'Small firms need support'

Kim Snape by the RBS Bank in Croston
Kim Snape by the RBS Bank in Croston
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I’m calling for better support for small businesses, especially in rural areas, to improve local services and to increase employment opportunities for residents in the villages of South Ribble.

Villages like Croston, Eccleston, Bretherton and Mawdesley have lost shops, banks and other businesses over the last few years. This made life more difficult for residents, particularly the elderly who rely more than most on having local services.

The reductions in bus services, and the terrible rail service through Croston, means that anyone without their own transport finds it increasingly difficult to carry out the day to day activities that we all take for granted.

When small businesses in rural areas close, jobs for local people are lost.

The loss of the NatWest Bank in Eccleston, and now the recent closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bank in Croston, creates difficulties for those unable to bank online. The removal of the ATM from the RBS building, virtually as soon as the bank closed, means that there is now only one ATM to serve the whole of Croston. If this machine is out of order or is lost in its turn, life will become more difficult for residents of Croston.

There are similar problems in Eccleston with the loss of an ATM due to the closure of the One Stop shop.

There are some bright spots such as the opening of Feather and Twig in Croston, the establishment of Pepperberry and the Vault Cafe in the old bank building in Eccleston, and the growing success of Thyme on the Yarrow in Croston, but many more businesses are needed to keep our villages thriving, with services and jobs for residents.

I am proud the Labour Party has committed to a five point plan to revive local high streets. The plan includes banning ATM charges and halting post office and bank branch closures.

Labour believes that small businesses need help with the burden of business rates, and that online giants need to be made to pay their fair share. Our villages also need good public transport and access to banking, which is provided as a service to residents. It is not there only to make a profit.

Kim Snape

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate