SOUTH Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck hit the street at the weekend to encourage people to shop local.
The Labour MP was in King Street to reaffirm her election campaign pledge to support independent retailers and promote South Shields town centre.
Mrs Lewell-Buck launched South Shields Saturday by talking to shoppers and handing out discount vouchers for stores such as Dicksons and Northern Threads.
She said: “South Shields Saturday is part of an initiative that the Labour party is running nationwide.
“It’s about promoting small business and letting people know our plans for them.
“Labour is the only party who’s proposing to freeze and cut business rates if we get back into power in 2015. We’ll also freeze energy bills, which will have an impact on small businesses.
“At the last count we found that 99.7 per cent of our businesses in South Shields are small to medium sized, so clearly, Labour’s policies would benefit this area as a whole.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck has been working with South Tyneside Council to promote local businesses and encourage more people to visit South Shields.
She added: “The problem is that if people don’t support their shops in the local area then they’ll shut.
“We’ve already seen that with a few shops on King Street and we don’t want any more to shut, we want them to thrive and stay open, so the more I can bring publicity to our town and support local businesses, the more people will shop in them.
“Hopefully, that would mean more businesses would come.
“We’ve got the 365 development which will bring loads of investment into our town, and I’m sure that the footfall will increase and we’ll have more businesses indefinitely. If Labour gets into power in 2015, with all the stuff we’re doing to support local businesses, that’ll see a rise in people wanting to open their own business.
“At the moment, the Government is making it so hard for small businesses that people don’t think it’s worth their while.”
During her time in the town centre, the MP also held a competition at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, in Ocean Road.
Children were given the chance to win a collection of signed books by comedian and Little Britain star David Walliams.
Entrants were asked to write down why they loved South Shields.