Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and I make a point of learning as much about them as I can in Rochdale. There’s some fantastic finance, manufacturing and creative businesses here that continue to thrive. But there’s one sector in particular that’s a real asset to our town and deserves considerable praise. And that’s our local restaurant scene.
Rochdale is part of a strong tradition of culinary culture. From Lancashire hotpot and rag puddings (half a million a year are made by Jackson Farm Fayre in Milnrow) to curry hotspots all over town, we’ve long had a confident food identity. And there’s something for everyone.
There’s high end, award-winning cuisine at Nutters restaurant through to the Waterside and Green Door, both in Littleborough. There's a host of great Italian restaurants from the Italian Job in Newhey to Cenetta at the Royal Toby Hotel and there’s obviously plenty of great curry houses. The Asia restaurant on Milkstone Road, which was one of the first in our town, is one of my favourites.
There’s also award-winning Turkish cuisine at Istanblue and great fare at The Baum pub and Riverside restaurant at Hopwood Hall College, which prides itself on training students in the restaurant trade. There’s even a growing traditional café scene with Sorrento on Yorkshire Street and Shelly B’s on Drake Street a couple I’d recommend.
All these small businesses are driven by passion, determination and entrepreneurial flair. And they should be celebrated as a positive advert for our town that encourages more people to visit.
To make a more general comment, business has already become a hot topic in the lead up to the General Election. Any serious point has been drowned out by insults from both sides, but I’m very clear that business is a much stronger engine for social mobility than politics these days and Labour must champion entrepreneurs.
Latest figures show more working class people are setting up businesses than ever before.
This, in part, will be driven by heavy cuts and redundancies in recent years, and no doubt many of these businesses will fail.
But it’s the role of politicians to champion and support as many of these as possible to ensure they succeed. That way we’ll create the next generation of great northern entrepreneurs like the Warburtons, Hilary Devey and Imran Hakim.
I want to see hard working people get on in life and business provides a great opportunity to do this and improve our town in the process.