This morning, I attended the Walton on Thames Trading Alliance (WoTTA) ‘Big Breakfast’ event and gave a short speech about ‘Local Opportunities, National Challenges’. I welcomed the amazing initiative of Joanna Gordon and her WoTTA team, including most recently helping to organise Walton Heritage Day. We discussed key local business issues, especially the local impact of business rates on the High Street – which I have already fed back to Treasury Ministers. I also spoke about the huge opportunities in our local area, from the opening of two new free schools in Walton to the benefits we have already seen from Flood Re, a government-backed system which provides flood insurance to properties at risk of flooding.
Nationally, we are seeing resilient growth in our economy, and record levels of employment and direct investment, especially in technology. I took questions from the audience, mostly made up of local business owners on the challenge for retailers given the online competition, local crime, Brexit and the forthcoming Budget.
Again, my thanks to Joanna Gordon and her dynamic team at WoTTA for putting on the event at the 1955 Café in Walton – and my thanks also to Paul, the owner, for hosting the event. You can read more about WoTTA here.