Since restructuring to allow local members to take up local campaigning in task and finish and special interest groups, the Federation of Small Businesses has seen a number of members take on local issues with their high streets and town centres.
One such example of a local member getting involved is in Kettering, where FSB member Simon Cox (pictured above) and a group of small business owners have been highlighting issues with the council in the hope of rejuvenating the town.
Simon Cox, founder of the Kettering Business Network and social media marketing company Red Octagon, Sarah Franklin of Sarah Franklin Solicitors, Alison Holland from social enterprise Brightkidz, Donna French, a retail expert from Inspire to Evolve and high street retailer Davina Parkhouse from the Beanhive have been meeting recently to formulate a plan.
As a result, the Kettering Town Centre Partnership was formed in February 2019 to bring local businesses, stakeholders and the local authority together on a regular basis to focus on the Town Centre and to work together as one for the town.
Simon, who attended the FSB volunteer conference in London in February said “We’ve met with local businesses and representatives of Kettering Borough Council to discuss the town centre on a number of occasions in recent weeks and are meeting regularly to discuss what the future of Kettering looks like.
There are national changes going on at present with our town centres and high streets with many of the high street brands closing stores across the Country and the increase of internet shopping. Kettering has lost its fair share recently and it’s time for us to stand forward to play our part in potentially shaping what the future of our town centre will look like.”
“Our town centres aren’t all about retail though and we are looking at how we can introduce some new ideas and fresh energy to our town centre by working as a group.”
Michael Weedon, local businessman and chair of FSBs National Retail Policy Unit told us “it’s good to see campaigning activity going on by businesses keen to use their local expertise on the issues that affect them most.
FSB has been lobbying national government on high street issues, and the resulting Future High Streets Fund and business rates concessions have been welcomed. FSB has also published ‘77 ways to support small businesses’ for local authorities, however on a local level these asks are hugely strengthened by support from local members.
Online and out-of-town retailing combine to drain footfall from our towns and as larger retailers close up shop accordingly, the future for our towns will rely crucially on making them the most attractive places that they can be in which to spend our time and money. Success will require local leadership, public investment and increasing numbers of small town-centre businesses.”
If you would like to tackle a local issue or idea with an FSB-supported project or special interest group, please contact Jennifer Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.