North West business briefs: Stockport Interchange; Barings Law; Tim Bacon Foundation; HMRC; St Helens buses; Salboy

Stockport Interchange

Stockport’s new state-of-the-art transport interchange and rooftop park will open next month. The new transport interchange will welcome bus passengers from Sunday, March 17, with the new rooftop park opening the following day.

The multimillion pound development – which boasts 18 bus stands with the capacity for 164 departures an hour – will boost connectivity in the town centre, with the interchange connected to the train station by a new walking and cycling route. The park will be a unique green space that residents from all over the borough can enjoy. It will feature play equipment, festoon lighting, and a community space that will help to connect Stockport’s neighbourhoods and communities.

Passengers can start to use the new interchange from March 17, when some nearby stops, including Heaton Lane bus station will close and services will transfer to the new Interchange. Vernon Everitt, Greater Manchester Transport Commissioner, said: “The old bus station has been transformed into a modern, attractive and accessible interchange with facilities for customers and staff fit for the 21st century. It will help people to make journeys around Stockport, Greater Manchester and further afield and will be a central element in the introduction of Bee Network buses in Stockport from January 2025. I urge everyone to make sure they are familiar with where they need to go to catch their bus before the interchange opens on March 17.”

Cllr Mark Hunter, leader of Stockport Council, said: “The progress that has been made to date has been truly transformational for our town centre, which is all part of the exciting £1bn investment that’s under way to make Stockport an even better place in which to live, work, play and connect. The opening of the site is just the start of the amazing things we have planned for Stockport this year and will continue with our Town of Culture Weekend taking place on March 23 and 24.”

Passengers will be able to access the interchange from entrances on Mersey Square, Swaine Street and Daw Bank from March 17, and these entrances will be clearly signposted. From March 18 there will also be access to the interchange from the new rooftop park via both lifts and stairs.

The new interchange features a fully accessible passenger concourse with seating areas for people to use while waiting to catch their bus. There are fully accessible toilets and Changing Places facilities, step-free access provided by lifts and ramps, wayfinding lines and tactile stand indicators. Cycle parking facilities will be found in the A6 archway along the Mersey frontage, while a taxi rank for customers will be located near the Interchange pavilion exit on Mersey Square.


Craig Cooper

A Manchester law firm has emerged as one of the top law firms in the UK for cases issued to the High Court in 2023. Data recently revealed Barings Law is the number one firm representing claimants and the third top firm when it comes to sending cases to the High Court.

The data, released by Solomonic, showed the law firm increased the number of cases it issues to the High Court by 2,300% since 2022, going from just six cases to 144. All of these cases were representing claimants. The rise is largely due to an increase in SME business interruption cases which came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

Craig Cooper, Managing Director of Barings Law, said: “Becoming one of the top three firms for cases issued is a testament to how confident we are in our ability to get justice for our clients. We are willing to back ourselves and our clients and I think the increase in cases issued shows that. A lot of our clients have been severely affected by the pandemic and are struggling to recover even years later.”

He added: “We have clients who have worked tirelessly for years to build a business and are now at risk of losing everything they have worked towards. It is a pleasure to help them take their cases to court. We are pleased to have been able to help get so many people the compensation they are entitled to and deserve, and we look forward to continue making such an impact in 2024.”

Earlier last year the Manchester-based firm issued a successful test case for six claimants: Kaizen Cuisine Limited, My Time Fine Fair, Umberto’s Restaurant Limited, Hairlab Limited, Muscleworks Limited, and Bodylines Fitness Limited. The success of the case set a precedent in court which helped Barings Law to help more business owners who have been affected.


Jeremy Roberts

The Tim Bacon Foundation has launched a new initiative – Hospitality Helps – aiming to bring hospitality businesses across the North West region together to fundraise for cancer charities working in the area. Its first charity partner will be Prevent Breast Cancer, the only UK charity focused on prediction and prevention of the disease.

Tim was a renowned North West restaurateur and was behind the Living Ventures hospitality group. The foundation was formed in 2017 following Tim’s death as a result of advanced melanoma. The aim of the Foundation is to support charities that help people to live well with cancer following Tim’s example. TBF is active in the hospitality industry helping businesses who want assistance to fund projects or donations to charities that help people to live well with cancer. To date TBF has raised more than £1m for cancer charities in Manchester and the North West.

Hospitality Helps will be an ongoing initiative organised by the foundation aimed at harnessing the power of the hospitality sector to support regional good causes. It will be launched on Friday, March 8 – International Women’s Day – at Australasia in Manchester city centre, with the support of the Manchester Hospitality Network.

The foundation’s founder, Jeremy Roberts, said: “The hospitality industry has a long and rich history of helping make our world a better place. Supporting charities and helping influence amazing cities and towns were both close to Tim’s heart and have always been a key focus for the foundation. I’m delighted to launch this new initiative aimed at encouraging the sector to join forces and make a huge difference to some really exciting and ambitious charities over the coming years.”

