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Economical Weather in Wincanton - It Never Rains But it Pours

Monday 30 July 2012, 12:43
By John Smith

John Smith, Chairman of Wincanton Businesses TogetherAppropriate saying of the year (depending on where you live and work): it never rains, but it pours.

This is meant to be an amazing year when, with the added bonus of the Olympics bringing hundreds of thousands of extra tourists and competitors to our shores seeking gold, they are almost certain to find that here in the rainy UK, even gold is subject to rust. Like the vast majority, I hope that the Olympics will be an amazing economic success for our nation.

But my job isn't to cater for the nation. That is way too big for me and my team. Our job is much more focussed. Our goal is to help and encourage businesses in and around Wincanton. Daily we are reminded that our economy is nearing the u-bend in the economic toilet. But what is the effect on our local business community?

The threat of Pay and Display (thankfully resolved) was seen as a big evil that would seriously damage our local economy. The transfer of on-street parking to County control is also seen as a big evil that could damage the local economy. So far the on-street parking enforcement is only upsetting a minimal number of businesses. At this time I am only aware of one business who thinks it is damaging.

Chatting to a good number of High Street traders the picture is much more positive. They have seen lazy drivers penalised for abusing this valuable High Street parking facility to the detriment of others. If we all park sensibly and honestly there should be little or no fall-out. We can only hope that the national company now enforcing the parking regulations will work to the spirit of the law, taking into account the many grey areas where innocent drivers can be penalised, whatever they do. I am trying to get a response from them on this matter, but I haven't heard yet.

I find it sad that all too often we get jobs-worth service from such services. Small market towns like Wincanton and others usually end up at the hard end of political decisions of all colours. Every time such decisions are made our political masters need to take on board that they set in motion the circumstances that cause collateral damage, and they seem powerless to cater for those grey areas, other than to bury their heads in paper and say that "ignorance of the law is no excuse". I find that to be a very sad indictment of our local and regional politics.

That aside it's important that our business community is in a position to defend itself from all actions that can bring a threat to the stability of our local communities. We should be able to look with confidence to our District and County Council elected bodies for encouragement and support, but sadly over the years that I have lived in Wincanton that encouragement and support seems to have been in shorter supply year on year.

Maybe our current run of weather is a secret political decision to further weaken our local economies. Everything being done at the moment seems to have one single goal, and that is to arrange the transfer by stealth of finance from the pockets of all ordinary everyday people to the ailing coffers of District and County Councils.

Maybe we need to see the people of our District and County standing up and giving a clear message to our elected bodies that they are being hurt, and they need the elected bodies to have a re-think about their decisions, based on the hardship that they seem to be causing. WE see District and County spending money on their favourite projects, often to the detriment of normal everyday hard-working communities. If they get their own finances and motives in order, maybe we would all be a bit better off. Even the recent miserable weather helps weaken our economies. Who wants to go shopping when you look out and see bleak, dark skies and downpours?

It would be nice to know that we could count on positive help, but you can't. We chose to become self-employed. We chose to stand on our own feet. That's it in a nutshell. So as self-employed business owners we need to stop wasting time complaining as I have done above. We need to secure our own futures.

The only way to do that is to be more effectively in our markets. Business is all about people, not Councils or Governments. They simply exist to provide services, and in return take money from your profits to pay for it. The answer is to become a more efficient business community so that we see growth in all our businesses. All taxes tend to be percentage related, so the more you make the more tax we pay. I am fine with that, so that our political masters can use that money for education, health and in other ways to help those who, for whatever reason, cannot survive on their own strength. That is the sign of a healthy and strong society.

So I encourage all our businesses to take steps to ensure the future stability and growth of our businesses. I would strongly encourage all businesses to become members of their local Chamber of Commerce. Those Chambers are usually run by volunteers who have a heart for their local business communities. Unfortunately it seems that local businesses seem to be very unwilling to get on-board and help to bring about good solutions. They seem to be happier to jump on board for the odd free ride here and there.

I also encourage businesses to get involved with the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses). Maybe you don't know that UK Ltd is actually underpinned by SME's (small to medium-sized enterprises). Forget the banks and the huge conglomerates that steal the headlines. By far the biggest part of the UK economy is SME's. They are consistently more profitable overall than large and uncontrollable mega businesses, and I believe that they are also more supportive of local economies.

Look at your own communities and see which companies actually contribute more in your communities other than to provide jobs. Watch where all the profits go, and that can be an eye opener. Let's get our act together and build up our local communities. Strong local economies lead to strong national/international business.

Daily the news brings us one disaster after another. Massive money-filled contracts handed out by Government that time and time again prove they don't have the proper facilities to manage contracts. A few years ago the official EU accountants announced that they could not complete the EU accounts. They couldn't follow the money. If we ran our businesses like that we would all be bust. So today I encourage you all to declare a turning point in your businesses. Start to have a fresh look at your business. Cut out the wasting elements and beef up the good side. Make your business future proof and less reliant on help/hand-outs.

Let's have some "outside-the-box" thinking. If you have any positive and productive suggestions let's share them. Feel free to send them to and we will be happy to make them available to anyone who is interested.

Have a great summer.


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