Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1960 Jun 17 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Chamber of Commerce (elected President)

Document type:public statement
Document kind:Speech
Venue:Torrington Arms, Finchley
Source:Finchley Press, 17 June 1960
Journalist:-
Editorial comments:Item listed by date of publication.
Importance ranking:Minor
Word count:1315
Themes:Industry

Mrs. Thatcher Predicts: ‘More Local Shopping’

Elected President Of Chamber Of Commerce

Tells Traders: ‘I Don't Like Fancy Packaging’

The prediction that with London's growing congestion, more and more firms and industries would bring their premises into the suburbs—boosting local trade—was heard at the annual general meeting of Finchley and Whetstone Chamber of Commerce at the Torrington Arms. North Finchley, last week. The local traders gathered at the meeting heard the prediction from their new President. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.P. for Finchley and Friern Barnet.

On being elected President, Mrs. Thatcher said she was pleased because it gave her the opportunity to keep up a family tradition—her father had been Chairman of his Chamber of Commerce.

Fight

From their own Chairman Mr. D. Vettewinkel, the Finchley and Whetstone traders heard news of an intended "fight"—with Middlesex County Council. The Chamber would be protesting against the MCC's restrictions that prevent conversion of dwelling space or land into business premises.

Mr. Vettewinkel maintained it was no longer necessary (in the light of improved housing) for the County Council to clamp down on, say, rooms over a shop that the owner wished to change from a dwelling into a store or office space.

Mr. Vettewinkel said that the County Council's attitude could be appreciated whilst de-requisitioning was in force, and "one could understand this when people were homeless", but de-requisitioning was now coming to an end and people in the main were now asking for good houses for accommodation.

Much property consisted of flats over offices and shops, which people would like to use as store rooms.

He continued: "We are taking up this matter very strongly with the Middlesex County Council, and also with the other Chambers of Commerce.

"Dreadful"

"It seems dreadful that people cannot enlarge their businesses if they want to. We are going to fight".

Mr. Vettewinkel also spoke of the effort that the Chamber of Commerce had made to try to change the closing day of Finchley shops.

It had been suggested, he said, that Monday afternoon closure would be "ideal".

But "When it really came down to it, nobody was really very keen"

There was a hundred obstacles and the Chamber had found that people did not really want closing day changed.

During the year they had also been "chasing up" Finchley Council about litter. It was dreadful to see Finchley roads after the public had been out shopping. Finchley should be a meat and tidy Borough.

There had been a very satisfying increase in Chamber membership over the past twelve months.

New President

Mrs. Thatcher was nominated by Mr. Vettewinkel to till the position of President.

Mr. Vettewinkel said he hoped Mrs. Thatcher would enjoy her association with them. They knew how busy she was, but hoped she would come to see them.

Mr. W. Roberts seconded the nomination and Mrs. Thatcher was elected as the new President of the Chamber of Commerce.

Thanking the members. Mrs. Thatcher said she appreciated very much the honour: her [ Alfred Roberts] father had been Chairman of a Chamber of Commerce for many years. So it was with great pleasure that she renewed in another generation the association that her family had always had with a local Chamber of Commerce.

It was plain that a variety of interests were represented at the meeting, and it was very difficult to bring them all into one integral unit. This could be seen from the size of the shopping areas.

About the industrial areas of the Borough, she knew something because recently she had spent a very happy morning going round Simms at East Finchley.

Experience

The retail trade was a matter of experience. Personally, she did not think that the average customer realized the skill in buying and financing that was required of a retailer.

It was not true that the other man succeeded "just by luck". Usually it was skill, organisation and careful control of finances.

Mrs. Thatcher said she thought the pattern of retail trade had changed very much indeed. In a recent "Brains Trust" she had been asked a question about the amount of money that teenagers spent. It came to about £900 million a year. This was something that had to be taken into account.

There was one particular dislike she had, and this was expensive packaging. It was very annoying to have to pay an extra 2d for the fancy packing of biscuits.

During the next few years it was clear there was going to be a lot more trade done locally. The problem of parking in London was becoming greater, and if local shopping facilities and service could be provided then people would do all their shopping in the locality.

Referring to the increasing tendency of London firms to move out to the suburbs. Mrs. Thatcher said: "Not everyone has to move into 17 storey blocks", and said there had been a great deal of correspondence with her about this matter.

There would certainly be more commercial projects coming into the district, and it would be interesting to see how things were in 20 years time.

In his annual report as secretary. Mr. George Davies commented on the following:

Road Safety

"We have continued to give deep consideration to this item at our monthly Council meetings, and we have been fortunate in having Mr. A. W. Keep again as our representative on the Finchley Road Safety Committee. He has put forward our points of view on unilateral parking, speed, road signs, parking congestion and so many other subjects. We also thank Mrs. Duncan, who has recently retired as secretary of the Committee. Traders should realize that quite an important aspect of trading relates to transport and road safety. We deal with the subpect of road safety on a business footing, apart from the humanitarian point of view.

Finchley Council

"The Council receives our warm thanks once more for permitting us the use each month of its Council Chamber, and for dealing so sympathetically with any suggestion we make to it. The Borough Council will always give deep consideration to the problems of traders. We have had occasion to refer to the Borough Council a wide diversity of matters, including street trading, shop hours, hygiene in business premises, housing, the ban on conversion of premises to business, etc.

Friern Barnet Council

"And this Council, too, is most sympathetic to our needs. This Council also communicates with the Chamber on many matters. To give one example of their variety, they ranged from Christmas opening hours to the adequacy of slaughterhouses.

"Our Officers"

"It is difficult to thank adequately our Chairman. Mr. D. Vettewinkel for his hard work and continual study of the interests of our members. He was absent from I meeting only, and even then was on official duty, representing the Chamber elsewhere. The Council as a body thanks those members who have attended its deliberations so frequently and records its appreciation of the work of its representatives".

Officers

Messrs. E. E. Pugh, J Hugh-Jones Ald J Gordon Bryson J. T. Smith, were elected as Vice-Presidents.

The Secretary, Mr. G. Davies, announced that the Council unanimousley nominated Mr Vettewinkel as the Chairman for the ensuing year Mr. G. N. Symes and Mr. F. J. Riseley, seconded the motion.

Mr. Vettewinkel thanked the members for electing him as Chairman again.

Mr. G. M. Symes was re-elected as Vice-Chairman.

Mr. R. P. Raithby was elected as Treasurer. Mr. G. Davies was re-elected as secretary. Mr. Nicholls was re-elected as Auditor.