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Chichester Chamber Blog

In My View… Reflecting on Changes

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, December 15, 2017

Having returned to CCCI in July 2017, where I originally worked from 2004 to 2015, I have found myself reflecting on the many changes during that time.

When changes occur, it is very easy to talk down a city like Chichester and this is something we mustn’t do; otherwise those negative sentences can be self-fulfilling.  Of course, I understand that it’s easy to get into that negative way of thinking when we have the ongoing A27 issue, which is a divisive subject and continues to be discussed at length and will no doubt come to a conclusion in due course (we keep our members as up to date as possible by listing information on our website).

I hear mutterings about how we are losing so many of our independent shops and although there is obviously some truth in this, our modern way of living means that most city high streets have moved in the same direction as ours.  Although we sometimes see empty shopfronts in our streets, these are overall filled quickly or empty whilst negotiations take place for new tenants to appear.

We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we have a vibrant and stunning city with so many wonderful attractions, which many other towns and cities look on with envy

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful team at the Chichester Business Improvement District (BID), with whom we share an office.   We see how hard they work and constantly look for new and inspiring ways to support our beautiful city.  They have a fabulous events programme lined up for Christmas 2017 and I urge you to look at this and support as many events in the city as you can this Christmas - www.chichesterbid.co.uk

We are also lucky enough to have a new and enthusiastic MP, Gillian Keegan, representing Chichester.  We have managed to secure Gillian to talk at our MP’s lunch on Friday 13th April, where she will update us on her thoughts and vision for Chichester over a delicious two course lunch.

For information on this and all our events, please visit our website

So, let’s all start talking Chichester up!!  It doesn’t take much to look at the positive side of our lovely city

Julie Harrison, CEO (Shared Role) of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry 

In My View… Reflecting on Changes

Friday, December 15, 2017
Having returned to CCCI in July 2017, where I originally worked from 2004 to 2015, I have found myself reflecting on the many changes during that time. When changes occur, it is very easy to talk down a city like Chichester and this is something we mustn’t do; otherwise those negative  ..

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In My View... The A27

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 30, 2017

On 22 March, I attended a community stakeholder workshop about the A27 improvements in Chichester as a representative of the Chamber, and a local resident.  It was locally organised by West Sussex County Council, hosted at Chichester College in response to the news that the proposed £28m scheme has been scrapped by transport secretary Chris Grayling because of a lack of local consensus.  The workshop’s purpose was to locally start afresh with the A27 plans.

I’m not surprised the previous scheme was scrapped. The options handed down to Chichester and district by Highways England were all flawed because of the way they were conceived.  Highways England ran the consultation through an appointed non-local agent and effectively drew up the options with them, with minimal local consultation. This meant they were always going to be what Highways England preferred as part of a national infrastructure strategy, rather than a locally conceived and popularly supported plan.  Plus, the options were always going to be about just changing the A27: the clue is in the name.

Whether a future improvement scheme is ever going to be funded remains unclear. What we do know is something needs to be done about improving the infrastructure in and around Chichester, of which the bypass is a major factor

We have a fantastic opportunity to produce a compelling locally-driven and visionary plan that considers all forms of transport. One that works for both locals and through-traffic, now and into the future. It needs to go beyond just the bypass by also considering how to reduce the need for local journeys by car in and around Chichester

At the workshop, there was a remarkable sense of unified local purpose. We will never achieve 100% consensus about any plan.  But instead of going down the same old route of allowing those with the loudest voices who are able to attend forums and workshops to influence direction, to me it has to be a much broader local consensus that should be sought

Life is distracting. Getting a lot of people engaged in local issues is a massive challenge, but by achieving broader local engagement from both businesses and residents, I believe we will produce a more visionary and substantiated plan. One that is based on public representation will more likely inspire decision makers and attract the funding.

This is a call to action. Local businesses and residents alike should get involved.

Email: buildabettera27@westsussex.gov.uk to find out more.

Jason Miller, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and SteadyGo

In My View... The A27

Thursday, March 30, 2017
On 22 March, I attended a community stakeholder workshop about the A27 improvements in Chichester as a representative of the Chamber, and a local resident. It was locally organised by West Sussex County Council, hosted at Chichester College in response to the news that the proposed £28m s ..

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In My View... the demise of the independent shopkeeper

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, August 04, 2016

When I first started working in Chichester around 25 years ago, one of its distinguishing and really attractive features was the number of independently owned shops in the centre of the city.  There were butchers, fishmongers, green grocers, hardware stores, antique shops and more.  In fact, with a little digging, you could find almost anything you were looking for within easy walking distance of the Cross.

