BUSINESS people had a chance to quiz their MP at an ‘in conversation’ event.

Southbourne on Sea Business Association (SoSBA) invited Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood to discuss a range of matters affecting their businesses.

He said: “I was delighted to discuss the budget with small Southbourne businesses.

“Lots of ideas and thoughts about how we can provide more support to SMEs, who are the workhorse of the UK economy”

Topics under discussion included extending the small business rate relief to all small businesses; the strategy for Bournemouth conurbation to raise its profile; alternative finance and initiatives for start-ups; the barrier presented by business rates policies for prospective high street businesses; auto-enrolment; licensing arrangements for the World Cup; and the Navitus Bay wind farm proposals.

Sam Acton, chairman of the association, said: “For two hours we were able to raise and discuss questions which are close to our hearts as business people and members of the Southbourne community. Tobias was able to learn from us and take away several action points. Similarly, he was able to provide us with direction and actions on key topics and most importantly share knowledge on projects and decisions in Westminster.”

David and Lynn Coleman, of DAL Strategy, said: “We were very pleased to participate in the first of these regular meetings arranged by SoSBA. The topics and discussion were clearly relevant to Southbourne businesses and it was great to see Mr Elwood’s passion for resolving local issues and hear his strategies for development in this area.”

Ray Woodill from Sunrise Senior Living of Southbourne said: “This was a wonderful opportunity for us to talk to our MP about the issues that are important in our quest for a vibrant Southbourne Business Community, one that our residents are proud of and visitors who contribute significantly to our local economy will be attracted to.”

High street trader Zelda De Hollander, of Studio Shotz, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to have an informal discussion with Tobias and the SoSBA management team about issues that affect us all, not just businesses but residents of Southbourne too.”