- the official town website




The Local Economy

Business Support 2

Getting the following information will help you decide how support for business - or access to that support - needs to be improved. If there is not enough information available to answer the questions, you could carry out an audit of facilities to find out about the work of business community support agencies in the area.

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes


Sub Section: Support available to businesses


Local Business Directory

Q 1

What services are offered to businesses by local bank branches?

Usual range but only 1 dedicated manager located in Crowborough; business managers from other banks attend by appointment

Difficult to comment authoritatively about the banks and the level of support they provide, although Lloyds TSB Bank Commercial Manager showed an initial interest at one stage (Autumn 2004) by attending a breakfast meeting and that was followed up with a discussion about BAG activities; the newly appointed manager of HSBC attends the Business Lunches

No contact at all with any building society

  • Yellow Pages
  • Business Directory
  • Regional Development Agency

Q 2

Which of the following organisations have a presence in the town?

  • Small Business Service
  • Business Link
  • Chambers of Trade or Commerce
  • Learning and Skills Council
  • Enterprise Agency
  • Local food network/partnership or farm advisory service

(Worksheets EN2 Q15,16; EN3 Q5; also refer to land-based industries)

Business Group of Crowborough Partnership a proactive and reactive presence since 1997

Crowborough Business Association that superseded redundant Chamber of Commerce (2 years ago) and its future is uncertain at present.

Business Support agencies listed in Q2 and others respond to requests for assistance and visit Crowborough businesses

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • Register of Business Enquiries
  • Business Directory
  • District Council Business Surveys

Q 3

How well used are business support agencies such as:

  • Business Link Operator
  • Business Links
  • Chambers of Trade or Commerce
  • Learning and Skills Council
  • Enterprise Agency
  • FRA/National Association of Farmers’ Markets

Need to establish current use and to promote levels and nature of current support available

Local businesses have been provided with business support / personal contact details that outline what each agency / authority can offer (2003). See tailor made A4 card

Of the 92 businesses that replied to the BO Survey in 2002, a number had dealings with some of the 10 business support agencies / authorities listed in the survey.

Analyses of the 2002 survey showed that up to 25 contacts had been made by some businesses (Sussex Enterprise and Federation of Small Businesses); others had had 17 or 18 contacts for one reason or another with the Crowborough Business Association, former Chamber of Commerce and Town Council; as had 10 with Wealden District Council (Econ Dev).

Until 2002, few had contact with The Business Group but since the early summer of 2002, over 400 businesses in and around the town have had at least 6 newsletters, another 400 businesses in the TN6 postcode area have had a mailshot (June 2004) with about 120 business people receiving regular information by e-mail

  • District Council
  • the Business Link Operator
  • the Regional Development Agency

Q 4

  • What previous business support or initiatives have been available/been used?
  • What is the evidence of these initiatives proving successful?
  • see notes under Q3.

In addition, EDEAL spoke at a business lunch about networking and their range of services,

as did WDC Business Support section about their and their regulations adviser service,

as will ESCC Standards about Business Accreditation in April,

as will EDEAL talk about Business Clinics in perhaps July

Many business support related e-mails have been sent out

Effective campaign against car parking


Many businesses have responded to emails, (taken up broadband, business accreditation, contacted e.g. EDEAL, reacted to scams)

Businesses have actively supported business lunches and praised speakers, used their services

Need to be able to reach all local businesses (on database)

See achievements list of Business Group

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • District Council
  • Local knowledge

Q 5

If the town has a town centre manager, town centre forum or similar partnership organisation, who are they?

If there is more than one town centre manager, town centre forum or similar partnership organisation find out if there is an overlap between their services/ remit.

(Worksheets EN2 Q11; EN3 Q1; S4 also refer to community involvement)

The Business Group structure has been made to work, has more potential, needs more people to help but needs funding and resource as a one stop shop scenario (TS is that to an extent at present).

The future of the CBA needs resolving

  • Town Centre Manager (this may be the District Council, one of the local business advice centres, or a consortium of local businesses).

Q 6

What results have there been from any existing town centre management work?

you need to evaluate any results of monitoring and funding reviews, and also identify examples of good practice or ways in which activities could be extended.

See list of Business Group achievements since 1997

Sub section: Business networking

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • Business Link Operator
  • Chamber of Commerce

Q 7

What regular events are there to bring the business community together; for example, breakfast clubs and trade fairs?

Find out:

  • what they are
  • how often they are held

See list of achievements of Business Group since 1997

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Local business people

Q 8

What arrangements are there for local suppliers to be able to network? Examples may include a Business Directory or website for the town.

See list of achievements of Business Group since 1997

  • Local surveys
  • Yellow Pages
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Local businesses

Q 9

What business meeting and business conference venues are available?

Are these venues available when needed?

Are these venues big enough?

Are these venues available at reasonable rates?

