Column: The latest from St Albans Chamber of Commerce

St Albans Chamber of Commerce AGM

St Albans Chamber of Commerce AGM - Credit: Archant

THE 106th St Albans District Chamber of Commerce AGM took place last week at Oaklands College.

In his annual report Chamber President Peter Goodman said: “During the last 12 months the Chamber has continued its regular and very successful business of networking events. We are increasingly grateful to the sponsors of these events as the financial stability of the Chamber is essential if we are to continue to flourish.

“We have continued to work closely with other local organisations. We’ve had meetings with Bedfordshire Chamber, Dacorum District Council, Hertfordshire Chamber, Watford Chamber, Look! St Albans, St Albans District Council and the Institute of Directors.

“Two initiatives stand out, my firm and others were visited by two of the three St Albans District Council Cabinet members and by Maria Cutler our liaison with SADC. The politicians actually wanted to know what we thought and acted on it. Well done Julian Daly and Beric Read. We’re sorry to see the departure of Daniel Goodwin, chief executive officer of SADC and welcome James Blake, the new CEO, with whom we hope the good relationship will continue.

My fellow director, Alastair Woodgate has worked hard as chairman of the Retail Business Forum which aims to improve the city centre and local business landscape for retailers. One of their main initiatives is the appointment of a city centre manager, which we support and I hope you do too.

“When I became president last year it was clear that although we were doing well our finances were a little precarious. Our net current assets were £4,338 which represented a reserve of only four weeks administrative outgoings. We’ve increased net current assets to £15,383 which encourages me greatly. I thank the Chamber members for their support. Thank you to STANTA from whose building we operate without paying rent at a time when Stanta needs all of the support it can get.

“Finally a big thank you to the team that runs the Chamber; we have only one paid employee, our new executive director, Lisa Bates. However it’s also a big thank you to my fellow directors who have invested a great deal of unpaid time in the Chamber. Without them the Chamber wouldn’t exist. We welcome David Clarke to the board, head of St Albans Business and Private Banking Centre for Clydesdale Bank, we are delighted to be working with him going forward.”

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Following the AGM our delegates heard from Jamie Stevenson (pictured), head of apprenticeships and business partnerships at Oaklands College. This week is National Apprenticeship Week. Jamie informed the delegates and business owners present of the support Oaklands can give a business taking on a local apprentice.

He explained that an apprenticeship is a job with training, lasts a minimum of 12 months and some up to three or four years leading to degree equivalent and beyond. There are many business benefits for employers taking on an Oaklands apprentice including growing your own talent, creating managers of the future, addressing skills gaps/succession planning, reducing staff turnover and recruitment costs, getting fresh new ideas into your business and working with the full support of Oaklands College.

There are substantial grants available for all employers engaging with the apprenticeship scheme for the first time. Do you need an extra pair of hands? Employing a young person for 30 hours per week (or sharing one between offices) who will be work ready, keen to learn and very loyal to your business? You could get assistance with the following specialist apprenticeships from our local college: Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service, ICT, Hospitality and Catering, Plumbing, Painting and Decorating, to name a few. The Oaklands offer to your business is extensive and rewarding. If you would like more information please contact Mark Collins or Jamie Stevenson 01727 737339 or

Our next event is the St George’s Day annual bash at Sopwell House Hotel. We are completely sold out with over 300 businesses attending. I am thrilled to have Terry Waite as our guest speaker this year and will be fundraising his charity Emmaus. If you can provide a raffle/auction items to support the event we would be delighted to hear from you –

The Chamber is looking for venues to hold events in the Harpenden area, if you would like to work with us please do get in touch, however we only use venues that are members of the Chamber – this can be a great way to showcase your club, hotel or restaurant to the business community.

We look forward to hearing from you!

For more information about joining the Chamber of Commerce and becoming a member go to

If you have any questions about the Chamber and how we can help raise your company profile in the district, please give us a call – we would love to hear from you 01727 863054.