The importance of ensuring the needs of the small business community are understood by those in power has been at the heart of much recent FSB lobbying work in Gloucestershire and the West of England.
The whole region was, of course, heavily embroiled in the General Election but before that vote even took place FSB was hard at work making sure our voice was heard clearly by the candidates aiming to become the most important and influential politician in the West of England.
For, at the start of May, FSB members joined thousands of other voters in the West of England to vote for the first ever local ‘Metro Mayor’. The newly-elected Mayor will play a huge part in key issues that affect business – local infrastructure, transport, skills etc - in Bath, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and we were determined as an organisation to get our message across to candidates.
As a result we produced a four page manifesto called 'Back The 98%' based on the fact that over 98% of the 44,000 businesses in the West of England LEP area are small or micro. Our manifesto focused on our ‘asks’ of the new Mayor including calling for consultation on any major infrastructure or business rate levy plans.
Armed with our manifesto, we held excellent face-to-face meetings with four of the leading candidates from Labour, UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and the eventual winner, Tim Bowles from the Conservative Party.
All of the candidates were pleased to hear about our manifesto and expressed their support for the small business community and now that the area has elected Mr Bowles as its first ever Metro Mayor and we have already arranged another meeting so can do our best to maintain a good working relationship for the benefit of all local FSB members.