Newent Chamber of Commerce has been suspended after the group failed to form a committee at its annual meeting.

Only six traders turned up for the meeting at the Market Hall and nobody expressed the desire to be either chairman or vice-chairman.

The chamber plans to hold an extraordinary general meeting in a bid to generate interest and get the group up and running again. Full details are still to be announced.

Until then, group funds are in the hands of member Joan Curtis, of the Travel Shop.

A question mark hangs over the chamber's future and that of the town's Christmas lights display, which has always been administered by the group.

Chamber member Dave McIntyre, of Ideal Carpets in Church Street, was chairman when the Christmas lights campaign was launched and he called for the body to re-start.

He said: "I'd like to see the chamber resurrected. It would be sad if it should fade away. When I took over as chairman, everyone in the town was wound up and enthusiastic and there was a good head of steam. We initiated the Christmas lights. But you get ebbing and flowing and we are in an ebb period."

Mr McIntyre has nothing but praise for the hard work of the last chairman, John Celino and added: "The reason I packed up as chairman was because I could not run a business and be the chairman at the same time. It was too much."

However, Mr McIntyre said he planned to hold talks with Mrs Curtis about the future of the chamber as soon as possible.

Newent mayor Fred Passant said he was sorry to hear of the suspension but did not believe the problems would hit the Christmas lights.

He said: "Last year, the town council helped to take them down and we also paid for the electricity. There is money in the budget, so we do have some involvement and responsibility and the Newent Initiative also recognises the importance of town promotion and may contribute."

He added he would be raising the issue with the council.