Village pub ‘too new’ for £25,000 Government grant may never re-open
PUBLISHED: 17:12 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:16 09 April 2020
The new landlord of a village pub fears he may narrowly miss out on a £25,000 government support payment and be forced to walk away.
Paul James and his business partner James Bretnall Bennett took over at the Jolly Farmers in Ormesby St Margaret on March 11.
They immediately set about making improvements and opened to the public on March 13.
Having traded for a week they were forced to shut along with theatres, cinemas and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Despite the blow, Mr James was confident of receiving a £25,000 government hospitality grant aimed at providing a lifeline for businesses like his.
However Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which is processing the awards, said he may not qualify because he was not trading on March 11 - the threshold date set by the government.
Mr James said: “We have been told today by Great Yarmouth Borough Council that the deadline for the grant money was March 11, the day we took over and that if we were not in operation the grant was not available.
“If that happens there is a good chance of it closing down and never re-opening.
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“They say they cannot bend the rules but they do not need bending. We were in and had the keys on March 11.
“I am still holding out hope that common sense will prevail.
In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “This is a government relief fund, being administered by local authorities.
“The government put in place strict eligibility criteria and so not all businesses are eligible.
“One requirement to receive relief funds is that the businesses must have been on the council’s records as the business ratepayer for that premises on the date of March 11, 2020.
“Unfortunately, this means that the newest business ventures might not be eligible.
“Even when a business does not qualify for a grant, however, they may be able to receive other support and can get in touch for signposting.”
In the meantime the pub’s windows are full of colourful artwork made by local children to support the NHS.
Mr James is planning to launch a roast delivery service at the weekend in partnership with the Kings Head in Acle.
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