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Members of Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce have elected their first woman President.

Sandy Bell, who runs the communications company Tintinna Ltd in Chew Stoke, taking over from Rod Podger, who has stood down to become Vice-President after four years in the top job.

“I do hope that my appointment might send out a signal to the many women in the Valley who are running successful businesses and encourage them to get involved with their local Chamber of Commerce. I can assure them their opinions and enthusiasm will be greatly valued by us all,” said Mrs Bell.

Top priority for the Chamber in the coming year will be to help to create/negotiate a new bus link which could revolutionise public transport in the area, an issue that is close to the heart of the new President (and vital to the continued economic development of the Chew Valley. But she is resolved to also continue pushing for improvements on broadband as well as investigating ways in which parking problems in Chew Magna could be managed in a better way.

“As a business organisation our priority is to help local companies find ways of getting their staff into the Valley but we also recognise the broader community need for residents who want effective links that will take them into Bristol or Bath.”

“We think the answer could be to establish a local mini-bus service, picking people up from our villages and taking them to a point where they can pick up a bus. That might be going over Dundry and linking with the excellent bus services in South Bristol or it could mean going to Whitchurch, which has the benefit of buses which travel both into Bristol and also towards Keynsham and Bath,” she explained.

There are already precedents for a service of this kind. Residents in Wellow have already established their own bus route and acquired a vehicle which is driven by a combination of a professional driver and volunteers.

“We know the Council has some funding available for community transport so we hope to tap into that. But it may be that we all have to work together to raise money and provide drivers. Whatever happens, we need to have a service which is resourced for the long term, rather than having a short trial, so that people can rely on it, whether they are travelling into the Valley for their jobs or working, going to College or just going out for the night in either Bristol or Bath,” added Mrs Bell.

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