PORTSMOUTH’s small businesses have been praised by a government minister.
Sajid Javid, the former business secretary, backed the city’s independent shops during a visit to Southsea yesterday.
I have seen some very exciting businesses in the city today and the key to growing business in cities like Portsmouth and boosting our high streets is to continue our strong economySajid Javid, Communities Secretary
The communities secretary was given a brief tour of businesses in Southsea such as The Garage Lounge in Albert Road and met renowned designer Alison Gardiner.
Mr Javid told The News that 510 new small businesses had opened across Portsmouth over the past seven years and pointed to ‘a strong economy’ as the reason.
He said: ‘I have seen some very exciting businesses in the city today and the key to growing business in cities like Portsmouth and boosting our high streets is to continue our strong economy.
‘Portsmouth is experiencing serious job growth right now with unemployment in Portsmouth South falling by 60 per cent since 2010, so more people have money in their pockets and that will lead to stronger footfall in shops.
‘We have also managed to keep business rates low, which is encouraging more small businesses to get going in the city.’
He added that when it came to tackling empty shop units on the city’s main shopping streets such as in Commercial Road, he confessed ‘there is no magic bullet’.
He said: ‘It takes hard work and perseverance to grow our high streets and to tackle empty units. There really is no magic bullet to solve the issue, but with stronger employment in the area this will continue to grow the city’s economy and lead to more businesses occupying these units.’
Mr Javid was in the city to support Tory candidate Flick Drummond’s bid for the Portsmouth South seat.
He urged voters to pick blue in next month’s General Election, stating: ‘To maintain our economy and to keep up the strong links between Conservative MPs, we need to make sure that we have people like Flick representing constituencies after June 8.’
Ms Drummond said of the trip: ‘It has been great to have Sajid down and to be able to show him the businesses we have down here in Portsmouth. It really makes a difference to have him here as it shows that the city’s importance is being recognised.’