Early attempts to form a business association in Burgess Hill started in the late 1980s but these efforts floundered somewhat.
Then in 2004 a group of business people came together, along with the local MP, Nicholas Soames, in a sustained way, this time galvanised by a common cause – to try to prevent groups of travellers from camping out on their business premises.
The result was the formation of the BHBPA, with a paid Co-ordinator whose role was to summon the assistance and support of local councils and the police to ensure that disruption to business was avoided in the future.
By the end of 2006 a Steering Group had been set up, under a Chairman with a board of directors, along with 45 companies as paying members. The police and local councils were also represented on the Steering Group as were local schools.
In January 2007 a new Coordinator was appointed and by 2010 the association was nearing 100 members along with an events program including annual Burgess Hill business exhibition. A weekly newsletter became a standard feature, as did a series of networking events for members.
In recent times there have been fewer incidents of traveller incursions, while BHBPA’s membership has grown steadily to about 150 members. We still work closely with our local MP and both the Town and District Councils. There continues to be a regular programme of events for members which are always well attended. The BHBPA regular newsletter continues to be heavily subscribed to.
Burgess Hill and Mid Sussex is a town and area on the move, as is the BHBPA. The regeneration of the town, both the town centre and the A2300 corridor is well advanced – bringing new opportunities. Mid Sussex has a new MP in Mims Davies who is keen to forge links with local business associations. BHBPA has a new Co-ordinator who is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of supporting the local business community. Now is a good time to get involved.
The Association is constituted as a Company Limited by guarantee with the current board comprising three directors, drawn from the local business community.
The activities of the Association are also guided by a Steering Group whose membership is similarly drawn from local business leaders, working alongside representatives from government and other public sector organisations.
The directors, Steering Group and members are supported on a day-to-day basis by the work of the Coordinator.
Currently BHBPA Ltd has three volunteer directors, who all run Burgess Hill based businesses:
"This association was started with a lot of effort from a few local businessmen and has proved to be a very powerful and useful tool for our business. The BHBPA has influence at the top level; when action is needed, the BHBPA gets it done. We are kept in touch with all that is happening on our doorstep and will often act because of what is published in the weekly emails / newsletters."
"The BHBPA is an energetic and vocal organisation that connects and empowers and informs the local business community acting as an effective conduit to local authority and other organisations. We are proud to be part of that community and the association."
"I am delighted to have a long-standing relationship with the BHBPA. Since its foundation the Association has gone from strength to strength and there is no doubt that it has brought huge benefits to its members and the business community as a whole through the partnerships it has formed with the local authorities, Sussex Police and local organisations. It is paramount that Burgess Hill businesses have an effective collective voice."
"“I have belonged to this group since I started my own business, Lea Graham Associates, in 1986. The association has been through several incarnations since then, but its most recent one, BHBPA, is by far the best.
It’s much more than just a networking group, although it is supremely good at that too. BHBPA is inclusive and friendly and acts like a mutual-support society. The events are stimulating, worthwhile and often great fun and I believe most members share this opinion.”"