Parliamentary sketch – Jingle bells
If I get any time for pre-Christmas shopping, I’ll shop local.
There won’t be any “Black Fridays” or “Cyber Mondays” for me.
You can hardly move without bumping into a new gigantic supermarket here in West Cornwall. But it would be easy to overlook the fantastic local businesses we have in our midst right here in our town centres.
Nationally, “footfall” in town centres has dramatically declined in the last couple of decades. But many town centre retail businesses have found new and creative ways of responding to consumer taste.
Of course, if you like, you could shop with a very large American based online retailer which is famous for paying virtually no tax on its £4.3billion turnover, is notorious for paying its staff low wages and is a major contributor to the decline in the high street.
But things have been very tough for town centre businesses. They deserve our support. At least the Government has doubled Small Business Rate Relief since it was first introduced in 2010 and has extended that relief, helping hundreds of local small businesses. In addition, small shops, pubs and town centre businesses with rateable values of less than £50,000 receive £1,000 off their rates bills for this year and next.
Rate bills have been capped at 2%. Local firms entitled to Small Business Rate Relief can retain that relief for an extra year when they grow, thus encouraging and enabling small firms to expand.
To help get empty shops back into use, my Party has secured the introduction of “re-occupation relief”; this halves rates for 18 months for businesses taking on long-term empty shops.
We have excellent groups of local businesses which have come together to forge plans for the future of our town centres – in Helston, St Ives and Penzance – and strong partnerships are being forged to encourage local people to recognise what is great about their town centres and the fantastic shops there. The challenges have been great, but the determination of local business and local people to meet that challenge will be greater.
So, if don’t already do so, I do hope in the coming shopping days to Christmas you will support our local shops and businesses; and then continue to in a Happy New Year for our great town centres.
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
2nd December 2014