President’s speech for Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce annual dinner 2019

Welcome to our Members and to our guests. Our guests are:

Liz Townsend – Cranleigh Parish Council Leader
Angela Richardson – Cranleigh Parish Councillor
Andrew Povey – Surrey County Councillor
Cllr Jim Edwards – Economic Portfolio Holder, Waverley Borough Council
Euan Davidson – President, Godalming Chamber of Commerce
Craig McGowan – President, Haslemere Chamber of Commerce
Brian Walpole – Cranleigh Lions

And of course, our guest speaker or rather interviewee, John James of Soho Estates and President of the Cranleigh Agricultural Show who will be speaking during coffee

This is the end of my first year as President and I have found it really worthwhile. Our Committee and I have tried to continue to add real value to our Members, whose subscriptions are vital to maintain a vibrant economy and to retain our lovely High Street which is suffering badly

So, what have we delivered for your members fees? What have we delivered that adds real value? How do we keep relevant for our members

It has been another year of events, a year of lobbying, a year of influencing, a year of campaigning and a year of partnering and collaborating.

Firstly Networking

We want to put local businesses in front of other local businesses. We want to help you develop relationships which lead to fruitful business. And we want to keep our businesses informed. Our networking events are ideally suited with speakers on interesting and relevant business topics.

And we listen to you! Some of you said that breakfast networking meetings did not work for your school runs. So, we introduced lunch and evening meetings in the past year. We held eight networking events and we have a full programme for the next year. We constantly try to keep the speakers and events interesting. Some of you will remember our cycle networking event over to the Milk Churn and Firebird Brewery? Well this May, we will be holding a Netwalking meeting. Yes, networking where we walk and talk! Let’s hope we have good weather!

Big Events

We have also been responsible for two large events.

The Waverley BIG Awards was a tremendous success with all four Chambers of Commerce in Waverley taking part.

The Cranleigh Business to Business Show was new to us and really hit the ground running with 27 exhibiting businesses which was the maximum capacity of the Village Hall.

High Street Events

Supporting our High Street businesses is one of our key objectives. I am disappointed to inform you that our High Street vacancy rate has increased from 2% in 2015 to an incredible 9%, by far the highest in Waverley. It is lower than the national rate of 11% but that is absolutely no comfort.

We continue to hold our Spring and Autumn High Street events which do have an immediate on-the-day increase in sales, especially the cafes but that is not enough. Our residents and visitors are not supporting our High Street retailers and choosing to buy online. Let’s face it, we all do. Online retailers do not pay business rates or rent. Whether or not they pay tax is a matter for government but one which we must lobby for when we talk to our politicians.

So, like all High Streets in the UK our High Street will have to change to survive. It must become a place of entertainment. It must develop a night time economy of bars, cafes and restaurants. It must offer unique product. The new For Earth’s Sake shop is possibly a good example of that. I have no idea whether it will be successful, but I do hope so because it has livened up that end of the High Street where both Carolyn Lodge Travel and the Lemon Tree closed at the same time.

And maybe we should all think more about buying more products locally. It is a vicious circle. What would Cranleigh be like without our High Street. Pretty ghastly.

Our objective for 2019 is to form a High Street retailer steering group and work towards implementing a Business Improvement District in Cranleigh High Street. This will need the support of over 50% of the retailers and business rate payers in the High Street and will be tough to sell to them because it will mean a 1 – 2% levy on their business rates.

But the real advantage is that the large retailers like the Coop, Sainsburys, M&S pay the lions share. BIDS, as they are called, are hard to get started but once they do, they are extremely effective in improving the High Street because they bring in an annual pot of money of around £100,000 that the retailers can decide what to spend it on. Not the council, not the Chamber but the retailers and rate payers. It could be CCTV, Banners, marketing, parking subsidies, improving the pavements, street furniture, more street cleaning, street events and so on. The money and the decisions are in their hands.

Christmas Lights

The long established High Street event which is the most expensive to stage is the Xmas lights event. Every year we must start from scratch and raise at least £12,000. Last year they cost almost £16,000 to replace, renew, repair, install and take down. Can I send out a plea that you all continue to support us when we request funding to help us put them up and hold the event. Any amount really does help. And if you feel generous, we have a super Xmas 100 club with a regular monthly subscription. A draw is made very quarter and you can win a nice bonus. You stand a far, far better chance than the Lottery or Premium bonds so do consider it. Speak to Julie or Roger.

Lobbying and Influencing

Our other added value to our members is our constant lobbying and influencing of public and private sector partners to improve our Village.

