Death knell for town group

Arnold Sumner
Arnold Sumner

A traders’ organisation with a history going back more than a century has closed.

St Annes Chamber of Trade has held its last meeting – and has decided to hand over the reins of safeguarding and promoting the town’s best interests to the St Annes Enterprise Partnership (STEP), which has sparked a major wave of interest since being launched just a few months ago.

This is the ideal time to pass the baton - Arnold Sumner

The Chamber was set up in its current form in the 1980s, but has links going back to the early part of the 20th century and the formation of the Lytham St Annes Traders’ Association.

In a statement to members, circulated by email, Chamber co-ordinator Arnold Sumner said: “St Annes Chamber of Trade is closing.

“The interests of your businesses are being continued by St Annes Enterprise Partnership, which has many partners including Fylde Borough Council and St Annes Town Council.

“The St Annes Enterprise Partnership, Economic Plan gives details of St Annes together with the progress already made, aspirations and hopes for St Annes’ future.

“Thanking you for your past help over the years, wishing you all success for the future of trading in St Annes on the Sea.”

Arnold, associated with the Chamber for more than 30 years and the third generation of his family to be involved, stressed the move was a progressive one and said the future of the town was in good hands with STEP.

“This is the ideal time to pass the baton,” he said.

“STEP has made a big impact since being launched in the summer and we were impressed to see more than 40 people at its last open meeting.

“Ending the Chamber is not a negative move, it’s a progressive one and we are sure all the traders’ interests and those of the town in general will be well looked after by STEP.

“I look forward to going along to its meetings in future and to its continued progress.”

Chamber chairman John Moxham, involved with the organisation for some 15 years and chairman for the last 12, said: “It’s something we have honestly been thinking about for some time, with no new blood coming through to take over the official posts and the rapid rise of STEP makes this the ideal time to call it a day.

“The Chamber has always fiercely guarded its independence and done everything it can to give people a voice and promote all that is best about the town.

“The arrival of STEP gives us the opportunity to stand down knowing that the future of the town is in good hands and we look forward to its continued prosperity.

“With the ever-increasing number of visitors coming to Fylde, these are exciting times for St Annes and STEP is ideally placed to make the most of that.”

The Chamber has campaigned over the years for various causes, most recently collecting a petition of more than 3,500 signatures to help secure an extension to the one hour on-street parking limits on shopping streets around The Square.

STEP, with representation from Fylde and St Annes Town Councils as well as a host of different business, was launched in June and later in the summer organised the opening St Annes Food Fayre, which proved a big success.

After more than 100 people attended the organisation’s launch, more than 40 turned up to its most recent open meeting and chairman Bev Wood and colleagues are currently in the process of appointing chairmen of various sections within the Partnership, such as events, food and drink, retail and regeneration.

Bev said: “We are intended as a conduit for people’s ideas to ensure the very best for the town - the glue that binds the various interests together, so input from everyone is very welcome.

“We have been delighted with the success of STEP so far - there is a lot of passion within the town and we look forward to moving forward together.”