Northwich boasts some fantastic small businesses so let’s celebrate them on Small Business Saturday (December 3), which is now in its 10th year.

As well as encouraging shoppers back to Britain’s high streets, the day is about banging the drum for entrepreneurs and small businesses across all sectors.

Not only do small businesses employ local people but they provide great products and services, adding to the richness of our lives as well as keeping the money circulating locally.

I’m particularly passionate about ensuring our high streets not only survive but thrive, and small businesses are what make our town centres attractive and distinctive.

It was great to see so many people packing into Northwich last Saturday for the lantern parade and Christmas lights switch-on at such an important trading time for retailers.

But businesses in a variety of sectors, including hospitality and retail, do need support having been hit by Covid and then further challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis, labour shortages and soaring energy costs.

Sadly, we have lost some well-known names from our town. Recently, we said goodbye to Hormbrey's Butchers who blamed a lack of footfall and the increase in energy costs.

Energy bill support for non-domestic users was only forthcoming after lobbying from myself and other MPs. But those sectors say six months’ assistance is not enough.

I am on record as saying I’d like to see targeted and extended support for businesses to help them get through this turbulent period.

A big unfairness is the outdated business rates regime that hits traditional brick and mortar stores much harder than the global online giants. Labour’s mission is to scrap business rates and replace them with a fairer system to create a level playing field.

Northwich Guardian: Witton Street in NorthwichWitton Street in Northwich (Image: Google)

On a positive note, Barrhead Travel recently opened in Barons Quay where there is interest in another three units. Hopefully the pre-Covid momentum in attracting tenants to the centre is now returning.

Northwich is a fabulous place with a real sense of history, its rivers, great community spirit and an enviable independent business sector.

With further investment in the regeneration of Weaver Square - to locate more residents in the heart of the town - and your continued backing, it promises to do even better.

I urge you to support small businesses not only this Small Business Saturday but throughout the year.