All change at the chamber

IT’S all change at the top for an influential Morpeth business group.

Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade held its Annual General Meeting on Monday.

Former chairman John Beynon stepped down after three years at the helm.

“It has been a heck of a three years,” he said.

Mr Beynon spoke of the difficult times the chamber has been through during his tenure.

In his first year, there were expensive legal battles after a fall-out with a former member of staff and difficulties in retaining the More In Morpeth brand for the town.

The following year saw businesses hit hard by extensive town centre roadworks.

But the hardest time came last year, when former Treasurer Mark Trill stole almost £20,000 from the chamber, leaving it virtually penniless.

Mr Beynon said: “That is probably one of the most serious things that has ever affected this chamber.

“But we rallied. We have some fantastic members and we got help from the county council, town council, the Conservative Club, the Rugby Club and members of the public. It was very humbling to know how highly we are looked at in the town.”

He also spoke of the positive things achieved by the chamber, such as forging better relations with Newgate Street traders, taxi firms, Morpeth Town Council and the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, improving the T&G Allan alleyway and organising a Christmas market and summer entertainment.

He said that with £10,000 of Portas Pilot money, even more will be achieved this year, while the More In Morpeth website will prove vital in attracting more visitors to the town.

He thanked members for their support and urged other traders to join the group.

“If any other people want to get involved, please do,” he said.

“The membership has been going up and up every year and the more members we have, the more powerful we are.”

Member Geoff Proudlock thanked Mr Beynon for his service.

He said: “Our position as a chamber is now very much respected and a lot of that is down to John and the amount of work he has put in.

“We will be sorry to see him go as chairman. He has served us well for all these years and that is something he should be proud of.

“The amount of time and effort he has put into the job is enormous and for that we should all be grateful.”

The new chairman will be former secretary George Williams.