14 October 2020 by Steve Eminton

Keeping it local

Neil Grundon, deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management, says a post-Brexit world needs commitment to British businesses.


Our local hairdressers has one of those WWI Lord Kitchener finger-pointing posters with a caption underneath reading ‘our local businesses need you’.

I felt a tiny bit vindicated. Living as close to London as I do, if ever one strays from the globalist, all embracing, libertarian world view, one is instantly labelled as a ‘Little Englander’ and whatever other choice phrases come to mind.

I have never understood why buying British should ever be a bad thing, just so long as it is better than its foreign alternative or in the case of services, of a similar or better standard or cost.

This is a point that is not lost on the French who, in one of the biggest changes in the industry I have seen in my lifetime, have now effectively decided to reduce their waste management providers from two to one.

Veolia’s acquisition of a 29.9% share in Suez comes after Engie, part-owned by the French state, agreed to sell its stake and the move is seen as another step towards Veolia taking over the rest of the Suez business.

In doing so, Veolia has guaranteed to retain 100% of jobs and social benefits for all Suez employees in France and guaranteed the continuation of a French operation.

Lucky them is all I can say.

There have been comments to the effect that the deal is to help build a bulwark against potential Chinese interest in the French market, especially given their strong links with the German Energy from Waste industry.

Protectionism

Whether that is true or not I can’t say, but I do know that it is protectionism of a type that we haven’t seen in the UK for decades.

And when I say lucky, it’s not just because of the jobs that it apparently guarantees, it’s also because it gives clarity and commitment to investment in the French waste industry the like of which we could certainly do with here.

Which brings me back to where I started – the need to buy local and invest in British business.

At Grundon, we pride ourselves on being a successful family-owned company that is based in, and operates in, the heart of our local communities.

“We believe in supporting our communities and the British economy”

We are not, and do not pretend to be, a large multi-national dealing (as often happens) with other multi-nationals where money changes hands at great expense but very rarely seeps down to a local level.

We believe in supporting our communities and the British economy, where possible we buy vehicles that are (at least in part) made in Britain, we source materials from local suppliers whenever we can and in relative terms we make a strong contribution to the economy.

Response

When the pandemic first struck, we were among the first to respond to the call to support our amazing NHS through some of its most difficult times.

We’re not looking for plaudits but, in a post-Brexit world, what we are looking for is a recognition of the need for domestic businesses like us to be shown more favour than was allowed under European rules.

Of course, competition is good and yes, the price must be right and the quality of the goods must be right but when it comes to contract renewal time, I would urge the budget-keepers and the decision-makers at both national and local authority levels to stop dithering and to pledge their support and their faith to businesses like us.

Making a conscious effort to choose local and choose British will make a huge difference in giving us the confidence to invest in future development and in turn, that means more support for our suppliers and of course, our employees.

We need that commitment and we need a voice to support British businesses. Let’s hope someone is listening.

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