It’s do or die’ insist traders

PUBLISHED: 12:41 16 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

ELY will have its own Chamber of Commerce for the first time in its history next week, and the independent traders who have formed the organisation have warned it is time to do or die for the city s small businesses. The chamber will be launched at an i

ELY will have its own Chamber of Commerce for the first time in its history next week, and the independent traders who have formed the organisation have warned it is time to "do or die" for the city's small businesses.

The chamber will be launched at an informal drop-in session at The Lamb Hotel next Wednesday.

The Ely Traders' Association - which has vehemently opposed the introduction of parking charges in the city - has said the organisation may be the last chance to save Ely's small shops and businesses from the effects of the charges and the encroachment of national chain stores.

Chairman of the association, Elaine Griffin-Singh, said: "This is the time when small shops must fight strongly against parking charges in Ely because it's a scheme that plays into the hands of the supermarket chains.

"I believe that people want to visit the smaller shops in Ely, but they won't with free parking at supermarkets; the chamber will allow small businesses to fight for a level playing field."

Fellow trader William Burton said: "We are reaching the stage where the balance is going to tip and if people at all levels don't get involved and do something about it we will be the losers."

"Grocers and fishmongers are being killed by the supermarkets - people come to Ely without all the big stores, they come here because they like it like as it is."

The chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce has already put his support behind the traders - many of which are now members of the Ely branch - adding that one of the organisation's primary aims is to take the district council to task over decisions that affect local businesses.

"We don't want to be on collision course with the council," he said, "but we will be monitoring what changes are going on and the decisions that are being made.

"We have to make sure we represent the impact of decisions on local business," he said.

Members of the Ely Traders' Association approached the chambers last year to give their opposition a more widely recognised voice. Although most are now members, the group will remain the Ely Traders' Association under the umbrella of the chamber.

Mr Bridge said: "It is these local people in Ely who will set the pace about what they want to do and how they want to do it."

"Transport is a problem in Ely but the council must deal with the cause of this problem rather than the effect," he said.

Mrs Griffin-Singh encouraged local business people to come along to the launch.

"Everyone must come along - this is now an official body that represent traders, whatever their view, and we will influence the council as much as we can."

Mr Bridge also encouraged people to attend Wednesday's drop-in session.

"The whole ethos of the chamber of commerce is creating success for its members," he said.

"We want to see businesses working together and utilising all of their abilities to help each other - we have membership from people who work on their own to people in multinational companies."

South-East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice was among the first to welcome the formation of Ely's first Chamber of Commerce.

"It is important that local businesses work together," he said, "and the new Chamber of Commerce will facilitate that."

A committee will be set up in the next few weeks.

INFO: Anyone interested in becoming involved with the chamber is invited to attend the launch at The Lamb Hotel, Ely, from 5pm-7.30pm. John Bridge will be in attendance, along with members of the Ely Traders' Association.

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