Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce will be held from 18:30 on Thursday 19 April 2018 in the Augusta Room, The Georgian Hotel, High Street, Haslemere. The meeting will:
- Consider the President’s annual report
- Approve the Chamber’s accounts for the year to December 31, 2017
- Elect a President for a two-year term of office
- Elect a Vice-President, Secretary, Treasuer and four ordinary Committee members for one-year terms of office
- Transact any other business for which due notice has been given.
Names of the candidates for election will be announced shortly. The meeting will start with a networking opportunity over a complimentary welcome drink and finger food. The meeting will be followed with further networking over a gin tasting, for which there is a small charge (£7 for members, £12 for guests). To facilitate catering for both networking sessions, please book online CLICK HERE Please note: Members who do not wish to participate in the gin tasting should book a ‘Meeting only’ ticket for which there is no charge. Such members are of course welcome to remain in the room with drinks for their own account.
Meeting held on Wednesday 5 April 2017 at Haslemere Educational Museum, High Street, Haslemere. Committee Members Present: David Goddin (President), Rita Tinney (Secretary), Caroline Warrington (Treasurer), Simon Clark, Ruth Mullender (Membership), Clive Rollinson (Vice President), Brenda Roper Tim Butler Members Present: Melanie Odell, Peter Knifton, Nigel Hardy, Brian Howard, Sarah Palmer, Paul Gardner, Heather Slater
Bruce Wallace, Tim Butler, Melissa King, Desmond Parker, Michael Pettifer
- Minutes of the AGM held on Wednesday 20 April 2016
These were accepted unanimously and signed by the President
- President’s Report: (For the report presented at the 2017 AGM, please click HERE)
- Treasurer’s Report: (For the report presented at the 2017 AGM, please click HERE)
CW issued the accounts and made her report. She pronounced that the Chamber had enjoyed a good year, income had exceeded expenses and that the chamber was enjoying a healthy surplus with the bank. The Chamber had financially supported a range of and town activities .
- Election of the Committee:
President: David Goddin (Two-year term, no election this year).
Vice President: Clive Rollinson. Standing for a further year elected unopposed
Secretary: Rita Tinney (Keats). Will continue for the foreseeable future
Treasurer: Caroline Warrington stepped down. This position currently remains unfilled.
Membership Secretary: Ruth Mullender stepped down. This position is currently vacant however Clive Rollinson will act in a caretaker role
Committee Members: Brenda Roper (B & D Roper) will continue and was elected unopposed; Simon Clark (personal member) will continue and was elected unopposed
Tim Butler stepped down at the AGM; Paul Gardner and Elizabeth Owen resigned earlier in the year. The President commented that new members are urgently needed to strengthen the Committee and to fill the vacant roles and that he had identified someone to take on a new role in PR and social media. Both the President and the Vice President will not stand beyond the end of this Chamber year and these roles will need to be filled at the next AGM – successors need to be identified at the earliest opportunity in order that they can be co-opted onto the Committee and become familiar with the roles.
- Any Other Business/Q&A
6.1 Hon. Secretary Position: Brian Howard suggested that the idea of a Secretary who is paid an honorarium should be re-instated – this worked well many years in the past and was a benefit to the Chamber. He went on to comment that due to the healthy state of the Chamber bank account, this should be financially viable.
6.2 Car Park to the rear of Collingwood Batchelor: Brian Howard told the meeting that it thought it was a great shame that the Chamber had failed to secure the development. He commented that he had pressed both the present and the past President to sign an agreement with the lawful owners but no action had been taken. Brian Howard continued to say that had he been approached, he would have willingly taken on the project.
