As usual, we have plenty to tell you about what your Chamber Committee has been doing over the year to support local businesses, drive the local economy, and lobby and influence change.
After two years without networking, we restarted in April. It was here in ONE40 with a great speaker, Andy King from Limetrack, bringing to our attention the onerous regulations coming shortly regarding the disposal of food waste from company premises.
Another educational meeting was held at Bricks Café, where I briefly discussed all we should know about making promotional videos.
We also introduced social networking meetings – with G&Ts at Browns Tea and Gin and Mince Pies at the Onslow. Our next social gathering is at Firebird Brewery on the 9th of June.
Members tell us how much they enjoy and benefit from chatting with other local businesses, picking up tips, recommendations, and advice and, in many cases, getting new business.
In collaboration with Surrey Hills Enterprises, our monthly Artisan markets restarted in 2022, and nine were held. They have become a regular feature, and our footfall counter records an average increase of 15% when held. These markets continue this year, and we have added three dates for a Vintage and Antiques market. We are somewhat nervous about the first one this coming Saturday, which has 36 stalls – we have never had so many stalls!
The reason for these markets is to bring more customers to our bricks and mortar retailers, cafes and restaurants.
We have worked closely with Surrey County Council and other local stakeholders on the planned High Street improvements. The first plans rightly proved controversial, and we await revised plans. We are confident Surrey County Council will eventually develop an acceptable plan. It will be a massive investment in a High Street which is overly dominated by its through road.
We have also worked closely with Waverley Borough Council planning the new Economic Strategy for the borough. And we have collaborated with all the stakeholders on developing the Leisure Centre and Community Hub for the village with Lord Mawson and his colleagues at Wellnorth Enterprises.
The Footfall Counter in the High Street has recorded data for over a year, and we now have statistics to compare. The data shows that Cranleigh is over 7% up in the previous 12 months. Cranleigh is even more encouraging in the first quarter of this year, around 10% up on last year. Guildford is finding it tough at 2% down on last year to give you an idea of how good that is.
Our Christmas lights switch-on event was well attended, because we had mild weather and partly because Guildford cancelled their event.
Once again, I need to take this opportunity to thank Roger Coupe for the thankless task of raising funds for yet another year, although we did as a Chamber once again contribute £7,000. And, of course, thank you to all those members who donate monthly to the Christmas Lights 100 Club.
We are working on several small projects to improve Cranleigh as a visitor destination.
We received a grant from Waverley Borough Council to design a digital Heritage Trail along the High Street and the Common. There will be QR code stickers on shop windows which can be scanned to read about the history of this fabulous village as you walk along. The trail will also have a downloadable leaflet with a map and some copies will be printed for distribution.
We also received a grant from our Surrey County Councillor to update the brown tourist signs at Nanhurst Crossroads. However, we have been delayed by the Highways executives at the Council who have refused to let us correct the signs, much to the chagrin of our councillor! After all, we no longer have a cinema; our biggest attraction is surely not our Garden Centre! It is a matter of contention between us all, and we hope to have it resolved quickly.
If we fail, we will seek to get permission to install signs on the Downs Link promoting the attractions of the village.
We have enjoyed working with the Parish Council on the Coronation Sunday Big Picnic. We would encourage you to bring your families to the fun fair, stalls, musical entertainment and hog roast on the Common.
As the first year of my term as President comes to an end, and I look forward to the start of my second, I would like to thank my committee for their hard work and dedication.
Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce has been representing the local business community since 1948 and draws its members from all sectors ranging from large companies to sole traders and retired individuals.
We offer members the opportunity to grow their business through networking, promotion and inter-trading, as well as the chance to enhance and grow the local business environment as a whole.
Through strong links with local government, we give members a voice on local issues affecting the local business community, helping to protect business and environmental interest in the Cranleigh area.
I’ve no doubt that the year ahead will present some challenging economic conditions for members, and we stand ready to provide whatever assistance we can to all local businesses.