Do you have a background in business?
I used to be Business Development Director of The Grass Roots Group plc, which is part of the WPP stable. After losing my seat, I joined West End Studios in Eastbourne as their Business Development Director. West End is a successful events and exhibitions company which specialises in the pharmaceutical sector. I have worked for over twenty five years in business both in the UK and in Europe. I believe it gives me a solid grounding in appreciating the value business, large and small, brings to UKplc, something I am always keen to promote as a politician.
How would you describe the business landscape in your constituency?
Eastbourne has a thriving SME sector across a wide range of areas. From professional services to retail, tourism, building firms, care homes and all points in-between. Larger enterprises include being the centre of pump manufacturing in the UK along with the largest book supplier in the country, Gardner Books, plus some major hotels.
What are the main issues facing businesses in your constituency and the county?
The re-rated business rates are a challenge for many companies and hotels/guest houses in Eastbourne and beyond. I believe this needs re-visiting and will press the government on the issue. Brexit and the attendant uncertainty is also a concern. Business for very obvious reasons dislikes uncertainty because it makes it difficult to plan for the long-term but as it is a reality, we have to deal with it as best we can.
Though a Remainer I accept the result of the Referendum but hope the recent election will mean a more open and sensible deal can be forged with our European partners rather than a hard exit. Tariffs between us and the EU will not be be good for either side, so I hope common sense in the negotiations will prevail. I will lobby the government hard over this!
How can our local politicians help our businesses thrive?
It is absolutely vital in my view that local politicians work closely with their Chambers and the FSB to both support business in their own constituency as well as act as advocates with government. I am also particularly keen on supporting new business to get off the ground and to thrive. Being actively involved in all this is and always was a priority for me when I was last the MP.
Aside from business what are the other key local issues?
East Sussex suffers from a lamentable transport infrastructure which must be a priority for all of us. The Southern Rail dispute has been very damaging to the economy, and resolving it will be a priority for me. Equally the road network is poor and in my own case, the A27, is a road which would have been inadequate in the 70’s let alone in 2017. We must all work together to persuade government to invest more in our road and rail if we are to succeed as a region in the long term.
More generally, what do you hope to achieve as an MP?
My priority has and always will be Eastbourne and securing a decent future for the town and it’s people. This is what gets me out of bed every day and it’s what I am determined to achieve in my time as the MP.