Rye Chamber of Commerce met with shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry and Labour Parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, Helena Dollimore, last Saturday (December 3, Small Business Saturday) to showcase the town’s Christmas festival and to discuss the economic challenges that Rye faces and possible policy solutions.
On one of the most important trading days in the town’s calendar, the shadow minister and Ms. Dollimore had a chance to tour the high street which is proudly made up almost entirely of independently owned shops and businesses. The Christmas festival has only been made possible by the collaborative efforts of business owners determined to encourage footfall in the town.
Rye businesses deliberately chose to hold their Christmas festival on Small Business Saturday in order to ride the publicity wave generated by this national awareness day and encourage locals and visitors to shop independent.
Jane Brook, chair of the Rye Chamber said: “We discussed with the shadow minister and candidate Helena Dollimore what we see as the top three threats we face – the lack of a taper on VAT for small business is punishing; the radical revaluation of business rates means that some businesses that previously qualified for small business relief will no longer benefit, and the abrupt and unprecedented hike in energy and other costs is hitting hard. Sadly some businesses simply won’t survive this triple impact. There has to be a serious rethink of policies designed to enable small businesses – the engine of our entire economy – to survive and thrive.”
After the meeting, Helena Dollimore, Labour’s candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “It’s great to mark the tenth anniversary of Small Business Saturday by speaking to the small businesses in Rye. It is our independent shops, cafes, pubs, and hotels that do so much to enrich our lives and our community across Hastings and Rye, providing jobs, training, and driving economic growth. I would also like to thank the work of Rye Chamber for all they do to give our local businesses a voice.
“Businesses tell us how hard recent years have been, and now they face further challenges like unfair business rates, supply chain issues, and soaring energy costs. That’s why I am delighted to have taken several of our local Hastings and Rye businesses to meet Keir Starmer last week and bring Emily Thornberry to Rye high street today to hear this first-hand.
“We have also shared our new plans, like overhauling business rates and getting the tax balance right between bricks and mortar businesses on our high streets and online giants like Airbnb. A Labour government will launch the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, with support for small businesses to help them thrive at the heart of our new approach. We will also support the self-employed by extending protections like the right to sick pay.”
Also, Emily Thornberry, shadow attorney general said: “It has been good to hear from small business owners in Rye today about the challenges they are facing and how Labour can support them. Labour has a plan that will make a real difference for business owners looking to get on, both immediately and in the long term.
“In Helena Dollimore, we have a Labour candidate who will listen to and stand up for small businesses across Hastings and Rye to ensure they can thrive.”
This news story was first published by Rye News on 8th December 2022, by Sarah Broadbent, Vice-chair of Rye Chamber Commerce.