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Chamber Joins Calls for More Business Support

Chamber Chief Executive Paul Colman addressing the annual meeting staged virtually for businesses across South Cheshire

South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce has joined with the British Chamber of Commerce in urging the government to provide more support to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

As outlets across Crewe and Nantwich close for a third national lockdown, Chamber leaders are concerned the latest package of support announced by the Chancellor will fall short of what is needed to secure livelihoods.

On January 5 Rishi Sunak announced top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses of up to £9,000 per property. The one-off grants are intended to help businesses through to the spring.

Commenting on the support measures, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Director General, Adam Marshall said: “While this immediate cash flow support for business is welcome, it is not going to be enough to save many firms. We need to see a clear support package for the whole of 2021, not just another incremental intervention.”

Throughout the pandemic South Cheshire Chamber, rated in the top 10 of the country’s 53 accredited Chambers, has worked alongside BCC to feed back issues facing local businesses and push the case for government support.

Chief Executive Paul Colman said: “Our local retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have demonstrated agility and innovation. We have seen pubs and restaurants switch to take-away service and small independent shops take their products online. But with every new restriction comes a need for more support and we join BCC in calling on the government to move away from a drip feed approach so businesses can plan and ultimately survive.

“Support must be sufficient to cover not just those on the front line of retail, hospitality and leisure, but also firms in supply chains and wider business communities who are also feeling the devastating impacts of these restrictions.” 

Throughout 2020 the South Cheshire Chamber has represented businesses at meetings with Cheshire East Council, Crewe Town Council, Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, British Chambers of Commerce and others.

At the Chamber’s annual meeting, members heard how South Cheshire remains a thriving hotbed of international trade with goods ranging from cars, hydraulics and engineering components to oats, cheese and confectionery much in demand overseas.

The Chamber’s International Trade department has supported this activity with documentation and advice to more than 60 local companies exporting £230m of goods last year.

Members also heard from Doug Kinsman, Chair of Crewe Town Board, which is working to secure up to £25m of government ‘levelling up’ funding for the town.

Crewe is one of 101 towns selected to put forward a bid from the government’s Towns Fund to boost long-term economic growth and the Board, made up of people from the community, public, private and voluntary sectors, is currently selecting projects to put forward by the end of January.

The new-look Crewe Market Hall is taking shape (photo: Peter Robinson)

Mr Kinsman said: “Crewe hasn’t had a lot of luck in the past and now is an opportunity for change. We are already seeing signs of that with the Royal Arcade and Market Hall developments. I had an opportunity to tour the Market Hall and see this taking shape. All I can say is wow!”

The new-look Crewe Market Hall is taking shape (photo: Peter Robinson)

The Chamber has moved its events programme online with great success. Hundreds logged on during 2020. This year there is another packed programme. On January 7 there is a webinar on the Future of UK-EU Trade Relations staged in conjunction with the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Other upcoming dates include a Chamber Membership morning on January 22 and Virtual Speed Networking on February 8.

For information on membership and events go to www.sccci.co.uk or social media channels.