Richard's Journal

Business Link Hampshire
Formerly Business Link Wessex

David Bartlett, Business Link Hampshire (at one time Business Link Wessex), Grahame Huggins, Jenny Oakley, Business Link Hampshire
Tim Austin, June Parker, Mike Burley, South Hampshire Enterprise Agency (SHEA), Mark Torokwa, Economic Development, Hampshire County Council
Sam Bartlett, Brighton Films, Electric Sky, Small Business Service (SBS), Guildford
Business Link in the South East, SEEDA (South East England Development Agency), Taxpayers' Alliance




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As part of my endeavours to bring business to Havant in particular and Hampshire in general I have sought assistance from Business Link Hampshire (for a few years known as Business Link Wessex).

That has included meetings with David Bartlett, Business Development Director of Business Link Hampshire.

Regrettably no such assistance has been forthcoming.

Business Link Hampshire have known about my esoteric, non-physical side since at least 1999 as far as telephone conversations are concerned and 2000 in terms of E-mails. They have also been well aware of its value in business terms.

My inability to obtain advice or assistance from Business Link Hampshire coincides with the wrecking of the Technology Diversification Centre project, which I spent several years setting up. Before that time, Business Link Hampshire, as the organisation was then, was extremely helpful. Since then, numerous letters and E-mails have been ignored and my time wasted on the very rare occasions that a meeting has been granted.

One member of staff was honest enough to advise me that there had been a "management decision not to respond" to me. David Bartlett, Business Development Director of Business Link Hampshire telephoned me to deny this. However, E-mail exchanges, telephone conversations and meetings with Business Link Hampshire since then have only resulted in wasted time and effort for me.

The reaction of a business advisor at a major Bank, when I told him of my experiences with Business Link Hampshire was, "Oh, you've been blanked". as far as I was aware the Business Links were not allowed to discriminate against people; at least hat was the theory.

The only contact I am allowed with Business Link Wessex is David Bartlett, though I would prefer the expertise of other members of staff.

You can easily verify this by telephoning Business Link Wessex on +44(0)1329 223242, giving my name and address (all details on and asking for a meeting to discuss what they might do to help me/you now. Unless the rules have unexpectedly changed, you will only be allowed to speak to David Bartlett.

If you wish to ask David Bartlett directly why the special arrangements are imposed on me, at considerable cost to myself and far more to the region, his number is +44(0)1329 223202 E-mail:, though I do not know if that E-mail address still works.

Prior to 1999 Business Link Wessex, or Business Link Hampshire as it was then, was quite helpful.

During 1998 and the early part of 1999 the project I had spent several years setting up was taken from me by Havant Borough Council and given to someone else wrecked it; that person, among other things, asked for "non-charge invoices" to submit for matched funding and falsely claimed, on his business card, to be a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, though did not include CEng on his card, even though all Corporate Members of major Engineering Institutions are, automatically, Chartered Engineers. (The Institution of Electrical Engineers became the The Institution of Engineering and Technology in 2006.)

I never expected a Council or a Business Link (represented on the Board which oversaw my project, among others) to acquiesce to such basic dishonesty as false professional qualifications.

By contrast anyone who wishes to do so can verify my professional status of BTech, MTech, MIMechE, CEng with Brunel University, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Engineering Council; all that I claim is entirely genuine.

The change in approach and willingness to helpful of Business Link Wessex just happened to correspond with Havant Borough Council starting to work against me, very soon after they wrecked my project.

Those are the business standards that apply in at least some parts of Hampshire.

Since then, I have not been able to obtain any advice or assistance from Business Link Hampshire, or any other organisation in Hampshire which is supposed to assist and support business, with the exception of the Chambers of Commerce, plus Mark Torokwa of the Economic Development Department of Hampshire County Council. The problem with the latter contact is that Councils tend not to help directly but devolve to the Business Links, so, if the local Business Link will not help, which is the case with me, you are close to being finished in terms of your chances of obtaining any assistance or support.

Two Visits to South Hampshire Enterprise Agency (SHEA), which is based at the Regional Business Centre, is headed by Tim Austin and is supposed to help local business, came to nothing. The meetings were with June Parker and, in September 2004, with Mike Burley.

I felt, rightly or wrongly, that the outcome of the meeting was predetermined. as it happened, I was due at another meeting not long afterwards, which included a very senior Hampshire business representative. she declined to disabuse me of my feelings about the earlier meeting, instead responding quickly, "Go with Sussex", that is Business Link Sussex, which is run by Sussex Chamber of Commerce and ahs Chamber of Commerce values. That I should have done and may still have to do.

SHEA comes under the control of Business Link Wessex.

Both Business Link Hampshire and SHEA receive most of their income from public funds to help local business. I have received no help from either since prior to 1999, despite asking for such assistance on several occasions. Neither organisation has written to me, or communicated directly to me by other means, any reason for not helping me. They have just wasted my time by ones means or another.

The time wasting included telephone calls from Sam Bartlett, of Brighton Films/Electric Sky offering to meet me. That came to nothing other than, following a blunt E-mail from me to Sam Bartlett and Directors of Brighton Films, an E-mail reply from Sam Bartlett saying that he was just doing his father a favour.

