It’s part of a raft of new measures as the District Council takes a leading role in helping the Dales economy bounce back from the pandemic.
A total of 36 council staff have been involved in making more than 10,500 grant payments since November. They’ve been pulled from their usual day jobs to process and pay nearly 20 different business grant schemes.
Most grants finished at the end of June, but now - again using discretionary funding provided by the Government - the District Council is preparing to pay out a final grant for rate-paying hospitality businesses impacted by the extension of Covid restrictions to 19 July.
This Extended Restrictions Support Grant will provide additional support to rate-paying hospitality businesses who have been impacted by the four-week delay in Stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap.
The Council will send out grant application emails to all eligible hospitality businesses, which will then need to complete a self-declaration to confirm their eligibility. Please click on the link in the email (and check spam folders for a Derbyshire dales District Council email). Businesses that don't receive an application email from the District Council by 19 July are not eligible for this grant and should not contact the District Council.
Steve Capes, the District Council's Director of Regeneration and Policy led the business grants team. He said:
“This team is a brilliant example of One Team, One Council, One Purpose in action. I am incredibly proud of the whole team, many of whom operated way out of their comfort zones to support the pandemic response.
"They did jobs they never expected, working long hours, going the extra mile to pay grants to support local businesses; just getting on with it. These employees are local government at its best, and I am keen to express my thanks publicly to these 36 people working behind the scenes.”One beneficiary of the District Council’s grants work, Dave Allison of Carsington Sports & Leisure Ltd, said:
"The last year has been extremely difficult for us. For the first time since we opened in 1992 there was a very real danger that we would go out of business.
"We survived by taking out a Bounce Back Loan and with the grant aid we received from the District Council, whose team were the one body that were easy to deal with. When we had queries, we got quick responses and phones were answered without long delays or complications. It felt they were there to actually help our business to survive and protect jobs."The District Council is also working on three Community Renewal Fund bids that were submitted to the Government in June.
These include a £504,000 joint bid with High Peak Borough Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Derbyshire County Council for a new grants scheme for growing small and micro businesses.
A second bid, by the District Council itself, seeks further funding for Matlock’s Bakewell Road regeneration scheme. The Council has bid for £30,000 to fund feasibility studies to inform a future Levelling Up Fund bid, and for £60,000 for the County Council to lead an options appraisal to inform a future flood mitigation scheme for Matlock town centre."
A decision by Government on which bids will be successful is expected soon, and any funding awarded to the Derbyshire Dales must be spent by March 2022.
And it doesn't end there. The District Council committed on 22 April to making a bid into Round 2 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which could provide up to £20 million in capital funding for large-scale infrastructure investment in the Derbyshire Dales.
Dr Capes added:
"We are still awaiting news from the Government on when the timetable for Round 2 will be announced and we are also expecting news on capacity funding from Government. A sum of £125,000 has been promised to help us develop our Round 2 bid – this has not yet been received. Capacity funding is needed to prepare a ‘shovel ready’ bid that meets the Government’s Green Book business case requirements."The Council is also currently managing around £65,000 of Government Welcome Back funding to support and promote the safe and successful reopening of the public environment for local trade and tourism.
The Derbyshire Dales authority has chosen to spend some Welcome Back funding itself, but is allocating most of its funding alongside six parish and town councils with high footfall.
Examples of spending so far include ‘welcome back’ flags in Matlock and Bakewell and further events are planned for the autumn in a bid to extend the visitor season to boost the economy towards the end of the year.
Meanwhile the District Council's crucial Ashbourne Business Park development saw the new A52 roundabout complete in June, and work is underway on the link road to the Airfield Industrial Estate. This new road is due to be completed at the end of 2021.
In Matlock the Council is finalising the improved design for its transformation of the former market hall on Bakewell Road into a two-screen cinema and food and beverage unit, with preparations currently happening for the specification, a cost plan and planning application for submission this month.
The District Council's Leader Councillor Garry Purdy said:
"As we hopefully near the end of the pandemic we are starting to put our Economic Recovery Plan into action. As we move forward I want to place on record my thanks to the council's teams that have played a major role in paying out restrictions support grants to local businesses, helping local firms survive lockdown and prepare for recovery. Now we go again and there is a lot of vital work ahead."