Parking

This year we have proposed to Waverley Borough Council that we cap our parking at three hours payment to assist our low paid workers with cheap parking, to retain visitors in the village longer and to stop undesirable parking in residential streets. Our car parks are only 50% full at any time except Thursday during the market when they increase to around 70% full. And 95% of parking paid is for three hours or less.

We proposed to Waverley that they can actually increase their parking income with more people parking for 3 hours. However, it will take Waverley some time to get around to the proposal because they want to do a full parking review of the whole of Waverley. We re lobbying hard to make the case that we are unique because we do not have commuter parking like the other Waverley towns which fills their car parks. We will continue to push this. We know it works elsewhere.

Longfield House

We are continuing to lobby Surrey County Council about converting Longfield House, previously a care home, partly to small offices for start-ups and small businesses and partly to accommodation for vulnerable adults. This has stalled recently because Surrey CC have few staff left. But we are keeping up the pressure in partnership with Smart Cranleigh

Mobile Phone Reception

Despite what mobile phone providers claim, our reception in Cranleigh is poor and patchy. This is no longer a luxury but a necessity with vulnerable children and adults unable to access help should they need it. Nor can we use RINGO to pay for parking. So, we have carried out an online survey which received almost 400 responses and submitted it to Anne Milton. She is now organising a meeting with the mobile phone providers to knock heads together.

I have not mentioned Cranleigh in Bloom (thank you Andrea and well done for getting selected for Britain in Bloom), the Santa Dash, the Downs Link and so much more!

To achieve all this, I have depended so much on our wonderful Committee.

Thank you to Martin Bamford of Bamford Media and Informed Choice and our vice president, who handles our marketing and social media, who organises and reminds us of events, who keeps our website fresh and informative and who handles all the horrid regulation for our events.

Thank you to Roger Coupe of the eponymous estate agents, who leads the charge to raise money for our Xmas lights. He also follows up on every new business that arrives to persuade them to become a member of the Chamber and hopefully of the 100 Club.

Thank you to Julie Alexandersen, of Hans Christmas Andersen, who has knocked into order our Members Subscription Lists (so watch out those of you who are behind in payment, she is after you!); who has both provided space for and organised free training sessions for members over at Santafir. She is always prepared to spend long hours manning our stands at various shows and events. And thanks for your generous sponsorship of the Spring into Cranleigh event and our Guinness world record attempt at the largest display of painted rocks.

Thank you to John Wright of Its Eeze, who works closely with Julie on the training events and who launched the Cranleigh Business to Business Show. And yes, he is planning our next Business Show. Some of you may not know that John is also the President of the Horsham and Billingshurst Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to Christine Martin of TRTUK, who led a team of four Waverley Chambers to stage the spectacular Waverley BIG Awards in October. It took six people, nine months in planning and an awful lot of free human resource and late, late nights to make it happen. But what a great night celebrating business success across Waverley. Thank you to Waverley Borough Council for your sponsorship of this event amongst many other sponsors.

Thank you to Mike Parsons of Cromwell’s who leads our High Street Spring and Autumn events and who creates some sort of excitement at his Cromwell’s restaurant every week.

Thank you to David Counsel, our treasurer who keeps us very much on the right financial track.

And thanks to Bob Bayley, a retired business member, who strives to improve our Parking, our Mobile phone reception and our Downs Link. I am pleased to say he is the bane of the lives of Anne Milton and the Waverley councillors and executive! Don’t give up Bob, we are getting there!

It is remarkable the skills, the experience and the expertise we have on our Committee; and members willingness to voluntarily donate those skills and their time.

Cranleigh Chamber is a Chamber which punches well above its weight. We will continue to support businesses in Cranleigh in every way we can. Your membership subscriptions are very well used for the improvement of the economy. Thank you!

Rosemary French OBE
President
11 April, 2019

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Notice of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (2019)

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce will be held at 7pm on Thursday 11th April 2019 at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club, Barhatch Lane, Cranleigh, GU6 7NG.

Any other business and nominations for officers should be notified to rosemaryfrenchobe@gmail.com no later than midday on 10th April 2019, using the following form:

Apologies for absence: Please notify the Secretary by email to hello@cranleighbiz.co.uk.

The AGM will be followed at 7.30pm by our annual dinner to which partners and non-members are welcome.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cranleigh-chamber-of-commerce-annual-dinner-2019-tickets-51144004093

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Interested in the future of policing in your area?

Interested in the future of policing in your area?

Surrey Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey are teaming up to hold a series of public engagement events in every borough and district across the county.

The ‘Policing Your Community’ events are an opportunity for residents to come and speak to Surrey Police’s Temporary Chief Constable Gavin Stephens and Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro as well as hear from their local Borough Commander.

The Chief Constable will give an update on the current challenges for policing and future plans for the service in Surrey whilst local Borough Commanders will update on the policing priorities and community issues in your area.

