People: Azets; Yorkshire Country Properties; Walker Morris; and more

Accountancy and advisory firm, Azets, has appointed a new employment tax director who will lead its National Minimum Wage (NMW) service line from Yorkshire.

Leeds-based Kyle Newton will help clients nationwide implement NMW processes and controls to proactively manage compliance and navigate complex HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) enquiries.

Newton, who is a qualified chartered accountant, brings a wealth of experience over 15 years from a variety of roles at BDO, Deloitte and PwC.

With his experience including internal audit, one of his focuses is supporting businesses with implementing robust controls in a practical manner to reduce impact on day-to-day business.

He has joined Azets’ as new NMW rate changes, including increases and an extension of the National Living Wage for workers aged 21 and over, came into force at the start of April.

Newton said: “The National Minimum Wage is commonly misunderstood. It is much more complex than a simple hourly rate and is made up of a number of components.

“With an unprecedented increase to the NMW age rates and business budgets stretched, many businesses are faced with a difficult challenge of balancing cost and maintaining day to day business.

“HMRC enforcement activity continues to increase, for example with its most recent regional enforcement campaign targeting 10 geographic regions and the most recent naming and shaming round (round 20) highlighting HMRC’s continued focus to enforce to the full extent of the law.

“Many employers remain unaware of the potential pitfalls where they could be underpaying workers and with the likelihood of HMRC knocking at their door increasing, they could be faced with a 200% penalty and public naming and shaming, on top of paying the arrears, additional employer pension contributions and additional employer National Insurance Contributions.

“Now more than ever it’s really important to consider taking proactive steps.”

Partner Richard Whitelock, who heads employer solutions services in Yorkshire, said: “Kyle has a proven track record in both employment taxes and NMW advisory matters. He comes with impressive experience and a deep technical understanding of the NMW regulations and employment tax legislation.

“He will be a valuable addition to our team providing employment tax advice support in Yorkshire and leading on our newly launched National Minimum Wage service line nationwide.”


Huddersfield-based Yorkshire Country Properties (YCP) has strengthened its team with the appointment of Phil Snoad as senior sales negotiator to work alongside customer experience representative Kirsty Watts.

Together they are taking inspiration from their namesakes Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp of television’s Location, Location Location and Love it or List It fame.

YCP is currently on site with West Yorkshire residential developments at Shepley, Skelmanthorpe and Denby Dale. The company’s Netherthong development has already sold out.

Sam McGregor, associate director – sales, at YCP said: “We are proud to have our very own Phil and Kirsty team.

“They are based at our Customer Hub at Knowle Grange, Shepley and are ready to provide all the information and support that potential buyers need. They have the same passion about buying homes as their famous namesakes.”

Snoad, who has 19 years’ experience in the housing industry, explained: “It’s great to be part of the Savills New Build Team, who are marketing Yorkshire Country Properties’ developments, and collaborate full-time with YCP to assist our customers to buy their Forever Home.”

Snoad, who started in residential property with Barratt Homes in 2005, has since worked with Miller Homes, Seddon Homes, Persimmon Homes and Gleeson Homes.

He said: “My last employer was Guinness Homes selling Shared Ownership. This was a whole new learning curve for me to understand the rules set out by Homes England to help purchasers buy a share of their home, rather than it all.”

Paul Brown, YCP’s managing director, said: “Phil is a tremendous addition to our sales team and we are very grateful to Savills for allowing him to work for us on a full-time basis.

“Overall, our sales team is committed to making YCP the very best housebuilder in West Yorkshire.

“Their experience and expertise will prove invaluable and I am very lucky and proud to have such an excellent team to support me in growing our company and achieving our targets.

“All three of these new developments are providing much-needed housing, including a significant number of starter homes, enabling young people to get on to the property ladder.

“Our starter homes at Phase One at Shepley and all but one in Skelmanthorpe have now sold out, underpinning our contribution to both the community and to sustainability in the three villages.”


Leeds-based Walker Morris has made three major lateral appointments with Lee Gordon, Simon Ingham, and Nick Stubbs, joining the law firm this month.

The new partners will strengthen the firm’s commercial offering within the Infrastructure & Energy, Commercial Dispute Resolution, and Commercial & Technology teams.

Gordon joins from Weightmans LLP and has a particular emphasis on major infrastructure and energy projects, strategic residential development schemes and garden town settlements.

He has notable compulsory purchase and development consent order experience, which includes successfully leading teams advising on the promotion of infrastructure consents for various major projects.

As well as ranking within Chambers and Legal 500, he was shortlisted for Real Estate Lawyer of the Year at the Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards 2024.

Ingham is joining the Commercial Dispute Resolution team from Gateley Legal, to further the firm’s residential housebuilding practice, where he has considerable expertise.

He acts for many of the leading national and regional housebuilders, land promoters and developers advising on complex disputes relating to the acquisition and development of land for residential use.

He brings a wealth of experience which will enhance Walker Morris’ ‘living’ offering, and support for national housebuilders, further supporting its recognised development, planning, and plot sales teams to continue to provide the highest quality full service offering to its housebuilder clients.

Stubbs joins from Eversheds Sutherland. In his new position, he will leverage his extensive expertise to work alongside multi-disciplinary teams, including Commercial, Technology, and the firm’s expansive Regulatory departments.

With over 25 years of experience, he specialises in commercial contracts and technology, along with a focus on financial services and retail, adding to the firms already strong capabilities in these practice areas.

Malcolm Simpson, managing partner, said: “Lee, Simon, and Nick bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective practices, enabling us to strengthen and develop our existing client offering at Walker Morris.

“These appointments showcase our continued investment in innovation and our people, as part of our three-year growth strategy.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding our team at a time when there are significant opportunities in the rapidly changing global market, supporting our ongoing position as a leading firm.”


York-based Environment Bank, a nature restoration company and biodiversity net gain (BNG) provider, has appointed Catherine Spitzer as its new chief executive officer.

She joins Environment Bank with a proven track record in scaling businesses and implementing successful growth strategies. 

In her new role, she will oversee the company’s strategic direction, working with stakeholders to develop innovative BNG solutions for developers in England.

She will also develop the company’s voluntary ‘Nature Shares’ proposition, aimed at large organisations with nature-positive ambitions.

Spitzer previously served as managing director at property consulting firm Bidwells LLP.

She said: “I am pleased to join Environment Bank and to have the opportunity to contribute to such important work.

“This is a very exciting new phase for the company with the BNG regulations coming into force in February.

“I am looking forward to working with developers and delivering the highest integrity BNG solutions in the market.”

 Outgoing CEO, James Cross, who has led Environment Bank since 2018, said: “Working alongside Professor David Hill and building such an amazing team has been a career highlight for me.

“With the BNG regulations passing into law in February 2024, the time is right for me to now pass on the baton to Catherine and I wish her and the whole team the very best of luck for the next phase of their journey.”

Founder and chair of Environment Bank, Professor David Hill, said: “We extend our thanks to James for his many years of service and leadership.

“His passion for conservation and his strategic focus and expertise across the land-based sectors has been instrumental in shaping Environment Bank’s success. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.”

 Professor Hill also welcomed Spitzer to the role, adding: “Catherine brings a unique combination of private equity investment, leadership, commercial experience and delivery to Environment Bank and we are excited to have her on board to lead the next stage of growth.”