In the newsletter earlier this month, we explained how we would circulate an Annual Report to all those on the mailing list, that we would invite members to ask questions and provide comments within a limited time period and that these would be answered. We also explained we would will give a call-out for candidates for Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer/Secretary. The timetable was set out as follows: 

  • 29 May … the 2019-20 Annual Report and accounts sent to members, plus call-out for candidates.
  • 10 June … deadline for questions/comments on the Annual report.
  • 17 June … responses sent to questions/comments on Annual Report.
  • 21 June … deadline for candidate nominations.
  • 26 June … candidate details sent out to members + voting forms
  • 7 July … deadline for receipt of voting forms
  • 13 July … announcement of 2020-21Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer/Secretary, together with winners of the Golden Gudgeon and Crystal Vase Awards.

In this special edition of the newsletter, we provide the Annual Report and the call-out. If you have any questions, please send them to lucy@lucymillar.co.uk. You can also send a comment/question via this website (see end of page). 

Annual Report

At last year’s AGM, we thanked Andrew Eberlin for his commitment and several years’ hard work as Chair of BoA Business, having led it from being a Chamber of Commerce with about 40 members to a networking group of more than 400. 
Over the past year, we continued with networking events (see below). A decision had already been taken to give the BoA Business Awards a break in 2019, with the expectation that they would be relaunched in 2020. However, everything came to a grinding halt in March with the COVID-19 lockdown, devastating for so many of us on a personal as well as a business front. 

LOOKING BACK
Looking back to the summer and autumn of 2019 seems a lifetime ago! Here are some highlights.

  • We continued the series of BoA Business Breakfasts. Our thanks to James Eades and Becky Land at Systemagic for administering the booking and running of these popular events, and to Victoria Woodman for agreeing to take over the role at the end of 2019. The breakfasts were suspended in mid-March because of the virus lockdown. 
  • In late 2018, I introduced a new free networking opportunity, also now under the BoA Business banner  – Link with a Latte – held monthly mid-morning at Cumberwell Golf Club. There’s usually a guest speaker and regularly some 50-60 attendees and 170 people now following the Facebook page. This was also suspended in March.
  • In late 2019, we also started Link with a Drink for business people as an early evening chance to meet others in a relaxed, informal setting, but as with all networking events, this was also suspended!
  • One aim this year was to get a better understanding of our members, where they work etc. The aim is to build an online directory of businesses in the town, to encourage us all to buy locally. We also want to create sector groups – for example of engineering companies, or retailers, or web designers – who will then nominate someone to attend a management group to drive BoA Business activities.
    We still have a survey running on SurveyMonkey, but the request for information so far has been disappointing. We are trying another tack in the next month. We are convinced this is an essential way to create a stronger town business community as we come out of COVID-19 lockdown in the months (and years?) ahead. 
  • Another change has been the formation of BoA Business Network Limited as a social enterprise. All BoA Business activities are being switched over to this new company. One key reason is that as an unincorporated group, present and future officers of BoA Business were deemed to be at potential risk under GDPR regulations. With the creation of this not-for-profit company, that risk is carried by the company and not individuals. It also makes it easier, for example, to apply for funding from grant-giving organisations in the future.
    One consequence has been that BoA Business officers (Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer/Secretary) are appointed directors of the company. Further details are given below in the Call for Candidates.  
    At the same time, the Bradford on Avon Development Trust Limited suggested bringing the two entities together. The Trust has always focused on revival of the economy of the town following the trauma of the closure of the Avon site. There are still some details to be sorted out, but the merger will include a modest financial transfer to BoA Business Network, to further develop the economy of the town. 

LOOKING FORWARD
We have been fortunate in Bradford on Avon and Wiltshire in having one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country – and in being so close to open country.
Writing this report at the end of May, we have just heard that most retail will be allowed to reopen in mid-June, but not hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, or cafes, pubs and other hospitality venues. Good news for some, but bad news for so many of our town businesses. The impact for other businesses has been mixed, with some able to continue in a much-reduced form, some continuing almost as normal, and others now beginning to bring people back to work with a range of precautionary measures in place.
We know this is going to be a long and difficult road – and recovering momentum is not going to be easy. In many respects, from an employment and business perspective, the next six months are going to be far more difficult than the past three. Bradford on Avon Town Council and Wiltshire Council have been the best source of information for businesses and I am confident that will be ramped up in the weeks and months ahead as we slowly reopen our economy. BoA Business was formed as a networking group – and we can start now to look forward to meeting each other again at breakfasts, coffee and early evening drinks events.
On a personal level, this has been a difficult 12 months with a number of serious and unexpected interruptions to my work, my family life and my ambitions for BoA Business. For personal reasons, I have therefore decided not to stand as Chair of BoA Business for 2020-21. Michael Greig has also decided to stand down as Treasurer/Secretary.
The economy of the town has radically improved in the past few years from its low point between 2000-2012. There is enormous potential as our core businesses grow and develop and as new businesses are set up and flourish. I look forward to my business being part of that growth, and to seeing BoA Business itself grow and flourish in the years ahead.
LUCY MILLAR, Chair. 



