MP Tim Farron is special guest at Kendal BNI meeting

Members of business networking group Kendal BNI welcomed a special guest to its latest meeting – Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron.

Mr Farron attended an online meeting of the Kendal chapter of Business Network International (BNI®), which has generated more than £340,000 worth of business during the past 12 months.

Its members include a builder, electrical contractor, planning consultant, fire safety specialist, solicitor and an interior and garden designer. Meetings are predominantly held online, with a monthly in-person meeting at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal.

Mr Farron was asked to speak about developments and issues affecting business and the local economy.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale

He told members that when he spoke to local businesses they mentioned various pressures, including the cost of living, but the biggest issue was shortages in the workforce. Many firms in the hospitality and tourism sector were operating below capacity because they did not have enough staff.

Factors influencing the shortage included the lack of affordable housing in the area and that, post Brexit, there were fewer people from Europe who had come here to work.

He said that to tackle the housing issue there needed to be better regulation of the housing stock. The Government was looking to change the planning regulations so that holiday lets were put in a different category of planning use and he wanted to see the same happen for second homes.

Mr Farron said the creation of the new Westmorland and Furness Council meant the authority now had council houses in the Barrow area, as the former Barrow Borough Council had not passed such properties to housing associations, as had happened in South Lakeland and Eden to protect them from right to buy. The new council also had the ability to build council houses.

He wanted to see an extension of the Youth Mobility Visa Scheme so that people under 35 from Europe could spend a period of time working in the UK. It was also important to equip young people with the necessary skills to work in this area, including creating a T-level in hospitality and catering.

Mr Farron said town centres and shopping habits were changing and it was important to weave in accommodation and retail units into commercial developments.

He told Kendal BNI members: “We have a rich diversity of businesses in this area and organisations like Kendal BNI which help people to network and whose members are, in effect, each other’s sales force, are valuable.”

Graham Bywater, president of the group, who is an architect, said: “Tim has been a regular and welcome visitor to the group over the years and it’s brilliant that he can always find time in his busy schedule to attend and update us on his work promoting the local community in Westminster.

“Perhaps more importantly he can gather feedback from our group about the pressing economic issues affecting our businesses.”

Kendal BNI is looking to grow the chapter and is particularly looking at the moment for an estate agent/land agent, surveyor, painter and decorator, plumber and a photographer.

If anyone would like to learn more about Kendal BNI or is interested in attending as a visitor, they can contact Bena Hall on 07896 252860, email or visit

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