President's Message - March 2020

Posted: 4th March 2020, 1:27pm

March is upon us: a time for new growth and for the blossoming of new ideas. But will businesses be forced to recoil from their Spring plans as a result of Coronavirus? With the first case confirmed in our District and with the government now stating that one fifth of the workforce might become affected, the prospect of a profound impact upon business comes that much nearer.

While cases of Coronavirus or COVID-19 remain very low, there are risks of exposure and we are all no doubt taking measures to ensure the safety of employees. Employers have a legal duty to protect their workforce, so it is worth monitoring the situation and having a proper plan ready, in case it needs to be put into effect. The official guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England is being updated daily, and is worth referring to for current advice to employers and businesses. Visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Coronavirus aside, for many businesses, particularly those in the retail and hospitality sector, the environment is challenging times, so any proposals that encourage greater activity in our city and town centres is to be welcomed. So, it is refreshing to see the emergence of a number of new office space proposals for St Albans City Centre. More businesses in the city centre will help support our retailers, café owners and restaurateurs. (A report by the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership in 2019 found that over 2008/9 and 20717/18 St Albans experienced the largest proportional loss of office space in Hertfordshire). But to maintain the attraction of our city centre any new proposals must be of a sufficiently high quality and supported with appropriate infrastructure and facilities to contribute positively to the quality of environment. This week sees the three shortlisted mixed-use schemes for the ‘City Centre South Opportunity Site’ go out to public consultation and I urge you to view the proposals and make your comments known. The three concepts are to be put on show over the next month at eight events across the District and can also be viewed on the Council’s website.

This week the Chamber is, for the first time, officially celebrating International Women's Day with our Lunch at St Michael’s Manor. Thank you once again to our sponsors, SA Law and Raydens Solicitors and thank you to My Mustard and Rayner Essex for their support in organising the event. I’m really looking forward to what, I know, is going to be a great occasion.

Don’t forget ‘Thirst Thursday’ this week at The Fighting Cocks and our Business Breakfast meeting at Rothamsted on Tuesday 31 March (combined with our AGM) at which we’ll hear about London Luton Airport’s expansion plans and their impact on our District.

Alastair Woodgate
President
St Albans District Chamber of Commerce

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