Call for candidates

BoA Business has a key role to play in building a successful future for the town and surrounding villages, both now as we start to recover from the COVID-19 damage and in the months and years ahead. Membership of BoA Business is free and open to all businesses in the area – and currently ranges from world-class engineers and manufacturers to web designers, shop owners to restaurants, writers and designers to lifestyle and fitness coaches. Its stated aims are to:  

  • create an effective network to help each other develop our businesses. 
  • give business a voice on key issues impacting the town and surrounding villages. 
  • encourage businesses to share knowledge and celebrate successes. 
  • contribute positively to the economic and social sustainability of the town. 

Past activities have included the very successful Business of the Year Awards, monthly networking meetings, cross-town retail promotions and a number of other one-off activities. 

A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP – ARE YOU UP FOR IT?
The current Chair is standing down as explained in her Report (above). The Treasurer/Secretary is also standing down. The Vice-Chair will be standing for re-election.
Nominations are sought for all three positions. We believe this offers an exciting opportunity to build an even more dynamic and strong business community in the town and we urge you to consider putting your name forward to the membership. If you have any questions, please use the form at the end of this page. 

THE PROCESS
If you would like to be nominated, please send an email to lucy@lucymillar.co.uk. Your email should contain the following information: 

  • Name 
  • Business & business address 
  • Business email address
  • Telephone number
  • State whether standing for Chair, Vice-Chair or Treasurer/Secretary
  • The names and email addresses of two BoA business owners who back your candidacy.

Your nomination should be received by middayWednesday 10 June.
The poll is being conducted through the online tool, Doodle.

  • Friday 26 June : invitation to vote sent out by email, with details of candidates and links to the Doodle poll, to all those on the mailing list as at midnight on Thursday 25 June.
  • Tuesday 7 July : the poll closes 9:00am.
  • Monday 13 July : results of the poll announced.

ROLES
The role of the CHAIR is to oversee and expand the regular networking programme, oversee the financial accounts as prepared by the Treasurer/Secretary, act as lead spokesperson for businesses in BoA and surrounding villages, ensure BoA Business representation in relevant town/Area Board bodies/meetings, and call and chair the annual meeting.
The VICE-CHAIR supports the Chair, as agreed between them. The TREASURER/SECRETARY maintains the finances, records decisions and actions agreed at BoA Business meetings, and provides occasional support to the Chair and Vice-Chair, as required.
The Chair and Vice-Chair have the freedom to decide how best to deliver against expectations. This may include recruitment of a team with skills to lead/coordinate particular areas such as: social media (including the website), events, business-to-business, retail/hospitality, Town Council liaison.

BOA BUSINESS NETWORK LIMITED
In order to regularise BoA Business, particularly in terms of GDPR requirements (e.g. handling of membership data), a not-for-profit social enterprise company has been formed called BoA Business Network Limited. At the same time, the directors of the Bradford on Avon Development Trust and the officers of BoA Business have agreed to a merger (see Annual Report, above). The directors of BoA Business Network limited are the current officers, together with the current directors of the Development Trust. 
The newly elected officers of BoA Business will be appointed directors of BoA Business Network Limited when they are elected at the AGM. The plan is that when they stand down as officers they would remain as directors for a maximum of two years. That will not be obligatory, nor onerous in terms of either time or work, but this is a way of providing valuable continuity and experience. To get things moving, it was agreed at the outset that the existing Development Trust directors would stay as directors for a few months. Their experience and advice is considered helpful, not least because they have decades of experience working to try and keep Bradford on Avon going as a working town. 
As soon as the officers are elected, they will be invited to a meeting of the current directors of BoA Business Network limited, in order to formalise arrangements and discuss future arrangements.

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