The first “It’s Thursday – with The Best of Haverhill” business meeting took place on 15th April at The Days Inn Haverhill. Three of the five Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for West Suffolk were invited to deliver their five minute manifesto for Haverhill businesses followed by participation in a fifteen minute question and answer session.
The event was well attended with over 60 representatives from local businesses, voluntary organisations and the press. It was good to see so many businesses and organisations at the event; I think this demonstrates just how much Haverhill businesses care about the future of our town.
The politicians really did engage with everyone and each other. Politics is a serious business and the future of Haverhill is a critical issue but there was a light hearted aspect to the event which made for a great atmosphere.
The first candidate to deliver their manifesto was Councillor Ohid Ahmed. A serving Labour councillor since 2002 and current cabinet member for Resources and Performance at Tower Hamlets.
Ohid spoke about Labour’s achievements with regard to businesses and the support that had been offered under Labour. He outlined Labour’s commitment to making the UK the best place in the G20 to set up and run a business. He explained how his experience, gained in Tower Hamlets, of improving the town centre, through a shop front scheme and providing loans to small businesses, could be applied to shops and businesses in Haverhill.
The Conservative candidate Matthew Hancock worked for the Bank of England as an economist looking at the housing market before beoming an advisor on economic policy to George Osborne and eventually Oborne’s chief of Staff, managing the Party's Treasury Team.
Matthew spoke about the differences between Labour and the Conservatives on how to manage the economy and help businesses out of the recession. He outlined the support that the Conservatives would give to help businesses and promote business growth, talking of the need to reduce business taxes and the removal of the burden of regulation to “get businesses moving.” His final point was on the level of investment in Haverhill over the five years since Haverhill had elected Conservative councillors.
The final candidate, for the Liberal Democrats, Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon is a Cambridgeshire county councillor. Belinda left school at sixteen and became a beautician, studying for a degree when a mature student. Belinda completed a PhD at the Law Faculty at Cambridge and is now a senior academic in Psychology at Birbeck.
Belinda started her manifesto by stating that she is a campaigner who is used to sticking up for local people, independents, and retailers, and knows the influences and pressures in Haverhill. Her theme was about 'bringing the best of Cambridge to Haverhill' and she saw the computer and bio-technology industry potential for the economic growth of Haverhill and was keen to harness that potential. Belinda outlined some of the policies in the newly publicised Liberal Democrat manifesto.
A question and answer session followed the manifestos which included questions on the voluntary sector and planning and town development.
David Russo from DRBS East Ltd, Property and Building Maintenance, won our business card draw and was presented with a beautiful floral arrangement created by Fiona’s.
Photographs of the event, taken by Kieran Cook, can be seen on http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=27705&id=242407984985 and a video of the candidates delivering their manifestos can be seen on Haverhill UK http://www.haverhill-uk.com/cgi-bin/hav/haverhilltv.pl?act=play&id=2717.