Fears for future of business forum

Thursday, January 3, 2013
12:44 PM

The chairman of the East Devon branch of the Federation of Small Businesses raises concerns over possible plans to disband the East Devon Business Forum.

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Greg Page-Turner has raised concerns over possible plans to disband the East Devon Business Forum.

He said: “As a regular attendee of the East Devon Business Forum, I am dismayed that the forum is under threat.”

“As the UK’s largest small business organisation, the FSB is very satisfied with the East Devon Business Forum, its wide business make-up and how it is run and operated.

“We are particularly impressed by the way that East Devon District Council hosts and provides a transparent platform for serious debate and discussion into business issues relating specifically to the East Devon region.

“It is absolutely vital that there is regular dialogue between the district council, its elected members and officers and the business community, both large and small, and this must continue.”

The FSB has more than 200,000 members nationally and is a non-political organisation, which lobby nationally, regionally and locally.

Mr Page-Turner added: “We understand that there is a move to divorce the Business Forum from the East Devon District Council and to charge a fee for membership. We would strongly oppose this move.

“The East Devon Business Forum represents all businesses, great and small; those who attend give of their time voluntarily and are pleased to do so.”

He said: “Our members in East Devon along with our colleagues in the chambers of trade need their voices to be heard at this business forum.

“We also need to continue with an open, transparent forum hosted by EDDC, to ensure that there is fair debate and discussion by all members.

“I would further ask those who are trying hard to dismantle the East Devon Business Forum to rally around the East Devon business community and support us in our endeavours.

“We are, after all, bringing prosperity, jobs and security to the area, which in turn will help with keeping council tax down, creating a better life for those who live in East Devon and helping to support the young with their prospects and elderly with their pensions.”

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “It is common knowledge that questions have been asked about the current relationship between the council and the East Devon Business Forum (EDBF).

“EDDC’s overview and scrutiny committee proposed that a Task and Finish Forum should be set up to produce an in-depth report on the EDBF, to include all business engagement and its relationship with the council.

“This process is in its very early stages and it is therefore premature to speculate how the future status of the EDBF might be affected by any of the Task and Finish Forum’s recommendations.”

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