Suffolk Chamber rolls out ‘best of both worlds’ governance changes

“At one level, how Suffolk Chamber organises itself might seem remote from the day-to-day needs of our members. But through this rolling programme of internal improvements, we believe that we are better able to both support and represent our valued members' interests in a rapidly-changing world.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, was speaking at the start of the business body’s second phase in reshaping how its local organisation will work in the future.  

Following on from the launch of Suffolk Chamber in Central Suffolk (covering the Babergh and Mid Suffolk districts) in 2019, the process has begun to establish its equivalent covering the area administered by West Suffolk Council.

With Suffolk Chamber board approval and that of the three existing chapters in the west of the county, a new transitional Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk board has been set up under the chairmanship of Steve Elsom, comprising all existing board members from the old Suffolk Chamber in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill & District and Newmarket & District. The aim is to develop a smaller board ready to tackle the key issues facing businesses in the area over the following years.

Steve, who formerly headed up Suffolk Chamber in Newmarket & District said: “Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk represents the best of both worlds. It’s certainly the right fighting weight to ensure that the views of businesses are listened to by councils and MPs, but in a way that allows us to escalate our campaigns across the county and beyond.

“At the same time, the very localised matters in the main town areas will be looked after as there will be a representative from each, on the board, both during the transition and afterwards.”

The move to Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk was welcomed by the area’s other current chairs. Simon Burton explained that: “this will mean that the voice of Bury St Edmunds will be both retained and amplified in shaping policy”, whilst John Mayhew reflected that: “for Haverhill this means we can better argue our corner and be heard by key decision-makers at the right time and in the right way.”

At the same time, Suffolk Chamber in Ipswich has launched, with chair Paul Copsey welcoming the focus on the specific boundaries of Ipswich Borough Council as “allowing us to better influence the key decisions that really matter to our members and the wider business community in Suffolk’s county town.”

Paul Briddon, president of Suffolk Chamber, added: “the mapping of our ‘place’ arrangements and governance structure onto the local government map makes real sense in strengthening and building relationships and landing sustainable campaigning wins.”

Image of Steve Elsom, supplied by Cubiq Design

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