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Fishermen face fight for storm relief funding
COUNCILLORS are still pursuing financial support for local fishermen, despite missing out on a first tranche of government funding.
A number of fishermen in Weymouth and Portland have been unable to spend more than 10 days out at sea since mid-December, due to high winds and heavy rain.
The weather has had a severe impact on trade and has seen a large amount of equipment lost or destroyed.
Fishermen were told they would be able to apply for support as part of the government’s Business Support Scheme, available to areas affected by the recent floods.
But the first allocation from the £10m fund was based on flooded properties recorded by the Environment Agency, in which there were only four in the Weymouth and Portland borough. This ensured the borough didn’t receive any funding.
West Dorset District Council, meanwhile, received an allocation of £62,500.
This funding is only available to those businesses that have been affected by flooding.
Kate Kindson, director of communities for West Dorset District Council and the borough council, said the Government was due to announce a second round of funding this week.
She said: “Both councils are currently responding to a letter from the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills asking for additional data to influence the second funding allocation round.
“The councils will announce further information on any funding available once this is available from the Government.”
Cllr Ian Munro-Price, brief holder for economic development at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said: “We sympathise with those whose businesses have been affected by the severe flooding over recent months.
“It is hoped that small or medium-sized businesses based in Weymouth and Portland may be able to qualify for further financial support when and if this funding becomes available.”
The council’s management committee took an item on Tuesday to approve the process for dealing with financial help claims.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is responsible for the allocation of funds tied to the Business Support Scheme.
A spokesman for the government body said funding would be made available to fishermen but the amount paid would be on a ‘case by case basis’.
He said: “In flood-affected areas, any fisherman whose property, business or premises have been flooded or equipment has been damaged due to flooding, they can claim.”
“If it has had an impact on them in other ways, it’s for the local authority to decide.”
One Weymouth fisherman, who wished to remain anonymous, said action needs to take place now. He said: “It is a ridiculous situation. Most people have lost a lot of gear.
“We’re trying desperately to find it. We need to put some money in the bank to feed ourselves.”
Under the Business Support Scheme, an average grant is expected to be £2,500 but the fisherman we spoke to said he had already lost ‘tens of thousands’ of pounds. He added: “We have gone backwards, majorly backwards. I find it so sad that we are down here begging for charity.”
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has announced additional funding will be available from the European Fisheries Fund.
Fishermen will be able to apply for funding to replace lost or damaged equipment, with applications from storm-affected areas prioritised.
Applications for support should be made by June 30 to the MMO.
To find out more please visit dorsetforyou.com/412578.
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