"Following the Chancellor's Budget announcement to provide a £300 million fund to help businesses hit hardest during the recent business rate revaluation, the Government has been consulting on how that fund will be administered. Provisionally, Waveney District Council has been allocated £417,000 in the first year and Suffolk Coastal District Council has been allocated £406,000. I am encouraging the councils to focus on the small, independent businesses affected the most in receiving the support they need.
As Parliament is now in recess, I am enjoying spending much more time in Suffolk this Easter appreciating our beautiful coastline. Unfortunately, our picturesque part of the country is often blighted by fly-tippers and litter louts, which is why the Department of the Environment has just launched a new Litter Strategy. The strategy sets out our plans to help tackle to anti-social behaviour, making the Suffolk coast an even more attractive place. It includes measures to fine people who drop litter up to £150, a better provision of public bins and using offenders on community sentences to help clear up fly-tipped waste. As Environment Minister I want to leave our environment in a better state than we found it and tackling litter is an important part of that.
It's competition time with two opportunities for local communities to bid for funds - natural flood management and any project in off gas grid areas. My Department Defra has launched a ground-breaking competition which enables flood defence projects to apply for a share of £1 million to help protect homes and businesses. The competition is open to innovative schemes that plan to use landscape features such as ponds, banks, meanders, channels, and trees to store, drain or slow flood water. For more information and to apply see - www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/resources/tools-and-casestudies/deliver/nfm
Calor Gas have also launched a Rural Community Fund offering up to £5,000 for projects that will provide an on-going service for local communities that are off the mains gas grid. Go to www.calor.co.uk/communityfund to register your project.
Good news for those on the move as mobile phone operator EE has confirmed that they have completed various 4G upgrades throughout Suffolk Coastal including in Pettistree, Trimley St Martin, Saxmundham, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Halesworth. Mobile phone signal has been raised a lot less frequently with me in recent years as our communications infrastructure improves but there is still more to do to eradicate our not-spots."
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