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Chairs Annual Report

Chair’s Annual Report 2020-21

We know how global events have a profound impact on our daily lives. We are each managing the impact of Covid-19 and I expect we shall find other global events – such as the climate emergency – will have increasing implications for us too. As a Chamber we have been doing our best to adapt and respond to the impact of Covid-19. We hold close the needs of our members and how to best act. Our series of ‘how to’ events, including our wellbeing, up-skilling and managing Brexit have been one way we have responded to current issues whilst at the same time offering support to one another.

AGM Quiz 2020Our members are frequently interested in the changing nature of our town and we found our event on the changes to Castle Quay and the wider area to be very popular. As a Chamber we can draw together the wide range of stakeholders across the town – that is one of our strengths and I see this as a key role for us going forward – not only in the context of the town centre but for wider Banbury too.

We have valued the strong connections the Chamber has with ‘local influencers’ such as our MP. We have had three extremely useful sessions with Victoria Prentis including our Brexit question time. Its fortunate we have good relationships with the MP as well as with other influential bodies such as the District Council, the Bank of England and organisations such as OxLEP (the Local Enterprise Partnership). These relationships enable us to share and connect our members with relevant and influential people locally.

Banbury Waterside DevelopmentI have been reflecting on which other external events are impacting our lives in Banbury. The works on HS2 are carving their way across our landscape, with daily consequences on many, especially those situated in the east of our district. Whatever the benefits of the completed project, the practical implications of the construction are clear. Our connection with HS2 Ltd means we can draw on the economic benefits of the development as well as have a direct means of communication with the organisation over the practicalities of the construction phase.

I am grateful for the Chamber’s links with local education providers, especially via board member Nancy Buckley’s work for Activate Learning. We have traditionally thought of education providers as only for the young but organisations such as Activate, with Government and local authority support, are able to offer a variety of learning and training opportunities both for those in work and those looking for new opportunities, with many options for employers to facilitate the upskilling of their workforce.

Jo Robinson at Primrose Hill FarmWe are a smaller board than we were this time last year, with work and personal circumstances meaning four of the board have had to step down or step aside for a while. This has left some notable gaps and the six of us are keen to draw in new board members to help us shape the course for the Chamber over the next 12 months. Do let us know if you would be interested in joining us.

Covid has had its financial impact on us too, as with many of our members. We have adapted and found ways to cut costs to maintain our financial standing but inevitably this has implications on certain board members who have had to take on more work as volunteers than I would ideally like. I am grateful to the other five board members; Allan Love, Nancy Buckley, Peter Gardner, Philip Brodey and Simon Smith who, with Yasmin our coordinator, spend a lot of time helping us plan and deliver the Chamber’s work.

Finally, thank you to each of our members for their support and participation within the Banbury community.

Best wishes, Neil Wild

Photos from the top: 1. Our quiz 2020; 2. The changing shape of our town centre; 3. Board Member Jo Robinson at her adapted business home, Primrose Hill Farm.