ADDITIONAL support is desperately needed for local businesses if we are to avoid a local job crisis, claims Carmarthenshire Labour.

Carmarthenshire Labour Councillors are stepping up pressure on the Plaid-led Council to provide support for local businesses hit by the latest Coronavirus restrictions.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus are currently rising swiftly in Carmarthenshire, with Public Health Wales and Welsh Ministers said to be considering Llanelli being Wales’ first town-only lockdown. With the prospect of a local lockdown, coupled with the national restrictions around the hospitality sector, Labour Councillors are arguing that emergency support is needed for private and third sector organisations this autumn.

Carmarthenshire Council provided its tenant businesses with a one quarter rent holiday at the beginning of lockdown in an attempt to support local businesses. The Authority are now seeking support from the Welsh Labour Government to finance the £800,000 policy. The Welsh Government last month announced an additional £260m financial support for Local Authorities, taking the total support to around half a billion pounds during the pandemic.

Their calls include working with businesses and local Chambers of Trade to utilise more outdoor public spaces across Carmarthenshire for hospitality; launching an advertisement campaign encouraging residents to shop local and promoting local businesses; reintroducing free parking across the County; re-introduction of financial support for those tenant businesses struggling; freeze on land sales for out of town shopping and short term investment to ‘spruce up’ the town centres.

They also cite the proposed ending of furlough next month as an area of concern that requires reconsideration by the Chancellor.

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Cllr Rob James, Leader of Carmarthenshire Labour said “Local businesses were there for us during the first wave of Coronavirus, providing essential support to so many in our communities. Frankly, they had our backs and it’s time we had theirs.

“We cannot maintain consent for lockdown measures, if people have to choose between financial survival and entering self-isolation. There is a genuine risk that without proper support, local businesses are in danger of falling by the wayside, which will have a dramatic impact on job opportunities for local residents. Therefore, we must act quickly and provide adequate support for local businesses across our County.

“You only have to walk around your local town centre, or speak to business owners, to appreciate the difficulties Coronavirus is posing for businesses in our area. There are still many dedicated and passionate business owners who want to see our town centres flourish, and the change of working practices as a result of Covid, may have the potential to revitalise our centres as more people work from home and spend their day in their community.

“We have highlighted a number of areas that we believe could provide a real difference to businesses locally, as we continue to call on the UK Government to extend furlough and temporarily cut business rates. The level of support from the Welsh Labour Government, who have financed almost every scheme of support in Carmarthenshire during the pandemic, has been exceptional. We, as the local Council, now need to consider what action we can take independently to support local businesses and jobs.”

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