Mark Harper is MP for Forest of Dean, shadow minister for
disabled people and a chartered accountant by training. Here he reports back on the recession survival workshop he recently organised for businesses
in his constituency.

A few weeks ago, here on Platform, I wrote about my plan to hold a recession survival workshop.  The response I received was very positive and I thought readers might be interested in an update.

The original session had to be cancelled due to the snow fall in Gloucestershire that week.  However, we were able to hold the event the following week and, despite the short notice of the new time, we had 55 people attend from local businesses and organisations. 

Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, provided a very interesting overview of the current economic position and his view, as an accountant, of the state of the public finances and how this has contributed to the problems that small businesses are facing.

He was followed by Charles Curry.  Charles’ technology company, based in my constituency, faced bankruptcy when the dot com bubble burst in 2002.  He explained the steps that he took to turn things around and provided some insightful advice to struggling businesses.

The second session was started by Cllr Julie Girling who is a cabinet
member on Gloucestershire County Council and number 2 on the South West
European Candidates' List.  She explained some of the processes the
County Council is putting in place to support local businesses,
particularly those which supply the county council with services. These
measures include a 30-day payment guarantee and local business

Finally, Stewart Barnes from Business Link spoke about the support that
Business Link is providing to small businesses and some of the basic
steps that businesses should be taking during the recession.

Rather than provide a full summary, I have made a video of the event,
which is somewhat abridged, but I hope that you find it interesting.

I have had a very positive response from those who attended on the day
and I will certainly be holding more of these kinds of events in future
and setting up my own Business Forum in the Forest of Dean.  During the
recession it is especially vital that MPs maintain close links with
businesses to ensure that we are properly informed on what problems
they are facing, what can be done to help and what is and is not

Due to the peculiarities of Youtube, I have split the film in two.  I
hope that you find these videos below of interest and I would welcome any
further comments.

Part 1

Part 2