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Chew Valley’s business community will start the New Year by forming an independent Chamber of Commerce, which will give the area its own distinctive voice.

The decision was made at a well attended Annual General Meeting of the existing Chamber, which was set up two years ago as a sub-branch of Norton Radstock. Now the child has outgrown its parent by attracting more than the seventy members.

The potentially controversial question about whether the new Chamber should be affiliated to Bristol or Bath was settled amicably – the new group will be linked to both.

After the re-election of Chairman Jim King, Secretary Rod Podger and Press Officer Ian Bell, it quickly became clear that members were keen to set up an independent body.

Chairman Jim King said: “We’re very grateful to Norton Radstock, and in particular to Andrew Lamb, for their help in getting the Chamber off the ground. But we’ve seen a steady growth in our membership, with new companies joining almost every month, so this seems a good time to set up on our own account.”

“Being independent will give us an opportunity to express the views of Valley businesses on a range of issues and I hope that knowledge will encourage even more firms to come forward and boost our numbers still further.”

The new Chamber will formally come into existence on January 1st 2001 and members will meet again on January 20th to discuss a number of issues, such as a schedule of activities for the coming year.

“We’ve also got to think about a logo, a website and all the paraphernalia that goes with running our own Chamber, but I am confident we have got the enthusiasm, commitment and know-how here in the Chew Valley to make this enterprise a success,” said Mr King.

A sign of the members’ commitment to the new Chamber was a unanimous agreement to raise the subscription rate from £5 to £12 to cover the costs of affiliation and meet overheads.

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