Hillbers Editor, John Tonks Interviews Sir Ed Davey, Lib Dem Leader in Guildford as part of his listening tour of the UK. Guildford business owner Mrs Julia Simpson was joined in her salon, Julia Lampard, by Sir Ed Davey, leader Liberal Democrat Party and MP for Kingston & Surbiton during his Listening Tour of the UK. In an interview with Hillbers Sir Ed Davey described Mrs Simpson as both a “great business woman” and “local hero” following his afternoon shift at the Julia Lampard salon. Sir Ed Davey also took time to speak to a local business owner and community leader Mr Ed Schofield about his work and local issues. Mr Schofield is a Parish Councillor for Ash Wharf, scout leader and environmental campaigner.
Hillbers Editor John Tonks met with Sir Ed Davey at the The Keep, Castle Street Guildford
John Tonks: Can you tell us why you are here today?
Sir Ed Davey: This is part of a listing tour that I am undertaking across the whole of the United Kingdom. I have just become the new leader of the Liberal Democrats and I am conscious that we have had 3 very poor elections in five years. I think the voters have been sending us a message that they do not think we are in tune with them. I think the only way we sort that out is by listening to people. This is a listening tour; I have been to Stockport and I did a lunch time shift in a fish and chip shop. I went to Cardiff to talk with some retailers. Then I went to mid-Wales and spoke with some farmers, and I have been up to Scotland and spoken with some small businesses there. So this is the early stage, Guildford is not too far from Surbiton where I am the MP and so we had an afternoon where I spent some time in a hair salon, Julia Lampard’s. Very impressive lady, a great businesswoman and really has managed to not just survive COVID but now has thrived.
John Tonks: What did you find during your visit, it sounds like she had you busy doing all sorts of things?
Sir Ed Davey: Very busy, I learnt a little bit about hair dressing, which is very different from my own experience in a gentlemen’s barber. But it was very impressive in the sense that, for example, the hair treatments she uses is all natural, she does not use chemicals.
John Tonks: That’s fantastic
Sir Ed Davey: And clearly many of her customers go to her because she’s of a very high quality, and the way she has adapted to COVID by changes to her layout of her salon to the use of masks and visors, but she has really thought it through. She has kept on almost all her staff. She’s got some young apprentices and I really enjoyed it. Talking to people, the staff, Julia herself and some of the customers.
John Tonks: Speaking to Julia she was keen to highlight her apprentices and believes in investing in young people
Sir Ed Davey: She is one of those ladies that should probably be one of those local heroes, she’s investing in her business, putting great service, she is bringing on young people, she is very environmentally conscious, I hope more and more business people do that. I am very keen on business; I’ve been in business myself and we are only going to survive COVID if we are focused on helping businesses, particularly small business, self-employed people, to recover what is a genuine national crisis.
John Tonks: Do you have a message or advice to local business dealing with COVID restrictions
Sir Ed: Well, first of all my heart goes out to business people and self-employed who have such a huge challenge. The Government has done many things, and I am not going to say otherwise. I just hope they continue them. I think furlough was very good, the new scheme I am not convinced by and I think they need to look at some other countries that have been more generous in taking a longer-term view. I have also been a bit discouraged about how they have supported self-employed people. There has been packages for sole traders but if you operate as self-employed person through a Ltd company you have had no help what so over. Myself and other liberal democrats have been arguing that, we call them excluded people, really need some support. I was deeply disappointed that the government still is not listening and still is not providing support to many many people. There will be huge numbers in Guildford like as in my area of Kingston and Surbiton.
John Tonks: Thank you
Sir Ed Davey: Thank you very much indeed.