Facing up to issues for rural businesses

Julie Porksen; Carole Hudson, worked at Classic Footwear, Queen Street, Amble for 27 years; Karen Athey, owner, Leanne's fashion shop, Queen Street; Katherine Bennett, owner, Classic Footwear and  Tim Farron.
Julie Porksen; Carole Hudson, worked at Classic Footwear, Queen Street, Amble for 27 years; Karen Athey, owner, Leanne's fashion shop, Queen Street; Katherine Bennett, owner, Classic Footwear and Tim Farron.

A political party’s president was invited to Amble recently to learn of the issues facing businesses in the area.

Julie Porksen, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Amble West with Warkworth, invited Tim Farron to meet a number of local independent business owners in the town at the end of last month.

As well as being the Liberal Democrats’ president, Mr Farron is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, a constituency covering much of Cumbria.

Julie said: “Tim has a huge knowledge of the sorts of issues facing businesses in rural towns and villages, and has been a passionate campaigner for rural areas.

“That’s why I wanted local traders in Amble to have their chance to put their questions and thoughts to him face to face.

“I think it’s really important that politicians keep in touch with the reality of life in communities such as Amble, especially when it comes to small businesses. They are the lifeblood without which our economy simply would not function and they need to be properly supported.”

A number of issues were discussed, including the need for reevaluation of the rateable value of shops and other places of business – with the traders present voicing concerns that although the market value of their premises had dropped significantly, this was not being reflected in either their rents or the rates they have to pay.

It was suggested that the planned Wednesday market could be held on Queen Street, with the street pedestrianised while it takes place, to encourage more people to visit.

Following his visit to Amble, Mr Farron said: “I’d like to say a big thank-you to the shopkeepers who came along for taking the time to give Julie and me their thoughts.

“I have always fought hard to ensure rural communities are not forgotten about by Whitehall, and I am pleased Julie’s policy on the rural economy was passed with flying colours by our recent party conference.”