Contracting in Bristol, Bath, Cardiff

Collectively, the area around two of these three great Cities is what’s known as the West Country. Add South Wales to this, and you have some of the most idyllic countryside's in the UK. But of course, there is far more to this part of the country than simply a cutesy tourist destination.

Bristol is a vibrant and historic city offering a wide range of activities. The city centre and waterfront area is currently undergoing extensive redevelopment that will ultimately see a vastly improved shopping and recreation centre for Bristol. It can boast about many awarding winning well-known attractions such as the SS Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, as well as having a number of museums and theatres - and ‘At-Bristol’, a 21st century science centre, situated near the IMAX cinema on the waterfront. There are a range of shopping areas to explore including Broadmead in the centre, the Mall on the outskirts of the city at Cribbs Causeway and smaller areas such as Park Street, the Triangle, St. Nicholas’ Market and Corn Street. Clifton Village also has lots to offer in the way of boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants.

The Georgian city of Bath is of course a very well known tourist hotspot, which has its plusses and minuses! The Roman Baths make it a haven for the visiting masses, especially during the Summer, but of course there is also so much more to it than that. Living in Bath puts you at the heart of one of the UK's most beautiful and historic locations. Not only is it a World Heritage City, it's also a lively hub of culture and entertainment, with excellent shops as well as a buzzing nightlife that goes well beyond the student scene.

Hop over the English/Welsh border into Wales and you have a truly unique capital city whose 320,000 residents believe is one of Europe’s best, as a place to live and work. The city region benefits from a great leisure offer, with a full range of infrastructure expected of any modern capital - whilst at the same time offering an enviable quality of life. Cardiff itself is a ‘city of parks’ with more green space per person than any other UK city and has been described as the ‘epitome of cool’ by the renowned Lonely Planet travel guide. It has a varied nightlife including the hustle and bustle of St Mary Street and the relaxed contemporary dining and bars in Cardiff Bay.

Known as the ‘city of arcades’, Cardiff offers a mix of boutique stores found in the city’s elegant Victorian arcades, and the city centre facilities of a modern European capital. It is also home to world-class venues and international events. The 75,000 capacity Millennium Stadium is recognised across the world and the Wales Millennium Centre has established a worldwide reputation as an iconic arts and cultural destination.

Living and working in the West Country or South Wales makes a healthy work-life balance both achievable and enjoyable. Another major benefit of being in this part of the world is the close proximity to both coast and the countryside. There are good rail links to the South West and beyond, as well as the convenience of an international airport on your doorstep.

Major companies

Imperial Tobacco – Bristol
This is one of the world’s leading tobacco companies, a FTSE25 company which makes, markets and sells a comprehensive range of cigarettes, tobaccos, rolling papers, filter tubes and cigars in over 160 countries worldwide. It owns a range of leading brands including Embassy, Gauloise, John Player and Peter Stuyvesant, amongst many others and has 2,600 employees in the UK alone. 

Orange – Bristol
In Bradley Stoke near Bristol, you’ll find one of the region’s major employers - the mobile network operation set up by Hutchinson Telecom in 1994 and now known as Orange. It was once a UK company but was then bought by France Telecom and subsequently merged with T Mobile.

MITIE Group plc – Bristol
A strategic outsourcing and asset management company that offers facilities, property and asset management services. It has grown through acquisition over the last few years and now offers many opportunities for employment in the area.

Confused.com/Admiral Insurance – Cardiff
This well known comparison website and insurance company has its head offices in Cardiff. It was founded in 1993 and also owns elephant.co.uk amongst 13 other brands. Today it has more than 2 million customers and 3,500 staff members worldwide. It has been listed in the Sunday Times ‘Top 100 companies to Work For’ since 2001, ranking 16th in 2010, and in the Financial Times ’50 Best Workplaces in the UK’ since 2003 – currently ranking 10th. After floating in 2004 it became the highest valued public company in Wales.

