Eric Ollerenshaw column

Eric Ollerenshaw MP.

Eric Ollerenshaw MP.

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Last week the Government announced further measures to support local shops and high streets.

A number of initiatives have been launched to help firms with their business rate bills, for example, £1000 off rates bills for the next two for businesses with a Rateable Value of less than £50,000 as well as capping increases to 2014-15 bills at 2 per cent.

It was also announced that local businesses will be able to pay their rates over 12 instalments instead of 10, something I hope that will help with budgeting and cash-flow.

I do feel that our local shops and businesses are the very life-blood of our City and I hope that these measures will assist.

However I am also conscious that we too can do our bit and that is why I would like to encourage everyone to, when they can, shop local – we have a great range of shops and small businesses here in Lancaster – let’s make sure we keep them.

Locally I met with B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) and local doctors to look at what extra services could be made available with the roll-out of high speed broad-band in parts of our area.

However, I am also too well aware that some of our areas, such as Glasson Dock, are being left out of the British Telecom broadband roll-out – and I am in the process of challenging BT about this.

I was delighted to be able to make it to the ‘Ground Breaking’ Ceremony for the M6/Heysham Link Road and the remodelling of Junction 35 on the M6.

This does mean at long last real investment in the future.

I was also able to attend a public meeting in Caton to discuss plans by the County Council to cut evening and weekend bus services - in particular the local No 81.

I was pleased that County Councillor John Fillis, Cabinet Member for Transport, was also able to attend and answer questions from local people.

More importantly I have now some hope, following his comments at the meeting, that he and the ruling Group will take into account the huge opposition to these proposals.