Our local shops and small businesses bring enormous value to this area, both in terms of the local economy but also the character of the various villages which make up the Richmond Park constituency.
The Lib Dems in government have taken various measures to help small businesses by capping rates, introducing reliefs for smaller businesses and implementing a £1 billion package to reduce the cost of business rates in 2015-16, with particular support for the smallest businesses and local shopping areas.
Last year, I brought Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the constituency and introduced him to local business owners in both Richmond and Kingston. One topic came up time and again during those conversations: the need to reform business rates. When added to spiralling rents, these can be crippling for some of most cherished local businesses.
This week, following many such representations from small businesses up and down the country, Danny announced a major government review of the structure of business rates. The review, to report in a year's time, will take evidence from small businesses and it will look at how businesses use property, as well as what the UK can learn from other countries about local business taxes.
I would like to see far more of the money raised by local businesses staying in the local area, and local authorities to be given the power to properly support their shopping and retail areas through management of these rates.