Chamber President Update
Hi everyone, hope you have all had a productive and fruitful couple of weeks and I realise it has been a while since we caught up, so I thought a round up would be useful. It is a little lengthy but I know how good we all are at reading whilst watching that box set in the evening!
The Business Improvement District (BID)
An amazing result and now we have finally peeled Stephen off the ceiling of excitement the hard work will begin. A huge thanks to all those directors and chamber staff who went above and beyond to make this a successful vote – our Town and its businesses will be all the better for the hard work you put in.
Krystian has been promoted within Stagecoach and leaves Eastbourne (presumably on a bus) for a new challenge. Krystian has been an immense advocate for the chamber and has passionately made a difference to the way we view such an important part of our Town’s infrastructure, now and for the future of our prosperity. Krystian will be missed and I am sure you will all join me in thanking him for his time, energy and genuine charm over the past couple of years as a director.
Krystian – the next time you are back in Eastbourne we shall hopefully find an opportunity to thank you in person. Good luck with you new role – a richly deserved promotion.
What’s My Role?
A couple of you have asked me to help clarify what we should be doing as directors of Chamber? This is a fair question and you will recall at our first exec of this year I admitted that I too get a little lost as to what we should and can do, and what is the remit of others – BID, EDEAL, EBC, ESCC, MP etc..
Let’s start with the basics of what the Chamber is charged with doing:
- Promoting and find ways of promoting the Town’s businesses for economic prosperity – the chamber team lead on this really well but need more of our support as directors.
- Providing data analysis so that we as a board, and our members, can make better strategic decisions – in my view this element of our remit needs some further thought.
- Supporting and apposing legislation and other forms of change. We, Christina and the team are champions at this – the BID and Parking are great examples of us not falling into the trap that is ‘the opposition is always loud and the support is always quiet!’
Our 4 pillars provide us with the focus, and our role is to translate them into delivering the above. For example, the night time economy is something that was identified as a necessary part of a thriving town. With Shoes’s leadership there is now a formidable action group looking at ways to make this a reality by; promoting the need for change and gathering support, providing the data to back up the claims, to the both the supporters and opponents, that this will improve the prosperity of the town, and challenging the local licensing laws. We all need to take some from of action, no matter how small.
As a board one of our most important roles is to have the energy and a vision to look 30 years down the road, but also think about what we need to do now, what is going to make life better for our Town’s businesses that will make a quantifiable difference both in the short and long terms?
Global headlines that caught my eye this week:
- Rising rents have swept small businesses from Manhattan’s shopping districts, leaving behind rows of empty shopfronts. But the city council took a step in addressing the slow demise of retail earlier this week, passing legislation to create the “Storefront Tracker”. The digital database will require landlords to register their shops, detailing their size, location, occupancy status and monthly rent. You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand and the city hopes a better grasp on the scale of the problem will be key to unlocking a solution, perhaps in the form of a vacancy fee. The fee would penalise landlords who sit on empty shops and hopefully inject some much-needed vibrancy back into Manhattan’s shopping streets. Whether the city uses the information wisely remains to be seen.
- Residents of Berlin should be able to breathe a little easier as a ban on diesel cars comes into effect in the city centre from today. The initiative comes after a legal case last autumn in which environmental group DUH lobbied the city to introduce restrictions on all cars except those that produce minimal amounts of CO2 – categorised as Euro 6 in the EU’s vehicle emissions grading system (Euro 1 being the biggest polluters). While some detractors have claimed that the ban will cause congestion in other areas of the city and will hurt business in the centre, the decision is a good one: sensible Berliners will opt for two wheels or public transport instead.
Some ideas (mainly bike led) from reading my social media feeds: this week
- We need to collate better data on why businesses are failing in the town centre? We know we have a low vacancy rate but just as many businesses seem to fail as start-up – so why and what can we do as a chamber to reverse this trend?
- We need to understand how our members get to work, where the problems for them are, understand behaviours – what needs to change – is there an alternative to a survey?
- Chamber organised ‘Cycle Skills’ workshop in partnership with bike shop to encourage us to be more confident and maybe launch a ‘bike to work’ day.
- Audit local businesses for cycle storage provisions and extend to the wider town centre – star ratings, who has the best; secure, easy to get to, shower facilities, repair areas etc.
- Dragons Den event for 16-25 year olds into how to get more members to ‘get out the car’ – what service, facility or gadget could be a winner?
- And finally… research suggests that riding a bike is the happiest mode of transport we can take – imagine if I could just learn to pull wheelies again!
Please feel free to respond, agree, challenge or join in.
Have a great week and think big!
Richard Garland MBA FRICS
President of Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce