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BRITAIN NEEDS a “massive change”, small-business owners told Labour’s Rebecca Long Bailey in Bolton today.
Launching the party’s 20 pledges to business, the shadow business secretary met with owners of small enterprises in the Lancashire town to discuss their concerns about the economy.
Questions focused on poor infrastructure in the area and how a decline in CCTV and policing has encouraged an increase in vandalism and violent assaults on shopkeepers.
The business people expressed concern at the rise in empty shops, subcontracted work and what one participant described as the “destruction” of the high street.
Ms Long Bailey said that, as an MP from the north of England, she had a “chip on her shoulder” about the lack of funding for that part of the country.
She told the Morning Star: “We need to be taking action on empty shops and opening them up to businesses who are struggling. They will have the power to do that under a Labour government.
“We need to help with the costs of business, like business rates, which is why we’re going to reform the whole system.
“We need to make sure that places in the north-west and other regions get the investment they deserve … they need that extra oomph.”
Ms Long Bailey said that anger over collapsing infrastructure was widespread adding: “People are realising that it’s not just about themselves, and that the only way they’ll survive [as a business] is if the economy is doing well and people have more money to spend – they’ll come in the cafes, they’ll come in the shops and do things.”
Lisa Forrest, a greengrocer in Smithills, approved of Labour’s proposals, telling the Star: “I think they sound good. Setting up a small business is an absolute minefield, so any support before you’re setting out is great – that’s what we would have needed.”
Ms Forrest said that other Labour policies would help small businesses, adding: “We talk a lot about regeneration, but there’s rough sleepers in every doorway.
“You can put whatever shops you want in this town, but until you address the poverty in this town, actually nothing will change.”
“These pledges are wonderful, but it’s about all the rest of the manifesto as well. That’ll really change the high street. We need a massive change.”
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