Plea for improved business support

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A NEW scheme to improve Skegness’s ailing economy with cheaper rents and rates for fledgling businesses has been proposed by the town council.

Faced with year-on-year increases to Skegness’s poverty levels, Coun Steve Kirk has suggested that the town council sub-lets commercial properties at a discounted cost to encourage entrepreneurs to start new businesses in the town.

Raising his proposal at the latest Skegness Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Coun Kirk said: “This town is dying and I’m not prepared to let that happen. I believe that this council has a role to play in driving forward businesses in the town.

“We can act as business incubators to help those that can’t afford the commercial rents and rates.”

Coun Kirk would also like East Lindsey District Council to support the venture by offering discounts on business rates.

He hopes the scheme will expand the town’s economy beyond its traditional tourism offer to create better paid, all-year-round jobs.

“What’s to stop Skegness deciding that it wants to be a global leader in tidal energy technology? We are ideally suited in this area but we need to plan for it,” he said.

With numerous factory closures hitting the town since its industrial heyday, Coun Kirk believes these new directions are vital to reverse its declining economy.

Although he recognises the region’s poor transportation infrastructure may limit certain developments, there are others, which he feels Skegness is ideally suited for.

“We need to accept that we have our limitations but we have to play to our strengths,” he added.

The impassioned speech won approval from the vast majority of those present, with Coun Jeff Hames saying it ‘encouraged’ him after he had grown ‘disillusioned’ as a first-time councillor.

Coun Mark Smith felt the county council would support the proposal, provided the town council led the way and provided the research.

But Coun Neil Cooper was more cautious in his support, questioning whether the broadband technology was equipped to deal with business needs and whether the workforce was suitably skilled to start businesses on their own.