Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham are on the executive committee, and Chamber of Commerce meetings are held at Well House Manor

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Melksham Pride - the Chamber of Commerce, and the future

I'm proud to live and work in Melksham, to have our business visitors come here from all over the world, to use the shops and services on offer here, and to work at a place where we employ lovely people who live in the town. And so are many others. Our "Wilts" room was filled with enthusiasts for the town on Tuesday night, and talking with passers by as we marketed the only museum collection of local history on show in the town, we saw that pride in many, many others.

The town's not become a place we can be proud of without a very great deal of research, consultation, planning, design, build management, seeding assistance, marketing and ironing out, maintaining and updating the whole infrastructure - physical, financial and emotional - along the way. There are many players involved in this work. Those players include Melksham Town Council, Melksham without Council, the Community Area Partership, our Wiltshire Councillors. And it also includes the Chamber of Commerce - with stated objectives to look after the interests of its members, other businesses in the town, their employees and customers.

Since I became President, I have been involved in a number of longer term issues which have included topics on which we have had to push hard to have Melksham's voice heard. Successes which we have supported include:
• Countrywide Farmers obtaining planning permission to remain in the town on a new site
• Siting the new Campus in the town centre rather than on the outskirts of the town
• Obtaining business rate rebates for town centre traders during periods of roadworks
• Inputs, support and comment for town and core strategies
• Helping Wiltshire Council obtain funding to improve rail services (just announced this week)
• Seeding the refund voucher scheme for parking in Melksham
• Running the Spot the Oddity competiton for many years
As with any group that's set up to represent its members, we can't succeed in every representation we make. I can recall an application for a Pharmacy to support a relocated doctor's surgery that failed, for example. And there are issues (such as free parking) on which our members have not been in full agreement.

As medium and longer term projects, and with much work going on queitly in the background before issues make the front page of the local newspaper, much of the Melksham Community doesn't realise what the Chamber does; many may not even have heard of the Chamber. Yet these items listed above have made, or will make, a huge difference to the life of businesses, and our personal lives, in the town.

Resolved, at a meeting earlier this week, to bang the drum of pride and say "This is our town - it's a great place to live and work, and we should work together to ensure that it remains a great place to live and work" ... for there is much more work to be done.

Historically, members have also joined the Chamber to Network. To socialise. To have access to special deals. And these remain important elements of the Chamber. But we also need to encourage members - well established businesses which are thriving here - to join to take a pride in the town, in the greater Melksham area, and in the county, and in doing so to help us fund our profile and our activities which will let them grow and retain that pride. But marketing activities, reports, lobbying, attending meetings, doesn't come cheap and our band of volunteers needs some limited support services and an element of funding; it's too easy for the tasks undertaken for the many to fall on the shoulders of the few - both in terms of time and money.

Local members of Melksham Chamber, members of the wider Wiltshire association who are affiliated to us (i.e. have their largest office in Melksham), and Patrons of the association who are based here pay some £11,300 per annum in fees, via the Wessex Association. The majority of that money has in recent years been spent on the provision of a central secretarial service - wages, office space, phones, photocopying, postage, and so on. Further monies have been spent on management there and (rightly) on wider area lobbying, business mailings, web site presence and representation of association and Patrons across all 19 Chambers in the group, and further activities to promote the Chamber as a whole. And this has meant that only around £630.00 of the fees have come to the Melksham Chamber to support local activities, and even that sum has only been paid six months after the end of the year in which the subscription was paid. The position - starting from a good background a decade ago, has become untennable to carry on into the next decade; a central service along the old lines is simply too expensive, and with modern electronic communications is also largely unnecessary.

We are talking with the Wessex Association. We've been offered two routes forward - one in which we stick with old arrangements, but paying them a realistic price for a service; this equates to reduced secretarial hours, but at a higher overall price. Our meeting on Tuesday rejected this route; it would leave the Melksham Chamber as little more than a shell, and our members and potential members with little incentive to join, or then to stay. You can't have a pride in an organisation which does nothing. The second route suggests that we revert to the ethos of the original association - of which Melksham was a founding member - which is to buy into centralised services where they're appropriate, and to be much more proactive locally; that's something we're in a good position to do based on changing technologies and work practises. We no longer need to be funding a town centre office in another town in which our secretary meets up with all the other sectratarties every monday morning to co-ordinate diaries, and spends much of the rest of her time answering the phone for other towns and passing calls on.

