Essex grants boost - but fears Uttlesford sectors may miss out

Essex County Council

Essex County Council has allocated its share of the government's Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) - Credit: Archant

Businesses across Essex could see a boost through a £13.3 million government grant.

But an opposition councillor has expressed fears that there are 'gaps' in scheme for Uttlesford.

As part of the grant - the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) - Essex County Council's cabinet has allocated more than £8.2m to district councils.

The money includes a £2.5m tourism pot for district councils, ECC country parks and outdoor centres.

Funding will also support nursery schools, digital literacy lessons and hand sanitiser for low-income adults.

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Councillor Chris Pond, the leader of the largest opposition group on the council, fears this does not adequately cover the industry's needs in Uttlesford and Epping Forest.

He said: "I think EEC's approach of passporting funds to local communities is a good one, but there are one or two gaps in the funding."

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He fears charity-backed attractions such as Hatfield Forest could go unsupported.

Two chairs in long, wavy grass: the National Trust

The leader of the largest opposition group on Essex County Council, Cllr Chris Pond, said charity-sector tourism needs Covid-19 support. Picture: anniespratt/Unsplash - Credit: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

He said: "Extra visitors means extra damage to the ecology run by charities.

"More cars means more environmental damage.

"I hope a scheme will emerge to redress this."

Cllr Pond leads a group of small party and independent county councillors, which includes Residents for Uttlesford.

Cllr John Spence, ECC's cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: "This is a further element of us providing practical funding at local level.

"We were trying not to run a 'top down' approach."

The COMF is intended to fund measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus and support the local economy post-Covid.

The funding allowed ECC to increase its £1,500 cap on grants which support small businesses hoping to adapt to online life.

A £5m package will soon see businesses apply for up to £5,000 in Business Adaptation Grants from their district council. 

In Uttlesford, Covid-19 support grants are listed on the district council's website:

A £1.5m package will go to the Rural Community Council of Essex to help village halls, community centres and faith buildings become Covid-safe.

Cllr Spence said: "Faith groups have done so much for us during the pandemic.

"We now need to make sure they can access funds."

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