The Bega Chamber of Commerce and Industry has had another productive year said president Mal Barnes at the annual general meeting at The Barracks on Wednesday.
“We are working on keeping out township as a vibrant and strong business centre.”
Mr Barnes said that after the opening of the Bega Bypass most of the business community had reported improved customer numbers or very little change, however there was still concern about lack of signage to direct traffic on the old highway.
He said many tourists were confused on how to get back on the bypass once in town.
This meant that existing businesses on the old highway miss out as drivers go back to the roundabout, the same way they came into town.
The Bega on the Go Christmas promotion was again a success and Carp Street was closed for first time in many years.
Despite a hot day there were still good numbers for the main draw.
Mr Barnes said the inaugural Festival of the Face brought together many groups within the community and encouraged tourists and locals into the business district.
“This hugely successful Festival was a chamber initiative that has the potential to become a shire-wide biannual event.
“One of our aims is to keep our youth in the district. We involved the Adult Education students to organise part of the Festival of the Face.
“This enabled them to complete a bridging course in business management, allowing them the opportunity to network with our business community.”
Mr Barnes aid the Chamber supported the Australia Day celebrations and was proud sponsors of the Citizen of the Year, Anne Moore and Junior Citizen of the Year, Imogen Pittolo.
It also supported the Bega campus of University of Wollongong scholarship program with Kiah Tamatea being the awardee and the Delta Dogs program.
The president thanked the executive, espeacially Chis Maxted who did a lot of the administration work this past year as well as being treasurer and public officer.
“Let’s keep working together to keep Bega moving in the right direction,” Mr Barnes said.
He was re-elected as president, with John Watkin as vice-president, Chris Maxted as treasurer and public officer, Dixie Fitzclarence as secretary and on the executive, life member Robert Hayson, Lisa Hocking, Dave Mitchell, Kathy Benzie and Nick Machan.
Donna Payne, the Illawarra TAFE enterprise and community co-ordinator for the South Coast, welcomed the chamber members to The Barracks and asked the chamber if it would invite her as a speaker to one of its meetings to discuss reforms in vocational education.
A presentation from Kerry Abramowski, Southern NSW Local Health District project change manager, on the progress of the Regional Hospital in Bega delighted everyone and when Mr Barnes thanked Ms Abramowski he said that the hospital was a boon to business in the town.
Chamber debates parking plans
The Bega Chamber of Commerce and Industry is at odds with the Bega Valley Shire Council on the issue of parking plans for the Littleton Gardens upgrade.
The vice-president John Watkin said the chamber was still adamant that 40 was too many parking places to be removed in the council’s plans for the Littleton Gardens upgrade.
He was speaking at the annual general meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Watkin said that chamber representatives had been working closely with council on the problem with meetings and attending workshops, but although council was offering more parking down near Club Bega, it was the far more central Littleton Gardens area where people wanted to park.
When the Civic Centre is built it is said to seat 450 people and just where are these people to park at a daytime function, Mr Watkin asked.
He also said that when the SCPA markets were held, it was impossible to get a parking space in the Littleton Gardens area.
The chamber president, Mal Barnes, then took the floor and said SCPA was asking for weekly rather than fortnightly markets which would only make the problem even worse.
He said chamber representatives were meeting with SCPA to discuss the change, and asked chamber members to vote if they were in favour of weekly markets.
Only two people put up their hands.
Mr Barnes said that the chamber had supported the markets initially but the understanding had been that all stalls would only sell goods home grown and made and not in competition with businesses already in town.
Now there have been hoses and hardware and other goods sold which of course don’t have the overheads we have, Mr Barnes said.
On both the problem of parking the chamber would maintain its opposition to council’s plans and at its next meeting would be working out its strategy.