Monday, 4 January 2010

Council gritting failure costing Brighton businesses dear


Every week the e-newsletter of the Brighton and Hove Business Forum drops into my inbox - and every week I spend a few minutes reading the stories and looking at the figures showing how many shoppers have visited the city - and what this means for local traders.

There are always links to interesting articles relevant to local traders, employers - and, of course, the staff and workers 'servicing' them. Here's a perfect example from today's edition - an analysis of high wages from the New Economic Foundation arguing that increasing pay for the lowest paid adds more social value than boosting the salaries of the highest paid (obvious really: when I learned economics at school this was simply called the law of diminishing returns). It's this type of analysis that feeds directly into Brighton Green Party's Living Wage campaign that argues the national minimum wage is simply insufficient to live on here - and for the city's lowest-paid to receive a pay boost of about £2-an-hour (subsidised in part by capping the salaries of the most grossly overpaid public servants).

But I digress. I could hardly believe it this morning when I opened my newsletter up this morning to read that footfall in Brighton - that's the number of people out and about here doing their shopping - was down by almost 50% on last year in the run-up to Christmas. For good or ill - that's supposed to be the busiest time of the year for retailers and local traders!

It seems it's not just the hundreds of residents who suffered broken bones on the icy pavements who were let down by the council  - it's local businesses too. The only good news about any of this is that Green Party calls for a full investigation into what went wrong have now been heeded - and, with ever more chaotic weather a near-certainty in future years, there is some hope that the council might learn a lesson or two in how to cope with it.

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