Since establishing as an independent body, three years ago, our Chamber now has over 130 members representing the diversity of business in the retail, manufacturing, services and high-tech markets.

In the near future, we will face many challenges both new and on-going. The potential development of new Streets, the building of a new underpass and of course the continuing traffic flow and related parking problems. All of these events will directly impact on residents, visitors and in particular on the business community. Overlaying all of this will be the necessity to achieve a balance between creating a thriving town and maintaining the historic heritage, which makes our town such an attractive place to live and work.

The Chamber is actively involved in representing the interests of its members in many aspects of the town and its development to ensure that the end result will improve the trading environment for all. The hard-working Chamber committee provides representation on the many initiatives in the town and endeavours to provide a voice of opinion and influence wherever possible on behalf of members.

The Chamber provides a valuable forum for networking, information gathering and providing, as well as the social side of business relationships, which are so vital in commercial development. A regular programme of meetings and events with both a business and social focus is arranged and all Chamber members are actively encouraged to participate. Our newsletter and website keeps members informed and the comprehensive members directory is a valuable contact and promotional tool.

I would encourage anyone who is serious about doing business in our town to join the Chamber. Our secretary will be delighted to provide you with further information.

Bank Holidays

All of the bank holidays around this time of yeah has brought up the topic of how they affect small businesses.  Employers are not obliged to give staff a day off, but if they don’t, there is a chance that morale can be damaged.

The Confederation of British Industry has calculated that every bank holiday in the UK costs the economy approximately £6 billion in lost work.  However at the same time, pubs, restaurants and retailers gain from the holidays and can take advantage where most employees are off work and spending their money.

There is no doubt that bank holidays bring joy for a lot of staff but many owners of small business do not fare so well.  This is often because the short weeks caused by bank holidays create challenges for the smaller businesses which ware struggling to escape the economic slow-down.

Below are a few things to consider when setting out your company policy for bank holiday:

  • There is not obligation or statutory rights for employees to have public holidays.  Whether they are off or not is determined by their contract.
  • There is no obligation to pay employees additional money such as time and a half or double time to work public holidays
  • Employees working part time are required to be treated the same as full time staff but on a pro-rata basis instead.
  • Be sure to check bank holiday dates to ensure that you and your employees are aware when the public holidays take place.
  • Staff are required to be informed about their bank holiday entitlements as soon as possible so that any disputes can be minimised
  • Customers should be informed what the company is doing during public holidays to avoid any confusion.
  • Cover should arranged if the company is remaining open for staff that are taking time off during public holidays.