Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Business group spells out what it wants from north and north-east councils

The headquarters of Highland Council, left, and Aberdeen City Council.
The headquarters of Highland Council, left, and Aberdeen City Council.

With the clock ticking down to Thursday’s vote, David Richardson and David Groundwater of the Federation of Small Businesses set out what they want council elections to deliver for small firms in the north and north-east.

If you run a small business, have you given any thought to Thursday’s local authority elections?

No? Well perhaps you should, for councils are the big beasts of Scotland’s local economies, and who gets in will help determine what your council does and how it spends its/your money.

Right now, the number-one priority has to be kick-starting local economies after the dark days of the pandemic.

‘Many businesses are in a bad way’

With the Russian threat, weak world trade and travel, inflation, shortages of goods and staff, and uncertain consumer demand, many businesses are in a bad way.

Indeed, our latest Federation of Businesses Scotland (FSB) research, undertaken in March and April, found the average Scottish small and medium-sized enterprise is less optimistic now than a year ago.

North and north-east firms may be down but they certainly aren’t out.

Given proper support, they can and will adapt and survive, and much of that support must come from their local councils.

FSB Scotland has produced a series of election manifestos called The Power of Local, in which we list some low-cost, high-impact measures new councils can adopt to really help their businesses, economies and communities.

Table showing the number of small and medium-sized enterprises by council area, together with their total turnover, headcount and debt.

First up, there’s the immense spending power of our councils, both in purchasing goods and services for their own use and in the personal spending of their staff.

We are asking councils to increase the value of goods and services they buy locally by a modest 2% per annum.

Taking the Highlands as an example, that would see an additional £5.8 million pumped into the local economy in year one.

David Richardson, FSB development manager.

Local authorities in The Press and Journal area employ more than 50,000 people.

Their wage bills are eye-wateringly large – about £335m in the Highland Council area alone.

For the past two years most council staff have been working from home, making it far harder for them to buy goods on high streets and much easier to buy them online.

We call for councils to return staff to their offices urgently to give our city and town centres a significant financial boost.

David Groundwater, FSB development manager.

While on this subject, we also want them to protect vitally important but vulnerable city and town centres by blocking out-of-town developments for the next five years, unless there is absolutely no alternative.

Councils can do much more to help by creating joined-up online systems in areas such as licensing and non-domestic rates, and by exercising extreme caution when implementing new schemes such as that concerning short-term lets.

And more grant support should be targeted at helping businesses on their journeys to net-zero.

Levelling up

But it’s not just about protecting existing firms. If we want to maintain vibrant, well-balanced and growing populations, we must ensure all parts of our region are seen as go-to places to start up and grow businesses.

That’s as true of Shetland’s north isles as it is of Aberdeen, where the number of registered businesses has fallen by 5.3% since the last council election.

More money should be invested in Business Gateway services to encourage start-ups, offering targeted support for areas with significant untapped potential – such as women-led firms.

If we want to maintain vibrant, well-balanced and growing populations, we must ensure all parts of our region are seen as go-to places to start up and grow businesses.”

Finally, while no-one was prepared for Covid, the commitment from their councils and local businesses was obvious.

Both were able to think outside the box and work together to overcome major obstacles.

It is vital this is not forgotten and that councils continue to strengthen their ties with smaller businesses for years to come.

So, if you were of the opinion Thursday’s elections are not for you, please think again. Who wins could make a big difference to your business.

David Richardson is development manager for the FSB in the Highlands and Islands. David Groundwater has the same role for the business group in the north-east.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it

[[title]]