Chamber reports a bumper year for town business

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BUSINESS is booming for a Morpeth trade group after a bumper year of success.

Members of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade heard that partnership work is improving, membership has increased and key annual events are as popular as ever, while promotional activities are working well.

The upbeat report was given by chamber Chairman John Benyon at the group’s annual meeting last week.

Mr Beynon said that in some ways it had been a tricky year for the organisation following a dispute with a former official, but he added that the group has since grown in strength.

And he was delighted with the success of working with Morpeth Town Council and the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, which has led to the formation of an economic development group for the town.

“On the positive side, we have had a great working relationship,” he said.

“We started to work more with the trust and the town council last year and over the past year we have improved the relationship again and are working very closely together.

“We have a monthly meeting of the three groups and we are doing some great stuff together.”

He added that the partnership had proven its worth during work to promote Morpeth in recent weeks to combat disruption from town centre roadworks.

The chamber also heard that more businesses were showing their support, with its membership up 15 to 20 percent in each of the last two years.

“We are increasing membership at a great rate of knots and it is excellent to see new businesses coming into the chamber,” said Mr Beynon.

Members were told that the chamber’s website has been re-designed and will be updated regularly, with more information added during the year, while the More In Morpeth promotional site is working well, attracting about 2,500 hits a month.

About 250 More In Morpeth shopping bags have been sold to further boost the campaign, but Mr Beynon said he was disappointed that the chamber had been forced to spend around £1,700 securing the rights to the slogan.

Reports on the chamber’s Northumbria In Bloom work, Fair Day and Golf Day were given, with all three events hailed a success.

And Mr Beynon said that a December trading event in the Market Place for the town’s independent businesses was so popular that there will be others in the summer and the run-up to Christmas.

There are also plans to increase the programme for entertainment in the Market Place at weekends.

“We had big crowds at every Saturday event we advertised, which really livened up the town so we want to increase that this year and have more entertainment,” said Mr Beynon.

“There were about six Saturdays through the summer when we had something on, but there were 12 to 13 when there was nothing on. We want to try to have something on the square every Saturday so we can advertise it and continue to bring people into the town.

“It is a great way of bringing people up from the end of Bridge Street to the square and then they can filter up to Newgate Street and Oldgate.”

The Chairman thanked members for their support and hard work over the year, and said he was pleased that the public were also getting behind the chamber, particularly during the ongoing roadworks.

“I have noticed, being on the Market Place over the last two weeks, that a lot of Morpeth people are stopping us and saying they understand the situation we are in and they are trying their best to shop more in Morpeth.

“The public are right behind the chamber and the traders in Morpeth, which is fantastic,” he said.