When I talk to traders in Formby, Crosby or Maghull, I hear how tough things are and how they are crying out for support for our town centres.
People tell me that a cut to VAT would really help as it would mean more money would be available to kick-start local trade.
Businesses who sell to big companies also tell me that they need help with late payment. It is clear that many of the biggest firms in the country are delaying payment to their suppliers for up to six months. That means it is the small businesses who suffer and it means that ordinary people are the ones bearing the brunt of the difficult trading situation, both business owners and the many people who work for small businesses.
And in Sefton Central, most people either work for the public sector or in small businesses, so the difficulties faced by small businesses really have a big impact.
Labour is calling for a temporary VAT cut and action on late payment by big businesses because we recognize that these are the most immediate ways of helping small businesses.
It also strikes me that there is more that can be done to showcase what is on offer across Sefton. We talk about the problems, about the state of Crosby Village centre, about the charity shops and the loss of quality local shops throughout the area and about the difficulties which we all face. And of course these are all very real problems, which need a lot of work.
But there are still many very good quality shops in our town centres and many traders doing really well. I really appreciate the excellent service and the quality which some of our best local shops deliver and we should all remember that there are good reasons to visit Sefton.
The Viking Festival in Formby is an opportunity to showcase the town and the parish council has done excellent work improving the Village centre.
From the discussions, which I have had with Sainsbury’s I am optimistic that progress will be made in Crosby. And even though this will take a number of years to come to fruition the end result could see a real revitalization of Crosby.
The Town Teams in Crosby and Maghull are working hard using the cash from Sefton Council to help make the most of what is available now all of which shows that there are people in Sefton Central committed to making the most of what is available as well as looking at the long term.
But whatever we do in Sefton, ultimately, we need a change of approach from the government so that investment is encouraged.
One of the best ways to grow the economy is to ensure that the construction sector is given a massive boost. The knock on effect of money spent on construction projects would really help other businesses. So we need work to start on the Thornton Relief Road, new school building and affordable homes as all of these can make a huge difference to the success of our local economy, businesses and ordinary people.
I hope that the chancellor George Osborne will announce significant investment in construction projects as part of his spending review in a few weeks’ time. That really would give cause for hope that the lack of well paid work, the high cost of food and fuel and crisis in the NHS can all be addressed. Ordinary people across Crosby, Formby, Maghull and Aintree certainly need that help.