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Council to offer business loans

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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LOANS are to be made available to small businesses with immediate effect from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

The Post & Times revealed last week that authority leader Sybil Ralphs wanted to start offering capital funds to firms.

It is believed cash to finance the small business loans will be made available from the district council's reserves.

Each firm wanting cash will be expected to put forward a compelling bid, which would then be assessed by senior officers.

Speaking at a full council meeting regarding next year's budget, Ms Ralphs said that the district council's share of the council tax and parking charges would not be increased, but some other fees would rise around 2.5 per cent.

She said: "Small businesses are finding it hard to get a loan so we are going to start a growth fund to help them. This will help with capital finance for projects that would have a positive impact on physical regeneration and wealth creation.

"The loan would be available from the district council at a very competitive interest rate, payable back over time.

"This will create jobs in the Moorlands.

Councillor Linda Malyon said: "I am pleased we are going to help small businesses as without them we would sink."

However, Endon Liberal Democrat councillor, Henry Jebb, said while he welcomed elements of the budget he could not support it.

He said: "I put a motion to the council some time ago as we are keen to be involved in jobs and growth along with regeneration.

"I expected the growth fund to start last August.

"I am not now confident we can deliver what has been announced. I will wait and see what is delivered."

The council also agreed to look further at reviving a scheme called the Staffordshire Police Activity and Community Enterprise (SPACE), aimed at preventing crime by offering a host of activities for young people.

The original scheme ran for 17 years until it was closed due to funding and staffing arrangements in 1999.

Councillors will also examine the possibility of more concessionary rates for the young and elderly to use leisure centres across the district.

This will involve discussions with leisure centre operators.

Councillor Linda Malyon said she was pleased with the budget, but asked for free swimming sessions to be offered to under 16s and the elderly.

She added: " I do believe that we should involve free swimming sessions to be looked at."

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