This is your chance to ask questions, hear about, and comment on, the future of policing in Surrey including an outline of plans for the 100 extra officers, operational staff and Police Community Support Officers to come from additional council tax funding.

T/Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: “We want to deliver the best possible policing service in Surrey and it is extremely important our residents are involved in understanding and shaping how we do this. These events are a great opportunity to get those conversations going and we really want to talk to as many people as possible so please do register for your local event and come along to see us.”

PCC David Munro said: “Residents regularly tell me how much they value policing in their local area and it is really important to me that we involve the Surrey public in our plans for the future through events like this. This year’s council tax increase has given Surrey Police the opportunity to employ an extra 100 officers and operational staff and I look forward to hearing the views of our local communities on the proposals for their deployment.”

The first event will take place in Waverley on Thursday 21st March at Rodborough School in Milford starting from 7pm.

Other confirmed dates are:
• 2nd April – Surrey Heath: Gordon’s School, West End, Bisley – 7pm
• 3rd April – Mole Valley: Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking – 7pm
• 8th April – Runnymede: Chertsey Hall, Heriot Road, Chertsey– 7pm
• 11th April – Spelthorne: The Greeno Centre, Glebeland Gardens, Shepperton -7pm
• 8th May – Guildford: The Ash Centre, Ash Hill Road, Ash – 7pm
• 9th May – Elmbridge: Xcel Leisure Centre, Waterside Drive, Walton-on-Thames – 7pm
• 14th May –Woking: Bishop David Brown School, Albert Drive, Woking – 6:30pm

Event dates for Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge and Epsom and Ewell will be confirmed in due course.

If you are unable to attend any of the events in person there will be an opportunity to participate in an Online Q&A session with the Chief Constable and PCC once all the events have been held.

All events are free but please book to reserve your place.

You can book for the Waverley event at:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/policing-your-community-waverley-open-engagement-meeting-tickets-57705365301?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

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Cranleigh mobile phone coverage survey

Cranleigh mobile phone coverage survey

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce is working with local stakeholders to better understand how mobile phone coverage in the village impacts upon residents and businesses.

We are inviting people in and around Cranleigh to take part in a short survey, so we can collate data ahead of a meeting in May with Anne Milton MP and mobile phone service providers.

Please take a moment to answer the following questions.

You can answer this survey from different locations, when indoors or outside with your mobile phone.

We will plot responses on a map to better understand which parts of the village are well served and poorly served by mobile phone coverage.

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HCLG report on high streets and town centres in 2030

HCLG report on high streets and town centres in 2030

Dated policies and an unfair tax regime must be reformed to create an environment that will allow high streets and town centres to flourish in the future, a report published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found.

With online sales currently at 20%, and changing consumer behaviour meaning this is likely to continue growing, the future for high streets and town centres will become increasingly bleak.

Some formerly thriving shopping areas are likely to become ghost towns and effectively close down altogether unless the Government, councils, retailers, landlords and the local community act together to implement the Committee’s recommendations.

The report sets out a bold vision for the high street based on locally led strategies, developed with local communities and businesses at the centre, and reflective of evolving commercial and economic patterns.

The Committee calls on the Government to initiate reform in key planning and taxation areas, including the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, to allow high streets to adapt to changing demand, and compete with online retailers such as Amazon on a level playing field.

The Committee finds that:

  • High streets and town centres must adapt, transform and find a new focus in order to survive
  • Business rates are stacking the odds against high street retailers. The Government must initiate reforms to provide meaningful relief to high street retailers, including giving consideration to proposals for an online sales tax to level the playing field
  • Achieving large-scale structural change will require intervention led by the local authority, in collaboration with business and local communities, backed by funding and new powers from central government
  • Local Plans are a key element of this. They must consider green space, leisure, arts and culture, health and social care services to create space that is the “intersection of human life and activity”
  • Retailers must accept the need to adapt and do more to offer what online cannot, focusing more on personal interactions and convenience
  • Landlords need to recognise the retail property market has changed and be more receptive to negotiating lease terms with retailers in financial difficulty – The Government should consider providing a conciliation service to facilitate negotiations between the parties.

Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP commented:

“In recent years, high streets and town centres have faced extremely challenging times. We have seen the collapse of a number of well-known, national high street chains, with many more undergoing restructuring or being bought out. The growth of online shopping has profoundly changed retail in the UK, and the knock-on impact on high streets has been stark.

“It is likely that the heyday of the high street primarily as a retail hub is at an end. However, this need not be its death knell. Local authorities must get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change; they need to innovate, setting out a long-term strategy for renewal, reconfiguring the town centre and finding new ways of using buildings and encouraging new independent retailers.

