Grant scheme helps cure blight of empty shops in Wakefield city centre

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A SCHEME to encourage small businesses to move in to empty shops in Wakefield city centre has helped slash the number of vacant premises by 30 per cent

Wakefield Council chiefs have been offering businesses a £2,000 start-up loan to start trading in empty units in a bid to reduce the numbers of empty shops blighting the city centre.

A total of 90 of the estimated 450 shops in Wakefield city centre were empty when Wakefield Council launched the Small Business Grant Scheme last February.

The number of empty shops in the city centre now stands at 63.

Council chiefs say 30 businesses across Wakefield district have benefited from the scheme and more than 20 full-time jobs have been created.

Claire Harper, the founder of children’s wear retailer IndiaCoco, has opened a shop on Wood Street, Wakefield,

She said: “The business grant scheme has been a fantastic support to help launch our retail brand and allowed us to make our first store operational and ready for trading in a short space of time.

“We have initially negotiated a flexible lease and while we are trading at Wood Street we will also be focusing on expanding other areas of the business too, including the online offering and our baby and gifting presence at award winning, Blacker Hall Farm.”

Coun Denise Jeffery, deputy leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are thrilled at these figures which show the significant impact of this vital business grant and the boost to the economy this provides. We continue to support local businesses and are constantly working to ensure they continue to thrive in these tough economic challenges.”

The Business Grant Scheme remains opens until September 30.

Anyone interested in applying should contact Andrew Woodhead, city centre manager at Wakefield Council, on 01924 304962.

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