In order to expand our reach and ensure that businesses in the Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe area receive the best representation when dealing with Government and other bodies, COMBEbusiness has joined Devon Chamber as an affiliate member.
Devon Chamber of Commerce is an accredited member of the British Chambers of Commerce network. Representing over 40,000 employees in the county, Devon Chamber connects businesses to enable growth and success in the region. Working in partnership with local authorities, strategic organisations and British Chambers of Commerce, Devon Chamber of Commerce works to improve business conditions in the county. Devon Chamber works with all levels of local and regional government, from officers working directly on projects to those who influence local decision making and strategic groups such as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. Nationally, it has access to the Government through the relationship with British Chambers of Commerce, enabling it to add weight to local and regional lobbying activity. It seeks to address key issues impacting on business growth and development for the region.
What are the benefits of Affiliate Membership?
2 Copies of Chamber profile
Free Chamber event promotion via Elink
Affiliate Chamber news feed on Devon Chamber website – for Chamber news & information
Access to free events for 2 members of the chamber committee
Access to paid events – member rate will be apply to committee members and non-member rate applies to all Chamber members
Inclusion in the BCC quarterly economic survey & other relevant surveys
Chamber profile and link on Devon Chamber of Commerce Affiliate page of website
Quarterly roundtable discussions with the CEO of Devon Chamber and briefings
COMBEbusiness directors will be meeting with Devon Chamber to develop a close relationship and involvement in events both in this area and across the whole of Devon.
Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listedÂ the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, belowÂ is the response from LabourÂ candidates:
Mark CannÂ – Parliamentary candidate, North Devon
Toby Ebert â€“ Ilfracombe Central
Marianna Holdsworth â€“ Ilfracombe West
COMBEbusiness thanks themÂ for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.
Labour has no plans to change the rates of VAT â€“ I support, however, the variation allowed and applied in many other EU countries to reduce the rates for tourism attractions and accommodation providers.
To support the growth of local businesses in our high streets and town centres, Labour will cut business rates on properties with an annual rental value of less than Â£50,000 in 2015 and freeze them in 2016. This will mean an average saving of nearly Â£450 on 1.5 million properties.
Buses are the lifelines of our cities, counties, towns and villages â€“ they reduce congestion, get people to work, drive economic growth and keep communities alive. The bus market is not working â€“ many areas are seeing their bus services disappear and the Competition Commission has said failures in the bus market are costing taxpayers up to Â£305 million each year. The next Labour Government will give city and county regions greater control over the buses in their area. This will give local areas more control over the way buses are operated so that they can decide routes, set fares, drive improvements in services and bring together trains, buses and trams into a single network with smart ticketing
We want to empower communities to take back their high streets, and to work with businesses and landlords to build town centres in which people want to live, shop, work and invest. We believe communities have the knowledge and are best placed to shape what their high streets look like, and determine the balance of shops, entertainment, leisure and housing needed for their area. Labour will give local communities greater powers over permitted development and use class designations and changes.
Local parking charges are too often seen as revenue streams rather than offering a service. We need to recognise that holiday destinations need to encourage and not discourage visitors and sensible parking regimes need to reflect local and visitor needs. Motorhome parking is often overlooked and itâ€™s good to see there is provision in Ilfracombe but more could be done generally to encourage these visitors. We also need to do more to encourage public transport use to cut down on the number of car journeys that have to be made.
More needs to be done by way of education and public awareness to encourage us all to take better care of our local environment.
Something that we also need to consider is the need to improve the quality of the air we breathe.Â Labour will give local authorities the power, as well as the responsibility, to tackle air pollution, and work with them to develop a holistic strategy to meet EU targets on air quality.
Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listedÂ the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, belowÂ is the response from Liberal DemocratÂ parliamentaryÂ candidate Sir Nick Harvey.
COMBEbusiness thanks himÂ for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.
I strongly support a cut in VAT for tourist business from 20 per cent to 5 per cent, which has been implemented by 25 of the 28 EU member states already â€“ they have taken advantage of this flexibility and so should we if we want to stay competitive. I have been involved with the national Cut Tourism VAT campaign and locally when John Fowler started this campaign 10 years ago. Tourist businesses are caught between a rock and a hard place when in either staying just below the threshold and absorbing costs themselves or hiking prices up which potentially deters visitors. There is a great deal in this for UK PLC if we could just look a little further ahead and wean the treasury off the thought of where the next pound is coming from. It would cost money in the first year but by year three it is making money and making Â£3-4billion a year within a decade. Nearly everyone in the UK would benefit from this.