“Dated planning policy must be reformed to reflect the needs of modern high streets and town centres. Business rates must be made fair. They are currently stacking the odds against businesses with a high street presence and this must end. Tax reforms are needed to level the playing field between online and high street retailers, and we urge the Government to investigate all the options in this area, including an Online Sales Tax.

“We must begin a period of renewal and regeneration, establishing high streets as focal points of our communities comprising green space and health, education and leisure services, as well as a core of retail. At a local and national level, government must create a framework that allows high streets and town centres to thrive. Local authorities must have the foresight to develop evolving strategies tailored to the needs of their local communities and drive the large-scale transformation needed. Central government must give them the powers, and back them financially, to allow them to put this into practice.”

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Retailers need to protect cash flow amidst falling sales

As consumer spending continues to fall, it is vital companies doing business in the retail sector take steps to protect their own position, according to a specialist lawyer.

The warning comes after December 2018 was named one of the worst on record due to like-for-like in-store sales dropping 1.9% year-on-year, according to the High Street Tracker produced by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

Boxing Day footfall also dropped 3.1 per cent for the third consecutive year, retail performance measurement company Springboard reported.

Simon Key, associate in Nelsons’ commercial dispute resolution team and head of its debt recovery service, said:

“The festive retail reports show that consumers are being more cautious when it comes to retail spending, particularly in-store. And naturally, the lack of spending is having an impact on the cash available to the retail sector.

“It is therefore important that anyone doing business in the retail sector takes steps to protect their own position.”

The UK high street looks set for a slow start to 2019, with little evidence of an increase in in-store spending, or in confidence returning to previous levels.

Simon added: “With retail, as with most sectors, cash flow is the key to businesses surviving. We have seen success for a number of our clients in ensuring that they are ‘at the front of the queue’ where securing payment is concerned. The steps businesses need to take to help guard their position will depend on where they are in the chain, however, there are similar, basic things companies can start by doing.

“Having tight contractual terms and conditions from the outset is also important, as is setting and sticking to defined credit limits. Each business will be different so it’s vital specialist advice is always sought so it can be tailored to your specific circumstances – what might be relevant for one company, may not apply to yours.”

Over the past few weeks, retailers have been releasing their Christmas trading reports, with the likes of Selfridges, Aldi, Morrisons, Hobbycraft and Dunelm recording strong festive trading results. However, Next reported in-store sales declines and HMV entered administration following “extremely weak” trading throughout Christmas due to a rapidly changing physical media market.

In 2018, nearly 150,000 jobs were lost after 20,000 outlets – including Maplin, Toys R Us, House of Fraser and Poundworld – closed. Retail job losses are expected to rise to around 160,000 in 2019 due to the high costs of running stores and continuing weak demand.

Simon added: “The stores that have reported rises in in-store sales over the Christmas season – aside from Selfridges, which won consumer business by offering experiences, as well as goods – were the more modest and more affordable stores. This demonstrates how customers are being savvier and avoiding excessive spending.

“While reports do show an increase of 11.9 per cent during December in online shopping, which is largely down to a change in consumer shopping habits, there is considerable nervousness in the market and consumer confidence remains low.”

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Business Improvement District workshops

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce has been working with Waverley Borough Council and the other three Chambers in Waverley to investigate the viability of a Business Improvement District (BID).

Business Improvement District (BID) is a partnership between a local authority and local businesses which is intended to provide improvements to the public sphere within a specified geographical area.

BIDs are funded in whole or in part by a levy on non- domestic ratepayers.

To find out more about this BID project and what it could deliver for Cranleigh, we invite all Cranleigh businesses to attend a workshop at Cranleigh Bandroom at 5.30pm on Thursday 24th January 2019.

Book your place today by email to business.support@waverley.gov.uk or by calling 01483 523088.

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Dates for your diary in 2019

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce has made plans for a busy events calendar in 2019.

We are hosting a series of networking meetings, featuring three breakfasts and two lunches.

New on Cranleigh Chamber networking calendar next year is Network, Walk & Talk event in June, incorporating a social walk with a pub visit at the end.

Our annual dinner and AGM takes place in April at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club.

We’re also pleased to host our annual summer BBQ in July.

In terms of community events, the Chamber is hosting Spring into Cranleigh in April, Cranleigh Shops into Autumn in September, and the Cranleigh Christmas Lights Switch On event in November.

We’re also pleased next year to be involved in a brand new event; the Cranleigh Business Show in the Village Hall in February.

Details of all of these events, including links to book online, can be found now at http://cranleighbiz.co.uk/event/.

We are still looking for interesting speakers for some of these events, so please do email hello@cranleighbiz.co.uk if you would like to speak on a topical business issue.

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