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£1,000 set up grants on way for retailers
8:00am Tuesday 12th March 2013 in News
A NEWLY created £1,000 independent retailers’ grant should soon be on offer to help people set up shop in Andover.
Funding for the scheme is expected to be agreed by members of Test Valley Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, who have been told the money will be combined with a package of practical support.
Councillor Peter Giddings, economic portfolio holder, said: “I look forward to presenting the recommendation for a new £1,000 grant for independent retailers to the Cabinet.
“The initiative will complement the council’s work to rejuvenate Andover town centre.
“The Andover Summit working groups are hard at work developing ways to enhance the town centre.
Andover and Romsey town centres face an increasingly challenging economic climate. A competitive local economy is one of the council’s four key aims.
“I hope Cabinet will back this grant which, along with the package of support and advice, should go some way to help new and existing independent retailers set up in our towns.”
Town centre campaigner Tony Hooke, who raised the profile of the empty shops issue in the Andover Advertiser last year, welcomed the initiative from the borough council.
Mr Hooke said: “It is very good news, and this grant is exactly the kind of thing we need giving new businesses time to breathe. However, we also need to do something for existing businesses that may be struggling.”
To be eligible for the grant, new or existing independent businesses will need to occupy g r o u n d - f l o o r premises in the towns which have been vacant for at least one month.
Qualifying businesses include shops, restaurants and cafes.
The £1,000 grant would be funded from the New Homes Bonus.
Successful retailers will receive £500 after three months and a further £500 after nine months’ trading.
The package of practical support includes free advice to minimise utility and other bills, support from the Independent Retailers Association and discounted local radio advertising. This is in addition to the council’s existing support for new businesses.
If agreed, the Independent Retailer Grant will be available from April and will be reviewed at the end of 12 months.
According to the borough council the Andover town centre vacancy rates is about 12 per cent, while six per cent of shops are charity shops.