There was a time when I telephoned SHEA asking for assistance, this being denied after referring to the "Line Manager", which turned out to be David Bartlett. a short time later I telephoned with only a slightly different request, giving a different name and my mobile telephone rather than land-line number. Assistance was offered on that occasion, though I called it off at the last minute, hours before the consultant was due to arrive. What a difference a name makes.

I know of the owner of a glass blowing workshop who asked for business advice, did not receive it, struggled on until he had to make a choice between his art and his new family, decided he had to commit to the latter and gave up his glass business.

I was told of someone else in Hampshire who had to go to Business Link Surrey for advice and assistance.

There are many who find the situation in Hampshire strange.

Business Link Wessex also covered Dorset and the Isle of Wight but I have no knowledge or experience of working from those areas. Latterly, the situation ahs reverted to Business Link Hampshire just covering Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The Small Business service, to which the Business Links are responsible, seemed unable to help me or protect me.



On Tuesday 12th September 2006 there was a Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Briefing at the Langstone Hotel, Hayling Island, on the topic "A New Vision for Havant Town Centre", Presented by Frank Campbell, Corporate Director of Havant Borough Council and Joy Okwuadigbo, Head of Regeneration Services, Havant Borough Council. Being a Chamber of Commerce Meeting, rather than a Havant Council controlled meeting, there was no impediment to me speaking, though nothing came of my contribution, in keeping with the events related on this page. The events of the meeting can be read via the "A New Vision for Havant Town Centre" link to the Web Page about that event.

On 2nd June 2008 I received a telephone call from Grahame Huggins, of Business Link Hampshire, asking if I would be interested in small business assistance in the form of free Business Advice Clinics. The call came as a surprise, given the reluctance of Business Link Hampshire to provide me with any advice, or assistance, since I lost everything to Havant Borough Council in 1998-1999, when five years work was wrecked; the Technology Diversification Centre I had set up, which would have brought millions of Pounds worth of business to the South of England and was a stepping stone to an even larger Technology Diversification Centre at a West London University, co-sponsored by a major Bank. I decided to go along with the offer and a letter from Grahame Huggins duly arrived the following morning.


Somewhat belatedly, on 4th July 2008, I sent an E-mail to Grahame Huggins and Jenny Oakley, of Business Link Hampshire, giving plenty of information about my background, in advance of the Business Advice Clinic on Monday 7th July at Havant Civic Centre.
On 7th July I attended the Business Advice Clinic and spent an hour and a half with Jenny Oakley. Regrettably, I was no wiser when I left than I was at the beginning; nothing like the help and advice that is supposed to be available at such Clinics (Business Link Extends Business Clinic Service, Basingstoke Business News Overview).

As far as I understood from the meeting, among other things, Business Link Hampshire could not directly, help me with business plan as that would mean they would become part of the business and, as they were independent, they could not do that. I was told that all they could do was send me a link to a Web page which would guide me on how to write a business plan, though that was never sent.

I know how to write a business plan but wanted input from Business Link Hampshire on how to tailor it from a Hampshire perspective to maximise the se of my unique non-physical for Hampshire business.

I asked about publicity contacts but was told that Business Link Hampshire could only provide general guidance, such as suggesting the BBC, local radio stations, etc., though not specific contacts within them; I would have to find out whom to contact in each organisation myself.

I also asked about costs of office space in the area, which I knew when I set up the Technology Diversification Centre a decade previously, though not current prices. I would to ask at local enterprise centres, even though Business Link Hampshire ought to have such information to hand and I was well aware that enterprise centres were, usually, an expensive option. (Havant Borough Council located what they turned my Technology Diversification Centre into in an enterprise centre, along with putting someone else in charge and providing them with a car; hence in part the horrendous waste of money and the rapid collapse of what they set up in place of my project; money which had to be paid back as they obtained it by fraud.)

What I did learn was that “Business Link Hampshire is the face of SEEDA in Hampshire”. I wondered what SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency would make of that as Business Link Hampshire were presenting a blank face on its behalf, as well as an extremely unhelpful one.

I gained absolutely nothing from a meeting lasting an hour and a half, as well as hearing nothing from Business Link Hampshire in the weeks after the meeting.

It was ironic that the meeting had been in Havant Civic Centre, the offices of Havant Borough Council, as it was in that building that the root of the corruption that had destroyed my project, years before, was, as well as being the building in which I had been prevented from speaking at a public meeting by the then Mayor (the only person so prevented), etc., etc. the corruption in within Havant Council was confirmed by someone I have referred to as The Well-Wisher, a senior Council Officer who saw it all from the inside.

At the end of July 2008, four weeks after the meeting with Jenny Oakley, I sought to speak to someone at Business Link in the South East. Unfortunately, the location of my telephone automatically took me through to Business Link Hampshire. The woman who had answered asked if there was anyone there to whom I would like speak. I said there was no point and she kindly gave me the Business Link telephone number for Woking, Surrey. So, in the end I managed to speak to someone at “Business Link in the Southeast”, though, really, that person was at a non-Hampshire Business Link, as Business Link in the South East is notional organisation than being a real one.

There was an interesting development on Friday 8th August 2008 in the form of a story on the BBC Web Site, “Agencies Branded ‘waste of money’ “, at least as far as the Taxpayers’ Alliance was concerned. The story was also in national newspapers. Given the Taxpayers’ Alliance involvement with the media, the story was likely to be even more widespread than that. I presumed that Business Link Hampshire did not exactly intend to provide ammunition for that contention.