Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce
Minutes of AGM held on 27 February 2018 at Vaughan’s Bistro, Weymouth.
The meeting was opened by the incoming President, Andrew Knowles, at 6.30pm who welcomed all present..
1. Minutes 2017
The minutes of the 2017 AGM were presented and accepted by those members present at the meeting, with no matters arising from the previous year. The minutes were signed off by incoming President Andrew Knowles.
2. Treasurer’s report – Mike House
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Believe it or not 2017 was my fourth year as Treasurer of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce yet here I am once again struggling to deliver an interesting annual report.
I have worked with a number of presidents during my tenure as Treasurer and am pleased to hear that Andrew is willing to stand as President for a second successive year, especially as we approach our 100th Anniversary.
Although 2017 was another challenging year, I am pleased to report an upturn in financial results for the year, when compared to 2016.
Annual membership fees remained unchanged for a fifth successive year at £99. We once again offered the half year membership at £50, and maintained the £50 annual membership fee for new businesses.
Membership numbers were slightly down on 2016 with a drop from 90 members in 2016 to 88 members. It was pleasing to see so many new businesses join the Chamber as members in 2017 taking up the reduced membership rate offering of £50. This together with the slight drop in membership numbers resulted in a reduction in subscription income of approximately £850 as reflected on the general fund statement in the attached accounts.
The revamp of the business breakfasts, including different host venues has seen a rise in breakfast numbers as anticipated, with an average of 50 attendees per breakfast over the 10 breakfasts held in 2017.
The increased breakfast numbers and a rise in the breakfast costs, including increase in sponsorship from £100 to £150 per breakfast contributed to total breakfast income of £5,925 for the year, some £1,100 more than the previous year. The business breakfasts continued to be not only valuable, but also profitable, generating a profit of in excess of £1,900.
A number of social events were held during the year comprising the AGM Dinner, a BBQ at The Nothe Fort, a bowling evening and social dinner at The Nothe Tavern. The Christmas lunch was deferred until January of this year. In total a small profit was made on the social events.
We once again incurred a cost for our membership and admin coordinator Guy Bridge, who not only continues to work in excess of his contracted hours at no extra cost, but delivers timely information to our members via our newsletter and social media offerings.
The Chamber continued to support local events through sponsoring The Dorset Echo Industry Awards and Christmas Window decoration competition. We also made donations to local charities including Butterflies, Weldmar and The Mayors Christmas Fund.
Administrative costs were approximately £800 down on last year mainly due to a saving on website maintenance costs. We continue to incur costs in respect of the hosting of the website which continues to be a benefit to the Chamber and its members.
Following the deficit made in 2016, we increased the breakfast costs and breakfast sponsorship fees and as a result had forecasted a small profit for the year.
I am pleased to report The Chamber made a surplus before tax of £2,262 for the year. Against this there is a small corporation tax liability of £149 resulting in a surplus after tax of £2,113 compared to a deficit of £1,359 in 2016.
With regards to the Chambers Balance sheet position, you will note the Chamber had in excess of £21,000 Cash at Bank at 31 December 2017, although this includes more than £5,000 in respect of 2018 Membership subscription monies and Christmas lunch tickets received in advance.
The Chamber had reserves of £15,509 at 31 December 2017, up approximately £2k on the previous year. The Chambers finances and cash position continue to be very strong.
As we approach our 100 year anniversary I know Andrew, Guy and the exec members are keen to continue to liaise with current, past and potential new members, with a view to the Chamber providing an offering that appeals to all businesses, existing and new, which in turn will hopefully lead to an increase in membership numbers.
Andrew has big plans for the current year regarding investment, which no doubt he will touch on in either his outgoing, or incoming president’s speech.
The business breakfasts continue to be a success and we are hopeful the upward trend in attendee numbers continues throughout 2018.
I am pleased to report there has been no increase in either 2018 membership subscription fees, which remain unchanged at £99, or in the monthly business breakfast costs or breakfast sponsorship fees.
May I take this opportunity to thank Alex Goracy our Independent examiner at Albert Goodman.
If there are any questions regarding the annual accounts please raise your hand now so I can field these.
Subject to their being no questions, can I please request a proposer and seconder from the floor to formally approve the 2017 accounts.
Proposed: Alan Cheeseman, Seconder: Cherise Luke-Bennett
3. Incoming President Andrew Knowles is presented with the WPCC Chain of Office and presents his report:
Welcome to the AGM that marks the beginning of the 100th year of the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce. In 12 months’ time the Chamber will reach the significant landmark of being 100 years old.
A much smaller landmark is that this will be my second year as President of the Chamber. It’s a privilege to be leading this organisation at such a significant point in its history, and to be one of the team laying the foundations for the Chamber’s second century.
Before looking forward, let’s look back. 2017 was another busy year for the Chamber. We enjoyed:
- Fireworks and food at the Nothe Fort
- Hospitality at venues around town for our popular business breakfasts
- A Feast Weymouth meal at the Nothe Tavern
- Two harbour tours, in Portland and around the Sea Cadet vessels in Weymouth harbour
- Christmas dinner in January at the Hix Academy
I would just like to put on record that if any group wants to get our attention, the best way is to ask for a meeting. We’re always open to talking and listening.