6.3 Links with local schools: Brian Howard told the meeting that he had developed links with local schools while promoting the Haslemere Hogs Event and that he felt the Chamber should also be developing such associations. Clive Rollinson replied that the Chamber had already discussed the possibility of recruiting an active and business minded person (possibly retired) who could take on a role to promote the Chamber and that a salary had been mentioned. Peter Knifton told the meeting that he had undertaken a great deal of work at the Business Centre and had actively promoted the facility but found it difficult to promote it’s links with the Chamber as there seemed to be little potential value in membership at the present time. The President replied that he fully understood the situation and was making every effort to get closer to the membership. Clive Rollinson reminded the meeting that in the past the Chamber principle had been that there was a swap of facilities between the members by way of inter-trading but this no longer happens. This is very likely due to the balance of members being non retailers. The President agreed that the Chamber potentially needed to recruit someone to undertake market research to determine the direction to which the chamber needed to move in order to attract more members and offer better value and deliver to their expectations. Brian Howard commented that he remembered a time when Chamber meetings were held four times a week in lunch times. Melanie Odell said that a monthly lunch meeting could be a good way forward or an ‘always shop in Haslemere’ campaign. The huge success of the Easter Bunny Trail had demonstrated that there was a local willingness to support the town.
6.4 Affiliation to Surrey Chambers: The President explained that there is an opportunity to become an affiliated member of the Surrey Chambers which would give the members of Haslemere and District Chamber the benefit of being able to attend general meetings and networking events and use the logo of the SC. Members would have access to the Minutes of the Economic Survey Reports and access to export advice. It would widen the ability for members to promote their businesses and gain recognition on a local and wider level. The cost to Haslemere Chamber would be £200.00 pa. The meeting agreed that this option should be pursued.
6.5 Networking Events: Heather Slater asked the President if there was any intention of increasing the number of networking events as the only one available to members at the moment was the Chamber Drinks once a month. The President replied that there was a possibility. Peter Knifton commented that he hoped that affiliation to the Surrey Chambers would not mean that Haslemere chamber gave up on organising its own programme of events and that he would like to see a re-instatement of the Breakfast Meeting. The President said that those meetings had not been cost effective but Peter Knifton countered that surely with the cash balance in the Chamber account it shouldn’t be about cost but about networking and offering opportunities for the members. Peter Knifton continued that we have to keep doing ‘stuff’ and that the more we do the more we can engage with local businesses and individuals to grow the Chamber. Clive Rollinson proposed that the Chamber should re-start the Breakfast Meeting Events and the members present agreed.
6.6 Public Conveniences: Ruth Mullender told the meeting that she felt the chamber should pressurise the local authority to refurbish the public conveniences rather than to close them as is presently rumoured. She went on to suggest that potentially the Chamber could take on this project themselves using the grant awarded to them for town improvements and that Simon Clarke had already made suggestions as to how this could be achieved. Melanie Odell commented that the Town Council had already discussed this issue and asked Waverley to transfer them to the Town Council however there is a policy that the Town Council will only accept responsibility for buildings if the freehold is also transferred. She suggested that perhaps the Town Council and the Chamber could work together on this. Ruth Mullender thanked Melanie Odell for her suggestion and said that it would be difficult to encourage more visitors to a town which had no coach park and no public conveniences. Brian Howard told the meeting that in the past the Chamber had offered to finance the acquisition of portaloos when it was announced that the town conveniences would be closed for 6 months for refurbishment. Following an article in the Haslemere Herald the council were so embarrassed that they offered to plumb in the temporary WCs.
6.7 Closure of the Post Office: The members present expressed concerns over the potential closure of both Haslemere and Fernhurst Post Offices.
