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Chairman’s Letter

As the leaves turn and autumn is upon us, we might reflect for a moment on the progress of the summer months. Sorry, progress? Brexit negotiations seem to be stuck in treacle. Even the concessions made by Theresa May in her Florentine speech haven’t completely unblocked the fat-berg currently impeding the Brexit sewer system.  It is reported that she is preparing, (if she makes it to the end of conference week), to give more ground to Mssrs Barnier, Tusk and Juncker. Nevertheless, on a more optimistic note, if the PM’s proposals for an extended transition period are accepted, this answers the CBI’s calls for some certainty and a longer planning horizon. Thank you, Mr Hammond.

All the while, business, financial markets and investors exist in a mild state of fear that should the PM not actually make it to the end of conference week, JC and his disciples are waiting to, inter alia, nationalise everything in sight, including PFI arrangements and introduce rent controls; Mr McDonnell is out on manoeuvres – wargames, he calls them – to avert the impending run on the pound should Labour secure a victory in (yet another) election.

That’s enough of politics though, mentioned only in passing due the debilitating effect that the political classes are having on the world of business and trade. Perhaps it’s not all bad though….

Banbury Chamber is on the up. We have plenty of new members continuing to join us and welcome them to the Chamber. Banbury has two new menswear stores – Union and Revival – opened last week in Parson’s Street: we wish them every success. A notable newcomer to the town and also to the Chamber is Magenta Self Storage. If you haven’t seen them yet, it’s because you have been residing in Devon or Scotland. Conversely, MacDonald’s HQ has decided to close the town centre restaurant leaving Banbury with the out of town Beaumont Road and Gateway branches. We are sorry to hear the news that Jane Blackwell, MD at MacDonald’s, is returning to her roots in Wales to take up 3 franchise operations in Cardiff and Newport. We wish her well and will miss her enthusiasm and energy on the Board. At the same time, we will shortly be welcoming Pete Gardner from Spratt Endicott to the Board.

The Chamber has also continued to be active with events, recently holding a successful networking event at Bloxham Mill, where Sam Stretton, of Logicom Hub delivered a thought provoking talk on Import/Export, with particular attention to the possible impacts of Brexit. We’re delighted to announce that Sam, with some 20 years’ experience in I/E, is to be an affiliated partner with the Chamber, providing training and consultancy to Chamber members at reduced rates. She will also be able to assist with documentation issues, though for the moment these still need to be endorsed through the office of the Thames Valley Chamber.

The Chamber also held a further Industrial Meeting at Reg’s Café, on Overthorpe Industrial Estate, at which Ian Sloan of Bankier Sloan, shared his thoughts on rates rebates and the need for more small business units in Banbury. I was sorry to be absent, it sounded like quite a sparky meeting!

Coming up, a date for your diary: Thursday 9th November – A Transport Symposium and Trade Show at Banbury Town Hall. Details will be out shortly on this so keep an eye on your e-mails; Victoria Prentis, Jacqui Cox from OCC and Martin Sutton, MD of Stagecoach are billing and we’re hoping to secure the services of someone from Department of Transport to give us a view of national transport strategy.

And finally, activity around the BID is accelerating towards the October Ballot. The BID Business Plan – a comprehensive document describing the BID opportunity and deliverables, should it be voted through – has been published. CDC and Heartflood are now finalising the electoral processes so that all eligible businesses will receive their Ballot papers by October 17th, giving them one month to return their postal vote by the 14thNovember deadline. We will know the result on November 15th. Between now and then, I would encourage all businesses to consider the amazing opportunity which the BID offers – read the business plan and VOTE YES! If you are outside the actual BID footprint, please lend your encouragement to voting businesses, and consider also whether your business should become a voluntary contributor. Expect us to be in touch on that one!

A good turnout at Banbury Canal Day yesterday…and we wish everyone a Happy Shoptober!*


Nick Poole