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Chichester Chamber Blog

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...Brexit and the smaller business

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Much has been published about the impact of Brexit on bigger businesses, with the FTSE 100 acting as the litmus test of economic reaction. But as an owner/director of my own company, supporting smaller businesses around Chichester, I see a very different situation.

The simple fact is the FTSE 100 has already recovered from the ‘sneeze’ of the referendum result. As I write, the index is up on its pre vote level as most FTSE 100 companies repatriate funds from their overseas operations and profit from a devalued pound. Smaller companies whose cash flow stops them from forward buying currency will have lost out as a result of the drop in the exchange rate.

Currency instability is an issue we can all appreciate (as we buy our holiday Euros…!) but there are hidden costs of Brexit. Working with companies that trade in the EU, I know that exporting and importing goods is relatively straight forward at present, but if a similar trade deal cannot be struck, the administration costs of exporting will increase. Multiple invoices for each shipment, goods delayed in customs and higher tariffs are all real risks. These costs will hit the small business first.

One saving grace is the fact that many EU countries need our trade just as much as we need theirs. The same could be said for the thorny subject of immigration and free movement of people, which equally cuts both ways – something the Brexit campaign overlooked. Yes, we may cut EU migration into the UK but in doing so we may restrict the positive contribution EU workers make to our economy and find ourselves subject to immigration controls when we travel.  

As we go about our daily lives, one may be fooled into thinking that it is ‘all change but no change’ but I think the impacts of Brexit will take many months or even years to hit, with smaller businesses feeling the pinch first. Bigger businesses can often afford to delay decisions or rein in planned spend, but the resultant ripple effect will hit the those that live life a little more hand-to-mouth – the SMEs that represent over 99% of all UK businesses and employ over 14 million people.

Nicki Paddy, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Nicki Paddy & Co.

In My View...Brexit and the smaller business

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Much has been published about the impact of Brexit on bigger businesses, with the FTSE 100 acting as the litmus test of economic reaction. But as an owner/director of my own company, supporting smaller businesses around Chichester, I see a very different situation. The simple fact is the FT ..

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The EU referendum - members views

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, July 07, 2016

Some CCCI members comments and articles following the EU Referendum...

Brad Ainsworth, Cathedral Wealth Management

Market Bulletin - Uncharted waters

The UK’s referendum result may have unleashed political mayhem, but stock markets have been more measured.

Sometimes even a weekend can be a long time in politics. Since it was confirmed on Friday morning that the UK had voted to end its membership of the European Union, David Cameron has resigned, as has half the shadow cabinet. Nicola Sturgeon has raised the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum, with the latest polls in Scotland showing 59% in support of a break from the UK. Sinn Fein has called for a vote on Irish union, a suggestion that was immediately rebuffed by the first minister of Northern Ireland. The first minister of Wales has called for the funding formula for Wales to be reviewed.

This is just week one of the UK’s journey to leave the EU, a voyage that may take two years or more. Inevitably, there will be more storms to come in the weeks and months ahead. To borrow from David Cameron’s resignation speech, however, we do not yet know who will “captain” the ship of state. Uncertainties are numerous.

However, we do know that the Bank of England is ready to do “whatever it takes” to ensure orderly markets. We also know that other central banks will support the markets – it is in their interests to do so.

Click here to read the rest of the article

 

Nicki Paddy, Nicki Paddy & Co.

Nicki is reminding businesses that until told otherwise all VAT legislation for intra EU trade remains as it was until any new legislation is passed.  So all returns are still due and no changes to how they trade with the EU at present.

 

Clive Janes, CRJ lettings

What ‘Brexit’ means for Chichester’s property market

I’m writing this just a few hours after the Leave campaign took a narrow victory over the ‘Remainers’.

As more information is released, heads are spinning as the statisticians and economists try to figure out what the hell this result to leave the EU means for the country as a whole.

The first thing to remember as you listen to pundits on the tele work themselves into a sweat, is that the Channel Tunnel didn’t cave in and this is not necessarily the end of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

In terms of the property market, before the election the general consensus was that a result to leave the EU would bring house prices and rents down, making them affordable for the masses once again (have they ever been ‘affordable’ in this country?!).

Click here to read the rest of the article.

You can read a Brexit update presentation from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board here.

 

The EU referendum - members views

Thursday, July 07, 2016
Some CCCI members comments and articles following the EU Referendum... Brad Ainsworth, Cathedral Wealth Management Market Bulletin - Uncharted waters The UK’s referendum result may have unleashed political mayhem, but stock markets have been more measured. Sometimes even  ..

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In My View.....Looking ahead for Chichester Chamber of Commerce in 2016

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, December 18, 2015

I’ve said before: all organisations - private, public and charity sector - need to constantly evolve or they will stagnate and get left behind. And this is no less the case for Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As with any business, it is vital to our existence that we look to the future and consider how our member (customer) demands on us are changing and will change going forwards. Over the last few months we have revisited member research, re-evaluated our competitive marketplace and reviewed our strategy as a Chamber of Commerce.

