Key issues impacting on Haywards Heath business community were discussed last week at a special Question Time event.
Six special guests were grilled by members of Haywards Heath and District Business Association who raised questions with the panel on social media, cyber crime and business development in the town.
Maureen Sholefield, chairman, welcomed members to their annual meeting at Haywards Heath Golf Club on Thursday night and praised the committee’s work.
“We have an enthusiastic committee with lots of new blood coming in,” she said.
“It really goes with my philosophy that it is good to have some people doing very well rather than lots of people doing less well.”
She said it had been a ‘successful’ year for the association and praised the progress of its members.
Peter Desmond, committee member, chartered accountant and founding director of Growth International spoke to members about the importance of developing businesses by setting goals.
Members were also addressed by Neil Tomlinson, who has launched his own business Aquapax and a raffle was drawn in support of the association’s chosen charity, St Peter and St James Hospice.
Challenging questions were put to the panel which comprised Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, Caroline Bentley, International Trade Adviser at UKTI, Kevin Howard, chief operating officer at 1st Central Insurance, Gary Shipton, editor in chief of Sussex Newspapers at Johnston Press, Stuart Silk, associate vicar of All Saints Church in Lindfield and Norman Webster, cabinet for planning at Mid Sussex District Council.
One member questioned why the panel believed Haywards Heath is a ‘great’ place to do business.
Norman Webster highlighted the importance of the district’s Local Plan with the focus on planning by ‘design rather than appeal’.
“Much of our economy is in the rural economy and what that represents to people. Part of the local plan includes the development of a business park.
“We need to make sure we have appropriate plans in place to support the local economy. It is a balance between recession and opportunity and the government has given us the ability to chose our own design.
“We have some difficult decisions to make.”
The panel agreed that the service sector in Haywards Heath was growing, although the focus could soon be on the growth of the technology sector.
Caroline Bentley said this sector had the potential to grow in Haywards Heath because of the town’s good transport links.
However, she added: “The trouble in this area is that we are competing with London.”
Katy Bourne told the panel how police are tackling the problem of cyber crime for the business community.
“This is huge issue,” she told members.
“It is good old fashioned theft and fraud but it is happening online.”
She said educating staff and family members about the issues of cyber crime could help combat the problem.
“We all have a personal responsibility to keep ourselves safe,” she added.
The panel were also quizzed over what business can learn after the ‘software glitches’ which bought RBS a costly fine and the benefits of social media in developing businesses.
Haywards Heath District and Business Association aims to help businesses in the area grow and develop.
To find out more about the associations visit www.hhdba.com