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Peter Lamb: Small Business Saturday this weekend

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Small Business Saturday takes place this weekend. The annual event, now in its fifth year, focuses on the role of small businesses within communities and encourages people to use local retailers, services and suppliers.

Over recent years, the council has sought to support Crawley’s small businesses in a range of ways: we’ve helped provide small businesses with access to expert advice on a range of issues, we’ve run campaigns and events designed to encourage individuals and businesses to ‘Buy Local’ thereby creating local supply chains and keeping money circulating around our economy, and we’ve even provided grant funding to help some small businesses take on and train new apprentices, meet start-up costs or expand existing operations.

Within just the last few months, the council has launched its scheme for targeted business rate relief in the wake of the national revaluation, helping small businesses adapt to the change in their liabilities.

By supporting small businesses we not only ensure Crawley remains an area of high employment, but that residents have access to an increasing range of career opportunities.

Yet, what we do as a council is only one of many elements determining the success of small businesses.

For instance, businesses need to have access to reliable infrastructure and as the internet requires companies to cater to the needs of an increasingly distant customer-base, a fast and reliable postal system is vitally important.

So, it’s a concern for many that post-privatisation Royal Mail is now pushing for later delivery times. The postal service is part of our national infrastructure, not just a company, and for our economy to thrive it is critical that we as citizens and businesses all let Royal Mail know that whatever savings their shareholders might make from delaying deliveries simply isn’t worth the hit to our national infrastructure.

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Business

BREAKING NEWS: Sainsbury’s to close Crawley town centre store

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It has been an historic part of the town centre for decades, but now the supermarket on Queensway is to close its doors with the potential loss of jobs.

Image: Google Street View

Sainsbury’s says it has made the difficult decision after announcing it would close up to 15 supermarkets a year ago, pre-covid.

Sources close to the Crawley supermarket say that staff began finding out the news yesterday.

The supermarket said they would work with their staff at the site to try to find alternative roles within the firm.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson speaking to Crawley News 24 said,

“We have updated colleagues on the difficult decision to close our Crawley store and we are doing everything we can to find alternative roles within Sainsbury’s for those affected.

“Customers can continue to shop with us online and at our nearby stores. For example, our West Green store is a short drive away.”

Whilst a date for the closure has not been announced, some sources say it could be as soon as January ’21.

Cllr Peter Smith Cabinet member for Planning and Economic said:

“I am sorry for the staff that will lose their jobs at this difficult time when most supermarkets are reporting improving profits.

We have had enquiries from other supermarkets looking for suitable sites who may recognise that there will shortly be an additional 2500 residential homes just a short walk away from this prestigious location. We will be doing all we can to help find a quality occupier as soon as we can.”

Crawley Councillor Francis Guidera said:

“It is tremendously saddening to read that one of the original major shops in the town centre is closing. A lot of housing provision is currently being created in the town centre area and there is an increasing, not decreasing need for food retailers in the town centre.

We haven’t even begun to knock down the administrative offices of the town hall which will be replaced by a huge apartment block, and they are still building the first apartment block on the former council car park as I type this! I genuinely hope that another food retailer grabs the huge opportunity to take on that store.”

The news comes just one after one of the most iconic town centre independent store, P&J Sweets also announced they were to close.

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