COMPANIES in Huntingdonshire are still cautiously optimistic, according to the Federation of Small Businesses’ chief spokesman Andrew Cave after a visit to the district.

Among the day's visits were Asckey Data Services, in Pidley, and Bierce Technical Services of Huntingdon.

Mr Cave, who is based at the FSB's parliamentary office in Westminster and regularly travels to Brussels to represent the FSB, said: "On the whole, the picture I am getting from businesses I met was one of cautious optimism. However, there is much more the Government can do to open up and simplify public procurement, for example.

"At a time when there is precious little demand, we are missing a trick if we do not make it easier for businesses in Herts, Beds and Cambs to access public procurement contracts. This holds the potential to foster growth and give a much needed boost to job creation."

Stephen Birch, director of Birch Technical Services, added: "I feel we both benefited from the visit - he was able to let me know of some of the plans the FSB had in place for tackling topical issues like public procurement and transport, and I was able to give him some evidence in the form of case studies to demonstrate the impact on business of those issues."

Jill Pincott, managing director of Asckey Data Services, added: "Andrew's visit provided the opportunity to have a voice on some of the important issues for our company.

"We had a lively debate covering tenders, public sector contracts, leased line and telecoms provision and pricing, public sector late payments, legislation and why micro-business exemptions should apply to companies with 25 or fewer staff."