Wrexham Council has signed up to the Federation of Small Business ‘Small Business Engagement Accord’. The FSB say there are 150,000 small businesses in Wales, creating nearly £44 billion of trade. Around 90% of these employ less than 10 people.
Pictured signing the agreement above are James Dick Chester/Wrexham Chairperson of FSB, and Leader of the Wrexham Council Cllr Neil Rogers.
Signing up to the Accord shows agreement to 14 principles which promote the importance of listening to the views of small businesses – the 14 are listed below.
The Principles include nominating business engagement champions from among the business community and within the council, as well as encouraging greater consultation with a wider range of business and community leaders.
Cllr Neil Rogers, Council Leader, said “It is important the Council supports small businesses in any way it can especially during these difficult economic times. We continue to work closely with retailers to make sure we as a Council are as responsive to their needs as possible.”
John Walker, FSB Policy Chairman, said on the launch of the accord “During this recession, it’s absolutely crucial that local authorities proactively seek the views of small businesses and listen to their needs, so that they can provide them with the support they need to get through these tough times. In every area where a local authority has signed the Accord, small businesses will be able to put their views and concerns directly to decision-makers.”
The 14 Principles:
- Councils should nominate representatives to be “business engagement champions” whose role will be to ensure that the views of the local business community are considered at every stage of any consultation exercise.
- Council “Business Engagement champions” should be tasked with creating effective links with all sections of the business community.
- Councils should identify business owners that can be “engagement champions” within their local business community.
- Councils should look to “front load” consultations in order to ensure that engagement with the business community happens at the earliest stages of any consultation exercise.
- Local authorities must use recognized business organizations when consulting with small businesses.
- Councils must not regard consultation with just one business or business organization as an adequate consultation.
- Local, regional and central government should make consultation documents easier to understand and easier to respond to.
- Consultation documents should use the correct language for the relevant audience.
- Councils should employ a range of communication tools to promote better business engagement in consultations including, for example, utilizing consultation documents, newsletters, information on web sites, text messages, local media, or staff directly working with businesses.
- To increase attendance at consultation events councils should give greater notice periods in advance of any meetings.
- Consultation with the business community should not be limited to formal consultation exercises, but should be an ongoing dialogue. Councils should therefore look to hold at least one open meeting per quarter with local businesses and business organizations to encourage an open two-way exchange of information.
- Councils should not underestimate the ability of the business community to deal with strategic issues and therefore there should be genuine consultation on an annual basis with small businesses to examine council spending plans for the following financial year.
- Effective consultation should demonstrate to business owners the outcomes and the rationale behind the final decisions.
- Councils should work with their Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) to ensure that they communicate and consult with their local small businesses and business representative organizations and take on board good practice examples from well run, existing LEPs.
You can read our round up from the Town Centre Forum here , where small business and the council interact. It will be interesting to see how these principles are upheld and used by small business and the council!