Help at hand for flood-afflicted businesses

Press Release: 21/02/2014

Cllr Rob Humby at LK Bennett

When the Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council visited flood-affected businesses today (21 February) he offered more than sympathy.

Cllr Robert Humby brought news of a programme of support measures ranging from national Government schemes to fund business rate relief, repairs and resilience measures, to support available directly from the City Council, which he had announced at the previous night’s full Council meeting.

At the same meeting he urged fellow Councillors to play their part by making purchases at flood-affected businesses, including a number of rural pubs and shops. He also said that he had been pleased to learn that the Government definition of ‘business’ included not-for-profit and community enterprises, including village halls.

Having spent two weeks helping pump water out of homes in his own ward of Owslebury and Curdridge, Cllr Humby was visiting businesses in Winchester City Centre and around the City Council’s rural parishes to experience first hand what the issues are for those affected by flooding.

Cllr Humby said:

In the first few weeks the council’s response was very much about reducing the impact of flooding by working with the Environment Agency on flood defence and providing 20,000 sand bags to businesses and communities most at risk. Now the City Council is keen to offer practical recovery support to those most affected by flooding. I’m keen to meet as many businesses as I can to find out what the real issues are for them. In the Winchester area, businesses are very much open for business, but behind the scenes some are dealing with all kinds of difficulties – and the impact of their cash flow could be disastrous if we don’t help promptly.

At LK Bennett in Winchester High Street, whose basement has been flooded for two weeks, Manager Helen Waluga said:

We have spent almost £1,000 on pumps and labour as well as additional money on night time security so that staff can go home and catch up on a few hours sleep. Once water levels have settled we will have to hire a tank to remove the water that the pumps can not remove, this will incur a further cost of about £1,100 for each tank full. We have also lost around £6,000 of stock. We hope that everyone else in the city is coping and starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Simon Eden, Chief Executive of Winchester City Council, added:

We’ve always taken a practical approach to dealing with the water in Winchester – from the Romans who first diverted the river to create the city to William Walker the diver who propped up the cathedral through years of painstaking, under-water cement-laying. We are continuing in that tradition now, by seeking to roll out the kind of help which is most useful in the places where it is most needed.

To find out more about Winchester City Council’s business recovery response visit www.winchester.gov.uk/business/business-recovery