February has been a busy time for Dorchester
Welcome to the first of my regular President’s Blogs.
Once again Charles Street was on the agenda, with a previous scheme proposed by developer Simons having failed, the council is now looking to explore other options and ideas for a smaller retail scheme for the site.
I understand that nothing has been decided yet and the council will be seeking opinions from organisations like the Chamber and the general public. I was surprised to read the allocation of up to £520,000 for a new development strategy and feasibility studies. Let see if the money is well spent and more importantly the thorny issue of parking is covered. I noticed there was little or no coverage of parking provision in what I have seen.
Relief on business rates
The other big topic in my inbox has been business rates. There has been widespread media coverage, much very negative. However, it would appear that a majority of small businesses won’t see massive increases to their bills. The new system is as follows:
- You won’t pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £6,000 or less until 31 March 2017.
- The rate of relief goes down gradually from 100% to 0% for properties with a rateable value between £6,001 and £12,000. So if your rateable value is £10,500, you’ll get 25% off your bill. If your rateable value is £9,000, you’ll get 50% off.
More info here: www.gov.uk/apply-for-business-rate-relief/overview
Apprenticeship awards and Retain update
I was privileged to be invited to attend the Kingston Mauward Apprenticeship Prize Giving again this year and it was wonderful to hear how great the recognised young people are doing. We have supported the Business Admin Category for the last couple of years and once again the winner Emma Boyall, who works for Dorchester’s Clarkes Windows, was a worthy winner. As you will be aware we are running a Chamber ‘Retain’ campaign this year to ensure we keep the great young people here in Dorset.
Staying with ‘Retain’ please remember that we have allocated money to support you in training your teams. We will match fund training up to £250 for any member’s employees up to the age of 26 who live and work locally. The process is simple, just email with information on the person and training planned and it will be reviewed by our ‘Retain’ subcommittee for consideration.
Finally, I’m sure you are aware that longstanding Echo reporter and supporter of the Chamber Harry Hogger has left after 10 years for new adventures. I always found Harry to be fair in his coverage and helpful to the Chamber and signs are that Megan Hindley will be equally supportive of us.
Hope to see you all at our next breakfast on Tuesday 14th March 7.45-9am, Meet the Neighbours with members from Dorchester, Sherborne, Bridport & Yeovil Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held at the George Albert Hotel, nr Evershot. To book your place visit: www.dorchesterchamber.co.uk/events/march-breakfast-meet-the-neighbours – bookings close at 12 noon on Friday, 10th March 2017.