Change and opportunity

As is right and proper, announcements about new Government policies were paused during the national period of mourning.

We now look forward to the new Government, headed by Liz Truss who has moved quickly to announce very significant help with energy bills over the next two years for hard-pressed households and a six-month scheme for most business organisations including charities and public bodies.

Then, on Friday during the fiscal event, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced exciting new policies to accelerate economic growth.  This included new Investment Zones in 38 local authority areas, including Central Bedfordshire.  We are working hard with government to introduce these as soon as possible.

We want to encourage more opportunities to enable our residents to work closer to home and to have rewarding employment. Investment Zones can help us to achieve this.  

A possible location could be an 84-acre site in Cranfield where Marshall’s are considering relocating from Cambridge. They would join an existing cutting-edge research and aerospace innovation community. Enabling this to happen at speed will expand local employment and training opportunities.

We are also looking at several other potential sites across Central Bedfordshire and I look forward to sharing more details about this exciting initiative over the coming months.

Small Business Saturday – Love Local

Local businesses across the country, including here in Central Bedfordshire, are looking forward to this Saturday (4 December).

Now in its ninth year, Small Business Saturday has become a calendar staple since its humble roots. It started as a grassroots campaign to encourage people to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their area.

The campaign has grown in popularity and in light of the ongoing pandemic, people appreciate the important contribution small businesses make to the national economy as well as being at the centre of our communities. Many local people depend on their local businesses and vice versa.

Last year the campaign achieved record-breaking success with an estimated £1.1 billion spent across the UK on the day.

The way people shop has changed massively over time, from individual greengrocers, butchers, and bakeries to the arrival of supermarkets where everything became available in one place. Convenience and speed are important for many shoppers now and whilst online shopping is now used by many, it is important to remember that local businesses can offer the same level of service, local produce and keen pricing.

2021 has proved to be another challenging year for the retail sector, making it vital for people to support small businesses in any way they can. Supporting businesses is a priority for the council and we have recently extended our Business Support Programme to offer more schemes for local businesses. Working with Cranfield University and SEMLEP we are running innovative programmes for businesses helping them to grow or recover.

As a customer, we each can help to maintain our independent businesses. I encourage you to buy local not just this Saturday but throughout the year.

There are many ways you can show your support for Small Business Saturday. Leaving a positive review or sharing a social media post can help boost their profile in your area.

Small Business Saturday has created an online tool to help you find a small business in your area.

Let’s all support our local businesses this Saturday and whenever we can!