A new voice sounds for businesses

AN historic alliance has been forged by business groups in Northumberland to give them a stronger voice.

Chambers of trade in Morpeth, Alnwick and Berwick have joined forces with the Business Forum in Hexham and Amble’s Business Club to create the Northumberland Market Towns Chamber of Trade.

It will keep checks on Northumberland County Council and the group will demand that political parties contesting the May election release manifestos with firm pledges regarding their intentions.

Issues on the agenda include the imbalance of parking charges in the county, the attitude of traffic wardens, regeneration and revitalisation of town centres and planning and out-of-town development.

The dualling of the A1 is also a key priority.

The new organisation is headed by Carlo Biagioni, who is Chairman of Alnwick’s Chamber of Trade, while John Beynon from the Morpeth chamber will serve as Vice-Chairman.

Mr Beynon said: “It is a shame that it has come to this, but we feel we are not being listened to and more preference is being given to the south east. It is all about the numbers game.”

Mr Biagioni said: “This one big business group will give us a huge voice within Northumberland. That is what we are trying to achieve here. We are all having to survive in a bleak economic climate. Jobs, entire businesses and the traditional Northumberland way of life are under threat. This new organisation is fed up with what it believes are promises, more promises and no prompt action.

“We want the political leaders and influential members of the various political parties to meet us and to listen to our reasoning and prepare to make manifesto guarantees that they will abide by.”

The five organisations making up the chamber will continue to carry out their own local functions.

The new group is made up of more than 500 local businesses, which employ thousands of staff between them.