The OTCN inbox this month was dominated by expressions of concern and sympathy for fellow businesses who suffered damage in the disturbances we’ve seen in a number of cities. Concern based on an understanding that – in what are still very challenging times – business remains vulnerable. We need to do what we can to avoid or at least diminish potentially negative impacts and make the most of the positives.
It’s why – even in mid-summer – the county’s business organisations are asking our councils to be 100% ready to keep Oxfordshire plc moving in case of snow or floods, and urging members to do all they can to have contingency plans in place. It’s why there’s so much hard work in Oxfordshire’s towns to prepare Christmas lights events for the crucial December-January trading period. It’s the rationale for the lobby – led by the Federation of Small Businesses and promoted with typical gusto by Fallowfields Country House Hotel owner Anthony Lloyd – for a cut to 5% in VAT for the hospitality sector. It explains the strong lobby there’ll be to the City Council against any proposal to re-introduce parking charges at Oxford’s Park & Rides. And it’s why traders in Headington are following those in St Clements and objecting to Council plans to reduce available car parking space in their shopping area.
Different issues; but there is a common theme. The Government is relying on business to drive economic growth. Business owners, their staff and colleagues in council economic development and tourism teams are working full on to make that happen. But success will also depend on targeted initiatives to boost key sectors, and the temptation to introduce anti-business measures being strongly resisted.