I agree that we need a much fairer system than the current outdated model. In Government the Lib Dems have put Â£1bn in to reducing the cost of business rates in this financial year for small businesses and pushed for a fundamental review of business rates which is ongoing. Our policy is to extend this so it also consider the implementation of Land Value Tax (a tax on the unimproved value of land, favoured by many economists).
Cuts to bus services are concerning. People obviously want regular services on key routes but often these services run with very few passengers which is hugely inefficient. As local businesspeople suggest, high quality market research into local people’s travel requirements is key to getting this right in an era of squeezed council budgets.
Cuts to bus subsidies nationally have made things far more difficult for rural bus operators. I would like to see the costs of this to central government absorbed by a number of departments â€“ e.g. Transport, Work and Pensions and the Treasury â€“ because rural bus services are so key to achieving many of the Government’s objectives i.e. getting people to work and training and improving the local economy.
Business support and funding
With them covering such a huge geographical area it is certainly the case that the Heart of the South West LEP need constant pressure to focus on North Devon, which I have been exerting over the course of the last Parliament and will continue to do if elected. We must also keep taking advantage of schemes like the Regional Growth Fund and opportunities like Assisted Areas, secured last year to boost North Devon’s manufacturing industries as these are vital boosts to business. North Devon Council should get right behind North Devon Marketing Bureau’s initiative. There is a huge amount of potential if we can increase the fairly scarce resources it is currently working with.
I am frequently contacted by a number of business owners in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe about heavy-handed parking enforcement by a few specific individuals. This is something I have tried to take up with the council: it is counter-productive as the perception of parking attending is very negative, it is a headache for businesses who may occasionally run just over their allocated time for loading and unloading and are regularly saddled with fines. The whole system of parking charges and enforcement needs a thorough review.
Increasing citizen involvement in maintaining the environment is vital â€“ a national guide would be an excellent initiative, and local variations even better â€“ so for areas like Woolacombe with specific environmental features and needs there would be far more clarity on what people could do to help. Already we have a number of great initiatives locally like Tidy Our Town and the Big Beach Clean which really stimulate involvement in the community and environment for people of all ages. More local support for and advertising of these initiatives would be good place to start.
Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listedÂ the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, belowÂ is the response from UKIP parliamentaryÂ candidate Steve Crowther.
COMBEbusiness thanks them for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.
As a businessman myself, my priority if elected will be to promote, build, support and energise the North Devon economy. That means supporting our major industry, tourism, but also making sure we diversify and attract entrepreneurs who will start clever businesses here and providemore jobs and higher wages for our young people.
I am very sympathetic to the VAT reforms for seasonal hospitality businesses. VAT is a tricky tax, because it is subject to EU rules, but I would like to see progress on this.
I support a cut in Business Rates by 20% for companies having premises with a total Rateable Value of less than Â£50,000 and a push for 30 minutes free parking in every high street and shopping parade.
On litter, cleanliness and care for the local environment, we absolutely support the proposals for empowering local communities to pitch in, and educating youngsters to be more aware. In towns where UKIP runs councils, such as Ramsey in Cambs, citizen involvement in litter-picking, grass-cutting and even cleaning the public loos is encouraged (and successful).
Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listedÂ the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, belowÂ is the response from GreenÂ candidates.
COMBEbusiness thanks them for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.
We Believe that VAT is regressive, highly bureaucratic and a severe burden on the Tourism industry which is a vital area of our local economy. We support a consumption/ environmental based tax system. Although we have no power to change the system on a District / Town Level we support our South West Green MEP Dr. Molly Scott Cato who is currently negotiation VAT relief for EU small businesses. This would aid the tourism industry the growing microbusiness community in Ilfracombe and itâ€™s surrounding parishes.
Under business rates. You talk of a change in the system however our local candidates can only do so much to change the system.
We do not support the idea of National Non-Domestic Business Rates and would push for a reformed system of Land Value Taxation which would replace Council Tax & Business rates. These rates would be locally set and would reflect the planning consents granted. It would penelise buildings that fall into a state of disrepair to discourage site speculation that has been a particular problem hindering redevelopment of certain sites in Ilfracombe.
We have been focusing on things that as councilors we would be able to act on like in your other questions on Parking and the Environment. Many of us own small businesses or are previous company executives and understand the hinders of VAT and Business rates on SMEs.Â Unfortunately as much as we would like to change the Tax system for the better and fairer it is beyond the role of a district councilor.Â One thing we can offer though is that we can work together with other councilors and the business community to help the town prosper and create a Brighter Future for Combe.
We understand the necessity of Good public transport links with early and late buses to help workers get to and from work; public transport extended to outlying communities; a direct link from Ilfracombe to Tiverton Parkway; we will explore these options with bus companies.
