Witham's MP took a tour of the town's businesses to listen to concerns and hear suggestions from company bosses.

Priti Patel was joined on her tour by Witham Chamber of Commerce and visited several companies which have just opened in the town.

The politician took time to listen to business owners' concerns and promised work closely with firms and the chamber going forward.

Ms Patel said: "I had some great conversations with our businesses and discussed how the government and councils can do more to help and support them.

"Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy and support the majority of jobs.

"I will be working closely with businesses and the Chamber of Commerce in Witham to support them to grow and create more jobs."

The itinerary of the day included stops at Canon BMW, which has just opened the largest BMW motorbike dealer in the south on Crittall Road, and Valero Lounge, an impressive new restaurant in the historic former HSBC bank building.

Ms Patel also helped launch Anytime Fitness, a new 24-hour fitness facility which has moved into the old Co-op store, in Newland Street.

She said: "I also enjoyed visiting the Tea Rooms, which is a fantastic place that has been in the town over the last three years.

"Their entrepreneurial spirit means that local residents and businesses get great service and show that there is a place in our town for independent businesses to thrive.”

She added: "These remain challenging times for retail and high streets across the country so we cannot be complacent in Witham.

"With future housing growth we need to ensure the town centre has an attractive and diverse proposition so it is a place here people can go for all their shopping and lifestyle needs.”

Tina Townsend, chairman of Witham Chamber of Commerce, said the group were delighted to show the MP around.

She said: "We had some interesting discussions with them around current issues businesses are experiencing which will be followed up in due course.”