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Leading members of Suffolk business group resign over changes

By Paul Grinnell

Christopher Soule
Christopher Soule

Three leading members of a Suffolk group for small businesses have resigned in protest at changes in the regional organisation.

The trio are Chris Soule, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, and its joint vice-chairman Christopher Storey and secretary Karon Sanders.

Christopher Storey
Christopher Storey

Their departure comes after up to six years at the helm of the Suffolk FSB and marks their opposition to the creation of a new regional steering group for the organisation.

Mr Storey said: “The FSB has always prided itself on being member led and this democratic process has been conducive to achievement and inclusive involvement.

“Unfortunately the imposition of recent changes through a new regional steering group without any apparent semblance of a democratic process has led to a decision by those of us until recently active to relinquish our representative roles within the FSB.

“Changes within the region have made it difficult to deliver the proactive initiatives that we have previously worked on.

The imposition of recent changes through a new regional steering group... has led to a decision by those of us until recently active to relinquish our representative roles.
Christopher Storey

“Small changes can have a large impact and the present structure does not reflect our perception of a member led organisation. We remain members of the organisation as we recognise the value of the membership services that we have already paid for.

“The FSB has a fine history and this response to recent changes has only been made with some sadness and concern for the future but we feel sure that those leading the organisation nationally will respond to the challenges the organisation is facing in East Anglia.”

Mr Soule said: “Over the six years that I have served as branch chairman of the Suffolk FSB we have spent a lot of time listening to our members and supporting them in delivering on behalf of small businesses.

“We have worked with a number of partners to achieve success in the delivery of improving broadband for the county, with my former vice-chairman, Dave Baker instrumental in turning round the county’s approach to broadband and helping to deliver a great project from a difficult start.

“My other former vice-chairman, Christopher Storey has also worked hard to deliver on food standards related work including representing the organisation at a national level in rewriting ecoli guidance to food businesses.

“Other success has been delivered over these years from substantial and tireless largely voluntary work to support small businesses within the county.

“I would also like to thank my former branch secretary, Karon Sanders of Stackyard Nursery for her support.

“Also to the former branch treasurer, Peter Martin for his work in arranging a regional banking forum and helping to hold banks in the region to account where our members had expressed their concerns.

Mr Soule added: “We intend to continue to seek alternative ways to support small business in the county but unfortunately not as representatives of Suffolk FSB.”

In response, Salena Dawson, FSB East Anglia Steering Group Chair, said: “The FSB is currently undergoing a process of modernisation across the entire organisation.

“In East Anglia, we are moving forward with a new team. Strengthening the membership; seeking new recruits and developing new partners.

“Of course, we do all this while supporting and engaging with the local branches.

She added: “As we develop, we would like to give our support and thanks to three senior members who’ve served the FSB for many years.

“However, they’ve decided to resign from the Suffolk Branch Committee and despite their departure, the FSB in East Anglia continues to grow and represent the voice of small businesses.

“The FSB is, and remains a member led organisation, and as a key representative I will continue to support and help businesses across our region.

“I look forward to working with and supporting just not current members but new recruits too.

“As a new regional team we have some fresh and informative events planned, and we will be working in partnership with local business agencies.

“I look forward to engaging and networking with members, new and longstanding, across the region - on a more frequent basis.”

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