Suffolk FSB officials resign following ‘imposition’ of new regional steering group

Chris Soule, who has resigned as chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesse

Chris Soule, who has resigned as chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Three senior figures have resigned from their roles within the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) following the introduction of a new regional steering group.

The trio includes Chris Soule, who has been chairman of the Suffolk branch for the past six years, together with vice chairman Christopher Storey and secretary Karon Sanders.

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 E.coli 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.”

Mr Soule thanked Karon Sanders for her support as branch secretary and former branch treasurer Peter Martin for his work in arranging a regional banking forum to help to hold banks in the region to account.

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

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Mr Storey said the FSB had “always prided itself on being member-led” and this democratic process had been conducive to both achievement and 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,” he said.

“Changes within the region have made it difficult to deliver the pro-active initiatives that we have previously worked on. Small changes can have a large impact and the present structure does not reflect our perception of a member-led organisation.”

Mr Storey said that all three former officials who have resigned from their branch roles remainded members of the FSB as they recognised the value of the membership services they had already paid for.

He added: “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.”

The FSB regional steering group for East Anglia, which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, is chaired by Salena Dawson who has been vice chairman of the Mid Norfolk branch for the past two years and is also the FSB’s representative on the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s skills board.

Announcing her appointment earlier this month, the FSB said that she would be putting together an inclusive team over the coming months, involving members from throughout the region and including younger entrepreneurs from the FSB Connect networking group.

Ms Dawson said today: “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.

“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.”

“She added: “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.”