How to best destroy local businesses

There is only one thing more scary for Enterprise Britain than our central government and that is our local government. They will stop at nothing to frustrate any progress. Whilst the FSA allows RBS and friends to go ahead and destroy the economy, increase interest rates on the few loans they still make and increase profits to almost obscene levels (almost as I actually love profits) it is making good progress in destroying small brokers and anyone else who tries to raise money for Enterprise Britain.

Local government is doing its bit also. As a bit of background, I live in Hastings, one of the most beautiful seaside towns we have. Hastings was developed very nicely by the Victorians thank you very much and has been systematically destroyed by successive councils. I cannot blame the local council so much as the county has taken it to a level of perfection. But an article in the local press, the renowned Hastings Observer, showed that the local government is not taking this lying down. It is going to do its bit also. It is going to put together a team to investigate the health and safety of local businesses. At least 150 will be investigated – that is if they can find that many.

It is worth keeping in mind that Hastings is one of the most economically depressed towns in the South of England, if not being in pole position. So getting businesses here is challenging at best. Unemployment is high, infrastructure deplorable (the trains and the roads leading down here are decades behind, internet is amongst the slowest in the country) so what does the council focus on? Health and safety!

They are planning their attack quite well. They have brought in the Health and Safety Executive to ensure they can inflict as much damage to business as they can. With some luck they will be able to close some businesses down – a few more jobs gone – fine others, so they can lay off a some people to recover the costs and then gloat about their successes in finding these criminal entrepreneurs.

Now before any of you start saying that health and safety is important, let me be clear: I think it is very important. I also think we have taken it to an almost unworkable level. Perhaps our council will show us how unworkable it is becoming. It will not be long before the Health and Safety Executive forbids sledding in public parks because of the risks in this exercise, or we have to do a full written and signed risk assessment every time we leave the house.

Last week I walked into a company and found somebody filling in two accident report forms. The individual and someone else were walking outside in the snow and ice and slipped. A normal occurrence in the winter. Two forms had to be completed, one for each slip. These then had to be sent somewhere, recorded in the accident book, a procedure had to be written about how to ensure it did not happen again (a sun dance was recommended) and when it was all done they could get to work. That is of course until the friendly inspector comes by and goes through the forms and the procedures and decides you did it all wrong.

Well done councillors – you really understand what is key to building business, employment and perhaps one day prosperity in your beautiful town. Keep it up!

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