A NEW president has been elected to the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce.

The latest AGM welcomed Julie Cleaver, of Popcorn Marketing, into the role along with new vice president Shellie Hind, of Redferns Solicitors, and treasurer Mike House, of Albert Goodman.

The new president began her year with a speech in which she said she was ‘honoured’ to be elected.

She said the local business community had been through a stormy time recently but that lessons learned can be built on for a stronger future.

WPCC has gone from strength to strength over the last few years with membership increasing by around 30 per cent in 2013.

The monthly business breakfasts, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, continued to attract 70 to 80 people each time and the popular speed networking event, BreakNet Speed sponsored by Old Mill, is set to continue.

Julie said: “2014 will again be a challenging year for us all. However, we can say that business is improving.

“We now have a Business Improvement District which is working very hard on attracting more visitors to the area.

“We have welcomed many new national businesses to the borough such as Sainsbury’s, Beefeater, and Screwfix, and continue to see many new businesses choosing Weymouth and Portland as a great place to invest and create new jobs.”

Last year saw the first Buddy Breakfast which attracted 10 new members to the Chamber.

Outgoing president Mark Blunden was thanked at Tuesday’s meeting for all of his hard work.

While Mark Franklin, outgoing treasurer, presented WPCC accounts to the meeting, noting that a surplus had been made in the last year of more than £1800.

Mark Blunden looked back on a year of successful events including the President’s Dinner, Summer BBQ and Bollywood Charity Ball, which raised over £1700 for the RNLI.

He said: “2013 business-wise has been a challenging year for us all, but there are some signs that a long overdue recovery is on the way.

“That said, I don’t think we are out of the woods yet and patience and diligence is needed as much now as ever.

“It is crucial that the councils in their united form seek to invest in projects and look for intelligent ways to bring business and growth into the area.

“Their long-term plans are welcome, but some quick wins are still needed along with people in these key positions with the will and determination to make changes and make them soon, including progress at North Quay, Brewers Quay and of course the Pavilion Peninsular.”

The meeting, held at Oasis Bistro & Wine Room, closed with a buffet, which included a special Chamber cake made by Ian Gill of Arty Party Cakes.