As I walk those same streets today, I feel somewhat saddened to reflect on what has changed over the last quarter century or so.  Gone are so many of those independent shops, forced out by high rents and exorbitant business rates, the rise of the supermarkets and the move towards on line shopping.  Admittedly, if I wanted to buy a mobile phone I would now be spoilt for choice, but how often do I want to do that?   I would also be spoilt for choice if I wanted to eat in a restaurant.  However, I would struggle to find anywhere to eat in the city centre which wasn’t just another branch of a national chain.  Not that the food is bad – some is very good, but I could eat the same food in Birmingham or even Aberdeen!

So is Chichester still the attractive place it was all those years ago?  In short yes – it still boasts its magnificent architecture and its great cathedral, and of course it still has its marvellous geographical location with the sea and the South Downs so close to hand.  But I still miss the independent shops and feel depressed to see yet another women’s clothing shop opening to sell products manufactured on the cheap in Bangladesh or some other far flung place.  Again, you could find the same products in Birmingham or Aberdeen.

What has happened to the shopping landscape in Chichester is no different from what has happened in most towns and cities over this period.  We are all to blame, at least in part, because we are the ones who moved our custom away from them, but the punitive cost of premises and business rates have also played their part.  We have moved from being a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of shoppers – but sadly, mainly in national chains, in supermarkets and on line.

Peter Stevens, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Pure Employment Law

In My View... the demise of the independent shopkeeper

Thursday, August 04, 2016
When I first started working in Chichester around 25 years ago, one of its distinguishing and really attractive features was the number of independently owned shops in the centre of the city. There were butchers, fishmongers, green grocers, hardware stores, antique shops and more. In fact, wit ..

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In My View…the A27

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, May 19, 2016

Like a slow moving juggernaut (pardon the pun), the plans for the A27 improvements are creeping ever slowly forward.  If you have a business in the Chichester District, decisions being made over the next few months will impact you and potentially your customers. 

And it is a very hot topic at the Chamber right now.  The latest update is that the northern route option has been dropped (http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/confirmed-northern-a27-route-dropped-1-7253056 ), which has really focussed our minds on what the improvement plan will look like for the existing road.

It is complex. A major challenge for business owners is not having the time to sift through the facts and figures and make sense of it all: they’re too busy running their own businesses. For example, Highways England have published a business case for the improvements, although I’ve no idea what this means to my own business, do you?

http://www.highways.gov.uk/publications/a27-chichester-improvement-business-case/

Answers on a postcard please.

Next month, Highways England are due to start a public consultation on the four improvement options. The Chamber intends to be a loud voice on behalf of local businesses in the consultation process.  We see our role as a business communicator – distilling and distributing information about the plans to local businesses.

So, this is our call to action for local business owners.  Whether you are a Chamber member or not, get in touch with us now to contribute, be part of the debate or just to stay informed: office@chichestercci.org.uk

The juggernaut of change is speeding up. Decisions being made about the A27 improvements over the next few months, will affect how people access (or bypass) Chichester for the next 40 years or so. It is really vital that the local business voice is heard.  Get in touch. For information about Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or any of the above initiatives, please visit www.chichestercci.org.uk or contact office@chichestercci.org.uk

Jason Miller, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and SteadyGo

In My View…the A27

Thursday, May 19, 2016
Like a slow moving juggernaut (pardon the pun), the plans for the A27 improvements are creeping ever slowly forward. If you have a business in the Chichester District, decisions being made over the next few months will impact you and potentially your customers. And it is a very hot topic  ..

Read More

In My View… Nothing can sit still if it expects to thrive

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, April 17, 2015

I have been a member of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry too many years to count! During this time I have seen many changes, visited places in the area I might not have done and gained invaluable support and advice. But now, it is time to step down.

When I joined I didn’t know what to expect and it was difficult at first - as a small family business we didn’t have the opportunity to mix with other business people. But we were made very welcome and picked up some business tips and met other like-minded business people. During the recession, I was amazed by how much support there was among Chamber members; providing each other with advice and ideas.

The meetings have changed over time, now offering more networking, a practical business gem every month and everything has to be booked in advance now! But all of this is in response to our members and encourages us to check who is attending the meetings and decide whom you would like to meet.

