EAST Lothian’s shops, pubs, restaurants and charities are facing significant challenges due to rising supply and energy costs this winter.

That is why it is very important to support local businesses and charities where possible.

And our local businesses are helping the community too.

During November, the Waterside Bistro and the Tyneside Tavern in Haddington have teamed up with the Lammermuir Larder community food initiative so that £1 will be donated to the Larder for every food bill charged from either restaurant.

This is a very positive initiative, outlining the great benefit that local businesses from across East Lothian can have on community groups and charities.

But East Lothian businesses face difficult challenges ahead.

This week, I visited Belhaven Brewery, where bosses outlined the real challenges faced by the brewing and hospitality sector.

These difficulties are being exacerbated by the Scottish Government’s failure to pass on the UK Government’s 75 per cent rates relief for small businesses for the 2023-24 financial year, which businesses in England and Wales are benefiting from.

The UK Government have provided the Scottish Government with funding for rates relief but unfortunately this has not been passed on to Scottish businesses.

Added to this is East Lothian Council’s continued push for town centre parking charges and out-of-town retail parks.

Taken together, these policies threaten to drive shoppers away from town centres and local retail and hospitality businesses, and towards large out-of-town retail outlets.

Let’s back local this Christmas.