Mayor’s £50,000 plan to boost town trade

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Fledgling businesses could be boosted by a £50,000 scheme set to be considered by Belper Town Council.

Mayor Joe Booth (pictured) is proposing that the authority take the cash out of its reserves and sets up a new committee to dish out grants of up to £5,000 to help firms in the town.

The aim would be to replicate the boom era for Belper when the town was at the forefront of industry.

The plan was set to be considered by councillors during a meeting on Tuesday, October 13.

Mr Booth said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of any area and a valuable resource to the local community both in terms of employment and of keeping the money being spent within that area,

“The Belper area had a proud manufacturing history going back years with some famous worldwide brands bearing the town’s name. Sadly over the years we have seen almost all of these businesses through various reasons leave the town.

“Many of these businesses started in the town as fledgling ‘new starts’. This council could help the process start again. We are very fortunate that unemployment in our area is low and we can help keep it low.

“I would like to propose that this council ring fence £50, 000 from the current reserves to formulate a new committee made up of both councillors and interested local business people/professionals whose duties will be to review any application made by an individual or group wishing to start a new business based in the area covered by this council.”

Any grants issued would have restrictions on their use including that they should not be used to pay a salary, rates or rent.

Practical advice could also be provided by the committee

Mr Booth continued: “If this amount (£5,000), when it gone it’s gone, could only help 10 new businesses to start the benefit to the area could be massive.

“Starting a new business is not always about being able to raise enough money to put your plans into action, sometimes the most valuable asset a new business can have access to is experience.

“Writing a business plan, reading writing or understanding a contract etc. This is where the committee could also help, we could hopefully get someone from both the borough and county council procurement department on the committee to give help and advice on this process. I know we have experience around the current council table and in the town.

“There are lots of things and processes which would have to be put in place before this could happen, but everything has to have a starting point.

“This is our opportunity to be proactive in our area’s future.”

Mr Booth’s idea comes just one week after Belper was chosen as on the finalists in the the Great British High Street Awards after shop vacancy rates fell and a raft of initiatives helped boost trade.

The town is in with a chance of winning a share of £50,000 in prize money and receiving dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts if successful.

Judges from the awards - which counts heads of major companies such as McDonalds and Tesco among it members - visited the town on Friday, October 10.