Joint lobby to call for action on business rates

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BUSINESSES are to join St Edmundsbury Borough Council in lobbying Government to reduce the impact of business rates.

The joint lobby pledge was described by council leader John Griffiths as one of the practical outcomes of its statutory annual business ratepayers’ meeting last Thursday.

Cllr Griffiths said: “The council neither collects nor receives business rates. We’ve been lobbying but agreed to do further lobbying jointly with these businesses.”

He added that the council tried to make the statutory meeting of real benefit to businesses, so this year invited speakers on apprenticeships and social media.

“They are two areas we felt would be beneficial to companies and to the potential apprentices,” he said.

Nick Claxton-Webb, Ickworth House Hotel’s head chef, spoke on apprentices, having five in his kitchens.

He said afterwards: “It’s not just for the young people but for anyone in the practical field. We don’t always get the people who are academically gifted and it gives them a route into the business.

“We get people who are motivated and really interested in the work and it gives you the chance to train people to think in the way you want.

“If you employ someone from the hotel down the road they don’t always share your ethos. We’re a family hotel and you get chefs who don’t want to do the kids meals, they want to do the high-end stuff.”

He said that over the past five years he had promoted three or four people who came as apprentices and he stressed that apprenticeships put employers under an obligation to keep their side of the bargain by ensuring good training.

Mr Caxton-Webb added: “I feel strongly about apprenticeships. I strongly believe they’re a good way of benefiting the business.”

The meeting, called Is Your Business Young Enough, also looked at how businesses can use social media, which was explained by Sean Proctor, of the Phoenix Internet Consultancy, on behalf of Menta.

James Talbot, St Edmundsbury’s economic development officer, said one link between apprentices and social media that came out at the meeting was that by taking on a young person a business was bringing in people who were familiar with social media and how it worked.