A FEW months ago there was a big difference between the atmosphere in the House of Commons and back home in Taunton Deane.

Discussions in Parliament were dominated by gloomy forecasts of impending economic recession.

Though the early signs were showing in Taunton Deane, most residents were not yet affected.

Now, as we start 2009, the recession is being felt everywhere.

I went into Taunton’s Woolworths store on their last day on Tuesday. I found the experience quite unnerving with the store gutted of content and wires hanging out of bare-bricked walls.

Taunton’s Zavvi store also had a similarly bleak atmosphere with heavily discounted stock and empty shelves.

Not many people under 40 will have been in the workforce during a recession, but after years of excessive borrowing and credit the financial squeeze is really starting to bite.

Now Governments across the world are implementing emergency responses.

Ever lower interest rates are hurting savers, but without a better flow of credit viable businesses will freeze up.

The Government needs to bring forward infrastructure projects and try to push through the recession, and individual companies will have to search for greater efficiencies.

2009 will be tough, but we must aim to come out of the recession with an economy that can grow more sustainably and durably for the next decade.