Bideford’s chamber of commerce will be working with the district and town councils more closely than ever before.

That is the message from new chamber president John Emms, who has promised ‘the Berlin Wall is coming down’.

Mr Emms, who owns The Mariners in Cooper Street, said there would be changes coming which would ensure more businesses across the region are represented.

The group will be changing its name to the Bideford Bay Chamber of Commerce, and working closely with businesses in Northam, Westward Ho!, Appledore and Instow, as well as in Bideford itself.

Mr Emms said the chamber had often been at loggerheads with the district council, but now he was hoping to have regular meetings with the leader and chief executive, and work together.

Mr Emms said: “I went to Torridge’s AGM and I spoke in the public participation part of the meeting and told them the Berlin Wall is coming down.

“We’re going to be working together and the chamber will go to the council with our objectives and see which ones we can achieve.

“We’ve always critised TDC for having lots of money and not spending it, but the chamber of commerce have been guilty of that too.

“We’ve got about £20,000 and we should give out some money, so we’re going to give some to each area we represent for things like trees or benches or waste bins, to show it’s no longer just about Bideford.”

Among his objectives for the year, Mr Emms said the chamber would be pushing the council to force landlords into tidying up delapidated buildings.

He said he also wanted the council to consider move SS Freshspring closer to the town.

“They wanted to see a track record of improvements and the works have by-and-large been carried out,” said Mr Emms.

“We’re hoping Torridge will see fit to find a berth for her that is closer to the town.”

Mr Emms said he hoped the chamber could help force improvements to make the area more attractive to manufacturing businesses, to help drive job creation.

“We’re not just about the little businesses, we’re about the big businesses too,” he said.

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