As a noisy local chamber, we represent organisations throughout and across our District and beyond, with members hailing from as far as Fernhurst, Littlehampton and Farlington. So we are not without influence!  We already offer a variety of interesting networking and events and we’re expanding these in 2016 to include more advice and new business opportunities. But it is also our role to drive a thriving and committed group of members to be the true voice of Chichester business people, supporting our community and economy. 

As a powerful mouthpiece for Chichester and beyond, we continue to represent our members’ interests – and potential members’ - to key stakeholders and influencers in the region on a host of issues which affect us. Not just a networking organisation, Chichester Chamber is already a valuable consultee for the A27 Chichester Bypass, for the proposed Gatwick expansion and for the ongoing challenge of maintaining commercial land within the district for growing businesses and to aid employment. We have also recently added our weight behind the new District Council-lead Chichester City Vision project.  All of these directly impact on our regional economy and present real opportunities for Chichester Chamber members to engage on the future and function of the City and its surrounds over the next 20 years.

These interests are formalised in our Public Affairs Agenda being launched in January 2016, which covers four key areas and aims to: Keep Chichester Moving, Give Chichester the Powers to Grow, Maintain a Skilled Workforce and Ensure Chichester’s Economic Future.

We’re putting our marque on this with a new look for the Chamber from January to represent our modern and progressive approach to business in Chichester District. Why not join us?

Louise Hopkins, Chairman CCCI Ltd and Director, Recenseo

In My View.....Looking ahead for Chichester Chamber of Commerce in 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015
I’ve said before: all organisations - private, public and charity sector - need to constantly evolve or they will stagnate and get left behind. And this is no less the case for Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As with any business, it is vital to our existence that we look  ..

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In My View...The Living Wage and Business

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, August 13, 2015

The recent Budget Review signposted the introduction of the national living wage (£7.20 in 2016 rising to £9.35 in 2020). The introduction of the living wage is foremost a reflection of the core values of a business and there is little to criticise.

Introducing it from the first day of starting a business in high salaried sectors such as finance and technology may be easy or even academic. But realistically, these sectors are unlikely to need it. However the lower salaried sectors in our area such as hospitality, care, horticulture and retail may find even the gradual introduction challenging. The direct financial cost to business is undeniable. Benefits of the living wage that should be considered include reductions in staff turnover, improvements in staff morale, recruitment opportunities and reputation. However, the cost increases will be direct in terms of those below living wage gaining an immediate increase and indirect in the form of  pressure from employees above the living wage rate seeking to maintain wage rate differentials. Pay scales at the lower end of the spectrum will need to be adjusted to maintain incentives and progression and mitigation strategies of these cost increases, if viewed simplistically, will likely be through price increases and possible job cuts. Not a good state of affairs for business... Or the economy. In addition, one of the big conundrums of the British economy is the high employment levels, lower investment levels and relatively low productivity, which is approximately 30% lower when compared our major overseas competitor nations (France, Germany and USA). Considerable debate about the reasons for this is currently taking place in Government and among economists. The reasons suggested are numerous but, in my view, two factors linked to the living wage debate could be considered. These are, that adequately paid workers tend to work harder as poor pay does not create a motivated workforce and if labour costs you more, management will make more efficient use of it through investment in technology, new equipment  and improved ways of working. Food for thought for the next couple of years…

Alan Edmonds - Deputy Chair, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Director, IMPROBIZ   

In My View...The Living Wage and Business

Thursday, August 13, 2015
The recent Budget Review signposted the introduction of the national living wage (£7.20 in 2016 rising to £9.35 in 2020). The introduction of the living wage is foremost a reflection of the core values of a business and there is little to criticise. Introducing it from the first ..

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In my view....Chambers of Commerce could be supported better…

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, June 18, 2015

Since starting as Business Development Manager at Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry 11 years ago, there have been some incredible changes.

Gone are the days that a local Chamber of Commerce is just involved in recruiting members, running events and dealing with local issues, (although this is still a fundamental part of our role).    Chambers have grown, our roles have expanded county-wide, we get involved in key decisions and projects, run joint ventures, deliver services and training, but we still work on limited resources and next to no funding.

In some countries, Chambers of Commerce have a statutory role in registering companies, similar to Companies House; in the Gulf, they actually perform a role similar to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and even issue the permits to trade.

What a pity that this is not the case in the UK. It is almost inconceivable that central government will change the relationship so as to empower UK Chambers of Commerce to act in the way that they act in other countries.  One suspects that this would be strongly resisted by the commercial sector as an unnecessary bureaucratic insertion into their normal commercial activities.  However, it would certainly help raise the profile of Chambers in general and make them a more respected and appreciated body if they did – it could even help to establish better governance and standards of practice in business.

