Tuesday, 6 August 2013

East Devon Business Group... or Forum

Some weeks ago, the new East Devon Business Group was launched:
Futures Forum: East Devon Business Group

The District Council's Task & Finish Forum (TAFF) set up to look into its predecessor the East Devon Business Forum welcomed the formation of the new grouping:

Notes of a Meeting of the Business Task and Finish Forum held at 
Knowle, Sidmouth on 24 June 2013

East Devon Business Group

Members noted the proposal to establish the East Devon Business Group, which was a new collective of businesses and business group. The East Devon Business Group was for all East Devon businesses no matter what size. It was also open to all business organisations, including Chambers of Commerce and individual
businesses. The aim of the group was to recruit a broad range of businesses and business groups in East Devon, so that it could identify opportunities that would benefit local businesses and also identify the barriers to business and business growth. The Chairman indicated that there was a willingness amongst the business community in East Devon to work with the East Devon Business Group.
Nominations for a new Chairman for the Group were being sought and it was noted that the East Devon Business Group next met on Thursday 27 June 2013 at 6.00pm at Deer Park Country Hotel.
Members of the TaFF wished to express their support for the new East Devon Business Group.

And here is the agenda:
East Devon Business Group Meetings | East Devon Business Forum 

Together with the announcement of the meeting: 
A new collective of businesses and business groups is evolving from what was the East Devon Business Forum. The new East Devon Business Group is for all East Devon businesses, whether you are a sole trader or running a large manufacturing business in the area, you will be welcome to join. The East Devon Business Group wants representatives from all business organisations, including chambers of commerce, business/trade associations etc. The aim of the group is to recruit a broad range of businesses and business groups in East Devon, so that it can identify opportunities that will benefit local businesses and also identify the barriers to business and business growth. The East Devon Business Group will be entirely business-led and largely self-funded with regular meetings for members. Serving Councillors shall not be eligible to serve as Officers of the Group, but where appropriate, representatives from authorities at local, county and regional level will be invited to attend in order to hear the considered views of business. 
In with the New! | East Devon Business Forum

However, there have been doubts raised about the promised new direction of the East Devon Business Forum/Group:

Will re-launch change anything?

Thursday, July 18, 2013 Exeter Express and Echo

THE acting chairman of an East Devon business group that is in the process of re-launching has responded to fresh criticism. At the first meeting of the East Devon Business Group – formerly the East Devon Business Forum, prospective members were involved in a debate about its new constitution.
Concerns have been expressed that the decision to approve the revised constitution was "steam-rollered" through.
The forum was initially set up to "improve communication" between businesses and East Devon District Council.
But the forum's relationship with the council was criticised by residents and councillors due to the perception it has "significant influence over how much land is developed in the area".
Steven Kendall-Torry, chairman of the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "I came away from the meeting feeling that there wasn't really any change to the existing group. Discussion of the constitution was given courteous but not in-depth discussion, which seemed to last as long as some people's patience – then a rushed vote was taken."
Geoff Morris, chairman of the Exmouth Residents and Traders Association, described the meeting as operating like a council meeting. The point of a representative group like this is not to out-vote other members," he added. I raised the point that one vote shouldn't be carried through as the view of the group but if there are different views, this should form the view of the group. My concern is that if decisions continue being steam-rolled through, with disregard for people's views, we'll end up with the same problems that the forum had with domination by more powerful members of the group."
But acting chairman, Roy Stuart, said "free rein" was given to everyone at the meeting to have their say. "Eventually after a long discussion most people felt it had gone on long enough and there would never be a resolution so a vote was taken and there was approximately a 90 per cent majority in favour of the amended constitution," he said. Mr Stuart was also keen to "put the record straight" about formerly expressed concerns about the original forum.
The forum was criticised last year when members made recommendations as part of the Atkins Report and the Roger Tym Report which were commissioned by the council to assess housing and employment land need to assist with the formulation of its Local Plan.
Mr Stuart said members' findings – that there was significantly less immediately available employment land than was portrayed in the Atkins Report – was based on site visits and endorsed by councillors. He also stressed that the forum was "totally unaware" of the Roger Tym Report. And Mr Stuart denied any knowledge of proposals for a five hectare employment land site near Sidmouth.
He added: "We want to be inclusive, and deal with the wider issues of proving employment opportunities and prosperity across East Devon. We want the group to represent all members in a proper, equal and democratic way."
Nominations for a new chairman are being sought and it is anticipated the new chairman will be appointed at an extraordinary general meeting of the group at the Deer Park Country Hotel on Thursday, July 18, at 5.30 for 6pm. Anyone who would like to attend should contact Mrs Baker by emailing info@bhba.org.uk or calling 01823 681484.

East Devon Business Group … is it a rose by any other name? | Sidmouth Independent News

The next meeting of the District Council's TAFF considering the role of the EDBF will be on 
2nd September:

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