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10 March 2014, 18:58
Grants to help local businesses suffering as a result of the devastating floods in Somerset are now available from Taunton Deane Borough Council.
The first payments to businesses that have already applied for help are being made – just days after the scheme went live. Up to £2,500 is available to eligible businesses – and the application process has been made as simple and streamlined as possible.
Builder Tony Van Bergen, whose premises near Burrowbridge have been under water since New Year’s Eve, said it took around half an hour to complete the form. He said:
“It really is quite a quick and painless process. The money will really help to keep us ticking over and provide a ‘bridge’ for us."
The equipment he needs for his business is under several feet of floodwater so he plans to use the grant to pay for the basics – such as ladders and tools – to keep the business running. He is encouraging other affected businesses to apply for funding – information is available from the Council’s Economic Development team who are seeing as many affected businesses as possible in person. So far 60 premises have been visited.
The personal visit is seen as vital by applicants. Nicola Berridge runs the Royal Oak free house at Stoke St Gregory with her family. Although the pub is free of floodwater, access has either been very difficult at best – or non existent at times. The business is eligible for grant support as it has been affected indirectly because of flooded roads, long diversions and the extra expenses incurred.
The family business will be able to use the financial aid to set against costs and bills and to keep up the marketing to ensure people know the pub is open for business and ready to welcome customers. Nicola Berridge said the lack of bureaucracy around the process was welcome – and that the personal visit provided much needed reassurance:
“There’s nothing complicated involved. I think people are sometimes wary of asking for help – but I would encourage them to do so. It was straightforward and the money will help take the pressure off for a bit.”
Cllr Gill Slattery, one of the two ward councillors for the area, said:
“Having flood water in your home or business is a ghastly thing, but also many of our unflooded businesses have seen many customers vanish because of the fears about the flooded roads. This support from TDBC will help our businesses stay open and maintain local jobs until normal conditions return. It is welcomed very much.”
Cllr Norman Cavill, Executive Councillor for Economic Development, said:
“We want these funds to go to the people who need assistance, so have kept the application as simple and straightforward as can be to enable a quick response."
Information on the grants is available via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01823 356489.