Let me just sit back for a minute, fling off my white stilettos and say that I'm proud to be an Essex girl. I was born in Essex when the now East End Leyton E10 was actually outside of London (it's about five miles from the centre). I moved further out (as far as Canada) but now I am again, according to the PO, living in Essex (even though I pay my taxes to the London Borough of Redbridge).

So I keep a close watch on 'my' county. And I see that, not only did Essex County Council step in and rescue a few about-to-be-closed post offices last year, but also that it has now launched its 'Bank of Essex', which will distribute European Investment Bank (EIB) funds to local businesses in the form of credit lines and loans.

Under this 'Banking on Essex' scheme, local businesses will be able to access short-term loans of up to £100,000. The scheme will be jointly funded and delivered in tandem with 'partner banks', who will decide whether the loan applications are successful or not.

The good news for small businesses in Essex is that plans to make £50m available for such loans to local businesses have now been approved by the county council's cabinet. Now, if Essex can do this, then so can other councils.

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