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.
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.
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The Electric Store is Ilfracombe’sÂ independent electrical retailer.
Established in Octover 2011, Jim Burrows and his team pride themselves on offering the best service by stocking the latest products at competitive prices. With combined experience of over 15 years, the Electric Store team has the knowledge to answer any questions that you may have.
Have you seen an item cheaper elsewhere, with the same level of service? Give your local storeÂ a chance to match it!
Working from her studio in Ilfracombe High Street, Heather McNeilly specialises in domestic stained glass using traditional leading techniques.
Heather welcomes commissions for windows and door panels and fanlights in both traditional and contemporary styles and will undertake restoration work on old stained glass windows and leaded lights.
Mirrors and decorative glass items
Heather make mirrors and other decorative glass items using both the Tiffany technique and kiln formed glass and also have a range of dichroic and fused glass jewellery. Come in to the studio to see what Heather has available to buy ‘off the shelf’ or to order something that can be made to your individual requirements.
Stained glass workshops and courses
If you are interested in learning these wonderful techniques yourself, please see the tuition pageÂ of her web site for details for short workshops and longer courses.
We are a long-established organisation in Ilfracombe, but many people do not realise the wide range of services we are able to provide to the community as a whole with our four minibuses and team of qualified drivers.
One of our increasingly popular services is to provide social outings out and about in our lovely North Devon countryside with time for coffee and/or luncheon. These may be day trips from about 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, morning trips coming back to Ilfracombe around 2.30pm or our new service on Monday afternoons starting out at 2 pm, stopping for afternoon tea and returning around 5 pm, and prices are reasonable. These are friendly and sociable occasions for meeting new people and making new friends as well as enjoying the drive. Individuals can find out more and then book their place on the minibus by phoning Shirley Jones on 01271 863630.
Many local community groups, scouts, sports clubs, clubs with all kinds of memberships are taken by our minibuses to their activities on a regular basis or just occasionally.
Another very popular service is our Theatre Transport group for people who love the theatre but have problems getting there and back especially in the dark winter evenings. We collect people from their homes and returned them there after the performance. Janice Banks at the Landmark Theatre on 01271 865655 will send you a list of dates and shows at the Queens Theatre, Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe and will book you a theatre and a minibus seat.
Ring and ride
We still operate our Ring and Ride services getting people with reduced mobility to the shops.
On Friday our minibus goes to Barnstaple Tescos and/or Barnstaple town centre and on alternate Thursdays to Barnstaple Sainsburys. The cost is Â£4 return collecting you from your front door (if necessary) and taking you back to your front door with your shopping. Janice Quinn will take bookings on 01271 866762.
When not being used for our general services, our minibuses can be hired on a self-drive basis with your own driver provided he/she has D1 and no more than 3 penalty points on his/her licence. Half-day, full day and even longer rates are available by contacting Shirley Jones on 01271 863630.