08 MAR 2017

Coastal Scene Column - 3rd March 2017

"This Wednesday is Budget day where the Chancellor will deliver his financial statement to a packed House of Commons. Before that though, I was grateful to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet me and a small delegation of MPs I put together to discuss business rates. Under the revaluation, three quarters of businesses nationally will either see rates fall or stay the same, however the average rise in rateable value in Aldeburgh High Street is 77% and further up the coast in Southwold High Street they are due to rise by an extraordinary 177%.

I pressed the case on behalf of our local small businesses and put across that both Aldeburgh and Southwold have a large presence of independent traders, which have made them stand out as different to the chain-only high streets. I asked him to consider the role of the mixed high street with tailored support. Without that, these thriving high streets could be much more limited in their offering to residents and tourists. The Chancellor is now very aware of the particular issue in Aldeburgh and Southwold and is considering my representation. I am pleased, as the Prime Minister highlighted in Prime Minister's Questions, that the case for helping small independent traders facing very high increases is being carefully considered.

Today (Friday), I am chairing the Suffolk Coastal Energy Delivery Board consisting of representatives from Government Departments, SCDC, Suffolk County Council and businesses including EDF and Scottish Power. The board has been put together to maximise the economic benefits to our local area from big energy projects such as Sizewell C and offshore wind with a focus on infrastructure improvements and skills.

Finally, this weekend is the Great British Spring Clean which follows on from the success of last years' Clean for the Queen. As an Environment Minister my message is not to drop litter in the first place but these big community cleans are a great way of bringing people together to tidy up our towns. Good luck to everyone who is taking part in a clean this weekend."

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