MP meets local traders to discuss impact of recession
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has convened a unique meeting to enable local business people to have their say on the impact of the recession.
The Shadow Environment Secretary hosted the meeting in Arundel on 25 September together with Ian Fenwick, owner of local antique shop Antiquities and Chairman of the town's Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting focused on some of the key issues affecting market towns like Arundel and local traders had the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the Government's rural advocate and Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities Stuart Burgess.
Amongst the topics discussed at the meeting, attended by around 25 local traders, was the need for improved transport links. Barry Hopkins, director of the Lucy Catering Partnership, called for a new bypass to relieve congestion on the A27.
Keith Williams of the Arundel Community Partnership spoke in favour of a new 250 metre line of track at Lyminster, known as the Arundel ‘chord', which would make the town more accessible by opening up a direct rail link to Angmering, Worthing, Shoreham, Hove and Brighton.
The discussion moved on to a range of issues, including competition from websites like ebay and out-of-town shopping centres, the idea of a shuttle bus service to and from Ford station, the introduction of a park and ride scheme, the need for landlords to maintain historic properties occupied by businesses, and the congestion caused by the traffic lights outside Arundel station.
At the end of the meeting, Mr Herbert put forward the idea of organising a regular "business breakfast", similar to an event in Amberley, to provide a forum for local business people to meet up with their town, district and county councillors, MP and other community representatives.
After the meeting, Mr Herbert and Mr Fenwick took Mr Burgess on a ‘walkabout' through the centre of Arundel to meet traders and customers.
Nick Herbert commented: "It was a very useful and constructive meeting and I was delighted to see so many of our local businesses represented. I'm very grateful to Ian Fenwick for agreeing to host the meeting with me and to Stuart Burgess for coming down to see us. I think we managed to thrash out a number of important issues and I hope that Stuart, who advises the Government on rural policy, will take back some of the points raised."
Mr Herbert added: "I know how strongly local businesses feel about the importance of the Arundel bypass and I will continue to campaign hard for this improvement which is long overdue. I raised the issue once again with West Sussex County Council recently. I have also discussed the idea of a rail chord with Southern.
"We all know that money is going to be tight for a few years, but if Arundel and the coastal communities of West Sussex are to thrive in the long-term we will need to see major improvements in our local transport infrastructure as soon as they can be afforded."
Notes for Editors
1. The meeting was held at the Norfolk Arms Hotel, High Street, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9AB.
2. For a copy of the Commission for Rural Communities' latest report on the affect of the recession on market towns, visit http://www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk/events/ourlatestrecessionreporttothesecretaryofstatemarkettowns.
3. For more information on the Arundel Chamber of Commerce, visit http://www.arundel.org.uk/arundelcc/index.html.
4. In the photograph, taken during the walkabout, Nick Herbert and Stuart Burgess are talking to Ida Dunham of Arun Fruiterers and Florist in Tarrant Street, Arundel.