Membership has been growing during the year, although like most organisations we have lost a few members as well. However, we reached our target of 110 in 2018, and I am pleased to note that they represent a very diverse group of businesses. Perhaps somewhat disappointedly we have not greatly increased our membership potential in the High Street particularly with one of our initiatives for 2019, which is to help to increase footfall in the High Street.
Simon Double and Mikaela Morgan have increased the breadth of our breakfast meetings, and we have had a number of interesting topics, and very full meetings. There is one odd note, although we publish it as a champagne breakfast, there is very little bubbly drunk, Simon reports about 1 and a quarter bottles a meeting!! Our next meeting is on the 15th May and Susan Dobinson is going to talk on “How to do Death”.
We have supported Young Enterprise through the year and sponsored their entries to the Festival of Lights. There was a smaller number of groups this year, but we had extra support from Susan Dobinson and Richard Perry who also become Business Advisors. If any member wishes to take part or help with Young Enterprise, please contact me on email@example.com.
Our local MP David Gauke accepted our invite to speak on Brexit at the Old Town Hall on May 18th. About 85 people attended the event, which was free. David gave an interesting presentation and answered all questions put to him, none of them were pre-prepared.
Business of the Year Award 2018
The Chamber decided to inaugurate this competition and we had a number of entries. The winner was D Lab and the runner up was ADF Consultancy; both companies were present to collect their awards at the AGM. We are running the competition in 2019 and awards will be made at the AGM on April 10th 2019.
We held a number last year to encourage members to meet one another and make some business contacts. There was a great barbecue at the Bull on the 20th June, which was well attended, and we were looked after by the Bull staff, I particularly enjoyed the cocktails. Simon Double took us all to the Windsor races on the 2nd July. We had 52 members and guests attending and Simon excelled himself by getting 7 winners out of 8. We are going racing on the 1st July, and I will follow Simon’s tips to the letter!!!
There were three PopUps at the Diamond Trust, William Young Tailors and the Berkhamsted Arts Centre on Northbridge Road. I would like to thank all of them for entertaining us so well and explaining their businesses. If you would like to run a PopUp on your own premises, please contact me. They are a good way of celebrating a new location, product, name change, or any success and the Chamber will market it for you. We also held a wine tasting with a difference, at Open Door (now the Way Inn) on the High Street, in November, and were given the wines with the appropriate food, which made it very interesting.
We are still involved in Berkhamsted Events and a couple of you have joined. If anyone wishes to participate please contact me, it is open to any charity or business that runs events within the area. They are publicised on our web-site which provides links to your own. We are represented on the Festival of Lights committee by John Gerry. John has informed me that the committee is looking to try to do some changes this year, however, this will depend upon dialogue with Dacorum Council.
Berkhamsted High Street
We have started a discussion about the future of the High Street and have asked for your opinions about how it should change if at all, and how we can keep its vibrancy and uniqueness. There were a number of opinions expressed but the majority were about parking. I am informed that the multi-story should still be finished by late Autumn, there has been a problem with relocating a gas main, and the issues with the temporary car park have been addressed. However, we will be making representations to Dacorum Council regarding pricing and also availability for business parking. We have also been approached to request that a modern electric vehicle charger be put on the site and have relayed this to Dacorum. In our breakfast meeting in November 2019 we will have a presentation of the new Town plan, by James Doe Assistant Director of Dacorum Planning Department.
Susan Dobinson agreed to join the committee this year and is a welcome addition. Felicity Webb, our secretary, was runner up in the 2018 VA of the Year competition an extremely prestigious award.
The Chamber exists for our membership so if you whatever you want us to do, we will try and achieve it. The new bi-monthly lunches at the Highwayman have been initiated due to member requests. Finally, if any member wishes to join the committee please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete Elsworth – Chairman