Michael Heseltine’s recent white paper quoted:

It is important that local people are themselves satisfied that they have, in their areas, the quality of leadership needed for a real economic partnership with Whitehall. The LEPs and chambers are essential building blocks in our competitiveness agenda. Without such local empowerment we will not transform our national performance.

After 11 years of working at Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry, I have decided to move on to pastures new and will be leaving in the late summer.  I hope that businesses continue to join and appreciate how important it is to have a local Chamber of Commerce.  That they can be vital for influencing, delivering business support and training, networking and generally keeping the local economic wheels turning.  I would urge LEPs and Councils to recognise that a lot of work is done by very few – many of them volunteers - and that some sort of assistance would be welcomed to ensure that they remain in place for a long time to come.

Julie Harrison - Business Development Manager, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry

In my view....Chambers of Commerce could be supported better…

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Since starting as Business Development Manager at Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry 11 years ago, there have been some incredible changes. Gone are the days that a local Chamber of Commerce is just involved in recruiting members, running events and dealing with local issues, (altho ..

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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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Chichester business is playing to win with the help of the Business Navigator Scheme

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, February 27, 2015

The Business Navigator scheme is helping businesses across the area, and it’s not just for start-ups. Established family business Game Set and Match has also found invaluable guidance and support. Run by Rebecca Stemp, her brother and father, the company specialises in the manufacture and sale of sports clothing and equipment for hockey, cricket, bowls, rugby and racquet sports, as well as providing training space for hire. 

Chichester Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with Worthing & Adur and Brighton & Hove Chambers to offer the Business Navigator service, which signposts local businesses towards grants, funding and guidance available locally or nationally. The project is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and managed by Coast to Capital and the new Greater Brighton City Region. Since the project launched in July 2014, Chichester area Business Support Navigator Kerry Kyriacou has been helping local businesses to find the right support for them.

Kerry supported Rebecca and the team in completing a Be The Business funding application, earmarked for computer and staff training systems, embroidery software and support for taking on apprentices. Rebecca says, ‘If we’re successful, it will have a major impact on our business. We’ll be able to do some of the things we’ve been talking about implementing for ages, such as taking on an apprentice.’

She adds, ‘It’s really exciting, as going through the application process with Kerry’s support has made my brother and me realise just how hands-on we are. With the potential systems and training we could take on through this funding, we can then focus on our overall business plan and direction. We’re not just a retail outlet anymore, and this funding could help us do so much more.’

Score some points for your business, and get in touch with Kerry today.

Kerry Kyriacou can be contacted at Kerry.kyriacou@c2cbusiness.org.uk or on 07823 411323

Chichester business is playing to win with the help of the Business Navigator Scheme

Friday, February 27, 2015
The Business Navigator scheme is helping businesses across the area, and it’s not just for start-ups. Established family business Game Set and Match has also found invaluable guidance and support. Run by Rebecca Stemp, her brother and father, the company specialises in the manufacture and  ..

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In My View… Everyone should be entering the business awards

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, February 19, 2015

Do you want free PR for your business?  Do you want to raise your company profile?  Do you want to recognise the brilliant contribution made by your staff?  Do you want to tell the world how great your company is?  If your answer is ‘yes’ (and of course it is), then I have a simple answer for you: enter the Observer Business Awards.  It really is a fantastic way to boost your company.

Having been a judge for the awards four times in recent years, I have been able to see first-hand how businesses have benefitted not just from winning the awards, but also just by entering the competition.  The process of submitting an entry, when done properly, really brings focus and makes you think clearly and deeply about what you do well in your business, what makes you stand out, how you are perceived by your customers and the difference made by your staff when they are engaged, enthusiastic and committed.

We are very lucky that the Chichester area can boast some exceptional enterprises, large and small, which does mean that you will face competition, but do you feel strongly enough about your business to believe it is the best in its class?  Getting a call from the team at the Observer to advise that you’ve been nominated by someone is a nice compliment, but to win you need to put in a submission; just being nominated doesn’t guarantee you’re in the running!

Certainly include testimonials and laurels from your customers, but back them up with your own information describing your business, how and why you do what you do so well and what makes your company outstanding.  Just sending in a thick tome of printouts from your website and brochures isn’t going to convince the judges you are anything other than lazy!  You need to sell it to them, so don’t be backwards in coming forwards and sing your own praises in your own words.  Think about whom you might be up against and explain why you are outstanding in your category.

I have seen some companies absolutely flourish after being voted Winner or being Highly Commended, with much coverage before and especially after the awards, which is why I really do recommend entering.  There really is nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Farid Ahmed, Director Wolf Unique & Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry

In My View… Everyone should be entering the business awards

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Do you want free PR for your business? Do you want to raise your company profile? Do you want to recognise the brilliant contribution made by your staff? Do you want to tell the world how great your company is? If your answer is ‘yes’ (and of course it is), then I have a simple a ..

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