I’ve posted a lot of updates on my visits to local businesses since becoming your candidate. It’s meant a lot to me as I too set up a business here and know just how much hard work it takes to get an enterprise off the ground. My dad was also an entrepreneur. So as you can imagine, it means a lot to me to champion our local enterprise.
But as a politician it’s not enough to listen and learn, you have to ‘do’ things too. So today I stood alongside shadow cabinet minister Chris Lesley and Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour group on council, and announced two policy pledges aimed at tackling problems local people have been telling me about.
Firstly, I’ve lost count of the number of times self-employed people and those running small businesses have told me that dealing with the council can be a nightmare for them. Councils are complex organisations and if you’re busy running a local business under a lot of pressure you often give up before getting through to the person you really need to speak to.
If you’re a major employer like AMEX or EDF you have a named person in council who will deal with your problems - it’s the chief executive! But sole traders and local employers can’t all call the CEO when they have a problem despite the fact that they are the most important part of our local economy. So today Labour pledged to strengthen the support team in council that works with local businesses. Many will have a named person who they can get to know, will advocate for them on a whole range of issues, and work in partnership to solve any of the problems that may need council input.
Secondly is the prohibitively high cost of parking. Exorbitant parking in the centre of town is a pain for every motorist that visits us, but I know many tradespeople who are hampered in giving quotes there due to the high cost of parking. So for local businesses that take on apprentices or invest in low-emission vehicles, we pledge to heavily reduce the cost of parking.
These are policies designed to solve problems and be of practical help to our local businesses. Nationally the Labour Party has already pledged to reduce corporation tax for small businesses and we are working hard to design local policies that will similarly be of real help.
Considering we live in the most enterprising city in Britain it’s amazing that our council isn’t more entrepreneurial in its support for local enterprise. That has to change. These two policy pledges are just the start, you’ll be hearing much more in the coming weeks.
Chris, Warren and myself launched the policy with the help of Paul, an apprentice for a local electrician who told me about the impact parking charges were having on business. He told me that both of these policies will be of real benefit to his work.
We then toured The Werks in Hove, the astonishingly successful ‘incubator’ for local creative start-ups. Their success rate is way above the national average and with the extra help pledged today hopefully we will have even better things in store for enterprise here in Hove and Portslade in the years to come. All the best, Peter