6.8 The President presented bouquets to Caroline Warrington, the outgoing Treasurer, and Ruth Mullender, who has performed the role of Membership Secretary, for their sterling work over the past years. Thanks were also given to Clive Rollinson for the excellent catering provided to the meeting. There being no further business, the Meeting ended at 8.30pm
Shortly before the AGM last year, Craig McGowan warned his Committee that anyone stepping into his shoes as President would be taking on a demanding role, in terms of both time and effort. I have to say he was quite correct. But what he did not stress was the enormous satisfaction of leading an organisation committed to fostering an ever-stronger economy in the Chamber’s area. It is both an honour and a privilege to be at the helm – and, indeed, a great pleasure to serve the members and the wider community in this way. One of my first duties as President was to attend – in the company of seven past presidents – the funeral of Nick Smith, the Chamber’s fifth President, who served during 1991 and 1992. More recently we have marked the death of Ron Loveday, who, in retirement, volunteered to act as honorary secretary and in the words of Brian Howard “got things done between committee meetings”. I acknowledge the contribution both these gentlemen made to the development of the organisation that we have today.
The Committee No president can operate autonomously – except, perhaps, in certain political arenas – and a successful Chamber President needs the support of a dedicated and enthusiastic committee. I am very fortunate to have inherited such a committee, and thank them all for their contributions – despite their own career pressures:
- Clive Rollinson, my Vice-President
- Caroline Warrington, Treasurer
- Rita Tinney, Secretary
- Ruth Mullender, membership
- Brenda Roper
- Bruce Wallace
- Tim Butler
- Simon Clark
Liz Owen stepped down early in the year following a career opening, and Paul Gardner did so more recently, because of work pressures. Sadly, we are tonight bidding farewell to several committee members, but this is simply part of the Chamber’s evolution – allowing others to participate more meaningfully in the life of the Haslemere business community.
Objectives for the years past and future When I accepted the role of President a year ago, I announced five key areas that I wanted the Committee to focus on. These were:
- Strengthening further our relationships with the other Waverley chambers, local authorities and key interest groups
- Engaging more closely with our existing members to monitor their opinions and needs – and to encourage greater participation
- Implementing a vigorous recruitment drive to increase our strength and broaden our talent base
- Seeking further opportunities to generate revenue that can finance economic development projects
- Developing a co-ordinated marketing plan for business in Haslemere.
We have had varying success with them so far, but they remain the principles that will guide the rest of my term of office.
Relationships Twelve months later I am happy to report excellent progress in terms of relationships. Leaders of the four chambers – that’s us, Godalming, Farnham and Cranleigh – communicate and collaborate with increasing effectiveness on issues of common concern … but without compromising any of the chambers’ independence. We have a good working relationship with the Economic Development Team at Waverley, as well as certain councillors and officials. This positions us well for lobbying to ensure that local government encourages a supportive environment for the business sector. It is a matter of some concern that, as a whole, our elected representatives at Waverley appear to have little ear for the concerns of business.The ongoing controversy over car park charges is a good example. I am happy to report that relations with our own Town Hall, especially our current Mayor and deputy Mayor, are particularly good. I believe the Chamber is highly regarded by most, if not all, the councillors. Generally they have sympathy for the business community and I feel we should recognise the chances that this presents. There is, of course, a significant difference between political Haslemere – the area administered by the Town Council, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council – and economic Haslemere – that significant part of the Chamber’s 78.5 square miles situated in West Sussex and Hampshire. People from those counties are both part of Haslemere’s problems and its potential solutions. Camelsdale and Grayshott are literally on our doorstep, while places like Liphook and Fernhurst are well within five miles of Haslemere Town Hall. I believe our Chamber could and should strive to work with all the relevant local authorities to achieve an economic solution in the best interests of all. We are also building relationships with interest groups such as the Haslemere Community Rail Partnership, Haslemere Vision and the Royal Society of St George. Significantly, all these groups are involved in activity that contributes directly or indirectly to the local economic climate. The Community Rail Partnership – which is not expected to be adversely affected by the coming change in the rail franchise – is behind the Information Hub, recently opened at the Station. We are supporting this because it is a determined effort to promote Haslemere, both as a destination and as a gateway to the South Downs region. And in the most simplistic terms, more visitors means potentially more customers for local businesses. Our involvement in the Information Hub not only helps to publicise the Chamber, but also provides free opportunities for our members to gain exposure by providing items for the changing window displays that are envisaged. Details of how members can use these opportunities will be published on our website and in the Newsletter over the coming weeks. At this stage the Hub itself has limited opening hours, but if enough volunteers can be found to staff it, it will be able to remain open longer. As I am sure you know, we are also supporting initiatives such as Haslemere Hogs and the Spring in Haslemere promotion. Both of these specifically address the need to bring more people into our business areas, and both give people a reason to see the diversity and depth of our commercial offering – and to spend their money.
