THE REGION’S biggest business representation group – the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – has opened a new regional office in the Cotswolds.

The FSB, which represents 7,000 small business owners, entrepreneurs and the self-employed in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire, has opened an office at the Cirencester Office Park complex.

The FSB’s Cotswold branch, which is based in Stroud, invited Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown to officially open their new office and at the same time host an open and frank discussion with senior bank officials about how small businesses can get the finance they need to grow.

Small businesses often complain they cannot get the required funding they need Mr Clifton-Brown facilitated a meeting where FSB members put their concerns directly to two senior Gloucestershire representatives of the HSBC bank, Andy Leonard and Victoria Bernard-Hayklan.

The vice-chairman of the Cotswold branch, Roger Sillick said: “We are very grateful that Mr Clifton-Brown took time out of his busy schedule to open our new office and also to set up this important meeting about access to finance.

“We explained to the HSBC representatives how important it was for SMEs that they can get support from their banks and how frustrating it can be if it isn't forthcoming.

“Both Andy and Victoria listened to our concerns carefully and assured us that the banks were still very much open for business which was reassuring.”

The HSBC officials said that their bank, and others, did have money to lend to small businesses and said it is very often poor initial business plans that are the reason why financial support is not forthcoming.

Mr Clifton-Brown said he was pleased to have set-up the meeting – and to have welcomed the FSB to its new office home.

“This is an excellent small modern facility enabling the FSB to efficiently run their entire operation in the Gloucestershire region,” he said.

“I was also pleased to combine the visit with a good roundtable discussion with HSBC which centred on the many FSB members who were refused a bank loan last year.

“HSBC made it quite clear that they were in the business of lending to small businesses and had devoted considerable extra resources to doing so.”