WITHAM MP Priti Patel is calling on residents to shop locally and support small businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

Ms Patel said small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and have paid a vital role during the pandemic.

The rallying call followed Small Business Saturday, which took place at the weekend.

Home Secretary Ms Patel said: “I know this has been another challenging year for our local businesses.

“We’ve seen local businesses step up to help our community time and time again since the start of the pandemic and I pay tribute to all of those who have played their part in getting us through these difficult times.”

“I have visited a number of them over the past year to see how they are getting on, and it has been a pleasure to officiate at opening ceremonies for new businesses such as Flamin’ Moe’s in Witham, and Café Bijou in Coggeshall.

“Let’s give small businesses across the constituency a much-needed boost by shopping locally in the run-up to Christmas.”