We live in uncertain times and as such today the Chamber has defined its obligation in the pursuit of a greater sense of certainty and clarity to businesses and commercial enterprises within our region. One way we feel we can do this is by asking the right questions of those in local regional and national government. In addition, we aim to ensure the business community is well informed and through insight, education and knowledge, assist and better equip businesses to deal with uncertainty and gain greater clarity.
Newton Abbot Chamber of Commerce is wholeheartedly committed to the growth, stability and prosperity of the business community within Newton Abbot and Teignbridge. With this focus and underpinned by the Chamber’s Charter we have published this mandate. This mandate isn’t mere written rhetoric but rather a definition and driving force behind its existence and commitment to service and support delivery.
The Chamber firmly believes that ‘Together Business is Better’ and through collaboration with our partners and colleagues within the region and you the business community, we aim to pursue the tangible outcomes in relations to this mandate. This mandate is about actively pursuing issues and concerns and seeking the change which will ensure the continued growth, stability and prosperity throughout the region. This is about making a difference and through collaboration and clear communication establishing a clear level of local accountability.
After 12 months of listening to the business community, establishing solid relationships within Newton Abbot and Teignbridge and our partnership with Devon Chamber, we have been able to identify the outline of this mandate.
Whilst we articulate the issue in this mandate it is only through clear passages of communication, transparency and action that we will achieve the desired outcomes. The focus of the mandate is underpinned by the mission of the Chamber; To support our local businesses, by being a voice of the many, the source of reason in building sustainable growth in the region and economic sustainability. In order to ensure the necessary outcomes, there will be 3 tenets of action, which we will adopt in the pursuit of tangible and measurable outcomes. They are:
- Awareness. In the first instance, the mandate will act as a conduit to raise awareness of the challenges, issues and opportunity within the business community. With a focus on representing the collective voice of Newton Abbot and Teignbridge, we aim to make sure we are not only a voice for growth, stability and prosperity but encourage others to join us so that our voice carries more weight. In all instances seeking to offer ideas, solutions and options to address, resolve or impact on the mandated issues raised. We will seek to be pre-emptive and forward thinking to prevent, rather than seek to cure.
We will create awareness within the business community through:
- Quarterly Symposiums. We will seek to address issues pertinent to the business community on a regular basis through quarterly symposiums. The chamber will seek to offer insight, education and support through inviting industry experts to address the business community. It will also offer an opportunity to open dialogue with those who will be affected.
- The Chamber Website will become a focal point of reference material and educational and inspirational articles. These will be authored from across the Chamber membership.
- Collaboration with our partners. Having strong relationships and open passages of communication with local government, Devon Chamber, NAST, FSB and other local bodies give us a far greater lobbying power. We aim to be heard both locally and nationally.
- Responsibility. This is very much a two-way focus with our business community taking responsibility for the issues, concerns and opportunities which can be influenced, either via direct action, intervention or innovation. Additionally, challenging the governing bodies to debate, negotiate and ultimately encourage direct action or insight in supporting the collective voice. Key here is the understanding of the part we all play within the business community, the responsibility for informing, being heard and taking action.
- Ownership. Where we, as a collective body, have the influence, authority and power we will make informed decisions, intervene and take action in order to play our part. Where our partners, governing bodies or decision-makers can influence, have the authority or power we will seek informed decisions, action and intervention on behalf of the business community. Taking and having a mindset driven by ownership means we will always seek to ensure our actions make a difference.
The objectives of the mandate are as follows and have been agreed in principle by the Newton Abbot Chamber of Commerce. They will form the focus of Newton Abbot Chamber of Commerce business support activity, service and support, but not exclusively.
The 10 Year Strategy 2016 – 2025 The Chamber is wholeheartedly behind the vision of making Newton Abbot and Teignbridge a healthy and desirable place to live and work in and to visit. For our part, we aim to work closely with Teignbridge District Council (TDC), Newton Abbot Town Council, Newton Abbot Security Trust and Town Centre Management to ensure there is a clear focus on the business community interests.
The is the representative body for the business community is critical in relation to where and how
through collaboration we can strive to actively support the pursuit and delivery of the vision. Working in close collaboration with TDC we aim to develop the fine detail regarding the Business Plan within the 10-year strategy. This is an area which we would aim to have drafted by the close of 2017.
A major focus will be that of accountability, ensuring the plan will need to deliver and with all concerned parties we would seek to ensure we meet the aims and goals of the plan. Delivery is key, and collaboration and communication will be paramount and as the local Chamber we will seek to play our part fully and likewise seek full transparency from our partners.
The Local Plan (2033) Newton Abbot and its development, growth, infrastructure, facilities and environment are guided by the ‘Local Plan’.
The plan contains the policies to protect environmentally important places. It is part of the statutory ‘development plan’ for the area and is considered when making a decision regarding planning applications. Additionally, there are the Minerals Local Plan and the Waste Local Plan, which have been produced by Devon County Council and the Neighbourhood Plans prepared by local communities, which also need consideration.
