UTTOXETER’S MP believes the economy in Uttoxeter is picking up after inflation fell to a new four-year low of 1.7 per cent.
Four Uttoxeter high street stores, including Buxton and Bonnet, the town’s oldest shop, closing their doors in quick succession last year.
But Tory MP Andrew Griffiths believes he is seeing ‘more confidence’ from business owners in town and, with the new Carter’s Square shopping centre on the way, predicts higher footfall in the town centre.
He also believes the drop in inflation, which equates to two per cent since January, will offer hard-up Uttoxeter families some ‘welcome respite’.
Jon Wheale, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Uttoxeter, said the drop in inflation is welcome but he is concerned about other economic indicators, including a rise in unemployment at the start of March.
But Mr Griffiths believes it is ‘time to stop talking down the economy’ and to ‘be positive’ to improve confidence in Uttoxeter’s high street.
He said: “Every business I speak to in Uttoxeter is more confident and optimistic, with many more employers starting to recruit new workers again.
“I know the high street in Uttoxeter has borne the brunt of the recession but there are encouraging signs of new investment and the regeneration of business in town.
“The drop in inflation will be very welcome news for many people and families living here who have had to tighten their belts and struggle through the recession.
“Many have had pay cuts or freezes and, when bills continue to go up, it makes things incredibly difficult.
“We’ve had to make some tough decisions, but have created 1.3 million new jobs and we’re now the fastest-growing economy in the western world.
“That doesn’t happen by accident.”
The new rate of inflation, which was announced by analysts earlier this week, has been largely put down to petrol prices falling across the UK.
Since the turn of the year, the average price for unleaded in Uttoxeter has dropped from 132.3p to 130.4p per litre.
But diesel in town is now more expensive than in December, when the average cost for a litre was 139.1p, and now costs an average of 139.9p per litre.
Mr Wheale said: “While there is a sense of economic recovery, we’re still very concerned about other indicators.
“We want to see the lower inflation rate having a tangible beneficial effect on people in Uttoxeter.
“One of the worst things we’ve seen is a rise in unemployment and you can talk about inflation but people are still £1,600 a year worse off under the current government.
“Also, in East Staffordshire, women’s pay is still below the regional and national averages. Inflation is one thing but, if people don’t have money in their pockets, that’s of massive concern.”