BES minutes 22 May 2024

Meeting details

Date and time: 22 May 2024, 12:30pm to 2pm.

Location: Marine Workshops, Newhaven.

1. Welcome and introductions

1.1  PH welcomed everyone to the meeting.

1.2  It was agreed that an email confirming time and place of each Board meeting would be sent to members one week before the meeting.

ACTION - ESCC to confirm time and place of each Board meeting one week in advance of the meeting.

1.3  PH asked the meeting to approve the minutes of the last meeting, no objections were raised, and the minutes were approved.

1.4  PH asked whether members are sending the Minutes to companies to raise the profile of BES. Options were discussed for ways of letting as many businesses as possible know that BES exists and what the Board is working on, including a monthly email with a link to the Minutes on the BES page.

2. Round table updates and discussion

2.1  AC noted that the Sussex Chamber Business Expo 2024 took place on Thursday 16 May 2024.

2.2  The 2024 Sussex Chamber Business Awards are on Thursday 28 June 2024.

2.3  The Chamber has launched an online newsletter and platform to reduce its carbon footprint and to help businesses leverage advanced digital marketing capabilities powered by new energy reducing AI.

2.4  AS noted that the Sussex and South Coast branch of Barclays covers an area from Hastings to Southampton.

2.5  The bank is looking for better ways to engage with the business community. AS shared that they run in-person finance events at their Eagle Labs and are looking for new partners.

2.6  PH highlighted Eastbourne Digifest as an opportunity. BD offered to pass on Donna Harfield at East Sussex College Group's details.

ACTION - BD to put AS in contact with DH at East Sussex College Group.

2.7  AS noted that the bank is also keen to raise awareness of cybercrime and online fraud.

2.8  VO advised that they are working with employers to capture retirees and encourage them into teaching at the college.

2.9  The College is working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to deliver a Drylining apprenticeship and have recently launched a Creative Venue Technician Apprenticeship.

2.10  VO noted that the College is looking to recruit a new Business Development Manager.

2.11  IN noted that the Wealden Business Expo 2024 will take place on Thursday 11 July 2024 at East Sussex National Hotel with Ashdown Radio, in association with the Four Wealden Chambers of Commerce.

2.12  The Uckfield Business Awards 2024 will take place on Thursday 26 September 2024. Nominations will close on Friday 21 June 2024.

2.13  IN noted that the monthly events held by Uckfield Chamber are well attended.

2.14  The Board discussed the value of networking events to small businesses. AT explained that the FSB run in-person networking events are well received by members, and are quite informal and relaxed. Board members welcomed the idea of working together to run events on specific themes.

ACTION - PH to invite BNI in Sussex to speak at a future meeting.

2.15  AT noted that the results of FSB’s South East Small Business Index (SBI) had been published. The SBI, which measures confidence amongst businesses, has increased in the last quarter but is still behind the UK score.

ACTION - AT to circulate local and national reports to board members.

2.16  MC explained that there are three Newhaven Champions meetings every year, with 60 businesses attending. Each has a specific business theme.

2.17  MC noted that there is lots going on in Newhaven, especially on the creative front with an increase in arts and cultural events. MC emphasised that Newhaven has some fabulous businesses, and some are wanting to expand but are struggling to attract staff.

2.18  MC noted that Rathfinny Wine Estate, with a B Corp status, would be a perfect venue for networking events.

2.19  MC stated that the Newhaven Unleashed Programme sets out areas for action with three new grant programmes.

ACTION - MC to circulate links to funding.

2.20  MC reported that Graham Peters (Chair of Newhaven Enterprise Zone Board) wants to set up at a regular networking club with an exhibition on the ferry between Newhaven and Dieppe. MC spoke of the existing and developing links with businesses in Dieppe including a trip to Dieppe with Newhaven businesses.

2.21  PH asked the board how we could make people in the community aware of what’s going on in Newhaven in other sectors, such as rail and air. PH suggested approaching Rampion Offshore Wind Farm to give a talk. PH also suggested that BD could talk about the creative industries. LD noted this needs to be tied in with the Economic Strategy, which is a high-level document, and there is a need to identify further opportunities.

2.22  LD asked if ESCC had had a presence at the UK REiiF 2024 event. LD noted that Mid Sussex and Gatwick were very proactive. PH asked that the following questions be put to the TES Board: whether ESCC attended the UK REiiF 2024 event, and what are their plans for next year.

ACTION: PH to ask TES Board about attendance and plans for UK REiiF event.

2.23  There was support for a more collaborative approach to the region’s promotion at this event. PH also asked what has been learnt from the successful launch of Opportunity Mid Sussex.

2.24  LD reported that the Clean Growth UK fund has partnered with Newhaven Enterprise Zone and secured £25,000 of funding to help businesses take their innovation to the next level.

2.25  LD also reported that the University of Brighton will be running a Profitnet programme in Mid Sussex, beginning in June.

2.26  University admission numbers for next year are down, as it is a low demographic year.

2.27  LD noted that the search for a new Vice-Chancellor of the University is underway after Professor Debra Humphris announced she was bringing forward her retirement to September 2024.

2.28  ME observed that it’s never been quieter on the recruitment front for management roles, and never busier for filling temporary positions.

3. AOB (any other business)

3.1  AC spoke of the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and that they are developing the Plan’s priorities to make sure they are fit for purpose. AC referred people to the website.

Summary of actions

1.2  ESCC to confirm time and place of each Board meeting one week in advance of the meeting.

2.6  BD to put AS in contact with Donna Harfield at East Sussex College Group.

2.14  PH to invite BNI in Sussex to speak at a future meeting.

2.15  AT to circulate local and national reports (FSB Small Business Index) to board members.

2.19  MC to circulate links to funding (Newhaven Unleashed Programme).

2.22  PH to ask TES Board about attendance and plans for UK REiiF event.

Attendees and apologies


  • AC, Anna Christie, Sussex Chamber of Commerce
  • AS, Andrew Springall, Barclays
  • AT, Alison Turner, Federation of Small Business
  • BD, Brian Drinkwater, Kyle Partnership
  • IN, Ian Noble, Uckfield Chamber of Commerce
  • LD, Lorraine Davis, University of Brighton
  • MC, Michelle Connors, Newhaven Enterprise Zone
  • ME, Martin Ellis, Recruitment South East
  • PH, Paul Hetherington, Chair of Business East Sussex
  • VO, Vicki Orbell, East Sussex College Group