RISING interest rates and fuel prices were striking fear into many small businesses but help and guidance was at hand, said Herefordshire Council leader Roger Phillips.

Opening the Hereford Business Day at the Three Counties Hotel on Tuesday, he said: ''As someone who was self-employed for many years, I know that running a business is never easy and a more challenging climate lies ahead. This exhibition is the first of its kind in Herefordshire and offers a one-stop opportunity for enterprises to find out more about the agencies which can help them.''

Herefordshire Council were the main sponsors of the event organised by Chamber of Commerce Herefordshire and Worcestershire and supported by Business Link.

A networking lunch was provided free of charge to Chamber members, workshops were held and among the organisations represented were the Chamber of Commerce Legal Service, ACAS, Trading Standards, the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise.

Organiser Ron Dent, from the Chamber, said: ''Helping Herefordshire business is our role in life. Without the generous support of Herefordshire Council, the event could not have gone ahead. It was important that we were able to bring this kind of show to Hereford.''

Roger Phillips added: ''In Herefordshire we face an exciting challenge, due to our numerous small and medium-sized businesses and geographical location. Knowing who, when and where to turn to can make all the difference.''