Meeting to discuss impact of fire follows Call for Evidence
Gillian Keegan, the Member of Parliament for Chichester, chaired a Business Roundtable last Friday, bringing together the Chief Executives of Chichester District Council, Diane Shepherd, the South Downs National Park Authority, Trevor Beattie, as well as several business owners to discuss the way ahead for local vendors. The meeting follows a recent Call for Evidence from the MP, exploring the facts and figures of the impact on local trade, as she builds a case for emergency funding following March’s fire.
The MP for Chichester has previously raised serious concerns over the impact on the town, making clear that she wanted to see the works to shore up the damaged buildings on North Street and open the road “take place at pace”, which she made clear at a meeting with Trevor Beattie earlier this month.
With those works now underway, the MP is looking at any additional support that might be made available to those hit hardest these past months. As part of her efforts to make a case, a number of local businesses were recently invited to take part in her Call for Evidence, assessing the economic impact of the closures.
The MP said: “The number one concern from the businesses responding is unsurprisingly income, with many businesses now taking home around half of what they would normally expect at the end of the week.”
But those struggles haven’t just been limited to a drop in customer footfall, as the MP went on to explain.
“It’s also clear that many businesses have been really struggling to access any local support services in place, such as drop-in advice sessions or sources of grant funding. We shared these points with the District Council as soon we began to pick them up, and so I’m really pleased to hear that they’ve now expanded the programme to make it more accessible to those hit hardest by the closures.”
Following the Roundtable meeting on Friday, the MP will now be meeting with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to share some of the key findings. With more data in-hand, she hopes she can build a case for any emergency funding that might be made available to the businesses struggling most in Midhurst.
“I’m really grateful to all of the businesses that have taken the time to respond to the call for evidence over the last couple of weeks. It’s clear from the responses I’ve had that the impact from the fire has been severe and that, for many, time is fast running out. Please rest assured I will do absolutely everything I can to make the case for Midhurst.”