South Cambs District Council leader sets out vision to improve small business support

PUBLISHED: 17:29 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 25 May 2018

New South Cambridgeshire District Council leader Councillor Bridget Smith, right, with council vice chairman Councillor Anna Bradnam, left, and chairman Councillor Douglas de Lacey at the annual meeting yesterday. Picture: SCDC

New South Cambridgeshire District Council leader Councillor Bridget Smith, right, with council vice chairman Councillor Anna Bradnam, left, and chairman Councillor Douglas de Lacey at the annual meeting yesterday. Picture: SCDC

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The new leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council set out her vision to improve the support offered to small businesses at the annual meeting yesterday.

Councillors Aidan Van de Weyer and Bridget Smith, pictured at the elections earlier this month, are now deputy leader and leader of SCDC. Picture: South Cambs Lib DemsCouncillors Aidan Van de Weyer and Bridget Smith, pictured at the elections earlier this month, are now deputy leader and leader of SCDC. Picture: South Cambs Lib Dems

The new leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council has set out her vision to improve the support offered to small businesses at the authority’s annual meeting yesterday.

Councillor Bridget Smith became leader after the Lib Dems took overall control of the council in the local elections earlier this month, winning 30 out of a possible 45 seats.

She told the annual meeting that the the district council would be looking at everything it does in the business arena to identify opportunities to offer even greater assistance to small businesseses.

A commitment to review the authority’s approach to its pre-planning application advice service for businesses was also announced.

A pledge to speed up the building of “truly affordable” and keyworker housing was made by the new leader, along with a commitment to put green issues higher up the authority’s agenda.

It was also announced that a Brexit Working Group will be set up, to work with South Cambridgeshire businesses facing challenges, due to Britain’s forthcoming exit from the European Union – and consider what practical steps can be taken to help them.

Mrs Smith said: “We want to put the heart into local government and we are hitting the ground running.

“We’re absolutely committed to helping local companies of all sizes flourish, so will do all we can to understand how we can help them achieve their aspirations.

“Right now, less than one business a week speaks with our planning team to get important advice before applying to alter their buildings or move into the area. So, we’ve announced we’ll look at how we can make this business-focussed planning advice more attractive.

“This could be one way we give new and emerging firms, and those looking to bring new jobs into South Cambridgeshire, a helping hand. There is lots more work for us to do in this area though as Brexit is a game changer and we must make sure South Cambridgeshire is ready.

“I’m passionate about boosting the amount of truly affordable and keyworker housing, and this is a top priority for us too. We’re also focussed on becoming an aspirational Council when it comes to being as environmentally friendly as possible, so I’m delighted we’ve announced the start of the process that aims to make South Cambridgeshire a green beacon.

“The council will be transparent, open and honest and I’m so pleased that we’ve started sharing our plans with communities.”

The annual council meeting also saw confirmation of who will be taking cabinet positions.

Councillor Aidan Van de Weyer – who represents Barrington ward, which is made up of Orwell, the Eversdens, Wimpole and Barrington – is now deputy leader, as well as the district council’s lead member for strategic planning and transport. He’ll also represent the authority on the Greater Cambridge Partnership board.

Melbourn councillor Philippa Hart will take on the portfolio of customer service and business improvement.

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