Today was the day that the Prime Minister spoke at the Tory party conference about his respect for small businesses and about creating a “land of opportunity”.
Well, the PM ought to take a trip to Whitstable.
I have nothing against Mr Cameron and have no political party affiliations but I nearly choked while listening to his speech on the car radio, as I navigated through the Canterbury traffic.
To be fair to the PM, I had just finished my meeting with officers of Canterbury City Council who had briefed me on their secret discussions about Whitstable Harbour Village and the future of the 33 local independent businesses who trade there.
It took ten days to find out whether we had been successful in our attempts to secure the future of local independent business in Whitstable Harbour but we all hoped it would be worth the wait. After all, we had the support from the local Chamber of Commerce, local community groups and our local MP, when we respectfully pleaded with Harbour Board members to make the bold decision to grant a ten year lease to the Whitstable Harbour Village, instead of a five year lease which retained the right to close us down at 12 months notice.
Unbelievably though, just as Mr Cameron stood up to talk of the support and encouragement for small businesses, I was being told that we not have any support at all. Our 33 local businesses would NOT be offered a ten year lease but a lease for six months. Then the entire site will be closed down for an estimated six months for essential harbour maintenance and then err… well we’re not sure really.
Is this the support for business that Mr Cameron is referring to?
It already means that the £86,000 we were pursuing with the Coastal Communities Fund to create ten new businesses run by local young entrepreneurs has been squandered.
Is that what Mr Cameron meant by creating jobs for young people?
However, I was told by Council officials about an exciting new marketing campaign to attract new tenants that will allow the council to “maximise their income”. Presumably, Tesco and MacDonalds, can exploit the hard work of local business people who created this viable retail site.
Is that what Mr Cameron meant by respecting risk takers?
It sounded good at the conference Mr Cameron but I think you need to have quiet word with some of your local council officials in Canterbury who might be struggling with the concept.