New era for chamber of commerce

Cotswold Journal: Bourton-on-the-Water Phil Ralph who is continuing as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. (5763641) Bourton-on-the-Water Phil Ralph who is continuing as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. (5763641)

A NEW era has dawned for the Bourton Chamber of Commerce after it was brought back from the brink at a crisis meeting this week.

Members called for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on Monday evening in the Victoria Hall to decide how to take things forward.

Phil Ralph, who stood down from his role as chairman at last month's annual general meeting (AGM), agreed to carry on for another year while six new committee members volunteered.

There were fears the chamber could fold if more people did not came forward to support it, and services such as arranging the town’s hanging baskets, the iconic Christmas tree in the river and the Victorian shopping evening, which they part fund with the parish council, could all have been lost.

But Mr Ralph, who owns Bourton News, in the High Street, said with more than 50 people attending Monday's meeting, it was clear residents wanted it to continue.

"It was the best attended meeting I've seen," he said. "It wasn't so much about whether it would continue but it was whether we could get the support to continue if we did.

"I don't think anyone wants to see it go but I think it needs to change direction slightly. It's very positive. We're very happy with that."

Mr Ralph said the chamber would now focus more on its already successful website while raising Bourton's profile using social media with the help of media consultant, Tom Arkell.

"With the best will in the world we're fighting for resources and money and we're all running businesses, we need someone to help us," he said.

"We're trying to bring it into the modern era and take it forward without breaking what we've already got.

"We are going to focus more on social media to make sure Bourton is loud and proud in the tweeting world.

"As a committee we're going to put a costed plan together to make sure everything we discuss is affordable to businesses. The first committee meeting will be as quickly as possible."

The chamber, which has 60 paid up members, was brought back from the brink of closure last year, after Mr Ralph agreed to become chairman.

Councillor Bryan Sumner, chairman of Bourton Parish Council, welcomed the news.

"I'm just pleased it has the support of the traders," he said.

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