Depending upon the need and nature of business meetings, the following accommodation has been used within the last 18 months:

  • New All Saints Church Hall
  • whole room to accommodate reception area and theatre style meeting for 70 people
  • whole room subdivided into 4 separate discussion rooms and reception area
  • half section of whole room
  • Quite expensive costs but depends entirely on space /rooms used
  • Plough and Horses Public House to accommodate business lunches (max seating 55 for speakers; free use of accommodation if food served)
  • Sherlock’s Coffee Shop to accommodate informal monthly business breakfasts (no charge)
  • Town Hall Council Chamber to accommodate Business Action Group meetings (no charge)
  • High Spirits Café/Bar (no charge)
  • Private home
  • There are plans to build a multi purpose Community Facility that would incorporate a range of different size rooms and facilities for meetings and conferences
  • There are a few other halls locally but not really adequate

Sub section: IT and e-business

  • Chamber of Commerce

Q 10

Is there a published strategy relating to the use of information and communication technology (ICT)?

Is the strategy readily available?

Is the strategy easily understood?

No although there is a website that competes with a local businessman’s.

Need to have a strategy

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator
  • Local surveys

Q 11

What local training and support is there to help companies address ICT problems and to develop their ICT capability?

Basic training is available at BCC and West Kent College. The Computer Studio has premises in the Town Centre and offers a service to individuals and businesses. Elysium Ltd in Whitehill Road provides website and software design support.

Strategy needed

Q 12

What is/will be the availability of high-speed Internet access (at 512 kbits/second and at 2Mbit/ second) :

  • Now
  • In 6 months’ time

In 12 months’ time

BT will not supply either consumer or business related statistics on a local /detailed level – commercial sensitivity issue

BT/ADSL are the main/only providers and are ‘reliable’ but the current maximum link is 2MB

No statistical breakdown available but 2MB would benefit 80% of larger businesses as that provides firewall/back up facilities for files; 0.5MB tends to satisfy residential and small – medium sized businesses and ISDN would bring some benefits but 0.5MB would offer wider range of ISPs with some back up services but without firewall but not seen as a major issue

Current broadband take up in East Sussex is calculated (but not guaranteed) at 19.2% with 3.2% increase over the last 4 month period with an increasing trend of 0.8% per month which could increase to a 5%/10% increase for time to time

Sky have been considering introducing ‘broadband’ but are still thinking about it!

Data (detailed) has been requested by ESCC for East Sussex – and Towns – and all 65 exchanges; even asked for alternative indicators using red (under performance 5%/8%); amber ( between 8% - 50%); green + 51% and BT Wholesale are considering that suggestion

Broadband East Sussex website


(Sarah Walton, Broadband Communications 07795 237345 – ) will provide any additional local information as and when it is available

ESCC website Broadband Map shows 65 areas in the county, is not to scale but provides a visual representation of exchanges

SEEDA specialist staff are very aware of the constraints dictated by BT as far as grant applications / Healthchecks are concerned

Crowborough is served by 2 exchanges

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator or by
  • Local surveys

Q 13

  • What proportion of all businesses use broadband?
  • What local businesses are considering using broadband in the near future?

An analysis of data extracted from the 2002 Business Opinion Survey responses showed that of the 77 companies that commented about the importance of Broadband access to their business:

13% (17) said it was ‘very important’

24% (19) said it was ‘reasonably important’

30% (23) said it was ‘not important at all’

23% (18) said they ‘did not know’

(92 out of circa 400 businesses with premises in Crowborough returned the Survey)

Information and more promotion needed and it must not be forgotten that there must be a need for broadband amongst residents – needs to be a joint thrust on both fronts to encourage greater use/

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator
  • Local surveys

Q 14

What do local businesses see as the key benefits of using broadband?

Examples could be: speed, convenience, cost savings, access to wider markets, increased customer contact, faster response, access to wider resources, business innovation.

Need for up to date survey and promotion

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator
  • Local surveys

Q 15

Why do some local businesses not use broadband?

Reasons may include

  • Difficulty with availability
  • Financial cost
  • Too time consuming
  • No business advantage
  • No ICT support available

Need to find out and overcome objections – perhaps work out a deal with a provider

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator
  • Local surveys

Q 16

How many local businesses

  • Use e-mail?
  • Have a website?
  • Make purchases or sales over the Internet?
  • Gain access to key business resources over the Internet?
  • do not know but essential to know
  • Info recorded on database for TN6 postcode
  • Do not know for businesses or residents
  • Do not know but www.wealdenbusinesshelp address and details (plus others local support agencies) provided to circa 400 local businesses (2003)

Starting points for information

Information you will need

Answers and notes

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Link Operator
  • local survey.

Q 17

How many local businesses collaborate over the Internet with partner firms?

Look here at cluster or supply chain relationships

Unknown but chain/cluster details are available from database analyses

  • Local Authorities

Q 18

Which public sector offices and sites currently have broadband communication facilities for external access?

What proportion is this of all public sector office locations?

(Worksheets S2 Q5; S4; S5 Q10; S7 Q6; T2 Q11,12; T3 Q16 also refer to local government services)

Information pending – expected w/c 4.04.05 for Crowborough and hinterland (e.g. north of Uckfield) – Libraries discussed (plans for mobile libraries, help points and any timescales)

Martin Townshend 01273 481234 (switchboard)

The Crowborough Partnership     Business Action Group     Crowborough Community Association     Beacon Community College     Crowborough Town Council     Wealden District Council     East Sussex County Council     LizardStudio LLP