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Doubt cast over Sussex Enterprise's future
The future of a Chamber of Commerce is in question after the departure of its chief executive and a staff shake-up.
Sussex Enterprise, the county’s Chamber of Commerce, announced the departure of Mark Froud on Monday.
Wendy Bell has been appointed to the new position of general manager and Nick Handley has taken up the role of executive chairman of the body.
Mr Handley has been involved with Sussex Enterprise for more than seven years, initially as a board member and more recently as chairman. He has a background in corporate roles and will remain managing director of Scaynes Hill-based Marketing Leadership.
Ms Bell has worked for both Sussex and North Hampshire Enterprise for more than five years.
Peter Jones, the leader of East Sussex County Council, said there was a question mark over the future of the Chamber.
He said: “I would question the role of Sussex Enterprise. Our focus is very much on our Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
But Roger French, the boss of Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company, said there was a role for a county-wide Chamber of Commerce.
He said: “We have been a member of both Sussex Enterprise and Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce for many years. There is certainly a role for the vibrant city Chamber because Brighton and Hove has unique characteristics.
“But I would like to think that a county as varied as Sussex can support a Chamber of Commerce. The LEPs are not member organisations – they exist to draw funds down from central Government.”
Mr Handley denied that the resurgence of town and city chambers and the creation of LEPs had diluted the role of Sussex Enterprise.
He said: “We can help our members market themselves further afield. For example last night we held an event to foster trade between businesses in Sussex and Dieppe.”