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Council to ‘go local’ to help businesses

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | Business | Published:

Small businesses will be prioritised to deliver council goods and services as bosses look to pick up the town’s financial pieces from Covid.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said a new policy will see them opt to do as much business as possible with companies in the town rather than look further afield – particularly any linked to tax havens.

He said it was "wrong" to administer millions of pounds of Government worth of grants to firms in the borough to help them get through lockdown but then not support them afterwards.

Councillor Bird announced the new policy as he presented the authority’s current financial position and the impact Covid-19 has had on coffers.

The gloomy picture shows the authority is looking at extra costs of just over £11 million for 2020/21 with worst case scenario estimates suggesting this could rise to as much as £23 million by next April.

He added that, whilst Government funding received to date has been welcome, the message back to number 10 is "it is not enough" and they would continue to lobby for more.

Councillor Bird said: “It will be the policy of this administration going forward that we will prefer local businesses to do the services that this council requests.

“It is wrong that we have given grants totalling almost £50 million to keep our businesses going and then to look to place our orders for goods outside of Walsall.

“OK we have to be careful in relation to the tender documentation and the European laws on tendering.

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“However, I think it is right and proper we prefer our small and medium sized businesses based and paying their council and business taxes to this authority in preference to people who are nowhere near.

“Some of them, as I have seen from documentation I’ve recently had, linked to tax haven communities where they are not paying tax to the UK.

“I think that is a good policy to pursue in every opportunity and officers have the instructions to do that.”

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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