A SHADOW minister visited Bournemouth to speak to businesses to discuss how a Labour government could support these companies to grow the UK economy.

Darren Jones MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, visited Arts University Bournemouth and met small business owners in Southbourne on Thursday, November 30.

At AUB, Mr Jones talked with business owners from Treehouse Digital, TurboGaming, Design in VR, Pretty Clever Studios and Element Creative.

They discussed the troubles small companies face in getting funding in order to grow, including difficult and complicated bid processes that consume time and resources, for not a lot of gain.

Bournemouth Echo: Daniel Cox, Darren Jones MP and Jessica Toale at AUB.

The MP for Bristol North West was joined by the Labour Party candidate for Bournemouth West, Jessica Toale, at the visit.

Daniel Cox, head of innovation and knowledge exchange at AUB said: “It was really good to welcome Darren here and showcase the innovative and exciting businesses that we have here in Dorset.

“There are a lot of really interesting, exciting companies here working with really cutting-edge technology, that kind of belies the image of us as a sleepy seaside town, or tourism dominated or finance sector dominated.”

Bournemouth Echo: Business owners discussed how the area was thriving due to the range of businesses available.

Later, Mr Jones headed to Southbourne, where he met business owners along Southbourne Grove, with the party’s candidate for Bournemouth East, Tom Hayes.

Company owners discussed how crime has progressed beyond shoplifting to wholesale looting.

However, they said Southbourne does so well because of the range of businesses available, and residents said they want more support for a varied high street.

Reflecting on his visit at the university, Mr Jones said that it was ‘brilliant’ to hear about the different types of businesses in Bournemouth.

“Lots of businesses that are working in the sustainability, net zero space, which is obviously a huge chunk of the future economy,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo: Mr Jones held a discussion with small business owners at the university.

“But really cutting-edge technologies as well, around virtual reality and 3D print and design that will underpin some of our huge strengths nationally, whether that’s in fashion and the creative sectors or in the service industry as well.

“It’s great to see that all of those are thriving here in Bournemouth.”

He said that a key takeaway was how the government can ensure universities like AUB can provide support to small businesses to help them get off the ground, so the economy can grow.

Bournemouth Echo: The business owners discussed problems they face in growing, including access to funding.

“We know that you have to have an inclusive approach to growing the economy across the country. You can’t, as we have had in the past, have areas that perform really well and other areas that don’t,” Mr Jones said.

“So places like Bournemouth are really central to that.

“You need to be able to provide the opportunities locally for people in Bournemouth to be able to create build great businesses here in Bournemouth and create good jobs here in Bournemouth.

“I know that Jess and Tom are really focused on trying to understand what an incoming Labour government can do, to help make that more of a success here in Bournemouth.”

Tom Hayes said: “Small businesses are having a tough time and need support.

“It was great to sit down and listen to local business owners in Southbourne with Labour’s shadow deputy chancellor of the exchequer.

“Labour are committed to supporting our high streets, the beating heart of our communities and local economy.”