Lib Dem council helps businesses to help the community through Covid-19

Community hubs are being set up to help local businesses serve their communities during the coronavirus crisis, Liberal Democrat-run St Albans council has announced.

Up to three street trading stalls will be permitted at appropriate sites across St Albans district, such as car parks at pubs or shopping areas.

Businesses which might be interested in applying for a temporary licence to create a hub for their community have been approached by St Albans council. Its food safety team along with its community services and planning departments will be consulted about any applications.

The aim is to help local businesses to help people who are struggling to access shops at this time as well as discourage them from making long journeys to stores.

Charter and farmers markets
The Portland Arms in Portland Street is due to launch the first community pub hub shortly, working with St Albans Business Improvement District (BID) to include traders from the charter and farmers markets, as well as other local producers.

The Mermaid and the Great Northern pubs, in Hatfield Road and London Road, are also planning to set up a community hub soon. Businesses elsewhere across the district are also being encouraged to take part.

“Our imaginative community hub scheme may support neighbourhoods right across the district so that people can get fresh food and other essentials as close as possible to their doorstep,” said Lib-Dem Councillor Mandy McNeil, the council’s portfolio holder for business, culture and tourism.

Pubs and restaurants
“We’re also helping pubs and restaurants which have been forced to shut to temporarily change their use to shops.”

“Our local businesses are critical to our local economy,” said Cllr McNeil. “We are currently working with the Chamber of Commerce, City of Expertise, St Albans Enterprise Agency, St Albans BID and other business representatives on identifying their medium and long-term planning, licensing and economic development needs to support them during the lockdown and the transition that will follow.”

Further information for businesses:

• Up to £14.5 million in grants has been distributed to 950 businesses by St Albans district council to help them through the Covid-19 public health emergency, with a further £9 million to be issued shortly to about 500 other firms.

Grants of £25,000 are being given to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have a property with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000. Businesses from those sectors with a property rated at up to £15,000 are receiving £10,000. 

Other small businesses that currently qualify for small business rate relief are also entitled to this sum. The money is non-repayable and has been provided by the Government in order to help companies survive the impact of the lockdown.

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