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Small businesses happy to work with Croydon's new Labour council

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SMALL businesses and the new Labour council will be able to work together to benefit the borough.

This prediction has come from Jeremy Frost, chairman of the 900-strong Croydon Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB has been talking to local Labour politicians for around a year, contact which has included a conference involving leading councillors and around 60 small business owners.

The aim had been, Mr Frost said, to establish contact and set out what small businesses would hope to see if, as has now happened, Labour took control of the council. "The message we have received is that the Labour party now supports small people who are trying to earn a crust at a difficult time. In fact they are saying in a way they are us. I think they are right and this is a good starting point."

That element of harmony does not, however, mean that small businesses will not have a extensive shopping list they want the new council to address. Mr Frost believes the established contact will help those concerns to be addressed.

Mr Frost said: "In the short term we need any uncertainty about the future of the Westfield/Hammerson project to be taken away. There are many small businesses waiting to invest in the borough when that development happens and we don't to see any delays caused by major changes to what has been agreed.

"The project may end up being tweaked a bit but we are saying 'just get on with it'."

In the medium and long-term, Mr Frost said his members wanted to see more done to encourage entrepreneurs of the future. Key to that, he said, was educating and training young people locally, encouraging them to develop businesses in Croydon.

Mr Frost said providing a university in the area was essential to that, as was improving the town's infrastructure and dealing with transport problems, such as bottlenecks on the A23.

He said: "We should be encouraging young people to stay here, rather than sending them away to university and running the risk of them not coming back.

Mr Frost stressed needs of existing small businesses must also be addressed by the new council.

Not least would be the council reducing the burden of business rates.

He said: "We have the situation now where many small businesses are paying more in rates than they are in rent.

"This is ridiculous and can turn people off running businesses in Croydon rather than turning them on."

Small businesses happy to work with Croydon's new Labour council


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