As a Director on the Board and previously as an Executive Committee member, I have been involved with Chichester City Centre Partnership and the Business Improvement District (BID) since its inception.  I personally care passionately about Chichester, having lived here since 1957. Over this time there have been great changes in the city, as there have in every other town and city – most of the changes coming from us and how we use our city. The areas with BIDs are in a unique position, far more readily available to flex and change as demands requires. No town or city can sit still or it will go into decline as we have seen elsewhere in the country – and it’s been the same with the Chamber of Commerce; we all need to constantly evolve and be willing to accept change and challenge

During my time on the BID Board which is entirely made up of volunteers, the biggest challenge we’ve faced is other agencies not working together within this new and modern era. Very frustrating. If we want to continue enjoying a vibrant city we need to modernise and speed up the process – all the way from the idea, through planning, to completion.

It was only on reflection that I realised the parallels between the Chamber of Commerce and Chichester City Centre. Both fabulous entities which are embracing change, albeit one slightly more slowly than the other! However, I very much look forward to seeing the Chamber and our City move forward in a positive way to embrace the changing times we live in.

Gloria Robinson, CCCI Director, and Tawny Nursery

In My View… Nothing can sit still if it expects to thrive

Friday, April 17, 2015
I have been a member of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry too many years to count! During this time I have seen many changes, visited places in the area I might not have done and gained invaluable support and advice. But now, it is time to step down. When I joined I didn’t know  ..

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In My View… District Council should be supporting the Business Improvement District more!

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 26, 2015

Businesses in Chichester, as everywhere else, pay Business Rates to the local authority.  The level of business rates is staggering – in many businesses it is the biggest overhead following rent and salaries.

So what do businesses get for their money?  Surely they get their bins emptied?  No.  Do they get subsidised parking? No.  Streamlined planning applications?  No.  In fact they get nothing directly – the money goes into both the local authorities’ and the Government’s general tax pot.  Business rates are no more than a tax on every business which occupies a property.

In Chichester, businesses within the City walls have to pay an additional levy for the Business Improvement District (BID), as more and more areas are seeing.  This is a percentage of the business rates which is charged on top and is paid to the City Centre Partnership for improvements within the City walls. In total they had an income in 2013/2014 of £273,000, of which 98% was collected from local businesses. 

So how did they spend all this money?  Well, £80,000 went on Marketing and Promoting Chichester, which included the delivery of events throughout the year and the installation of the City’s Christmas lights; £74,000 on Organising the City which included working with local authorities on improving signage and way finding in Chichester, £59,000 went on Environmental Improvements including tidying and refurbishing our streetscape and £35,000 on improving safety in Chichester with ChiBAC.

Aren’t these all things which should be done by the local authority?  In my view, yes – as a small business without high street frontage, we get little directly in return for our levy.  However, the reality is that in this age of austerity these things are not provided by the local authority and so the City Centre Partnership steps in.

Here’s my gripe. As the role of the City Centre Partnership is arguably to take on projects which the local authority should be providing, one would hope that the two work in harmony.  Not always, alas. The City Centre Partnership’s attempts to replace finger posts and A-board signage in the City are stuck in Chichester District Council’s (CDC) planning department. Chichester Market is under threat by CDC and the BID has had to shout very loudly to encourage a popular survey to be carried out to understand what Cicestrians and businesses really want.

Surely, if we have to have yet another body to administer our hard earned money, we have a right to expect it to work together with the myriad of other authorities for our benefit? You helped to put it there, CDC, so let’s see you supporting it! 

Peter Stevens CCCI Director, Director and co-founder of Pure Employment Law

In My View… District Council should be supporting the Business Improvement District more!

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Businesses in Chichester, as everywhere else, pay Business Rates to the local authority. The level of business rates is staggering – in many businesses it is the biggest overhead following rent and salaries. So what do businesses get for their money? Surely they get their bins empti ..

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We should shop locally, but we also need to think nationally …

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, May 08, 2014

From the very basic commercial principle of supply and demand, if the demand isn’t there, the supply dries up and businesses close down – whether retail, food outlets, print companies, producers or manufacturers.

The reality is that Chichester is made up of some fabulous shops.  I’m proud that we have a House of Fraser; an H&M, a relatively large Next, a Côte and a Wagamama! We are a decent city that attracts big names.  But I’m also proud of our good mix of independent stores - which actually reflect the boutique and small business offering in the District as a whole.

Looking away from the High Street, Chichester has some excellent small and medium-sized businesses that work hard to attract not only local custom, but have the common sense to work and operate on a national, or even international level. There are so many opportunities out there and the irony of all of this is that even though we look locally for our suppliers and customers, time and time again, the internet provides a broader perspective on where our custom comes from.

