Cavan Chamber of Commerce signals intention to wind up

Future EGM to be held

Cavan Chamber of Commerce may be poised to wind up at an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) expected to be held later this month.

In a letter circulated to chamber members, signed only as the ‘Board of Directors’, it outlined that “financial constraints” were key in their decision.

The Board assure they have funds to meet current debts and honour any Chamber gift vouchers remaining in circulation. However, they explained that, given the economic climate and their obligation to run the chamber in a prudent manner, they may not be able to raise the necessary funds to keep the chamber running.

“Like any other business or enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce needs to be properly funded in order to perform the many tasks required in an active Chamber,” reads the letter to chamber members.

“The past few years have been extremely challenging for business. The Chamber kept going on reduced membership subscription, reserves and we have also benefited from the wage subsidy schemes. As a board we have a responsibility to run the Chamber in a prudent manner. As it stands, we have the funds to pay all amounts outstanding and there are sufficient funds to cover all outstanding vouchers in circulation. However, for the remainder of the year, we fear that, given the current financial constraints businesses find themselves in, we would not be able to raise the required funds to run the Chamber.”

The letter followed the chamber’s AGM in late February in which the outgoing president and officers were retained in place for this period of uncertainty.

Acting President Tom Brady told The Anglo-Celt he had spoken to many local business people to get feedback and was heartened by the response.

“We really want to get as much input from as many businesses and interested parties - whether it’s the LEO (Local Enterprise Office), the council, the councillors, or different organisations involved in the town and county,” said Mr Brady.

He said he was unable to give a percentage chance of the Chamber continuing.

“What’s needed are two things; just a small number of people, whether that’s four or five people who wish to continue on the board; and then funding. To keep the chamber office open and to employ someone part time to do the admin, you are talking bare bones probably €25,000 for the year,” he said, noting to ensure the chamber is an active one, it will take additional funding.

Through pledges of financial support, he estimates they still fall significantly short of what’s required.

“I would be confident there is enough goodwill towards it that will keep it going, but we have to be assured of that funding or else it just wouldn’t be prudent to continue,” explained Mr Brady.

The Chamber’s letter was also critical of the decision by Cavan County Council in December to increase commercial rates by 10%, they say, without prior consultation. The move had been recommended by the local authority CEO Tommy Ryan in the interests of the “long-term economic stability” of the council, and voted through by the councillors.

“It is also unfortunate that the local authority sought fit not to engage with Cavan Chamber prior to this rate increase in order to have a meaningful discussion and to explain their rationale behind the decision,” the letter reads. “The total lack of consultation suggests to the Chamber and its members a council that is out of touch with commercial rate payers.”

The Celt put the Chamber’s criticisms to the County Council, but had not received a response at the time of print.