Message from Fife Chamber President

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The last few months have been difficult for all of us as we have changed and consolidated our businesses to deal with the effects of Covid-19.  Fife Chamber has done everything it can to help members adjust and, unfortunately in too many cases, just survive through this upheaval.

The Scottish Government recently set out a route map to get the country working again and to restore some normality.   We all want this to proceed as quickly as possible but there is no doubt that getting from where we are now to where we want to be is going to take a long time and our businesses will have to go through many more challenges to get fully and safely operational again. I want to assure you that your chamber will continue to work hard to give you the support that you will need on that journey.  

The Chamber will continue to use its membership of the British and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, and its own direct political links, to push for financial support for you when you need it, and clear and practical guidance on what you need to do to adhere to whatever physical distancing rules are in place to operate safely.   

The Chancellor’s recent announcement that staff can be furloughed on a part-time basis will give greater flexibility to different businesses to use the scheme in a way that better matches their specific needs and it highlights the effectiveness of our partnership with the BCC and SCC.  The same is true of the announcement that the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is being extended for a further three months.  

These measures are very welcome but we have not forgotten about the many businesses and entrepreneurs across Fife who still haven’t received any financial support despite the impact that Covid-19 has had on them.  Our persistence in advocating on their behalf has also paid off, with the Scottish Government confirming that businesses that occupy multiple premises with a cumulative rateable value of over £51000 will be eligible for a grant.  We’ll continue to push to have other major gaps in financial support filled.

The Chamber will expand its online event programme so you can continue to share information and best practice through Fife Learn, and create new business opportunities abroad through Fife International.  These will feature the same thought-leading and influential local, national and international contributors that characterised Chamber events pre-Covid. Fife Social will return in July, initially in ‘virtual’ form.  And, hopefully in the Autumn, we’ll be able to resume some of our ‘face-to-face’ events with appropriate social distancing measures. 

Chamber staff will be available to help you on a 1-1 basis wherever and whenever they can, whether it is by connecting you with other businesses who can help you or pointing you in the direction of sources of information or funding that will help you.   And, in some cases, just giving you someone you can talk to, which many small business owners don’t always have.

The Chamber staff are here to help you and the Chamber Board is here to support them, to make sure that they have the resources they need to give you the assistance you need.  

I want to advise you of some recent changes to the Board.   Dawn Watson from Exterity, Ken Gourlay from Fife Council and Sheena Doyle from the Really Useful HR Company have become Directors of the Chamber.   Dawn has taken on the role of Treasurer.  They bring business expertise, business and political contacts and personal insights and experiences that will prove invaluable to Alan and his team, and to me. They are committed to the success of Fife Chamber and I am delighted to welcome them to the Board and to have the opportunity to work with them.  

I am also pleased to report that Janet McIntyre from Thorntons and Colin Brown from Burness Paull have agreed to become Vice President and Junior Vice-President respectively, meaning that Fife Chamber now has a succession plan in place to give it strong leadership beyond my term of office.

One of the events that the team are working on is the AGM, where you will have the opportunity to ‘meet’ the new Directors and Office Bearers and endorse their appointment.

At the same time as Ken, Dawn and Sheena joined the Board, a number of directors stood down having served their allowed terms of office.  I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution that Craig Hunter, Alistair Booth, Michael Longstaffe, Louise Molloy and Keith Winters have made to the Chamber over many years.  Our heartfelt thanks go to them.  

I want to finish by thanking you for continuing to support Fife Chamber.  It has been very heartening to see so many members renew their membership over the last few months, despite the operational and financial challenges many of them are facing. They represent the best ideals of Fife Chamber: everyone working together for the greater good and helping each other.   

Some companies have also joined the Chamber. In doing so, they have reminded us that no matter how tough things are just now, our businesses can bounce back, our economy can get back on track and we can believe that the future can be better than the present.

I wish each and every one of you great success as you strive to create new opportunities for your company.