President's update May 2013

3rd May, 2013

More than two months in and this President’s role is more challenging than I thought!!  Nonetheless it is enjoyable and I am meeting some great people in great businesses.

In my attempt to attract non-retail business to the Chamber I have been doing the rounds in various parts of the town. One thing I have found is that there are many businesses that hide themselves somewhat under a bushel. Innovative, successful and highly motivated people are running some incredible businesses out there and it is my hope that the Chamber can attract these people to its ranks.

Town Ambassadors
Our Town Ambassadors continue to do a sterling job, with most of the parts of the town covered.  You may well have recently received a mailing which provides more information about the Chamber, the events we are holding and contact details for Chamber officers. Please remember to feed back any concerns or suggestions to our Ambassadors.

Events
The Chamber is currently heavily involved in the organisation of the Food and Farming Festival which is taking place between 20th and 27th July; and the Winter Festival 23rd November to 24th December.

We’ll be sending you more information about the Food and Farming Festival over the next few weeks, requesting your support and asking what you can do to make the day a success.

New Squares Development
There is some doubt about when the New Squares development will be open for pedestrian access. I am sure you are as concerned as I am that the delay still thwarts a clear passage for people from Sainsbury’s to the town centre – especially now Sainsbury’s have been given the go-ahead by EDC for free parking for up to three hours. From my point of view I have no problem with the free parking, but only on the basis that this is available in our other car parks and that the walkway is opened through New Squares. We will be calling upon Sainsbury’s once again to open up the thoroughfare which is so crucial to the town centre.

Shopping experience
Finally I attended a meeting at the Cumbria Federation of Women’s Institutes last week and spoke about market towns in general and Penrith in particular. There was also a speaker from Asda speaking on behalf of the supermarkets, which made it interesting. There were no fisticuffs, I am glad to say, but the whole meeting highlighted the fact that market towns will need to reinvent themselves for the future. They won’t be able to compete with the likes of the supermarkets or the multinationals or even the internet based purely on shopping; what we need to offer is a shopping experience that you can’t receive at a supermarket.  In my view we also need to make Penrith an ‘experience’. It should be about sociability, relaxation, creativity and being part of something you cannot get at home or at work. You will hear more from me on this during my term of office.
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