April 13, 2011

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In these tough times, business needs all the help it can get to survive, to grow and to create the jobs Sefton people need. 

The behaviour of some banks is a very real cause for concern. The banks caused the financial crisis by lending money to people who could never repay the loans causing a chain reaction around the world which nearly led to the failure of the financial system around the world. 

It is therefore unbelievable that the banks are now paying the same outrageous bonuses that they paid for the failures which caused the crisis. It can only be a matter of time before a further crisis is triggered. The payment of bonuses also makes the reluctance of the banks to lend to small business all the more frustrating. And it is not just the difficulties of businesses in borrowing money that causes problems. 

My wife has had a problem with Barclays in making changes to the bank account. This problem has been ongoing for seven months, as she has been passed from pillar to post by the relationship manager and by the call centre. All came to a head when she tried to pay the VAT bill. The bank promised but failed to return her calls or reply to her emails. The end result was that she was unable to pay her VAT bill on time, which as anyone who runs a business knows causes real problems. 

The question is why the banks can pay massive bonuses having caused the financial crisis but are unable to support small businesses who are trying to kickstart the economy? 

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had difficulties with their bank as the support of the banks is going to be essential in boosting business and creating jobs.

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The loss of 1,000 council jobs and the thousands of jobs going in health, fire and police services means that the private sector will have to take up the slack. The fact that so many people are losing their jobs in the public sector makes it that much harder for small businesses and self employed people who rely on public sector staff for their trade. 

The economy is still fragile so it will be that much harder for private businesses to grow when there are fewer customers. This is an argument for not making the cuts so fast or so deep but given that the cuts have now started, how can business take up the slack and replace the jobs? 

There is less money available in Sefton, the council will have 30% less money for starters so it won’t be easy for the business community and jobs are going to become even harder to find. 

History shows us that the role of the public sector is to put money into the economy in tough times until the private sector is strong enough to take up the slack. The cuts have happened before the private sector is strong enough to take up the slack and the consequences are likely to be grim for many people.

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One event has helped the economy in Sefton and across Merseyside. The Grand National. 

More than 70,000 people were at Aintree racecourse on Saturday, with many thousands also visiting on Thursday and Friday. 

Businesses in Maghull, Crosby and Formby had a great few weeks in preparation for the racing. My wife’s hairdresser told us that she had customers banging on the door from 6am each day of the meeting. 

The event was great fun for many people and a chance for Merseyside to enjoy the international limelight. After years of trying, I finally picked the winner of the big race. Ballabriggs led from halfway round and kept going to the end. 

The celebrations were muted with the sad news of the death of two horses in the race, a timely reminder of the dangers of this exciting event.