A CRUSADE by Ilkeston business leaders to help get the town booming again by resurrecting its old Chamber of Trade is being welcomed by Erewash council.
The original decades-old forum bit the dust a few years ago amid recession – although the neighbouring Long Eaton Chamber of Trade continues to work closely with the authority.
Business leaders have been invited to a summit organised by those spearheading the idea of a new Ilkeston Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting is at Ilkeston Town Hall on Thursday 12 October. It will be attended by Councillor Frank Phillips, who is the current Mayor of Erewash.
Town centre pub landlord Peter Byrne, who runs the Market Inn, is one of those championing the new business forum. Another is Paul Opiah, who edits local magazine Ilkeston Life.
David Thorpe, who acted as president of the old Chamber of Trade, is also said to be involved. He owns South Street furniture store Thorpes.
Mr Opiah, whose business interests include the U Choose Smoothie Bar, said the idea had seen “a tremendous response, especially on Bath Street.” He hopes most of Ilkeston’s business community will attend the 6pm meeting – and said anyone was welcome to turn up. Mr Opiah’s message to traders was: “If we can create one voice – stronger together – we will make a difference in town.”
Fellow entrepreneur Mr Byrne stressed in an interview on the Erewash Sound radio station that an Ilkeston Chamber of Commerce would benefit firms all over the town – not just in the centre.
He pointed to “fantastic, successful businesses” on Manners Industrial Estate, Quarry Hill and Canalside. Mr Byrne added: “One thing I would like to see happen is more younger people getting involved. People can talk to each other and exchange ideas.”
The old Ilkeston Chamber of Trade was part of the successful campaign for the town to again get a rail station. It also joined a push for Ilkeston to benefit from what was known as the Portas Review – a government link-up with TV’s shopping guru Mary Portas to find 12 towns across the country to share in £1.2million of funding.
A 2012 video presentation on behalf of the town can be watched here: Ilkeston VideoYT.mov – YouTube
Sadly, Ilkeston eventually lost out to places such as Market Rasen, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Wolverhampton. Erewash Councillor Alex Breene, who is Lead Member for Town Centres, Regeneration and Planning, said:
“It would be brilliant for Ilkeston to get a new forum for local business people. We would be only too pleased to work with such an organisation for the benefit of the town – and wish it every success.”