Belfast Telegraph

Politicians support seasonal bid to boost small businesses

By Clare Weir

Belfast and Comber are to participate in the UK-wide Small Business Saturday event next month.

It is set for December 7 and is designed to encourage shoppers to support local small businesses as part of their Christmas shopping.

The scheme is championed in the UK by Chuka Umunna, the shadow Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, and supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Minister for Skills Matthew Hancock.

Belfast city centre has been hit hard in recent years due to the recession, adverse weather conditions and the Union flag protests and the scheme has been welcomed as a means to revive trade.

Glyn Roberts (right), chair of Small Business Saturday in Northern Ireland, said that it was important that shoppers come out and support small local businesses.

"Small Business Saturday is not just a shop local campaign it is about highlighting the huge contribution all of our small businesses make to the economy in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK," he said.

"It is our national entrepreneurs day celebrating the jobs, investment and service our small businesses provide for us all.

"We urge consumers to make a special effort to support their local shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, manufacturers and as many other small businesses as possible on December 7.

"This has been a difficult year for local small businesses and independent traders and we hope that Small Business Saturday will be the start of a much needed boost for them this Christmas."

He also urged shoppers not to be put off from visiting Belfast following Sunday night's failed car bomb attack in the city.

"We would urge consumers not to let the mad men behind this attack win by cancelling either their shopping or socialising in Belfast city centre during Christmas," he said.

"Like many town and city centres in Northern Ireland, Belfast has a fantastic retail and hospitality offer and we would urge local consumers to exercise their civic duty and support our local traders in these tough times."

Last week the Ministers for Finance, Regional Development, Employment & Learning, Justice and Social Development formally launched Small Business Saturday in Northern Ireland.

The launch also featured the shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, Steve Pound, UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt, SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, MLAs, councillors, business organisations and local traders, as well as the Small Business Saturday bus, which visited Northern Ireland as part of its national tour.

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