Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FSB Business hustings at Allianz Park

Tonight we had the Federation of Small Business Election  hustings at Allainz Park.

The event started with  a 3 minute video/advert for the  FSB.

Chair Michael Lassman introduced the event by stating that under the coalition small buisness have lead the country out of recession by working 20% harder for 20% less money. There were murmurs of approval. With that he allowed the panel to intoduce themseves.

Alasdair Hill, the Hendon Lib Dem candidate said small biz  was the life blood of country. He said the Lib Dems had helped by jumping into bed with the Tories, thus putting (ministerial limo's) the country before party. He emphasised that only the Lib Dems committed to a strong UK in the EU.

Next up was Richard Hill Finchley and Golders Green UKIP. He runs local jujitsu club and is married to British Indian. He's worked in the UK and abroad. He loves foreign food, but hates an EU superstate (or words to that effect). He thinks over regulation from EU stifling business, because the  EU creates regulation. HE believes that you do not have to be in EU to trade with them, and that if we left the EU everyting would be just fine.
Next up we had Luke Parker,  Tory candidate Brent North. HE's the son of a pub landlord. He works for IBM. Rather bizarrely, he said his Dad spent his life in front of computer figuring out regulations, when he was small. I am guessing his age, but I'd say that when he was small, the only computers available were mainframes from IBM and not too many pubs had them in. Maybe he's just had a hard life and he's really only 14? He's paassionate about small businesses (although not enough to leave his job working for a multinational). He was pleased that 385,000 small firms paying less rates and that Govt procurement from 6 to 10% with small businesses.

Next up was Poppy, the Barnet Green. She told us that the greatest threat is sustainability. We need a Democratic voice and the other parties in hock of big business. She was here to reassert the right of small small business to vote green to stop other parties selling out. She believes in hyper localism.
Finally we had Sarah Sackman from Labour. She comes from small business background. Her Grandfather still lives above the family biz,  which has recently  gone on line. Sarah believes there is no contradiction between wealth creation and social justice. She feels there is no justice if for millions work doesn't pay and  millions work every hour and can't pay bills.

The 1st question was about min wage & London living wage.
Luke supports London Living wage and believes it can help rebalance economy
Poppy said the Greens been pushing longer than everyone and we need a less polarised society. She observed very few jobs lost to living wage.
Sarah said that raising people out of poverty is a key priority and can be done by strengthening living wage. She advocates Tax rebates for employers who opt in to living wage. 
Richard said  there are two aspects. It affects small biz and  that regulating market creates black market. It's all down to EU that we have a bigger black market than ever.
Alasdair Hopes for an increase in minimum wage.

Q. Which of their parties policy is best and worst for Small business
Sarah said the best is to cut and freeze biz rates and the worst to increase nat min wage.
Alasdair said best is  small biz bill forcing large companies to pay SME's on time. The worst was the commitment to capital investment is too slow
Luke said the best is getting finance to SME's . Worst and the worst were policies that don't help thehigh street.
Richard said the Best was to leave the EU and cut regulation. Worst. I don't know as he waffled about nothing in particular.

Paul Shea, former owner of Tally Ho discount asked  "do candidates recognise the damage done to high street by council parking policies"
Poppy said Paul is a prized campaigner. New pay by phone policies had terrible caused decline and Barnet was the worst council in the world. Starbucks don't pay their taxes. She said it is Not ok to let high street die. She will raise rates relief, reduce vat on cooked food.

Helen Michael, Finchley traders campaigner then stood up. She explained that she'd represented traders of North Finchley. In 5 years they'd collected 20000 sigs, attended meetings but all actions had been ignored. Arrogance & ignorance of councillors was unbelievable. Traders need a helping hand. She said time for politicians to stop talking and take action.

Luke said the problem comes from lack of disclipline in Council (maybe he's a fan of 50 Shades of Grey).
Richrd said Councils don't care about small biz. He said the public don't eaither as we all shop at Tesco and Sainsbury. UKIP have policy of local referendum, where 6% of local voters can trigger a referendum to address such issues.

Xohan, a local trader asked,  do you support local council planning control
Alasair said betting shops are a scourge. Greater restrictions on betting machinesare needed. He said we need imaginative localised planning regimes.
Sarah said  it is ironic that Barnet council Tories claim to champion local business yet has facilitated the demise of local High St. She will lobby the council to bring in fair parking and that local authorities need to be able to spend tax locally

Q. Lots of SME's have problems accessing finance.
Luke. Obviously an issue. Tories have prioritised over last 5 years
Poppy. Big banks haven't lent. Greens will control banks and  Break big banks up.
Richard rather uncharitably replied "Beware green communist" (he clearly doesn't know his political hisory). He added the current govt only interested in big corporations
Alasadir said the Greens &. UKIP miss the point because the coalition has released £3 bil of financing for SME's.
Sarah said one thing we need to address is competition in lending.

Q. Which party will bring criminal prosecutions against bankers. 

Sarah said we need to send out a message that bankers that it is unacceptable to break the law.
Luke said that  vilifying banks all the time is a bad things.

Local Tory agitator Dan Hope tried to trip up Sarah Sackman with a barbed question about Sweets Way "Under what if any circumstances is it ok to squat in commercial property"
Luckily for Sarag, Richard rode to her rescue. He said it is Ok when no democratic accountability
Poppy added  that the  Unregulated. Property market cused the problem as Government has made it illegal to occupy private property.

A Question from UKIP Activist Victor Kaye followed. "The London plan for housing says 40% min for affordable housing. Lucky to see 25%"
Sarah said there was no contradiction between wealth creation and social justice and that affordable housing is too expensive. She added we need political will to build social housing.
Alasdair said the housing squeeze was hurting business as workers need  local places to live and  Direct action is OK in cases where democracy has failed, but protestors need to think of end game
Richard said the housing crisis is all the fault of immigrants.

Q. COuld the £50 billion for HS2 how could that be better spent?

Luke.  The money could be spent elsewhere, but didn't really elaborate.
Sarah. Supports HS2. And said that it is no accident that leader of Manchester council wants HS2. All this is critical infrastructure to keep the nation ticking over.
Alasadir Supports HS2 for redistribution of wealth. He commented that it is funny that the greens are against HS2 as they like public transport and hate air travel. He said he'd move the start of HS2  north ????
Richard said HS2 is complete madness aimed purely at centralising power in London and a new report by lords undermines biz case. Odd really that a candidate wants to take wealth away from his own rejoin/

Micael then finished witha 2 mins slot for each, asking

Where would you vote against your own party?
Luke said "If not in Brent North interests. He added that it is right FSB are apolitical but said we are nt facing New Labour but old Labour and his campaign needs dosh!"

Alasdair said "In the last 5 years Lib Dems stabilised the economy, will balance deficit and won't borrow as much as Labour"
Richard said . All parties support EU apart from UKIP. He added thatBritain isn't a democracy.

Poppy. All other parties  big biz parties and all support TTIP (Richard objected and said UKIP don't. The Barnet Eye helpfully suggested that UKIP & the Greens form a coalition).

Sarah said she was  Rebutting Luke. She said the tories were supposed to be a Tories a party of effort. Too many people working too hard for too little. Fundamental betrayal of citizens if top 1% are only beneficiaries.

And that folks was that!

No comments: