While 4 July is celebrated as American Independence Day, the closest Saturday to that date has also for the past few years been designated as “Independent’s Day” – a day in which to celebrate the independent shops on our high streets and the contribution they make to our community.
There’s no doubt that times have been tough for our local traders just as they have been for us all. While we’ve all got used to doing more online – including shopping – there’s simply no substitute for having vibrant local shops as the heartbeat of our towns and villages. So, in recognition of the day, I took the rare opportunity of a free Friday morning last week to show my support by meeting with some shop owners in Inverurie, as well as with representatives of ‘We Are Inverurie’, to discuss how business is going.
There’s no question that the furlough scheme – as well as the decision by the Scottish Government to have a 24 month period free of business rates for retail, leisure and hospitality, has helped to keep many businesses afloat and in a position to recover again as life once again begins to open up. While governments can do their bit, what ultimately keeps businesses going is cash passing over the counter, the swiping of payment cards and increasingly, the hovering of phones making contactless payments.
Local shops all across Gordon offer great quality, choice, service and, importantly, they support local jobs and make our town and village centres great places to be. Our local traders have gone out of their way to make their premises safe to welcome customers back and now it’s time for us to give them our support in return. Let’s all resolve to do our bit to support local businesses by making them our first choice wherever we can.
Regular readers will be in no doubt about my stance on Brexit and the continued diminishments it forces upon us. The 30 June saw just such another diminishment, with the passing of the deadline for the ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ which required EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to register in order to be able to continue to work, study, and access free healthcare and benefits in the UK, following the end of the Grace Period on 30 June 2021.
As many colleagues from my own and other political parties have observed, this is a scheme that has ‘Second Windrush’ written all over it. Inevitably, there will be many people including children and young adults who, for whatever reason, will in years to come find themselves being told that they have no right to reside here, even if this is the only country they have ever known.
The right to live, work, travel and export freely was one of the great benefits which our EU membership brought us. We have benefitted greatly from immigration and the contribution that EU migrants have made to our society and economy – this is yet another act of self-harm that will diminish not just our prosperity, but also our standing in the world.
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