Grants for beleaguered city centre traders
Worcester City Council is offering financial support to traders in a city centre street that has been badly affected by repair works to an at-risk building which led, at one stage, to the road being closed.
Grants of between £1,200 and £2,700 are being made available to businesses in the lower part of Broad Street, whose trade was hit in November when the road had to be shut to allow emergency buttressing to be installed at the Poundland building.
The unsafe building is now surrounded by a large structure of scaffolding, buttressing and barriers, which partly obscures the route to the affected businesses, and there are concerns that some shoppers are continuing to stay away.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, the Leader of Worcester City Council, said: "The lower Broad Street businesses have been really hard-hit by this unfortunate chain of events and I am very pleased that we have been able to step in to provide some help to them.
"We have written to every trader in lower Broad Street to set out this new grant scheme. I would urge any who have not yet responded to do so as quickly as possible, so that we can get this funding to them."
Tim Evans, owner of Broad Street-based Toys and Games of Worcester, said: "The emergency road closure last year came at a crucial part of the trading calendar and whilst the scaffold remains in situ it brings with it continuing challenges for the businesses of lower Broad Street. We're grateful for the assistance that Worcester City Council has provided and the reassurances that the seriousness of this issue is recognised. We are confident that everyone wants a speedy conclusion to this although we understand that this is likely to remain an issue for us until the autumn."
The Poundland building was found to be at risk of partial collapse just as the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre was getting underway in late November last year. Broad Steet had to be closed at its junction with Angel Place to ensure public safety, and the City Council paid for an extra children's fair ride to be put in place in lower Broad Street, to encourage shoppers to visit the businesses based there, with kids able to enjoy it for free. The road was partly reopened on 2 December, and the fair ride was kept in place throughout the Christmas shopping period to help the traders.
Under this new grant scheme, the lower Broad Street traders will receive grants of £1,200, £1,800 or £2,700, depending on the business's rateable value or turnover.
The money comes from the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant which the Government awarded to Worcester City Council to help local businesses.
The Poundland building is owned by Crown Estates, which is carrying out repairs to it.