EVESHAM Labour chiefs have echoed calls for more support for struggling town businesses as Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to deliver his Budget.
All three local Labour candidates in the May County Council elections are calling on the Government to provide more support for struggling businesses in Evesham and the surrounding villages.
The calls come after Evesham town centre has been hit hard by retail and leisure closures over several years, made worse by the current pandemic.
In the last few years, several big name stores such as the Co-op, and Bonmarche, as well as independent retailers like Abbey Hardware and Knights Menswear, have been lost to the town, while the majority of the retail spaces in the Riverside shopping centre are still vacant.
Mary Campbell, candidate for the Littletons and herself a small business owner, said: “We know there are dozens of small enterprises in our area which have had no income for months and yet are still paying bills and struggling to stay solvent.
“Some have not received any support as they are ineligible for furlough or other schemes. We need cheaper short term business rents to address the issue of empty premises. It is essential for the local economy that the Chancellor acts quickly.’
Richard Hales, candidate for Broadway, agreed: “With 12 per cent of employment in Wychavon from leisure and tourism, we are dependent on visitors, often from overseas. It will take time for hospitality businesses and many others to return to anything like normal following the pandemic and Government support must continue. Businesses also need clearer information from which to plan their activity.’
Helen Russell, who is standing in Evesham North and West, said: “Building back fairer will need imaginative investment in town centres like Evesham’s. The Budget must include increased levels of Government support to ensure that our town centre retail and hospitality can survive this crisis.
“Small independent businesses must also be given the conditions to thrive, while ‘tech giants’ pay fair taxes.”