Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham served on the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2017

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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 http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)
  [1223] Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08)
  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1432] Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15)
  [1476] Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1633] Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06)
  [1642] Summer! - (2008-05-15)
  [1748] Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1880] Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1904] Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23)
  [1934] Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [2043] Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15)
  [2095] Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21)
  [2111] Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01)
  [2119] Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05)
  [2181] You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14)
  [2194] Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21)
  [2220] Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05)
  [2260] Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2289] pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership - (2009-07-15)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2437] Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04)
  [2459] New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2487] Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01)
  [2495] Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07)
  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
  [2514] The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27)
  [2521] Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01)
  [2531] Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09)
  [2540] Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18)
  [2544] Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20)
  [2546] How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2594] Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2666] Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08)
  [2683] Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18)
  [2725] How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16)
  [2770] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19)
  [2779] The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25)
  [2782] Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26)
  [2827] Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26)
  [2837] Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29)
  [2853] Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04)
  [2867] Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11)
  [2872] Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15)
  [2883] Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22)
  [2891] Wiltshire Council ask how they can help businesses - (2010-07-27)
  [2932] Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23)
  [2957] Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15)
  [2959] A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2995] A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11)
  [3088] Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3117] Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3162] Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09)
  [3172] On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17)
  [3173] What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18)
  [3188] What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01)
  [3193] Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
  [3214] Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26)
  [3217] Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28)
  [3246] Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13)
  [3249] Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17)
  [3272] Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01)
  [3275] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02)
  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
  [3299] Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24)
  [3307] Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3334] A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25)
  [3340] Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30)
  [3343] Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03)
  [3380] Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06)
  [3383] Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09)
  [3420] Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05)
  [3423] 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07)
  [3427] What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3470] Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09)
  [3475] Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12)
  [3481] Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14)
  [3492] Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22)
  [3495] Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26)
  [3496] Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26)
  [3527] Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23)
  [3560] Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23)
  [3598] Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29)
  [3627] Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27)
  [3663] Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21)
  [3672] Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25)
  [3677] Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31)
  [3682] Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03)
  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
  [3696] Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14)
  [3697] Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15)
  [3700] Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18)
  [3706] An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25)
  [3710] Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27)
  [3714] Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30)
  [3732] Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14)
  [3739] Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21)
  [3748] Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3767] How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17)
  [3768] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19)
  [3812] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22)
  [3818] Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25)
  [3850] Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25)
  [3867] The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19)
  [3880] Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04)
  [3889] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12)
  [3948] Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08)
  [3987] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21)
  [4002] Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13)
  [4014] Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22)
  [4041] Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4046] Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17)
  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
  [4103] Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4170] Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10)
  [4278] Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25)
  [4399] The Campus in Melksham - name, logo, and livery choice - (2015-01-18)
  [4672] Annual review of Melksham Matters for Chamber of Commerce AGM - (2016-05-15)
  [4738] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - my final Presidents report - (2017-05-10)


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