Coronavirus business update: Latest news across the North West

Tables and chairs on the pavement outside a care.

Cheshire East Council has launched a new streamlined application process to support businesses to introduce al fresco facilities.

This supports the council’s overall approach in supporting high streets, town centres and the hospitality sector as part of the economic recovery plan arising from the pandemic.

The application process is straightforward and subject to a fee of £100.

The new policy will help prospective applicants, who should familiarise themselves with the specified details before applying.

This sets out probable areas where licences will be permitted, the process to be followed and the relevant conditions.

All businesses with outdoor seating on the public highway require a licence, the council is encouraging any business already providing or seeking to provide al fresco facilities on public highways to apply for a pavement licence.

Businesses also need to check that they have adequate public liability insurance to cover the area in question, as failure to have a licence may affect their insurance.

Cllr Laura Crane, cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “These streamlined provisions will temporarily allow many bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants to apply for licences, to accommodate outdoor dining on public highways.

“This fast-tracked route is ideal compared to the lengthier, more expensive standard regulatory processes.

“The new measures will support a safe al fresco dining experience on our pavements whilst maintaining adequate space for pedestrians.

“It is essential to follow current government guidance and signage in your local town, being conscious of public safety to help keep us all safe.”

Cllr Nick Mannion, cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “These temporary measures are supporting businesses to reopen their doors. Economically, this will help licenced premises to survive and rebuild income after the pandemic lockdown.

“Businesses and their customers do, however, need to be mindful, to respect other pedestrians using the pavements during this time. I would encourage all businesses looking to use outdoor seating areas to make sure they apply. The process is relatively straightforward and inexpensive.”

For more information on the application and how to apply visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/alfresco

Completed applications will be determined within 10 working days.

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Blackpool Council is inviting a final round of applications for financial support as part of a discretionary grants scheme, which goes live from today (July 31).

The Government has determined a closing date for all of the COVID-19 grant schemes of August 28.

This means that the council must receive final applications for all schemes by 5pm on Monday, August 10, to allow assessment, processing and payment of the grants. Eligible businesses are, therefore, encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund was announced by the Government in May to support small businesses and charities that have fallen outside the scope of current grant schemes (the Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund).

To date, Blackpool Council has paid out £1.08m in support grants to 157 businesses through the first round of applications to the Discretionary Grants Fund. As part of the fund’s final round, approximately £1.3m has been made available by the Government.

The final round of the Discretionary Grant Fund will provide support for active small businesses and community centres that have not received, or been eligible for, a grant under the other schemes.

They must be able to demonstrate ongoing fixed property-related costs, as well as having evidence of a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses that have incurred significant costs to enable COVID-secure operation will also be considered.

In Blackpool the final round of grants will be aimed at small businesses with business rates valuations between £15,001 and £51,000.

Applications are also invited from businesses outside these parameters, but grants will only be paid to such applicants if funds remain once target applicant grants have been paid.

The level of grant will vary from £2,500-£10,000, according to property costs.

Cllr Mark Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for business, enterprise and job creation, said: “Our business teams are now ready to distribute the final round of funding received by the Government. However, if business owners don’t apply, then they won’t get the help they need.

“If you think you may qualify for support, please complete an application – this is the final chance for anyone who thinks their business may be eligible, so it’s extremely important that business owners take action before it’s too late.”

For further information, including full eligibility criteria, and details of how to apply, business owners should visit: www.blackpoolunlimited.com/C19DGF

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