Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses were joined on 15 September by representatives of Epping Forest District Council at the Lee Valley White Water Centre where the London 2012 Olympic canoe slalom takes place less than a year from now.
The ‘state of the art’ white water centre formed a spectacular backdrop as leading members of the Epping Forest business community gathered together.
Local business and civic leaders have pledged their support to a new charter for business.
Civic and Business Leaders at the signing of the Epping Forest District Business Charter at the Lee Valley White Water Centre near Waltham Abbey on Thursday 15 September.
Under the terms of the Business Charter pledge, the signatories committed to:
- prompt payment – aiming to pay all invoices within ten working days but 20 working days at the latest
- buy local – seeking quotes from at least one local business when tendering and looking to purchase goods locally where they are available
- consult – and listen through One, the Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership
Business Champion support – ensuring support, communication and co-operation between the community, local business and public sector organisations
John Price, Chairman of Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, introduced a high-powered panel of speakers at the signing; Councillor Lesley Wagland, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Chairman of One LSP, Heather Thirtle, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Ian Wicks, Chairman of Essex FSB, Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development and Epping Forest District Council’s Business Champion and Vance Rowe, manager of Cyclone Commerce Ltd and Vice-Chairman of the West Essex Alliance.
Vance Rowe spoke passionately about his background as a ‘Kiwi’ and his commitment to west Essex. As one of the prime movers behind the successful bid for Enterprise Zone status in Harlow, he spoke forcefully of the opportunities this would open up for Epping Forest.
Mr Rowe believed the Enterprise Zone focused on Harlow’s health and medical technology industries would need a whole range of support services potentially supplied from within Epping Forest. He also argued strongly for the importance of infrastructure ranging from upgraded broadband and transportation to teaching the right skills in schools and universities. In an appeal to the district’s young people he emphasised the wealth of opportunities available.
A key message within the Business Charter is mutual support between local businesses and the public sector. Especially in the current economic climate the importance of prompt payment emphasised by Iain Wickes of the Federation of Small Businesses resonated with attendees at the signing of the Business Charter.
Calling on local businesses to seize the opportunity, he felt there was never a bad time to start a new business. Using local suppliers when the price is right helped the local economy and was good for the environment too, he said.
Heather Thirtle reminded local business people of the track record of the Chamber of Commerce which was founded 62 years ago. Speaking at the White Water Centre, she reminded attendees of the potential for tourism offered by Epping Forest district. She called on members of the Chamber to go forward as ambassadors in the promotion of the district.
Councillor Gagan Mohindra set out his role as the link between business and the public sector. He reminded everyone that the council itself operates major contracts in partnership with the private sector, offering Sita as the council’s waste contractor and SLM, which runs the council’s leisure centres as prime examples.
He offered himself as the contact for local business. His role was to be an advocate for local business within the council and to help local business understand the policies and actions of the council.
Opening and concluding the speeches, Councillor Lesley Wagland repeated that according to the latest analysis, 86 per cent of retail spending by local residents was spent online or outside Epping Forest district. She called on the local business and retail community to go forward with the same constructive passion and drive shown by Vance Rowe and the other members of the panel. She believed that Government support for local areas would increasingly be taken away from traditional funding and replaced with incentives to support local drive and initiative. Epping Forest district needed to be ‘vital and vibrant in its own right’.
Councillor Wagland encouraged local people to heed the ‘Shop Local’ call. Epping Forest district is “A great place to work and live –people want our businesses to be successful and we are successful,” she concluded.