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Our Long History

  • Barnstaple & District Chamber of Commerce (BDCC) was formed in 1911 by leading members of Barnstaple’s business community
  • With the exception of the years 1920 – 1928, a President has been continuously in post for the Chamber and a list of the men and women who have served in this position can be seen on the Past Presidents page here
  • At its height in the 1990’s, BDCC employed a full time Secretary and part time CEO and had permanent office space/headquarters with activity funded by membership subscription and grants from the Local Authority
  • The chain of office and medallion, specifically created for Barnstaple Chamber of Commerce, are symbols of office traditionally worn by the President on official and ceremonial occasions. The medallion bears a replica of the official seal of the town of Barnstaple and includes the Chamber’s name and date of incorporation. The chain contains the names of all past Presidents and traditionally the outgoing President presented and placed it around the incoming President’s neck recognising the official transfer of power of leadership
  • In 1995/6 to increase lobbying capacity primarily for major projects such the North Devon Link Road and Barnstaple’s Downstream Bridge all of the local Town Chambers across North Devon and Torridge were combined together to form North Devon Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ltd (NDCCI)
  • BDCC’s Secretary and CEO were transferred to NDCCI at an office located in Bideford
  • NDCCI was responsible for all Town Chamber administration and collection of membership subscriptions, and received annual grants from North Devon and Torridge District Councils
  • A small amount of funds were transferred from NDCCI to the Town Chambers on a need only basis is for Christmas Lights and other activities
  • Not all BDCC businesses agreed to the creation of NDCCI and some members left and joined forces with others to create the separate Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM), a private/public sector partnership set up specifically to look after the issues of Barnstaple’s town centre
  • NDCCI had a full Board position on South West Chamber of Commerce and represented the local town chambers including BDCC. NDCCI facilitated the strategic economic development, representation and business support for the area locally, regionally and nationally
  • It is fair to say that much BDCC’s role in leading on lobbying and business representation was largely taken over by NDCCI leaving BDCC to concentrate on local issues such as organising Christmas lights.
  • In 2005 BDCC Director and Chairman of NDCCI Phil Byers took office as Chairman of BTCM. The BTCM Manager, Craig Bulley, was appointed at that time and together they worked to improve the relationship between BDCC and BTCM. Both organisations now support and regularly work alongside each other to the benefit of the local business economy
  • Over the forthcoming years the political and strategic business requirements changed and NDCCI worked with the local authorities to create the new joint private/public sector partnership North Devon Plus
  • On formation of North Devon Plus, the role of NDCCI was seen as redundant and it was closed in 2008
  • All local authority non-statutory business support was directed to North Devon Plus with the traditional grants to the Chambers of Commerce stopped. The remaining NDCCI funds were split between the town chambers, who were left ‘high & dry’ to fend for themselves with no further financial support from North Devon Plus or the local authorities
  • As a result, in 2008 BDCC went from being fully administrated and funded, to relying on the voluntary efforts of the Executive Committee with no processes or business management systems in place
  • In 2009 BDCC was formally incorporated as a Private Company Limited by Guarantee laying the foundation on which to rebuild the Chamber. The Company Mem’s & Art’s are those as suggested for use by British Chamber’s of Commerce in the event that at some point in the future BDCC may want to become affiliated with them. The Company Directors form the main body of the Executive Committee which meets on a monthly basis and is responsible for the management of Chamber business
  • Given the limited resources available great efforts were made to develop the structure of BDCC through voluntary assistance from member businesses. A major element of this was to develop a fully functioning website, but after several years of trying this never came to fruition due to lack of delivery by the volunteer. It was decided therefore to formally commission the website development and a specialist company was engaged
  • As the Company Directors changed through AGM meetings, great efforts were made to attract new fully committed Directors with the required skills and expertise to help drive forward the ongoing development
  • The Executive Committee also recognised that the administration and delivery of the Chamber’s day-to-day operations and services could not be undertaken by the voluntary altruistic input of the Executive Committee alone and that this was further holding back on going development. Since Autumn 2013, the Chamber has operated a ‘virtual’ office to keep costs to a minimum, utilising member businesses. Currently this role is fulfilled by Teresa Hector, part time administrator to the Chamber
  • A review in 2015 of the systems and processes used to manage the Chamber has been carried out and in order to provide a more streamlined service to members, the very latest in cloud technology is employed for accounting, CRM, event management and email marketing management functions
  • The website has also been re-designed and Phase 1 launched in time for the AGM in November 2015, with Phase 2 planned for release early in 2016
  • In addition to re-establishing its lobbying and representation role, BDCC now has in place a regular events programme and growing membership services along with wide reaching social media coverage. With the updated systems in place, the Chamber is in a good position going forward to communicate and engage regularly with its members and others

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