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Toby visits Brent and takes part in small business consultation

Yesterday (18 March 2013) Toby Perkins, Labour’s Shadow Small Business Minister, took part in a small business consultation at one of Europe’s largest industrial estates.

The event was held at the Royal Oak Business Park in North West London at the kind invitation of the local Brent Councillor, Zaffar Van Kalwala.  Alongside Toby and Zaffar on the panel were Alex Mitchell, a senior member of the Labour Small Business Taskforce which has recently published its final report, David Offenbach, Chair of the Labour Finance and Industry Group and a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce.

The event was attended by around fifty local business people from the Harrow and Brent area and local dignatories including the Mayor of Brent, and the attendees asked a wide range of questions.

The issue which most businesses raised was access to finance and the troubles small businesses are experiencing with banks.  Toby explained Labour’s commitment to establish a new system of regional banks to support small business.  These will be part of delivering a British Investment Bank for which they will be regional partners. It is the latest commitment outlined by One Nation Labour to help business, tackle decades-old problems and underpin a strong long term recovery by rebuilding the foundations of Britain’s economy.

A regional bank is one that only lends to businesses within a defined geographic area. They are civic institutions that seek to support growth and innovation in their local areas, understand their customers, and support long term investments in training, research and innovation.

The panel also discussed how to improve business support and how local and central government can support small businesses through procurement.

Toby Perkins said:

“It was fantastic to come to Park Royal at the invitation of Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala to meet with local businesses.  As one of the largest business parks in Europe it was the perfect setting to learn about what a variety of small businesses need to survive and thrive.

“One message that came through loud and clear was that we need to do more to help small businesses access finance.  Ed Miliband’s announcement last week, that the next Labour government will introduce a series of regional banks with a public service remit, should go some way to overcoming this.”

After the consultation Toby headed to the nearby Willesden Green high street to see first hand the success of Brent’s “meanwhile spaces” which provide support to small businesses and to visit local shopkeepers.

Toby added:

“I only spent a few hours in Brent today but it was clear that it has a unique character built by the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners from its diverse and innovative communities.

“I was particularly interested to learn about the series of ‘meanwhile’ spaces in properties awaiting redevelopment across Brent.  Its great that the Council are using these provide spaces to incubate local businesses, provide training and bring the local community together.”

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

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