We can be cautiously optimistic that business is picking up

WHISPER it quietly, but many local small businesses are doing well.

In Hastings Old Town, some shops tell me they are having record months. In the rest of the town it is a more mixed picture, but not all bad.

Despite the doom and gloom around us, including the daily diet of bad news in Europe, there is cautious optimism at the coalface, or more accurately the shop front.

At the annual gathering in Eastbourne last week of Sussex Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce for the county, the news was cautiously up-beat for small businesses.

The only long faces at the meeting were the Barclays employees. Not because they aren’t doing their best to support their clients, the local small businesses, but because they are angry and ashamed of the scandal at the top of their organisation.

They do not want the outrageous behaviour of the investment bank at the top of Barclays to impact on the important lending work at their end. That is why it is so right to move ahead with the banking reforms that will separate out the two parts of large banks like Barclays.

I am seizing the moment to promote local jobs to local people by hosting a Jobs Fair at Sussex Coast College on September 27. For more information please check out my website www.hastingsjobsfair.com . There will be plenty of jobs on offer, and advice for those who would like it.

At a recent visit to Saga, one of the towns largest private sector employers, I learned that they are stepping up local recruitment, which is good for local employment opportunities. But I am particularly enthusiastic about the entrepreneurial spirit in Hastings and Rye.

At our recent competition for a woman entrepreneur with a £5,000 investment prize, we saw a huge array of talent and potential new businesses. The winners are ready to groom your dogs in London Road in St Leonards, at Barkers on Sea.

This week I joined the launch of Grub on the Go, the new refreshment trolley service on the London to Charing Cross line.

A fantastic private initiative to replace the subsidised version previously commissioned by Southeastern.

This new business is owned and run by the employees (of which there are 10), has been helped by Southeastern, and by local talented business and marketing people who are determined to make this work. And the coffee is good, and the beer local!

There are many new businesses popping up in Hastings and Rye. Sure, they will not all succeed, but I know that the best will.

Remember, they need your help to succeed. So let’s all make sure that we support local businesses, and always buy our coffees on the train.