Bernard Smith was elected president of Uckfield Chamber of Commerce last night (November 25).
He takes over from Fiona Monson who stood down because she has launched a new business in Haywards Heath.
Mr Smith, a director of Oldfield Smith and Co, told UckfieldNews.com the town had “an incredible pool of talent and a wonderful sense of community” which made it a great place to do business.
He said: “There are testing times ahead and the pace of change, as well as the frequency and intensity of those challenges, is going to be relentless.
“The Chamber has been invaluable in representing the needs and concerns of local businesses who, of course, have no right to vote in elections where policy is decided and would otherwise have no voice.
“To rise to those challenges we need to draw on the experience and skills that we have in our membership and committee and we need to find new ways of engaging with each other.
“We need to revisit our relationship with partner agencies so that there is a more open and constructive dialogue on matters where the town has not only an interest, but valuable experience to bring to the table.”
Mr Smith said he would seek to increase membership.
Bid to increase memebership
“The greater our numbers, the louder our voice,” he said.
He also wants to see the Chamber offer practical support, positively promoting business and providing “real, tangible help, drawing on the skill base and experience within the membership”.
“We also need to continue to promote the opportunities to do business within the town and use the links we have further afield.
“I’m constantly amazed by the variety, depth and breadth of the business we have on our doorstep and there are great opportunities to buy locally from real experts, often at prices well below the alternatives,” Mr Smith told our reporter.
Hopes and expectations of members
He indicated the Chamber would make greater use of social media to communicate with members and get views across to the wider community.
“I do want to encourage people to engage with the Chamber.
The Chamber is its members, not its President.
“It’s the views, hopes, expectations and needs of the members which matter and which will drive us forward,” Mr Smith said.