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Plenty of positives this week - and even the weather's looking up!

Plenty of good news this week after what’s seemed like months of nothing but woe – and even the weather seems to be doing its bit.

The price of fuel keeps dropping on the back of declining crude oil prices on world markets. This morning the average price of a litre of unleaded stood at £127.9 for unleaded, and diesel at £133.9. OK, that’s not exactly cheap, but it’s heading in the right direction.

It was also reported this week that unemployment was falling. There was some skewed media reporting to suggest the long term unemployed figures had actually risen to their highest level for some time, but that shouldn’t detract from the overall picture which is more people have returned to gainful employment.

Then the big news of the week in the business world is that the Co-op has managed to wrangle a fine deal with Lloyds to take over 632 of their high street branches. If this deal goes ahead it will see Co-op land a 10% slice of the UK’s high street banking pie. That’s a sizeable figure not to be sniffed, in a move that will give them real clout.

This has the potential to be a really significant development for small firms keen to return to traditional relationship banking, one where the tick box lending criteria approach will hopefully have no place.

Co-op is already a respected high street name with the kind of ethical credentials most other high street banks in the current climate can only dream of.

If the deal goes through it could genuinely be a fresh new era for high street lending for SMEs - something we have long been calling for.

The Government has also today announced plans to revitalise the UK’s high streets, after a report by retail guru Mary Portas.

Part of their plans will see red tape being cut to make it easier for businesses to move into empty premises with so called pop-up shops.

This is great news. Empty shops only lead to more empty shops – what business wants to start-up in a boarded up ghost town? Leaving vacant units to rot is just commercial vandalism, so ditching red tape that keeps shops boarded up has to be welcomed.

Now it’s up to local authorities to do their bit to help attract entrepreneurs to invest in towns. While there’s little they can do about business rates, free car parking would be a great start.

So, let's hope there’s more good news to come next week – and that the sun keeps on shining.

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