We will look at the viability of providing a local â€œDevon Wheels 2 Workâ€ service for individuals who need assistance accessing employment in rural areas.
Ilfracombe can never be, nor should it be, an industrial hub: with new technology, smart thinking and strong place marketing we will promote it as a place where young entrepreneurial families can thrive.
We would be looking to attract more LEADER 5 funding to Combe and itâ€™s surrounding parishes for public projects and to grow small microbusinesses. We would utilise resources (if available) and support local delivery partners with local business groups to promote future funding opportunities to help support the local business community.
CombeBusiness is a great asset to the town. However despite having an currently elected District councillor at the heart of the organisation, the needs of the local business community arenâ€™t being addressed at a district level. We believe in localist principles and our representatives if elected will listen to the business community and do everything within our power to assure that we can identify, act, and grow a better connected, prosperous town.
Ilfracombe has a great established microbusiness community. Addressing their needs are essential. Ilfracombe however suffers from the lack of an Enterprise hub built for the digital age. We will work to transform the recently acquired Lantern into a State of the art hub to facilitate the towns growing SME scene.
We support the idea of a single use ticket transferable over council owned car parks and would look into the viability of this if elected.
We stand by council employees as long as they follow their employee guidelines.
We would look at the possibility of linking Wilder road car park with a pedestrian walkway to the High Street to reduce congestion.
â€œCouncil Services did not meet demandâ€
We feel that this isnâ€™t an isolated issue.
Following the increased precept we would look to provide better value for money for the taxpayer by cutting bureaucracy within the town council and direct resources to where local people and businesses really need them. In this case we would be looking to employ additional local cleaners to maintain the town and keep up with demand and provide a safe clean environment for all to enjoy.
Following the COMBEbusiness event on Wednesday 1 April, when businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe listedÂ the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address, belowÂ is the response from Conservative candidates:
Peter Heaton-Jones – Parliamentary candidate, North Devon
Paul Crabb – Ilfracombe Central ward candidate, North Devon Council
Paul Yabsley – Ilfracombe Central ward candidate, North Devon Council
Lynda Courtnadge – Ilfracombe East ward candidate, North Devon Council
Felix Milton – Ilfracombe West ward candidate, North Devon Council
Edward Short – Ilfracombe West ward candidate, North Devon Council
COMBEbusiness thanks them for taking the time to consider the questions and to reply.
We support the national campaign for a cut in VAT for accommodation businesses.Â Whilst recognising that it leads to a short-term loss of revenue for the Treasury, we believe in the long term more customers would be attracted and the tax take would recover.Â A sliding scale would be better than the current system. The priority must be to support our small tourism businesses which are vital to the local economy.Â Peter Heaton-Jones raised this point with the Chancellor in North Devon this week.
We want the system to be streamlined so that every business knows when and if they have to pay anything.Â There is no advice on this, unless you look into it.Â A review of business rates to make them more equitable is also necessary. We also support the Chancellor’s suggestion that local authorities should be allowed to keep business rates revenue to invest specifically in the local area, and will urge the councils here to apply for this.
We are concerned that Devon County Council is looking at reducing bus services, although they do guarantee that nowhere that currently has a bus will be left without a service altogether.Â We welcome the provision of some community services.Â We would encourage all bodies involved – the councils, bus operators, passenger groups and voluntary organisations – to work together to try and ensure we get the best possible services within the financial constraints.
We agree with all the suggestions made.Â Peter Heaton-Jones is working hard with the North Devon Marketing Bureau to promote North Devon, and arranged for a government minister to launch the lorry on its tour.Â More generally, he believes not enough has been done in recent years to promote North Devon as a place that’s ‘open for business’ and will use the position of MP to bang the drum more Â effectively.Â It’s not Â just to make businesses richer, but to make sure that they can employ more people, on better wages. Â Â District Councillors can also promote NDMB Â and North Devon generally, and will of course do so.
We’re happy to look at all those options.Â Following pressure from councillors, there is now a period of grace for in certain circumstances. The fact is there is no â€˜one size fits allâ€™ solution for every location and we will need to look at different answers for different places.
Everyone must play their part.Â In this area, we can work with One Ilfracombe.Â By forging stronger links, the people of the town will have more control over cleanliness and their environment. National guide to citizenship Â is an interesting idea, but we think a local version would be of more value.Â We would be happy to peruse this as a possibility.
On Wednesday 1 April, businesses from Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe met to raise the issues they want candidates in the forthcoming town/parish, district and national elections to address.
Below is a summary of the issues raised and some of the points made. There was a full discussion with different views expressed on issues. As can be imagined, time ran out and these are just some of the issues affecting businesses and comments made.