Engagement with members I had hoped to be able to report large-scale, one-on-one consultations between the Committee and members. This remains an ambition, because it will enable us more accurately to gauge grassroots opinions and business sentiment. If we are to serve the members better, we need to understand their hopes and their difficulties. We recognise that a number of members are happy to belong, but have no wish to be active in the Chamber – however, they should get something for the 16.4 pence a day that they pay to belong to the Chamber, even if it’s just a quick visit. A drawback of operating a Chamber with a committee of working people is that they are generally too busy to spend as much time as they would like on Chamber business. I would hope that we can also find volunteers to take on the roles of Chamber ambassadors. I am thinking of retired people, with a good understanding of business, to knock on members’ doors and develop dialogue within the membership. We are, of course, very grateful for comments, suggestions and plain contact with those members we have been able to meet face-to-face. In the year ahead I want the Chamber to pay much more attention to the practice of customer relationship management: our members are effectively our customers. If the Chamber is to grow in size and influence, it must handle its members in a more businesslike fashion. Engagement does not always have to be face-to-face, and I believe we have made good progress through bringing the latest version of the website to fruition, continued improvements to the weekly Newsletter and a growing presence on social media through our Facebook group and our Twitter account. I want to ramp-up activity on all these fronts in the coming months. My plea to members is to make more use of all our channels to stay in touch with local news and also to publicise your own news – and attract business. We are also able to engage with members and the wider community via the general media, and I am particularly grateful to the Haslemere Herald and the Messenger for the coverage they have given us. Having spent most of my working life either reporting what people have said or writing things that they will say, it’s a pleasant change to be the one being reported! I shall continue to exploit every opportunity to get publicity for the Chamber: it is vital for member recruitment and retention that we maximise the Chamber’s general credibility and public image by leading opinion on topical issues affecting our membership. The Herald’s weekly Chamber column is an under-used facility for members to advertise at an attractive rate and I would urge all who are selling their products or services into the local area to make use of this medium. I am aware that some current advertisers are no longer members. We have no control over contracts between the Herald and its advertisers, but with more support from our active members I expect we can gradually push out those advertisers who are no longer on our membership list. A third possible avenue of contact with members is through networking events. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a lack of enthusiasm among members for networking and training. The Breakfast Club was failing to break even, so we decided to ‘park’ it. On the other hand, the rebranding of Poets Day as Chamber Drinks, and its move from the last Friday of the month to the last Thursday, has been reasonably successful. Our next session will be on the 27th of April: I hope to see you all there – Please watch the website and Newsletter for details. I still believe local networking opportunities are an important element of what the Chamber should be providing, because for many of us the Chamber area is a rich store of potential customers, suppliers and employees. But we all need to look outside the area for business as well. This is one of the reasons we are proposing affiliation with Surrey Chambers of Commerce: it has networking and training opportunities on a scale that we could never achieve.
Membership and recruitment We have seen modest growth in membership since the new website went live. There were a few teething problems with the online application form and our internal approval process, but I think these are now behind us. In the coming year I want to see a renewed effort to bring lapsed members back on our books and draw in more of the many businesses – large and small – that have not yet joined. If we could knock successfully on the door of every business in economic Haslemere, I believe we could easily be on the way to an organisation of perhaps 500 members – and that would give us a great deal of clout. We have just produced a recruitment leaflet, which we will hand out to prospective members whenever possible. We will also have supplies available at key points such as the Town Hall, Visitor Information Centre, Haslemere Information Hub, and any members (or other businesses) prepared to help us spread the word.
