Budget 2018: Shops get Budget aid but Harrogate firms '˜need more'

The owner of a Harrogate bookstore who hit the national headlines after highlighting the struggles of independent  traders  has backed new measures to help local businesses, but says more needs to be done.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 1st November 2018, 2:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 2:13 pm
Georgia Duffy of Imagined Things
Georgia Duffy of Imagined Things

Echoing what many in the town’s small business sector have told the Harrogate Advertiser, Georgia Duffy, the owner of Imagined Things, says measures delivered in the 2018 Budget are ‘promising’ but says further support is needed for our High Streets.

A package of measures were unveiled on Monday in the Government’s £100 billion spending plan. They included a £650 million Future High Streets Fund and a two-year cut in rates for small businesses.

While welcoming news of the changes, Georgia Duffy (pictured) said businesses on our high streets have ‘been in trouble for a long time and more could have been done sooner’.

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In the build-up to Christmas, the Harrogate Advertiser, along with sister Johnston Press titles from across the country, has launched the Love Your High Street campaign in conjunction with Card Factory.

She wants to see more of an ‘even playing field’ for the independents as they fight for trade alongside large online stores. “I think it’s a good start and I do really think the news of the rates is a great thing, but I just think with the level of empty shops there is more that can be done, certainly a lot more to even the playing field,” she said.” “Things seem to be vague at the moment as to how it will all work. Many online companies seem to be getting away without paying anywhere near the level of tax or costs you would have to pay to be on the high street.”

The Advertiser’s Town Centre Survey had previously highlighted a desire for a better deal for businesses, with the majority of our 800 survey responses calling for changes to business rates.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, believes the Budget offers a ‘significant change for businesses,’ offering an opportunity to ‘regenerate’ our high streets.“I think this will benefit all of our high streets, and not just the major ones, but smaller shopping areas around the area, Cold Bath Road, Kings Road, Leeds Road shops,” he said. “All are going to benefit, with the smaller units getting this cash boost to stay competitive.“The funding is there to help local councils to regenerate their high streets. We want our high streets to be strong.”

Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Judith Rogerson, said: “We have been calling for business rates to be scrapped and replaced with a fairer system. The fund is a step in the right direction, but I am concerned that this is just a sticking plaster rather than a long-term solution.”