We also attended meetings to do with town management, the Weymouth Tourism Partnership and the Weymouth Business Leaders Group. We continued our affiliation with Dorset Chamber of Commerce and attended a joint Chambers’ conference.
I would like to thank all the members of the Chamber who gave their time to volunteer at Chamber events during 2017.
There would be no Chamber if local people weren’t motivated to give their time and skill to help support local businesses and the local community.
I would like to thank the following people who are stepping down this year for their valuable service on the Chamber Executive Committee in 2017: no one.
Yes, everyone who served on the committee has agreed to continue into 2018. Thank you to all, and to Rick Simmonds of Wessex FM and Paul Appleby of Exo Technology Solutions, who are joining us this year.
I would also like to thank Albert Goodman, our honorary accountants, Mike House our Treasurer, Pengillys, our honorary solicitors, and Guy Bridge, our valued Administrator.
I’d also like to thank Cherise Luke-Bennett, my Vice-President in 2017. Her support and encouragement has been invaluable.
This year we have two Vice-Presidents: Craig Oakes and Julia Cohen. Thank you both for the leadership you’ve already demonstrated in various aspects of Chamber life.
Last year I said that ‘the Chamber’s role is to support local businesses.’ Businesses help to bring jobs, income and prosperity to Weymouth and Portland. Whether a sole trader, a family firm or an ambitious entrepreneurial adventure, the Chamber is here to help in any way it can.
But what does that help look like in practice? How can we offer genuine support for small local firms? Does the Chamber still have a place in the 21st century business world, or as we move into our 100th year, is it in danger of becoming an outdated relic?
I believe that the Chamber still has a vital role to play. In some ways that role is different; in 1919 I believe the Chamber was concerned with keeping a lid on wage demands by employees. Today, we see our role as making a positive contribution to the local economy and community.
I am keen to see the Chamber playing an active part in raising what I refer to as our economic prosperity and spiritual prosperity.
Economic prosperity means better incomes for business owners, better wages for employees and more security of employment. Spiritual prosperity is about wellbeing, our having a sense of purpose and value, and a respect for one another.
Fine words, perhaps. But still, what does this look like in practice?
In January we launched a new networking and support group called Bizzy. Bizzy is aimed at the smallest businesses – typically sole traders, firms with less than five employees, and people thinking of setting up a business.
Why did we do this? Because many micro-businesses don’t engage with the Chamber. They don’t think the Chamber is for them. With Bizzy we’re experimenting with a new approach designed specifically for very small businesses. It’s new, it’s very informal, and it’s still getting going.
In August we’ll be actively involved in Weymouth Carnival. The float is already booked. The carnival provides a welcome boost to many town centre businesses, bringing in huge crowds, but I hear complaints that carnival is not what it was. We’re playing our part by getting involved, and I encourage other local businesses to do the same.
In October we’ll take a more active part in Feast Weymouth, supporting local restaurants. A last-minute Feast night out was arranged in 2017 and was well attended. I’m aiming to do more to support Feast this year.
These are just some examples of practical support for local firms. There are other events being planned, and I’m pleased to say that members of the Executive Committee are taking a leading role in organising these. We’ll soon be announcing more details of a spring business seminar that will include high profile and inspirational speakers.
Another example of practical support is our increasing involvement with the Starfish Enterprise co-working hub, being set up by Weymouth Area Development Trust. We can take no credit in the work they have done to date, but this year we anticipate giving them support in various forms.
In addition to Weymouth Area Development Trust, we will continue to work with other local organisations and groups including Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, Weymouth BID and other local Chambers. I hope we can also start engaging with other bodies.
I am looking forward to a busy year with the Chamber as we head towards our 100th anniversary. It’s also a busy year for Dorset, as it embarks on the journey to combine several councils into just two unitary authorities.
It’s important that this major reorganisation does not impact the support available to local businesses, particularly as this coincides with Brexit, which is bringing its own issues. I am beginning a dialogue with local decision makers, to help to see the way forward and protect the interests of local firms.
Finally, my vision is that by the time it reaches its centenary year, Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce is ready to embark on a second century of helping bring prosperity to local businesses, and by doing so, to improve the prosperity of the wider community across Weymouth and Portland.
4. Election of Officers and Executive Committee for 2018-19
President Andrew Knowles conducted the election of Officers and the Executive Committee for 2018.
President: Andrew Knowles of Dorset Social Media,
Craig Oakes of Oakes Insure and Julia Cohen of Weymouth College
Treasurer: Mike House of Albert Goodman Accountants and Advisors
Chamber Executive Committee (in no order)
Cherise Luke-Bennett of Nantes Solicitors and Gateway Family Mediation
Alan Cheesman of WR Cockings Electrical
Clive Garman of Sherrens the Printers
Rick Simmonds of Wessex FM
Paul Appleby of EXO IT Services
Trevor Matthews of Wessex Film Productions
Rob Goodwin of Champagne Film
Nigel Reeve of Marketing West SW
Nicholas Spence of Dolphin Design
Sara Samuel of Social Footprints
Honorary roles to the Chamber
Honorary Auditors, Accountants and Advisers – Albert Goodman
Honorary Solicitors – Pengillys
Administration, Communication and Membership – Guy Bridge firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks were given to these for agreeing to continue for a further year.
The President thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting at 7.10pm. Followed by networking and an excellent dinner in the restaurant downstairs in Vaughan’s.