Revenue and development A few years ago the Chamber’s finances were in dire straits, but with good financial management practices introduced by Malcolm Traviss and developed by Carline Warrington, our position is now much more satisfactory. During the year we were fortunate to receive a sum of just over £2,400 from Waverley Borough Council, when the funds of the defunct Waverley Business Forum were shared equally among the four Waverley Chambers. The only condition attached to this windfall was that the money could be used only for business development projects. Meanwhile, our other ‘investment’ – the Haslemere Business Centre – is down to just one vacant desk. The latest forecast shows that start-up costs should be covered by this summer and that we can look to a positive balance of almost £10,000 by this time next year. This project has the potential to be a big feather in the Chamber’s cap – and a great service to the local community. We have to applaud my predecessor Craig McGowan and his team of Chamber members for their effort and determination to make this happen. Sadly the other key project that Craig initiated – development of the car park behind Collingwood Batchellor – remains unfulfilled. You may recall that we were working to take over a lease from the Co-op, with the aim of improving the car park to let out some 45 parking spaces to members in the town centre at economic rentals. When we were on the verge of reaching agreement, it transpired that the Co-op had made changes to its property team – and its agents. The new agent has, we understand, thus far not managed to secure a mandate to deal with the Haslemere car park. While we appreciate the Co-op has been in difficult financial times – most recently the announcement that it is to sell off its banking arm – it is sad that an organisation with a long-standing connection to Haslemere has so far been unable to give something back to the community in the form of a resource of great value to local business. Instead, the car park generates no income, is abused apparently by freeloading commuters and is in a rapidly declining state of repair. I am not optimistic about an early change in this situation, but the Chamber will keep the car park on its radar in case there is an opportunity to revisit the project. It still has the potential to ease parking problems for some town centre workers – and generate additional cash flow for the Chamber. I shall be asking my new committee to be aware of the need to find further revenue opportunities, because they will help to finance projects that support our members. I shall also be asking the Committee to look for suitable projects.
Area marketing I remain convinced that our economic area could benefit from a co-ordinated marketing campaign and I believe that the Chamber should take a leading role in developing such a campaign. However, while we are beginning to feel like a cash-rich chamber, I would not want to see too much of our money going into a project like this until we have a lot more support and a clear mandate from the wider business community. There are related issues in the pipeline, and I can report that Waverley is currently rethinking its Borough-wide economic development strategy. Just last week I attended an initial meeting with the Economic Development team, its management consultants and representatives of the other chambers. With Borough finances under increasing pressure, Waverley needs to champion reasonable development in order to sustain service provision to a growing and ageing population. Naturally, any local marketing plan should strive to dovetail with the borough strategy because we are all working towards a similar objective. So I think it may be some time before we can look at a serious plan for Haslemere, because the overall strategy may take a long time to develop. In the meantime, we will focus on short term projects and publicity.
In conclusion Despite the uncertainties of Brexit and world politics, I believe our area has a fundamentally sound economy with a huge range of skills and talents. The Chamber is proud of the contribution its members have made and will do all it can to encourage further progress. Personally, I am very pleased with what the Chamber has achieved. I look forward with enthusiasm to tackling the challenges and opportunities of the remaining half of my term of office. David Goddin, President. 5 April 2017
Craig McGowan (McGowan Corporate Solutions)
Edward Paterson (PAAC IT)
Frances Ball (Elan Bookkeeping)
Brenda Roper (B&D Roper)
Sandra McHugh (Tweeting by Hand)
Joanna Speed (Holy Cross Hospital)
Oli Shepherd (Sociis Consulting)
Caroline Warrington (Pennywise Accounting)
Who may attend?
The meeting is open to all members of Haslemere Chamber. We also welcome anyone who is thinking of joining or is just interested to know what we do.
Who may vote?
It’s one vote per paid-up member company.