Jeremy added: “Prevent Breast Cancer is a national charity with its roots in Manchester which is doing incredibly important work to better understand how breast cancer develops and what we can do to stop it from occurring. The figures are stark: Over 55,000 women are diagnosed a year, of whom thousands are younger than 50 – the age at which mammogram screening begins. The hospitality sector relies on a young workforce, many of whom are women, and it’s, therefore, doubly important that we support this charity in its life-saving work.”


HMRC support scheme partners

Five neurodiverse young people will take their first step onto the career ladder through an HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) supported internship programme in Liverpool.

Students from The City of Liverpool College will gain work experience as Administrative Officers at HMRC’s Liverpool regional centre, India Buildings, where they will perform tasks including monitoring inboxes and spreadsheets. Liverpool City Council is funding the project, which provides the students with a structured path out of college and into the world of work. A college tutor, and a job coach from the charity Hft, will join them onsite, to help them understand their roles and refine their workplace skills to give them the best chance of competing in the job market.

HMRC is the first government department to partner with the charity DFN Project Search and offer supported internships to students who have special educational needs or autism (SEND). The charity estimates that less than five per cent of people in the UK with SEND are in work and is working to improve this figure by bringing together employers, colleges and local authorities to deliver their supported internship programme and transform the lives of youngsters who may otherwise be excluded from the job market.

Andy Leggett, HMRC’s Director of Risk and Intelligence Services and Senior Sponsor for Liverpool, said: ”It’s a sad fact that many young people with special educational needs are overlooked by employers. I am delighted that HMRC is taking such a prominent role in helping address that, by offering a first step on the career ladder and the chance to do meaningful work that allows them to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a supportive environment. This has the potential to be genuinely life-changing for individuals and I am very proud and grateful to those partners who are helping make this happen.”

Cllr Lila Bennett, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Having a diverse workforce with people of all backgrounds and disabilities enriches the culture of an organisation and can be life changing for all involved. I hope HMRC will inspire other public and private sector organisations to take part. The scheme is a key part of our ambition to tackle inequality and maximise the life chances for residents in our city.”


St Helens residents are being asked how buses could be improved ahead of the biggest shake up to the Liverpool City Region’s network in almost 40 years.

Last year, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram made the decision to take back control of bus services in the Liverpool City Region following the recommendation of local authority leaders. The decision followed a major public consultation in which around 70% of people backed plans for franchising. Steve Rotheram said: “Franchising is the biggest shake up to our region’s buses in four decades and, while it will take a few years to re-regulate the entire network, the change will be transformational. We’re taking back control of our network and putting our buses back where they belong: under public control.”

The Combined Authority has started four weeks of public engagement with people being invited to take part in an online survey or attend one of seven in-person roadshows being held across the borough. St Helens is set to become the first area to introduce bus franchising as part of a phased introduction from 2026.

In the coming months people will also be invited to make their voice heard about services in Halton, Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Wirral. The St Helens bus franchising engagement runs from February 19, until March 17. The online survey is available at

St Helens franchising roadshow events will be taking place on these dates: Mon 26 Feb, St Helens Travel Centre, Bickerstaffe Street, 10am-4.30pm; Tues 27 Feb, Thurs 29 Feb, opposite Cassandra’s Coffee House, St Marys Arcade, 10am-4pm; Fri 1 March, Earlestown Market, Earlestown, 10am-2pm; Mon 4 March, Chester Lane Library, Four Acre Lane, 11.30am-3.30pm; Tues 5 March, Rainford Village Hall, 34 Church Road, 1pm-5pm; Weds 6 March, St Andrews Church Hall/The Hub, Dentons Green, 1.30pm-5.30pm; Thurs 7 March, Haydock Library, Church Road, 10.30am-2.30pm.


CGI of Salford Youth Zone

Salboy Group, the Salford-based property development and funding company founded by bookmaker Fred Done, has committed to a four-year patronage agreement, gifting £100,000 to the Salford Youth Zone in its early development and opening.

The new partnership is a celebration of investment in contemporary developments within the city of Salford, forged by Simon Ismail, Salboy’s Salfordian founder and managing director. He said: “It’s so important to me to give back to the city that made me. Salfordians support each other, it’s what we do. Becoming a Founder Patron of Salford’s new Youth Zone is the perfect opportunity to show to Salford’s young people that we believe in their futures. The new Youth Zone will provide them with a safe and inspiring environment where they can figure out their passion and their purpose – whatever they want to do.

“I encourage other local businesses to get involved and show that they believe in the development and longevity of this great city, and look forward to collaborating with my future fellow patrons to ensure the Youth Zone’s success.”

Senior Philanthropy Manager of SYZ, Amanda Coverdale, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Salboy to SYZ’s Founder Patron family. This newly developed relationship just makes sense, and we are proud that Simon has put his faith in us to deliver this project for his home city.”

Following planning approval in October 2023, the construction of SYZ began at the end of January 24with completion estimated for 2025. The plans will see a purpose-built Youth Zone open seven-days-a-week, with more than 20 activities on offer every session for young people aged eight-19, or up to 25 for those with an additional need or disability.