‘An important voice for city’s businesses’

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it may strike some readers as ironic that the main body which represents and supports local businesses should find itself in financial problems.

But the issues facing Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce are very serious indeed.

As we reveal today, Edinburgh Business Development, a social enterprise trust the Chamber created to help businesses get started and grow, has been hit by losses of around £1 million.

Officials won’t confirm exact details ahead of what will now be a crunch AGM next month. But sources have suggested that a number of contracts and other sources of revenue have dried up, including grants from Europe.

Regrettably, one immediate consequence is that nearly a quarter of the Chamber’s staff of 50 will have to be made redundant.

It is thought that whoever replaces the departing Ron Hewitt as chief executive will have to accept a pay cut as well as a smaller team.

But those sort of cuts won’t make up the near seven-figure shortfall, meaning many services will have to be curtailed too.

Cutbacks and job culls are, of course, nothing new in the current economic climate. Hardly any local firms have been spared the pain of the recession – indeed some may have thought twice before they sent off their Chamber fees this year.

But the bottom line is that the Chamber is one of the institutions that should play a key role as the economy picks up and the Capital sets about its recovery.

It is currently the UK Chamber of the Year and offers its 2000 members a vast range of services, from legal and personnel advice to business health checks. Such help is particularly important to new and smaller member firms.

Moreover, the Chamber has consistently been an important voice on behalf of business in the city, sometimes taking on local and central government in the process.

With the right people in charge and the right plan in place, there’s no reason it can’t bounce back from this dark hour – and then go on to help other local businesses do so.

The boy done good

darren Fletcher has always seemed rather thoughtful for a Premiership footballer.

And the Scotland captain has reinforced that reputation by putting his hands in his pocket to buy replacement goals after a set used by kids was stolen from Easthouses Park.

It seems Dalkeith-born Darren sometimes played there as a boy and wanted to help out after the News reported the theft. Nice one, Darren.