MEMBERS of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism in Chepstow have claimed they have been treated "with contempt" by the town council, and have called for change as businesses look to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The dispute between the town council and the chamber dates back to August 2018, when the chamber’s representation was removed because it “was no longer holding regular meetings”.

The chamber, like other voluntary bodies and charities, had traditionally been represented by a councillor at meetings where concerns of local businesses could be raised.

But the chamber has denied they were not holding regular meetings with the council, and questioned whether the number of meetings should lead to such a decision.

“To have our representation removed was a devastating blow and effectively meant the town’s businesses no longer had a channel to raise relevant issues for support,” said member of the chamber Sue Kingdom.

Ms Kingdom said that despite all the chamber’s efforts, including letters David Davies MP, the town council did not reinstate representation until May 2019.

“This was done without an acknowledgement or explanation as to what had gone on,” Ms Kingdom said.


A council internal report completed in January 2019, which concluded that an apology should be made, was kept off the council meeting agenda until June of that year, when an offer of mediation was made at the request of some councillors.

The outcome of mediation included a formal letter of apology, better visible support for businesses, and an overall review of the town council’s policies and procedures, but some business owners in the town say they still feel ignored.

“It took three months for us to see a letter of apology and since then no further action has been seen and businesses remain proactively unsupported,” Ms Kingdom added.

Cllr Paul Pavia said: “Chepstow Town Council is making progress in trying to improve its relationship with the Chamber of Commerce after an extensive breakdown in communication, which has lasted more than two years.

South Wales Argus:

“There was a detailed mediation process that took place last December and some outcomes generated by that process have been completed, while others are in the process of being implemented.

“Councillors will include a regular agenda item at meetings aimed at reviewing the health of the high street and are to consider ways in which events such as the Welsh National and Castell Roc can be both supported and promoted in the town in the future.

“The Mayor has issued an apology letter to the Chamber, I have now become their direct contact to the council and a review of policy and procedures is going start over the summer.

“There was an agreement at the last Finance, Policy and Audit that an internal review of procedures would take place at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Committee and while no specific date has been set, this has to be done in the autumn at the latest.

“The element that has taken more time than I would have liked is an independent review to understand how and why the relationship with the chamber broke down in the first place and why its representation was erroneously withdrawn.

“The council has engaged advisors to help us on this and a special meeting of the council will be called in July to agree the commission, its scope and terms of reference.

“I completely understand the chamber’s frustrations about how long this has taken. The council needs to accelerate this work now so it's completed by its AGM in September.”