to 17 railway structures. Next up is Ladies Lane bridge which will be replaced between Monday, March 13, and Friday, July 14, when the road will need to close.

During those dates Hindley station will also be shut so its platforms can be extended to increase capacity for passengers. While work like this is carefully planned to cause the least possible disruption to rail passengers, a six-day railway closure will also be needed between Saturday, May 6 and Friday, May 12. During that time replacement buses will keep people on the move between Wigan North Western, Westhoughton, Daisy Hill, Ince and Lostock.

People planning rail travel between Wigan and Bolton between those dates are being advised to check in advance and to allow extra time for their journeys. Claire Davis, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “We’re progressing with this major project to electrify the railway between Wigan and Bolton and bring cleaner, greener and longer trains in the future to this key route in the North West.

“This next phase of work will make sure Ladies Lane bridge will be compatible with the complex web of overhead wires when they are installed. The work at Hindley Station and Ladies Lane bridge will bring some disruption to road users and rail passengers. I’d like to thank people in advance for their patience and to remind them to check before they travel while we carry out this important work to transform the railway for the future.”


Mancunian Unity Women FC and Tracy Ellam

A sponsorship deal has been announced between LSH Auto, part of LSH International, one of the largest dealer groups for Mercedes-Benz cars worldwide, and Mancunian Unity Women FC.

Founded in 2019, Mancunian Unity Women FC is a women’s and girls’ only football club that provides fee-free football for all ages, coaching and equipment, a sense of belonging, and support in a non-judgmental, inclusive environment. As one of the club’s main sponsors, the logos of LSH Auto and its local dealership, Mercedes-Benz of Stockport, will be displayed on shirts across all teams.

Mancunian Unity Women FC manager, Phil Burke, said: “Women’s football teams usually begin as an add on to an already established male team. We aim to challenge and change that. Our ambition is to become the biggest and most successful women’s and girls’ only football club in Greater Manchester and beyond.

“Our ambitions are massive, both on and off the pitch, establishing a partnership with a company as huge as LSH Auto highlights how seriously we are taking reaching our goals. We are excited to welcome LSH Auto into the Unity family, whilst connecting our skills and passion to create more opportunity within women’s football and continue to build our amazing club.”

Tracy Ellam, operations director for LSH Auto, said: “We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming Mancunian Unity Women FC to our showroom this week and meeting some of the players. At LSH Auto, we’re committed to giving back to the communities that support us. We’re also passionate about diversity, so we’re really pleased to be supporting a club with such positive values that really align with our own.”

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