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.
It was English Tourism Week recently and as we approach Easter the tourist season is already well underway here in Suffolk. Tourism is a key industry supporting one in nine jobs in our area is supported and if contributes more than £500m to the local economy. A lot of effort is put in by businesses, the LEP and our councils to make sure the Suffolk coast continues to be an attractive destination for visitors. I am therefore delighted to see that investment continue apace, including a completely redeveloped pier in Felixstowe due to open later this year and the £10m Whisstocks project in Woodbridge providing homes, restaurants and shops overlooking the River Deben as well as a new home for the town museum and new shipbuilding facility. As Parliament is now in recess, I am enjoying spending much more time in Suffolk and experiencing our great local hospitality.
All that investment is worthwhile but having clean streets and verges makes such a difference. The government launches its litter strategy this week with a focus on making it easier to get rid of litter and tougher enforcement measures to hit thoughtless litter louts in the pocket. We have particular problems along the A14 and the strategy includes such litter hotspots and a plan to work with the freight industry to improve that.
Finally, my Department has just 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
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