Why is Welwyn Hatfield’s Conservative Council risking the future of local traders?
There is no shortage of stereotypical thinking in politics, and more often than not these assumptions and “accepted facts” prove to be anything but accurate.
There is little better example of this than in Welwyn Hatfield where the supposedly pro business Conservative Council are increasingly making it harder for small businesses to survive.
Hatfield Town Centre has been neglected for decades, but hardy business owners that have weathered this ongoing storm continue to trade, benefitting the local economy and keeping the Town Centre going.
But now, these traders are being hit with inflation busting rent and rate rises that could see many of them put out of business.
Back in 2010, the Coalition Government brought forward plans for local authorities to retain a portion of the business rates they collected. At that time, Labour raised concerns this could leave local authorities having to prioritise business needs over those of residents.
Unexpectedly however, the Conservative Council took a different view and it is clear that their intent is to squeeze every last penny out of struggling businesses regardless of the damage this could do to their ability to stay alive.
Of course, these changes to the Business Rates system have been brought forward by the Conservative Government, and this has seen many businesses, pubs and even hospitals face staggering unexpected bills , with the national backlash forcing the Government to consider making changes.
But knowing this was coming in, Welwyn Hatfield Council seemingly pumped up the rents for many traders (by as much as 3 to four hundred percent) ensuring that these businesses were fully hit by the new rates changes, as they would previously not have been.
A Conservative Council being severely criticised by the local Chamber of Commerce tells you all you need to know. The Council are no champions of local business, and their short sighted attitude risks our local economy.
Labour realises the importance of small business to our local economy. Small traders contribute more than simply rents and business rates, they are the lifeblood of our town centres creating employment and services that residents rely on.
The Conservative Council need to urgently review the impact their actions are going to have on businesses in Welwyn Hatfield before many of them are forced to close their doors for good.