On Thursday evening ART hosted a hustings event for the upcoming General Election. All candidates were invited to come along and answer questions from our members and other local traders, and the evening was a great success.
We were joined by our current MP Jesse Norman, the Lib Dem candidate Lucy Hurds, Diana Toynbee of the Green Party, independent candidate Jim Kenyon, and on behalf of Labour candidate Anna Coda who was unwell, her husband Steve Hancock. The UKIP candidate didn't respond to our invitation.
Members asked questions about a number of contentious issues including business rates, the national minimum wage, charity shops, education, and transport, and it was clear that many of these issues deeply concern businesses our town.
ART committee member Helen Kiddy felt that it was important to organise this event. She said "It is essential in the run up to an election to bring the traders together to discuss matters that concern their businesses, separately to the events for the public. We wanted to provide an opportunity for business owners to speak openly about issues that they feel passionately about, and we appreciated the candidates taking time to meet with us. It was a very useful evening."
We would like to thank all traders for attending the event, and committee member Penny Lowe for acting as Chair for the evening. We were also extremely grateful to the Chase Hotel for hosting the evening and providing us with refreshments.