So - we are proposing that we continue to be members of the Wessex Association, in line with suggestion No. 2, buying in services such as fee collection and central lobbying which they are well set up to provide. The high proportion of our member's membership fees are spent on secretarial services, postage and office facilities that should be returned to the Melksham Chamber, based on a fair and equitable formula that gives the local chamber the majority of the income from local members, the same proportionate amount from associaition members (works out about 38% of their fees) and a similar proportion of fees from Patrons based in the town. Colin Harrison has full details of the figures for the extraordinary President's meeting for all presidents and treasurers that's coming up.

Why should the Wessex Association "buy in" to our proposal?

Because it will strengthen the local chamber in Melksham. That will result in additional membership - I can name companies already. And that in turn will bring more money back in to the Association.

Because it will relieve the association of the majority of its costs - providing secretarial support - whilst returning only a minority of the funds (but now a significant minority, not just a few percent) to the local Chamber.

And because it will strengthen the association - many of our extra members will be their extra members too and we can go on, together, from strength to strength. Give it just two years and they won't have a lower income - they'll have a higher income, and that will mean they can do dramatically more for businesses too into the future.

We look forward to continuing to be active members of the Wessex Association along the lines outlined.

The above is a report of discussions and decisions made at the open meeting held by the Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Melksham ;-) last Tuesday evening.
(written 2012-06-29, updated 2012-06-30)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter for individual articles
Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  [4278] Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25)
  [4170] Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10)
  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
  [4103] Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26)
  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
  [4046] Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17)
  [4041] Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4014] Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22)
  [4002] Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13)
  [3987] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21)
  [3948] Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08)
  [3889] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12)
  [3880] Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04)
  [3867] The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19)
  [3850] Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25)
  [3818] Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25)
  [3812] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22)
  [3768] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19)
  [3767] How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3748] Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03)
  [3739] Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21)
  [3732] Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14)
  [3714] Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30)
  [3710] Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27)
  [3706] An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25)
  [3700] Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18)
  [3697] Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15)
  [3696] Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14)
  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
  [3682] Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03)
  [3677] Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31)
  [3672] Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25)
  [3663] Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21)
  [3627] Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27)
  [3598] Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29)
  [3560] Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23)
  [3527] Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23)
  [3496] Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26)
  [3495] Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26)
  [3492] Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22)
  [3481] Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14)
  [3475] Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12)
  [3470] Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3427] What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09)
  [3423] 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07)
  [3420] Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05)
  [3383] Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09)
  [3380] Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06)
  [3343] Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03)
  [3340] Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30)
  [3334] A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3307] Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28)
  [3299] Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24)
  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
  [3275] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02)
  [3272] Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01)
  [3249] Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17)
  [3246] Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13)
  [3217] Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28)
  [3214] Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26)
  [3193] Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
  [3188] What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01)
  [3173] What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18)
  [3172] On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17)
  [3162] Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3117] Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3088] Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16)
  [2995] A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2959] A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18)
  [2957] Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15)
  [2932] Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23)
  [2891] Wiltshire Council ask how they can help businesses - (2010-07-27)
  [2883] Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22)
  [2872] Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15)
  [2867] Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11)
  [2853] Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04)
  [2837] Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29)
  [2827] Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26)
  [2782] Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26)
  [2779] The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25)
  [2770] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19)
  [2725] How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16)
  [2683] Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18)
  [2666] Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2594] Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2546] How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21)
  [2544] Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20)
  [2540] Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18)
  [2531] Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09)
  [2521] Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01)
  [2514] The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27)
  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
  [2495] Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07)
  [2487] Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2459] New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18)
  [2437] Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2289] pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership - (2009-07-15)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2260] Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28)
  [2220] Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05)
  [2194] Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21)
  [2181] You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14)
  [2119] Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05)
  [2111] Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01)
  [2095] Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21)
  [2043] Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1934] Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11)
  [1904] Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23)
  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1880] Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1748] Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11)
  [1642] Summer! - (2008-05-15)
  [1633] Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06)
  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
  [1476] Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17)
  [1432] Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
  [1223] Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08)
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)

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Improving Wiltshire Rail Offer - it WILL be happening
Programming languages - what are the differences between them?
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