‘Use it or lose it’ appeal by Wetherby traders

Denise Pedlewska at the Wetherby Business Association's annual Black and White Ball.
Denise Pedlewska at the Wetherby Business Association's annual Black and White Ball.

The Wetherby Business Association, which has served the town for more than 40 years, could cease to exist from next week if new committee members don’t come forward.

The organisation, which looks after the interests of local businesses, is responsible for a number of achievements, including campaigning for a town centre lorry ban, stopping parking charges and creating car parks for shoppers.

It is also credited with starting the town’s bonfire, launching the Christmas lights switch-on and creating a business directory which is delivered to 14,000 homes.

But despite its string of successes over the years, the association is on the verge of collapse due to a lack of interest and involvement with the committee.

Vice-chairman Denise Podlewska said: “At the moment we have got a small committee and we have members who are retiring and stepping down. We just can’t carry on with a small handful of people.

“If people don’t use it they are going to lose it. We have just got to the point where there aren’t enough people to run it. There are two or three of us on the committee and we just can’t do it.”

The association, which was formerly known as the Chamber of Trade, has built up a “unique” relationship with town councillors and Leeds City Council over the years and the group is prominent voice in the town.

Mrs Podlewska said: “We have spoken up for so many things and people just don’t realise what we have done.”

Mrs Podlewska added that without the association:

l There would be no Wilderness car park

l The lorry park would have been re-developed for houses

l Morrison’s car park would have been for use only by shoppers at Morrisons

l There would be parking charges throughout Wetherby

l Shops would have restrictions about their blinds

l Cafés would have to pay licence fees to put tables and chairs outside

l A-boards outside businesses would be prohibited

l The local hospital for Wetherby would have automatically been St James’ in Leeds

l There would be out of town trading allowed on Sandbeck

l There would be no Christmas carol concert

l There would be more yellow lines throughout the town centre.

Despite the lack of interest for the committee, the group currently has more than 180 members on its books.

“It’s a real shame because we have more than doubled the membership and we have got a lot of businesses on board. We have plenty of members but nobody want to get involved. It’s just so upsetting to think that this time next week we might be calling it a day,” said Mrs Podlewska.

“I want to get across that the more people there are on the committee, the less there is to be done. We need people to give us some commitment and say ‘yes we want to carry it forward and look after Wetherby as a business community’. We want new people on the committee, with new ideas.”

The committee meets once a month and members work through an agenda and make decisions on what action should be taken.

Mrs Podlewska said: “If we could get 20 people willing to get involved, that would be wonderful. We would like a cross section of all the businesses in Wetherby to put their ten penneth in and that’s how something like a business association should work.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Wetherby business community realise it’s something that just can’t be lost. The voice is needed.”

The Annual General Meeting of the Wetherby Business Association is being held next Tuesday, January 26, at 6pm in the Function Room at the Brunswick pub in High Street, Wetherby.

The committee needs to appoint at least six new members and two directors due to officers standing down this year.

If enough people don’t come forward, the association will be dissolved.

l Confirm your attendance to vicechair@wetherbybusinessassociation.co.uk