Petersfield Businesses Celebrate an exciting Summer of Events in the Town at AGM
Graham Boardman and Jill Towner with Chair Shirley Crockford - Photo by Chris Pearsall
The Association of Petersfield Businesses (APB)held it’s AGM on Monday 14th May 2012 in the beautiful Garden Bar at Annie Jones in Lavant Street.
The theme of the evening was upbeat and celebratory despite the current economic climate and occasional torrential rain showers.
Some 50 people, a combination of Association members and guests, gathered to hear presentations from organisers of: The Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, Spring and Autumn Festivals, Olympic Torch Relay and Festival of Food and Drink.
Shirley Crockford, Chairman on welcoming everyone said, "We face a challenging summer but also one with tremendous opportunity too. We have an exciting series of events to look forward to and are delighted to see two of the vacant shops in Lavant Street re-opening as confectioners, Sweet Delight and a toy shop.”
The evening opened with Cllr Vaughan Clarke presenting the incredible variety of events planned to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on Monday 4th June 2012 across the town, including a classic car parade, a traditional Fete on the Heath music and dancing.
Details can be found at http://www.visitpetersfield.com/whats_on/92 and a series of commemorative merchandise is available for sale.
Ben Errey of Petersfield Festivals reported on the success of the Easter Trail and Spring Fair and looked forward to the summer holiday Treasure Hunt and August Bank Holiday Festival.
He said, "It is our ambition to bring people into the town and work with local businesses to devise promotions that drive people right into their premises to spend their money. The feedback form the Easter Trail has inspired the concept of a summer holiday treasure hunt to give children and their families a fun incentive to visit the town’s great independent retailers.”
Ben also gave the meeting early notice of the Christmas Lights Switch on Event, once again in support of BBC Children in Need on Friday 16th November 2012.
Bill Oversby of SO Marketing presented the outline of this year’s Festival of Food and Drink to be held on 23rd and 24th June. With some 90 stalls confirmed, voting underway for the best food outlets in the town and a "Name the Pig” competition sponsored by The Utility Warehouse there will be plenty of food and fun for all the family. http://petersfieldfoodfestival.com/
The Olympic Torch Relay which comes through Petersfield on Monday 16th July between 8.30 and 9.00am was next. Debbie Vodden of EHDC described the route the torch will take and the opportunities for the community and businesses to get involved. "As the Torch travels through the town we are expecting thousands of residents from Petersfield and surrounding areas to wave it on its way. We would encourage people to volunteer to be marshals along the route and businesses to celebrate with their staff and customers. Activities including those provided by Olympic sponsors Lloyds TSB will take place on the Square” http://www.easthants.gov.uk/2012
Dan Grindey, Service Manager Economic Development at EHDC concluded the presentations. He described the council’s role in supporting business growth and the desire to work closely with the business community. He focused on key areas such as facilitating events, promotion as a hub destination of the South Downs National Park and helping to make the planning process more accessible.
He was asked several questions including, how access to Tourist Information can be improved, via extending the opening hours of the Tourist Information Centre or providing supplementary information "hot spots” in supermarkets and/or at the railway station, which he confirmed will be investigated.
Also Trevor Towner, Treasurer of the APB asked whether, "Uniform Business Rates would still be charged for empty shops used for "pop-up” community activity?” Dan explained that under the Localism Bill, EHDC had some discretion and would proactively work with landlords to support initiatives to use premises for practical purposes on a short term basis.
There was also a suggestion from the floor that a survey be conducted in partnership with the council to determine what attractions would bring people into Petersfield and make it the destination of choice for shopping, dining and entertainment in the area.
Parking was another topic of discussion topic. Dan explained a Parking Survey is underway and encouraged businesses to complete it before the deadline of 1st June 2012 at http://www.easthants.gov.uk/surveys/EHDCCarParks/ehdccarparkbusinesssurvey.htm
The evening concluded with a call to action for the community at large to get involved with the development of the Neighbourhood Plan from the Town Council.
"Many of you will be aware that the Town Council is committed to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan, and, with the support of the South Downs National Park Authority, has obtained some Government funding in order to become a "front runner” in the UK.
Essentially, the Neighbourhood Plan enables local Communities the opportunity to determine how the town develops in future; locations for housing, retail, commercial and light industrial development; the road network including pedestrian, cycle and parking areas and the development of community activities.
A Management Team is in place but the Team needs a Chairman who is not part of the Local Authority and can be seen to be the independent voice of the community.
A member of the business community would be ideal for this role.
The duties are not onerous. There will be meetings approximately each month, and the need to ensure that the process in completed in time for a referendum in May 2014.
If anyone is interested to know more about the role, please contact either Neil Hitch, Town Clerk or Councillor Peter Marshall.”
Three committee members stepped down at the AGM, Jill Towner of Trevor Towner Jewellers, Graham Boardman of Thornton’s At Home and Patrick Jenkins of Macdonald Oates. Shirley thanked them for their commitment to the Association over a number of years and officiated at the election of three new committee members, Rhona Russell, of the shop of the same name on the Square, Dominic Humphries, Manager of The Red Lion and Ben Errey of Petersfield Festivals.
Members unanimously voted for the new members to join the committee and for the incumbent Treasurer, Chairman, Secretary and committee members to serve for another year.