Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas

May we take this opportunity to wish all our members a happy christmas and a prosperous new year.

The office is closed from 12 noon on Christmas Eve and we re-open on Friday 2nd January.

We will be monitoring our emails sporadically over the holiday period, so if you need to get in touch, drop us a line.

Take care, and heres hoping that 2009 brings better news for the business community.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Speakers Needed

We are making slots available at each of our 2009 networking breakfasts and are inviting members to make presentations (from 10 to 30 minutes) on specific subjects which may be of interest to local businesses.

If you would like to take part - please consider the following questions

1. In a sentence, what is your area of expertise?
2. Why is your topic of particular interest and relevance to chamber Members today?
3. Your marketplace, - are you the first in your field, the only person in your field or one of many?
4. Why you, how does your approach differ from others
5. If we gave you a speaker session, what would your title and objectives be?
6. By the end of your session what will members have acquired and what would you expect them to do as a result of your session?

If you can answer all these questions then please give Caroline a ring to discuss further.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The BCC Meets The PM

Last week the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) were at short notice invited to take a small group to meet with the Prime Minister at No.10. Led by the President, also participating were the Presidents of London, Manchester, the North East and the Director General.

We used the opportunity to give an overview of the current state of the economy, both from the national perspective of our Quarterly Economic Survey and also local conditions as represented by the individual Chambers.

We then discussed our response to the Pre Budger Review. The PM said he did not think that we were being positive enough about the measures in the announcement.

Our response was that collectively and individually Chambers had acknowledged the support measures, not least the HMRC Business Payment Support Service, Small Business Finance Scheme, the extra EIB funds and the introduction of a foreign dividend exemption for large and medium-sized businesses.

However, we did have concerns about Empty Property. The threshold should have been scrapped completely rather than being restricted to a £15,000 RV; Fuel Duty increases; and importantly the raising of National Insurance Contributions (NIC's).

He responded by saying that the fall of commodity prices would help businesses and that the increases in NIC's would only happen if it were necessary for public finances. The Government "has to show that it has sustainable public finances".

A considerable part of the meeting was spent discussing the relationship between the Banks and Business. Our team pointed out the failings at the present time and the way that business was being impacted. We did point out that the Banks were in a difficult position as they clearly needed to raise their own capital. This is clearly an issue that is exercising the Prime Minister, the Treasury and BERR, and our role in the Small Business Finance Forum was acknowledged.

Finally, we highlighted the good work that Chambers across the country are doing to help business get through the current difficulties and the real efforts that were being made to secure the future of local economies.

The PM said that he wanted to ensure that Public Sector Procurement benefited local business. It was clear from the response that Chambers were involved in a variety of initiatives to promote this. However we still believed that the Government need to exert more pressure on local public agencies.

So if you had the chance - what would you tell the Prime Minister?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Chamber TV Online!

We have been working on some tips and advice to help in the downturn and some of our members have kindly volunteered to be videoed.

Alison Chapman gives us her insights into how she turned to the Internet and EBAY to help support her high street Jewellers and she is now power seller!

Next we have a local business banker

then with tips on how to save money on your insurance, our own Chamber Chairman, Ray Johnson

followed by John Harrington - offering some general advice and a free session for local businesses

And finally Peter Hobbs our chief executive talks about why you should join the Chamber

Tell us what you think of these, and also if you are a member and would like to do one of your own, get in touch!