MP backs Ham&High campaign
A TOP Tory MP has thrown his weight behind the Ham&High s Keep It Local campaign to support independent shops. Phillip Hammond MP, shadow chief secretary to the treasury, breakfasted with traders in South End Green to discuss their concerns in the face of
A TOP Tory MP has thrown his weight behind the Ham&High's Keep It Local campaign to support independent shops.
Phillip Hammond MP, shadow chief secretary to the treasury, breakfasted with traders in South End Green to discuss their concerns in the face of the nation's credit crunch.
He said: "We very much support the Keep It Local campaign. Encouraging people to shop locally is a key part of keeping the heart in local communities. If the local high street breaks down then the sense of community also breaks down.
"We sit in Westminster and talk about public debt in terms of billions and millions but in the end our economy is made up of hundreds of thousands of businesses facing different situations and millions of customers reacting to them.
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"Their individual discussions are what make up the big picture of the economy so it is really important that we get out and talk to people."
On his visit last Thursday the MP discussed the Conservative approach to the financial crisis and the party's plans to help small businesses during this taxing time. These include allowing them to postpone VAT payments and a national loan scheme to help keep cash flowing.
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Mr Hammond said: "Three things are happening to small businesses. The banks have withdrawn the overdraft facility, suppliers are also asking for cash up front and customers are sometimes delivering payment later.
"It doesn't matter how profitable your business is you cannot survive in these circumstances.
"The challenges for small shops are competition with out-of-town stores, big shops and the internet.
"2009 will be a difficult year because customers are spending less money but I think there is a role for the high street in the future, both a social role as the heart of the community and an economic role providing specialist and convenience services."
Councillor for Gospel Oak and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, Chris Philp, also praised the campaign.
"I think it is a great campaign," he said. "If people want local shops to stay open they have to shop in them. There are two things I would like Camden Council to consider - giving back the small businesses the seven per cent levy on business rates, and letting people park in the daytime when many spaces are empty because residents are at work. That would allow people more access to shop in the high street and it is something traders feel strongly about.