Small businesses are the lifeline of our economy, creating local jobs for local people. From community pubs and butchers to corner shops and cafes, they make up over 99 per cent of all UK business. While it remains a challenging climate for many, these small businesses have shown impressive levels of resilience. Over the weekend, Small Business Saturday 2023 was one way that we could support and celebrate the incredible work they do. I spent some time in Monmouth town centre talking to business owners, including Prae Hamilton at The Whole Earth Thai Bistro and Yvonne Perry at Envee of Monmouth. There is a lot of concern about Monmouthshire County Council’s decision to scrap free parking and free bus travel at weekends in December. It does seem somewhat short-sighted to axe this long-running scheme to attract more shoppers into our town centres at Christmas, especially when they are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Despite Scrooges at County Hall dealing a festive blow, I very much hope local residents will continue to champion shopping at smaller retailers during the crucial months of winter trading and help to keep our wonderful small businesses in Monmouthshire thriving.
Catbrook Memorial Hall was full to nearly bursting on Saturday for the annual Children in Need charity quiz, which raised a fantastic £1,240. Alan Dedicoat, best known as the “Voice of the Balls” on the National Lottery programmes, returned to host an excellent evening of entertainment. There were plenty of laughs, brainteasers and merciless teasing! Alan was also presented with a special cake in honour of his birthday. I was delighted to attend alongside Peter Fox MS and my thanks to Richard Cobourne for the kind invitation.
I know everyone is greatly concerned about the continued loss of life in the Middle East. For once, all of the three major political parties agree there cannot be any lasting peace in the region while Hamas is still operating in Gaza. There is absolutely no doubt about the atrocities this militant terrorist group inflicted on Israeli citizens. With the permission of victims’ families, I and around 60 MPs and Peers gathered in a parliamentary committee room to view footage captured on mobile phones, CCTV and the cameras of emergency responders. I have written an article about it, which does not make for pleasant reading. But I think it needed to be said. The article is on my website at www.david-davies.org.uk
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 06 December 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 07 December 2023*