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Minutes of Oswestry Chamber of Commerce meeting 5 Sept 2012


September 11, 2012 by oswestrychamberoftrade

The Vice Chairman welcomed members to the meeting.

The meeting commenced with a Q&A session with Kate Garner, Tim Morris and Dave Parker from the Oswestry 2020 project.

To get the majority of the community to support this consultation process is a massive task. There was the launch event in July and a few articles in the local papers.

→How does OTC envisage to get the community on board?

There will be a community questionnaire to collect peoples views about Oswestry; it is accepted that only a small number of people will want to be highly involved in the process but community input remains important. Analysis and writing of the plan is to be consulted on with the local community.

•The plan is to set community priorities for new public and private sector investment in local infrastructure.

How much authority will the plan have and who is responsible for its delivery?

Tim Morris explained the difference between this plan and other development plans from Shropshire Council. Os 2020 is not looking to address items covered by SAMDev – 2020 is a neighbourhood plan not set up to deal with property and site development issues. OTC is, in part, responsible for the deliver of the Os 2020 plan. When other bodies such as Shropshire Council, make decisions about financing and Oswestry it is thought that the 2020 plan will be the first point of reference for future decisions – Oswestry needs this plan so it can be clear where and how it wants funds to be spent.

•OS2020 WS: We are representatives of local authorities, education, business, local organisations and the local community looking to shape a vision for the future of Oswestry.

→To involve the local community there will be a questionnaire for citizens to fill in.

→Do you also intend to have a targeted consultation and what kind?

It is intended there will be a questionnaire. This will be developed by the 2020 sub groups with the support of professional help (yet to be appointed). The website is asking for volunteers to help; question was asked; how many people are needed and in what roles. The sub groups have a budget to enable professional help to be appointed. The 2020 group want to consult with the Chamber of the progress of the plan and report back periodically as the process unfolds.

•The households will receive a questionnaire as a way of making themselves heard.

→How is this questionnaire to be delivered, how much time do citizens have to fill it in?

No firm plans as yet for delivery and completion of the questionnaires.

•The website is asking for volunteers to participate.

→How many people and what kind of skills are needed? What are the jobs?

No firm details as yet.

•This month the key issues are to be identified by OS2020.

What will they be, who will identify them and will this be in connection with The Site Allocations and Management of Development Plan (SAMDev) of the SC?

SAMDEV is a Shropshire Council consultation process to find out about growth targets in Shropshire market towns and possible future housing.

See earlier re SAMDev comments. No other details available yet as to key issues.

•To justify the great time and financial investment it has to be worth it.

→Who is responsible for implementing the plan after April 2013 and is there a formal commitment of OTC and SC to act on the plan?

Once as action plan is signed off by the community, SC and OTC the contents/priorities for investment will form the basis of ‘ground level’ documents. Driver for the plans is SC spending budgets and if we don’t have a plan, they won’t know how the people of Oswestry would prefer the money is spent.

•The budget for developing this plan is £38000.

→What is this amount to be spent on?

Not sure yet what the costs will be. The professional consultants will be paid out of the £38k and funding also required for printing costs.

•Some people were disappointed when they heard that there was no tendering process for the consultant positions and the website development.

→Why was the community not involved in this important first step?

→How can people offer their support?

The Os 2020 group sensed that some steps would need to be taken initially including the appointment of professional help. OTC made decision to go through proper procedures for sourcing website assistance ad consultancy. The plan is a big task for Oswestry and to produce an efficient plan in the timescale given requires professional help. Local expertise has been sourced to help with this.

The Os 2020 sub groups cover the following areas: economy, social, environment, young people. Kate also thinks there may be a further category; communications/engagement plan.

More volunteers are needed to join the sub groups; people interested should talk to Kate or come along to a steering group meeting. There are ‘sign up’ cards available where people can indicate if they wish to be involved and to what extent.

Other questions raised by the floor included:

  • To what extent is social media to be used to help find out views.
  • People would appreciate general assurance that the bulk of the £38k is spent with local businesses. KG said this is the aim but that the engagement consultants may not be Oswestry based because of the specialist nature of this role although their appointment was still to be determined.

Oswestry Joint Economic Board

Members were asked if they wanted the Chamber to be co-opted onto this Board; all were in favour. The board is set up to look at Oswestry from an economic perspective and what the Council can do to help. They are also distributing the remainder of the MTRP monies via this group and the Chamber may be asked to become involved in this specific process.


Christmas Parking and late night opening in Oswestry

Those present were asked for their views on the above.

Friday night opening in December was not successful last year and members felt it wasn’t worth repeating this year; a suggestion was made that Tuesday night could be late opening in December as that doesn’t clash with local towns.

Because of the above, free parking on all Friday nights in December won’t be necessary. Members would like to propose to OTC that free parking be granted from 1pm every day of Christmas week on the run up to Christmas day. The chamber will make a formal request to OTC for some free Christmas parking to encourage shoppers to shop locally.

There is a Christmas festival being planned for 15th December in the Town and business owners are currently being contacted to see who is interested in opening / taking part in this event.


Oswestry Footfall

Steve Howarth explained to members what Footfall does and the constraints it currently faces. A major current issue is not being able to get into empty properties (landlords unwilling to help – tends to be absentee landlords) as well as sourcing funding.

Cross Street is proving difficult to gain access to empty shops.

SC do not, by law, have to keep a list of the landlords and their contacts which makes the process even more tricky.

Footfall aims to promote economic activity in Oswestry; was the brain child of Wendy Unwin. Unoccupied shops are used to display exhibitions of locally produced artwork and crafts by community groups. This helps the town by raising spirits and interest which should in turn improve the wealth and activity of the town.

Steve asked the Chamber to consider what contribution is could provide to Footfall.

The meeting was followed by Chronicle Business Club Event.


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