118 118 – Cardiff
This is the well-known trading name of a company called The Number UK Ltd which provides directory enquiries services as well as many other services such as train times, cinema listings and even directions! It has been in business since 2002 when the directory enquiries service was deregulated and is now a subsidiary of KGB, making it part of the largest independent directory assistance supplier in the world. This company consistently ranks among the best in the industry in all aspects of customer service and handles 1 billion calls a year.

Major industries

  • Information Technology and especially software development
  • Insurance
  • Tourism
  • FMCG
  • Facilities Management

Local newspapers
In Bristol the most widely read local paper is the Bristol Evening Post, supported by it's dedicated ‘This is Bristol’ website. In Bath, it’s the Bath Chronicle, which also offers the equivalent  website. For both cities, the Western Daily Press could also be useful. As the Welsh capital city, Cardiff has a number of local papers including the South Wales Echo, the Western Mail and Wales on Sunday.

Typical rates of pay
Typical rates of pay for contractors will of course vary depending on any individual’s skill-set, but as a guide, an IT Project Manager in the West Country and South Wales region could expect to earn around £400 per day, whilst a less specialist contractor might expect to command a daily rate of around £325 to £350. For typical rates of pay in the South West, across a variety of skill sets, visit our contractor rates of pay page.

Ones to watch
There are a number of large construction and redevelopment projects going on in the area – all of which will provide a wide range of opportunities for all types of contractors. Some of the most notable are as follows:

Bristol Central Area Action Plan
This is a detailed vision to reinforce the unique character and international reputation of the city centre. Work began on the project in early 2010 and it includes looking at the character of the central area and the delivery of new homes and commercial, creative and leisure space. As part of the Bristol Development Framework, the Plan will also seek to maintain and improve the role of the harbour and waterways, conserve the city centre’s architectural heritage, improve transport services and revitalise areas in need of change.

Bath Western Riverside
As one of the largest brownfield regeneration projects in the South West, Bath Western Riverside comprises of approximately 44 acres (17.9 hectares) of land to the west of the City Centre, adjoining the River Avon. The project partnership of Bath & North East Somerset Council, the South West Regional Development Agency and Crest Nicholson shares a common vision for a world class, comprehensive scheme, based on the principles of sustainability. It will integrate public transport with a high quality, mixed-use development providing new homes, leisure and work spaces for the City, along with new employment, learning and lifestyle opportunities.

Cardiff International Sports Village (ISV)
This is a major project for Cardiff and includes a waterfront development as well as a permanent ice rink, a snow facility and a conference/convention centre. These are all in the early stages of planning but will create opportunities for all types of contractors over the coming years – from urban planning onwards.

Things to consider about contracting in Bristol, Bath and Cardiff:

Pros

  • All are beautiful cities, especially Bath, which has a lively and popular tourist appeal – though this can also be a negative in peak season!
  • You’re never far from the sea, or from great countryside.
  • International airport and great rail links nearby.
  • Culture, entertainment, nightlife and shopping in bucket loads!
  • Lower cost of living than comparable cities in other parts of the country.

Cons

  • Sometimes seen as too 'touristy' and not quite ‘real life’.
  • Despite good rail links, it’s still a good couple of hours’ journey to London or the cities of the Midlands and beyond.
  • Bristol and Cardiff for some aren't seen as cultural as Bath and are overshadowed, culturally.  

Key recruitment agencies and job boards
Try all the usual options and then search for either positions in these areas in general, or specifically for Bristol, Bath or Cardiff. There are many local job sites in the region as well, including www.mybristoljobs.co.uk, www.mybathjobs.co.uk and www.mycardiffjobs.co.uk. There is also the useful www.welshjobs.com which could be useful for Cardiff based contracting positions.

For information on other regional contracting guides, see the links below (we will be adding more guides over time):

Contracting in Aberdeen
Contracting in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Contracting in Newcastle
Contracting in London
Contracting in Reading and Guildford
Contracting in Milton Keynes
Contracting in Birmingham
Contracting in Manchester, Liverpool and the North West

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new business team on 01442 275789 or e-mail: newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com

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