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Love your Local Shops – The Local Shop Report 2014

September 30, 2014 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, News.

More people than ever are visiting their local shops, up 2% in 2014, and they are employing nearly 12,000 additional people, a recent report shows.  In Bath there are 58 convenience stores across the city, employing 441 staff and providing a valuable resource, especially to the elderly and vulnerable.

comp00001 (2)Commenting, Don Foster MP said: “We are really lucky in Bath to have such a wide range of independent shops, and the local shop is a lifeline in the outlying areas.  I often pop out for a late night pint of milk.  These shops are a really valuable part of our local economy”.

The Local Shop Report published by The Association of Local Convenience Stores (ALC) sets out the importance of the local shop to the UK economy.  In Bath these stores employ 441 staff.  Of these 63% are women, 19% are aged 16 – 24 and 9% are over 60.

These employers offer valuable training opportunities to 207 people, in areas such as licensing, and a wide range of services from mobile phone top ups, cash machines and hot food to go.

The ALC are campaigning for more support for this valuable resource including business rate reform, changes to planning policy and support for entrepreneurs.  Liberal Democrats have already delivered in many of these areas including:

  • A £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund to help support growing businesses.  The number of small and medium-sized businesses supported through the Regional Growth Fund has trebled over the past year to 5,100, helping businesses to create more jobs and expand into new markets.
  • Bath and North East Somerset is part of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. These are partnerships between local authorities and businesses, each with an enterprise zone that can take advantages of tax incentives and simplified local planning regulations.

Commenting, Steve Bradley, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bath said: “The range of independent retailers in Bath is one of the things that makes our city special. I loved the diverse aspect of Bath when I first moved here in 1991, and it’s improved and grown since then. I’m championing local small businesses in whatever way I can, even featuring a new one each week on my website. I’m glad that these figures show so many local residents are very supportive too.”

More information about this report can be found at www.acs.org.uk/research

Foster adds voice to MPs in trains bid

Bath MP, Don Foster MP has joined a cross-party group of ten Members of Parliament calling for a new direct rail service between Oxford and Bristol.

The proposed route bath_spa_railway_stationwould connect Bristol, Bath, Chippenham and Swindon to Oxford and Bedford, and is the key to unlocking the campaign to re-open local stations along the route. In their letter, the MPs call for the service to be included in the next Great Western franchise.

Commenting, Don Foster MP said: “A direct Oxford to Bristol rail service would release some of the pressure on the current services through Bath. The more rail options that are available to people the less traffic there will be on the roads.  I am happy to add my name to this cross-party effort, and call on businesses and major employers to voice their support.”

The group of MP’s, which includes Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, urging him to introduce the service and requesting a meeting with him to discuss it.

Steve Bradley, Parliamentary Campaigner, added: “Passenger numbers are growing rapidly, and this measure would help cope with that. A move to make it easier for people to visit Bath is a positive one, with so much of our local economy reliant on tourist visitors, particularly during the summer months when being stuffed in an overcrowded train carriage is no one’s idea of a holiday.”

The cross-party group consists of the ten MPs representing constituencies with stations along the proposed route. They are:

  • Duncan Hames, Liberal Democrat MP for Chippenham
  • Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath
  • Nicola Blackwood, Conservative MP for Oxford West and Abingdon
  • Robert Buckland, Conservative MP for South Swindon
  • James Gray, Conservative MP for North Wiltshire
  • John Howell, Conservative MP for Henley
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset
  • Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for North Swindon
  • Ed Vaizey, Conservative MP for Wantage
  • Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West

Commenting Caroline Roberts, Cabinet Member for Transport at Bath and North East Somerset Council said: “I very much welcome the call for the re-introduction of services to Oxford. Electrification will offer a faster and frequent service through our area, and re-opening of such stations will allow a greater choice of travel for travellers in our area.”

You can see the full letter here: Oxford-Bristol Rail Letter

MP supports Bath Peace Weekend

September 24, 2014 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath

Over the last week you may have noticed a sense of calm over Bath. As part of an international campaign, backed by the UN, a series of events have been taking place in the city with the aim of spreading the message of peace.

One of the highlights of the weekend was on Sunday (21 September) when a Peace Ceremony was held in Kingston Parade, in honour of Peace Day. Attendees included Bath MP, Don Foster, who delivered a speech to the many people who had gathered, and Steve Bradley, Lib Dem Parliamentary Campaigner for Bath.

Bath Peace Weekend, which was organised by Afrel Pounds, included Yoga for Peace at Yogi Bodhi, a Gig for Peace at St Alphege’s Church Hall and a Multi-Faith Walk.

Commenting, Don Foster MP said: “Sunday was a really great occasion and all thanks go to Afrel and her team of volunteers who helped put this together. The message of Peace is such an important one and it needs to be spread as far as possible.”

The Bath Peace Weekend was held in honour of UN Peace Day and in support of Peace One Day, an organisation set up by Jeremy Gilley that works to achieve ceasefire one day at a time, in one country at a time.

Commenting, event organiser Afrel Pounds said: “This ceremony was a celebration of Peace Day and we wanted to draw the attention of the people of Bath to Peace One Day. Don delivered a fantastic speech that really captured the spirit of the ceremony.”

Successes have already been seen in Afghanistan with the Taliban, where in recent years there has been a massive reduction in violent incidents on Peace Day. This has resulted in medicine and supplies being flown into areas not normally considered safe enough to go to.

Afrel Pounds added: “These events are important because the more people that know about Peace One Day, the more influence it has when its message is taken across the world.”

Work has now begun in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a ceasefire in 2016. For more information visit www.peaceoneday.org.