The Chamber seeks to ensure the plan remains pertinent to the exponential ever-changing business environment and adhered to for the benefit of the economic growth within the region, where applicable, and not a constraint. Furthermore, we would seek it truly represents the needs of the business community and is not a hindrance to growth and expansion of opportunities. Where relevant it may be challenged to maintain and stimulate growth, sustainability, a fair and vibrant marketplace and not hinder economic growth.
Business Rates Business Rates or ‘Non-Domestic Rates’ are not currently fit for purpose and are outdated. The Chamber will seek to offer ideas and influence in developing a fair marketplace and parity in the collection. We understand and agree with the need to contribute towards the local services and believe it is only right we contribute, but in a manner which creates parity in the marketplace.
The following form some of the areas which we believe need to be addressed and where permissible potential trails within the business community, seeking special arrangements.
- Defining a fair approach to business rate assessment.
- Increase the frequency of valuations to remain current to market trends.
- Full transparency with the Valuations Office Agency to limit and ultimately avoid incorrect valuations.
- A fair, free and swift appeals process.
- The validity of the Charity relief in relations to lower cost of goods sold and now moving into the retail market with an ever-increasing offering of new retail products.
- Review the dot-com business operation from domestic premises.
- Maintaining a local register of appeals.
Town Centre Innovation Support innovation, growth and development of the town centre. (Not sure that the latter point is deliverable. I would leave this out as most of the town is not owned by the local authority!) Develop a collaborative marketing approach to encourage out of area visits. We will seek to articulate the unique value proposition and take responsibility collectively for creating a vibrant destination of choice.
Fair Parking for All In short, seek to support and establish a solution to a town parking initiative which works well for business, residents and visitors.
Regional Connectivity and Infrastructure There will be a focus to represent the needs of the business community in relation to the road, rail, sea and air transportation. The Chamber will take an active and participative interest in the following infrastructure challenges in a bid to influence, inform and engage:
- Electrification of the regional rail infrastructure.
- Rail capacity.
- The negative impact of the cessation of the mainline at Exeter.
- Coastal rail improvements.
- The A382 Corridor plans.
- Reduced bus transport services – particularly within the rural communities
- Cycling routes
- Additional flight capacity from Exeter.
- Connectivity of new settlements with existing towns and cities
Tax and Digitisation There will be a need to ensure the business community is fully informed of the impending shift to digitisation of tax. Understand the future increased administration requirements which will result from a regular/pay as you go focus on VAT. With the potential initial introduction at SME, there will be a significant and critical need to be informed and prepared for the transition.
Maintain a voice of reason for new and revised VAT initiatives, post-BREXIT import and export debate regarding customs duty and general tax issues which impact on the economy.
Employees, Apprenticeship and Graduate Encourage local business to engage with the rich apprenticeship and graduate market. With a significant decrease in job opportunity throughout Devon from the graduate market in 2016, it is vital we retain and encourage local experience and talent within the region.
Additionally, seek to heighten the levels of engagement from employees to increase the overall productivity and outputs. A focus on business growth in the region will open greater opportunities for new and better employment.
Working alongside the UTC, Academy and Colleges we aim to offer up the business community as a source of expertise, inspiration and empowerment for the next generation of employees, technicians and entrepreneurs. Taking into consideration that Generation Y will account for 50% of the workforce by 2020 and Generation Z 20%, there is a need to encapsulate the benefits of these generations to the workplace.
The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has a focus on increasing local economic growth, job creating and prosperity throughout the region. Their mission:
“To reposition the Heart of the South West’s profile and reputation, nationally and globally. Connecting people, places, businesses and ideas to transform our economy, securing investment in infrastructure and skills to create more jobs and enable rewarding careers.”
Our mission within this is to seek, support and engage in opportunities for investment to impact on the region, its infrastructure and continued economic growth.to lobby for a change of approach that would include Newton Abbot within the business funding area.
BREXIT In a multitude of ways each of the former points will form the business community’s focus on the exit strategies from the EU. Getting the very best deal will be challenging and it is a key focus which can and will impact on the business community. The Chamber is ultimately clear that it cannot and will not be a spectator or indeed a mere sideline commentator. It is absolutely critical that the Chamber and its partners are the voices of the Business community. Offering representation on the key issues which will affect us, offering a direct response to suggested courses of action and offering suggested courses of action towards the development of the plan.
We will participate in the Regional and National stage in a bid to secure the right plan for the future prosperity of our business community.
Remaining within our businesses looking out, hoping that we will not be affected by the ever-changing expediential nature of business is not an option for the Chamber. We firmly believe and are committed to our ethos; ‘Together Business is Better’. It’s a better chance to build strong new relationships; it’s a better place to collaborate with other businesses; it’s a better place to be heard; it’s a better place to be informed; it’s a better place to learn; it’s a better place to educate others and ultimately, it’s the best place to come together as one business community and have a voice.