President's Message - November 2019
Recently, on behalf of the Chamber I attended a Business Summit organised by St Albans District Council. This brought together various organisations, traders and business people, with the objective of identifying and sharing concerns and discovering what support is available locally for businesses. Further similar summits are proposed next year to build upon the contacts made and develop strategies to tackle the issues confronting us.
The event was hosted by Cllr Chris White (Leader of the Council) and Mandy McNeil (Business, Culture and Tourism Portfolio Holder). Those attending included retailers, market traders, those from the hospitality sector and service industries, together with council representatives. In addition to me, there were speakers from STANTA, Hertfordshire Growth Hub, Trading Standards and The City of Expertise.
We were asked to consider what concerns we have as local businesses and how the council and organisations such as the Chamber can better support business. A further question for consideration but for which there was little time to enter into protracted debate, was “what would help your business to deal with specific local impacts from leaving the EU without a deal?”
The list of concerns, raised by those attending, presented few surprises and included:
• The challenge of recruiting staff in such close proximity to London
• Rent and rates
• The high cost of residential accommodation
• Greater support for businesses to develop and change (as opposed to starting up)
• The need to be ‘greener’
• Street appeal – how to make our urban areas more attractive
• Wider marketing of St Albans District into London
• Driving footfall to peripheral retail areas
• The need for more evidence based information
• Parking – signage and charging
Let’s hope that subsequent meetings will be able to identify and implement tangible actions to support businesses in the district.
Final call for the Winter Ball!
Don’t miss the opportunity of a great night out at our annual Black Tie event at Sopwell House, on Saturday 16 November. Individual places are available as well as half and full tables – just contact the Chamber office or visit the website for more details and to book your place. I hope to see you there.