Online presence is fundamental in this day and age and there is no excuse not to be online – and trading online. You need to be where people are looking and they are – we are – looking online.  So, the point is: don’t fight it, embrace it. We all love having access to good businesses and customers locally, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on wider opportunities that may come from further afield. It’s about thinking commercially…

Louise Hopkins, Chairman, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Director, Recenseo

We should shop locally, but we also need to think nationally …

Thursday, May 08, 2014
From the very basic commercial principle of supply and demand, if the demand isn’t there, the supply dries up and businesses close down – whether retail, food outlets, print companies, producers or manufacturers. The reality is that Chichester is made up of some fabulous shops.  ..

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A27? It’s about time

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 06, 2014

It’s good to see a commitment stated in the media for a feasibility study on A27 improvements.  It’s about time – but it’s not new and it’s not the first. We all know another feasibility study will show that improvements are needed. The impact of this road extends further than just Chichester or even West Sussex.

Organisations across the south and south east of England use this road; for haulage, agriculture, horticulture, manufacturing, tourism and commuting. As an arterial route, its impact is huge. Users of the road know better than out-of-area consultants where the key pinch points are, so as a Chamber representing business views, we sincerely hope the consultation is carried out among the right stakeholders and the use of theory can be complimented by empirical research. This is an opportunity for West Sussex County Council to liaise and consult with organisations in Hampshire as well as cross-county and not just with the usual suspects…

Looking at the bigger picture, we also need to consider how attractive our enclave of West Sussex is for inward investment – now and in the future. We can’t keep building homes without considering the impact on the economy. Chichester will only be a desirable place for people to live, if it offers the right elements and residents of these new homes need employment – we don’t want to risk Chichester becoming a dormitory town. We need areas earmarked for employment and enterprise development – for local companies to be able to expand and stay in our area, employing more local people - but also to encourage organisations to move into this area. Infrastructure is one thing that will improve our inward investment appeal, but we can’t stop there. We also need employment and enterprise zones – then we need to house the people.

From Hampshire to Brighton and beyond, business organisations have been lobbying for A27 improvements for decades, so the fact that there is movement of sorts is good news. What we hope is new about this announcement is that this feasibility study won’t just be filed away on a dusty shelf. We hope the momentum is picked up and maintained and we actually see money being spent on the roads, rather than on paperwork. But we want the bigger picture in mind.

A27? It’s about time

Thursday, March 06, 2014
It’s good to see a commitment stated in the media for a feasibility study on A27 improvements. It’s about time – but it’s not new and it’s not the first. We all know another feasibility study will show that improvements are needed. The impact of this road extends f ..

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The Importance of Tourism

Office Chichester Chamber - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

At one time or another we’re all tourists! Whether an annual holiday, a weekend away, a day out or a business trip, when you or I take a break, we’re contributing to the ‘visitor economy’.

The tourism industry is the country’s third largest employer, employing in excess of two million people, generating £97billion each year, and supporting thousands of businesses. In Chichester District, tourism is big business. There are over 9,100 jobs directly involved in tourism and leisure, plus numerous ‘support’ jobs.

But tourism also adds much more to all our lives. It has a strong interdependent relationship with transport, retailing, heritage assets, farming and the countryside, coastal activities, sport, the arts and much more. In simple terms there is much that our community benefits from in terms of infrastructure, amenities, cultural assets and the environment that the local population are able to enjoy, that simply wouldn’t exist without ‘Tourism’.

Chichester District is fortunate in attracting a wide variety of visitors – from families enjoying a seaside holiday to couples taking short breaks. There are also visitors to events such as the Goodwood Revival, the Petworth Festival or Blues on the Farm, plus those visiting the theatre, or here for sailing, windsurfing, walking and sightseeing, and the thousands of business visitors, who support, stimulate and enhance other economic sectors.

There’s a role for all us in supporting tourism. Many of our local businesses - and not just those directly involved in tourism - can help ensure our patch fully exploits every opportunity to grow the visitor economy. The ‘tourist pound’ is vital to our economy, to employment, and to the quality of all our lives so, for each of us as individuals, it makes sense to be as welcoming as possible to our visitors. At the end of the day we’re all tourists!

Stephen Oates, Non-exec Director, CCCI, Economic Development Manager, CDC

The Importance of Tourism

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
At one time or another we’re all tourists! Whether an annual holiday, a weekend away, a day out or a business trip, when you or I take a break, we’re contributing to the ‘visitor economy’. The tourism industry is the country’s third largest employer, employing i ..

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