COMBEbusiness requests local candidates and parties to consider these questions and respond as to how they will address them.
If you encounter a candidate, ask them about any of the issues below.
Response: national. Although councillors should be more aware of this.
A comprehensive review of VAT and how it is applied to businesses is requested due to seasonal businesses deliberately closing to avoid crossing the VAT registration threshold. Businesses reaching the threshold have to start applying VAT, where applicable, to goods/services they supply. This can mean increasing prices by up to 20% or absorbing the 20% themselves.
An example of this is bed and breakfast establishments that block off accommodation in high season. It is paradoxical that the business community is working hard to attract more visitors to the area only for some businesses having to turn down this extra custom. It is also likely that some business transactions are not being recorded for tax so that they do not count towards the threshold. The present VAT regime is limiting the growth of the economy.
Suggestions included a lower rate of VAT for new businesses or certain sectors and extending VAT to all businesses so there is a level playing field. There was also a call for a friendlier regime for small entrepreneurs, balancing efficient collection of taxes with a fairer system.
Topic: Business rates
Response: national and local
A fairer system was called for as the present system is levied on a small base of businesses that occupy business premises. The tax is calculated on the property and does not take into account either business turnover or profit. Also it does not take account of businesses that can operate from any location, such as a desk at home or a laptop on the move.
One suggestion was for a profit-related tax.
Topic: Bus services
Response: local and national
As bus routes are being cut back, councils expect community transport groups to pick up the slack, but are themselves cutting funding to these groups. For example, Ilfracombe and District Community Transport is running an evening service to/from Woolacombe for seasonal workers who need to travel to/from work but donâ€™t have their own transport. How can these groups continue without funding?
There was also concern that councils are not overseeing the management of bus routes effectively with evening buses frequently seen to be running empty while residents in small settlements have no services at all.
It was felt that councils should be doing more to encourage travel on services, eg effective marketing, and conducting higher quality market research into residentsâ€™ travel requirements. Perhaps funding/management of rural bus services should be reassessedÂ at a national level too.
Topic: Business support and funding
Response: national and local
Concern was expressed at how councils and public sector agencies spend funding and provide support. One example was for a work hub in Ilfracombe. It was felt that business support provided regionally, such as previous Business Link support from Bristol and now GAIN in Plymouth, is not designed with the specific needs of this area in mind and provides untargetted generic support of limited value. There was also widespread concern aboutÂ the effectiveness of funding channelled through North Devon+. Keeping up with a raft of initiatives and funding schemes is difficult for businesses and agencies need to improve their communications.
The feeling was that business support should be designed from the bottom up to answer the specific needs of the local business community rather than those of agencies.
North Devon Council must support the North Devon Marketing Bureau – it is a sensible economic decision which will generate more income through theatres, museums, car parking, etc.
An M5 brown road sign to advertise â€˜Junction 27 for North Devon and Exmoorâ€™
What more will a newly elected MP do to raise national awareness of the North Devon business community?
What more will MP/councils do to encourage inward private sector investment?
More marketing of North Devon at regional hubs
There was concern over the cost and enforcing of parking with especial concern over the aggressive attitude not only of car parking enforcement officers but also of North Devon Council when residents contact it about parking.
Assess whether current charging levels are suitable as a business opportunity.
Introduce a single ticket that can be used in multiple car parks.
Look at introducing flat-rate charging.
For councils to improve the behaviour of their employees to the public and change the perception of people who see Ilfracombe as a place where parking attendants are rude.
These questions are vital for the area as a tourism destination.
Response: local and national
A specific request was made about litter collection in Woolacombe after a busy day and that the council services do not meet the demands of a tourism area.
There were also general comments about dog fouling, litter dropped by families/groups and problems caused by seagulls.
Plus more comments about maintaining cleanliness of road signs.
A number of business people said that they already took action to clean/maintain signs, pick up litter etc, but there was concern about public liability and health and safety concerns from government/councils. It was felt that there is a need for light touch regulation to enable the public to take responsibility for minor tasks in their area.
There was also an expression that there should be more education of children regarding litter in schools.
What more will politicians at all levels do to increaseÂ citizen involvement in maintaining the environment?
A national guide is needed so citizens are clear on how they can help.
This was the extent of the issues raised after a full evening of discussion. There are, no doubt, many more issues.
COMBEbusiness looks forward to receiving responses from candidates in the forthcoming elections at both a national and local level responding to the questions raised above.
Responses can be made toÂ .
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this debate.
Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are seaside resorts characterised by hundreds of independent businesses striving to offer the best retail experience to both visitors and residents in North Devon. From butchers and bakers to greengrocers, delis, shoemenders as well as gift shops and galleries, there is a wealth of choice.