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Key 'challenges' raised as small businesses meet with MP

PUBLISHED: 16:30 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:30 31 May 2019

Waveney MP Peter Aldous with those attending the FSB meeting in Lowestoft. Picture: Andrew Mower

Waveney MP Peter Aldous with those attending the FSB meeting in Lowestoft. Picture: Andrew Mower

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Improving the transport infrastructure and revitalising the high street were among the issues discussed at a special meeting.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous spoke to small businesses and discussed some of the key challenges they are facing during a free event in Lowestoft.

Digital connectivity and continued skills shortages were also on the agenda at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) meeting on Friday, May 31.

With small firms and self-employed business people based in Lowestoft attending the meeting with Mr Aldous at the Hotel Victoria, the event was hailed a success.

Andrew Mower, FSB Development Manager in East Anglia, said: "Suffolk is a fantastic place to live and work but our 2,500 small business members in this county still tell us that connectivity and recruitment challenges in particular are holding them back."

Mr Aldous gave his views to those present - which included represetatives from Bison Electrical Services and Scenic Projects in Lowestoft and FSB members - on how the issues could be tackled.

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FSB national councillor Mike Drain said: "We would like to see Theresa May push through reforms to tackle the problem of late payments."

With concerns raised - particularly fron the hotel industry - the influential UK business organisation has called on the Prime Minister to push through the reforms package announced in this year's spring statement.

Mr Aldous said he would raise the late payments reforms with business minister, Kelly Tolhurst.

Apprenticeships and the introduction of T Levels in education - new two-year courses starting in September 2020, which will follow GCSEs and will be equivalent to three A Levels - were discussed as the issue of skills meeting the needs of the local economy in years to come was assessed.

Bison Electrical Services managing director, Richard Gapper - who has two apprentices at his business, which provides tailored electrical solutions across East Anglia - said: "The problem is not finding the apprentices, the problem is funding them through the apprenticeships - the main issue is the cost."

Mr Aldous said he would "get feedback" from the colleges locally and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on the issues raised.

Mr Aldous said: "These meetings are important to me to get feedback on what's going on, on the ground."

Mr Drain added: "I would like to thank everyone for coming along and hopefully you all got something out of it."

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