Minutes were read and approved as a true record. Copy available here
Martin Hill gave an explanation of the shift from the old, unstructured Chamber accounts to the new Community Interest Company accounts format which was in line with a standard registered company for Companies House. The period to end of September had been maintained.
Clarification was sought on a number of items;
Loyalty card - appeared to be trading at a loss in 2013-14. Although the loyalty card was supposed to be self financing, the initial year, 2012, was subsidised by the Chamber to help it gain traction. It was not known why invoices were not issued to the participating traders in November 2013 but the Chamber had continued to pay, with welcome support from our Suffolk County Councillor, for the card printing and pads. It was confirmed that this could not continue. Roger Bannister offered to help issue and maintain the invoicing for 2014 and a very generous offer from Kelvin Avis to print the cards for the full year free of charge has meant the scheme can continue. The Chamber would finance the interim period before cash flow put the scheme into credit.
Assets - the Chamber only had few assets in the shopping bags and, when fully transferred, the Hanging Baskets.
Bank accounts - The Ipswich Building Society Account had been transferred into the CIC. The TSB accounts only had a small amount in it and was there to catch some very old standing orders. This would be transferred and closed later in the year once the future of the Chamber was known. The Barclays account would similarly be transferred and closed once the Chamber future was resolved.
Funds - the Chamber held, after outstanding payments, just over £4500 which was now all within the Community Interest Company. This meant that it was ring fenced for the benefit of the businesses in Hadleigh. The Directors of the CIC would manage the funds.
The accounts were accepted unanimously. Copy can be downloaded here
The full report can be downloaded here
The Management Committee had dwindled during the year and of the last four committee meetings only one had been quorate. This had presented the active members with some real problems in covering the core work of the Chamber. In particular it had meant that attendance at the Suffolk Chamber Council, liaison with Babergh District and Police and much more had not received the attention it demanded.
Furthermore the response from members to current issues and reports had been very low - in particular when the Government called for responses to its plans for a rates review, Hadleigh Chamber had submitted only one reply. Although this was probably the lowest response, it had been similar in the rest of the country. The Government has since decided to delay any rates review and we suspect this lack of interest may have had a contributory factor.
The Loyalty Card Scheme continued to be a success with over 30 traders involved and almost 1500 cards being submitted each month. We reported the financial position in the Finance Report and that does mean it can continue.
The Hanging Baskets were presently at risk. The Chamber's insurance policy covered the Basket scheme and there was a possibility that this may not be able to continue. Furthermore the scheme relied on contributions from the Chamber on one key donor which again may not be able to continue. The meeting felt that this was the responsibility of the Town Council ideally and Cyndy would approach them for the insurance cover and a small donation at the very least. She also asked for help in fund raising.
Community Interest Company was now fully operational. It maintained the Chamber rules on signatories but only required two people for a quorum. The original Directors, Tony Addison (Free Rein) and Cyndy Hilton (Priory Hall), had been joined by Martin Hill (Walter Wright) and Roger Bannister (Erben)
Regrettably we have only received two volunteers for the Management Committee. It requires eight people to cover the core and special projects the Chamber needs to run and a quorum of five at any meeting. As such we have not been able to form a committee. This leaves the Chamber in a strange position and the Directors have no option but to suspend the Chamber activities, with certain exceptions.
It was proposed that activities be suspended with immediate effect with the exception of the December Chamber Lunch, the Loyalty Card and the Hanging Baskets. That a full members meeting be arranged for early in February to discuss the future of the Chamber. In the meantime the Directors will monitor the situation, would write to all members asking for the standing orders to be cancelled so that the Chamber does not have to run refunds.