Traders grill Boris

PUBLISHED: 14:35 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 25 August 2010

Traders grill Boris

Traders grill Boris

TRADERS anxious about the government s emergency budget had the chance to grill the London Mayor in a Question Time style discussion.

TRADERS anxious about the government's emergency budget had the chance to grill the London Mayor in a Question Time style discussion.

Boris Johnson fielded questions from more than 300 concerned audience members from all corners of the capital for 'Small Business is Big Business' at The Mermaid Centre, Blackfriars on Monday.

Panelists included Sue Terpilowksi, chair of the London Policy Unit at the Federation of Small Business, Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Anthony Browne, the mayor's policy director for economic development.

One of the mayor's key pledges was to push for revenues from banks propped up by taxpayers to fund business rate relief for Londoners in a bid to kick start the economy.

When Mr Johnson visited New Eltham High Street in the run in to the general election, top of the agenda for many struggling traders was to slash rates.

Asked by an audience member what should be done with cash from banks that were bailed out now that they are back in profit, the Mayor said: "The best thing the Treasury can do with the cash, what we need to do with it, is see support for the capital's firms by offering business rate relief."

"If you look at some of the rates they have gone through the roof and are among the highest in the country."

Conference members were anxious about the impact of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat emergency budget launched the same day.

Sue Terpilowski said: "We hear a lot about small businesses being the backbone of Britain but then legislation comes out that damages those same businesses."

The plans call for cuts to higher education, forcing colleges to axe programmes such as English and numeracy for adults.

The conference was held the day before the Mayor launched the findings of the Outer London Commission, which has produced a report detailing the economic prosperity of Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich and other outlying boroughs.

The Outer London Commission report addresses the disparity of job growth, outer boroughs growing at half the central London rate. The Commission goes on to identify factors limiting prosperity in certain areas, and recommends policies and proposals for future development.

Boris Johnson said: "During these challenging economic times, it is vitally important to do everything we possibly can to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute to and benefit from the economic strength and diversity of the capital.

"Tapping into and investing in the economy of Outer London boroughs is absolutely key to achieving this.

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