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Andrew Jones Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

Andrew Jones MP

Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

Local MP supports Small Business Saturday

The first Saturday in December is Small Business Saturday and local MP Andrew Jones spent the day highlighting the great work of small businesses across Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Andrew’s first stop was to meet newly-elected Chair of the Harrogate Business Investment District (BID) John Fox.  The BID raises fund by a supplementary rate on town centre businesses with a rateable value of over £20,000.  It is estimated that the BID will raise nearly £3million over the next 5 years.  The funds are spent on priorities determined by the businesses themselves.

The BID was established following a vote among businesses that would be paying the levy with an overwhelming vote in support of the proposal.

John Fox commented: “This may be a first for Harrogate but up and down the country BIDs are transforming our retail centres spearheading the fightback against online shopping and out-of-town retail parks.  Over the next five years we will be helping businesses reduce their costs by purchasing things we all need in bulk, using professional marketing to promoting our town centre and ensuring a high quality night-time economy too.”

One of the many supporters of the bid is Sue Kramer from Crown Jewellers on Harrogate’s busting Commercial Street.  Sue runs the street’s 4155-strong Twitter feed promoting the wide-variety of independent shops in the area.

Sue commented: “Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of the UK’s 5.7million small businesses to the local and national economy.  In Harrogate they give our town its distinctive ambience and are a magnet for local people and visitors from further afield.  From speciality cheese to brilliant coffee, stunning food to brilliant electrical goods, antique books to top-quality jewellery – Commercial Street is a prime example of the importance of small businesses.”

Andrew’s next stop was in Knaresborough at Art in the Mill; an original, contemporary and independent art gallery run by Knaresborough couple Andy and Elaine Grinter.  Set in the picturesque Green Dragon Yard off Knaresborough’s well-known Market Place, Art in the Mill has a reputation for promoting local artists in the converted flax mill which it calls home.

Andy told Andrew: “We have been in business here for 11 years and feel very much part of a community of small businesses in the town.  As a small independent we recognise that we can help local up-and-coming artists and this is a key part of our ethos.  It is a privilege to be associated with some of our region’s finest art.”

From Knaresborough to a rural small business where Andrew met Andrew Mearns, owner of Gmund Cars.  The business is a labour of love for Andrew who has built the business up from scratch.  Andrew Jones was shown the stages of the restoration process for classic vehicles and learnt about the sales end of the business too.

Andrew said: “Sometime people don’t realise that our rural areas contain a great many successful small businesses. I founded and grew Gmund cars at our showroom and workshop in Scotton making my passion for classic vehicles in to a thriving business employing eight people. Small Business Saturday is important because it enables rural businesses to be recognised as part of the small business family which often concentrates on the retail centres.”

There was one more unscheduled stop on the Member of Parliament’s visits.  While meeting constituents in Harrogate town centre Andrew Jones was approached by two people just starting their own small business that morning.  So Andrew popped in to see the new team at DiveShack, a business selling diving equipment and courses.

Andrew commented: “In addition to established businesses it was great to meet people starting out on the small business journey that very morning.

“It was a fascinating day where I learnt a great deal about some of our area’s small businesses.  What shone through was the depth of knowledge demonstrated by the businesses owners and their teams.  This knowledge was deployed with great passion to customers delivering a service and a product to an outstanding quality.

“It was also clear that our small businesses feel themselves to be part of the wider community.  That is why campaigns such as the local paper’s Love Your High Street initiative and Small Business Saturday are so important.”

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