Cross party support for Somerset tourism

It is rare these days to find the district councils coming together with the county council. It is of course equally rare to see LibDems working together with Conservatives and vice versa. that was so very 2010.

But there are some things which are important enough to cross party lines and political red lines. One of those is the state of Somerset’s tourism industry. For nearly a year it has been decimated by constant lock downs, travel restrictions and minimal government support. This much was acknowledged at the launch of he Visitor Economy Support Programme (VESP). Dreadful acronym, great idea.

To date the local councils are not saying how much will be committed to the effort. We do know that an initial tranche of £250,000 has been made available. The money has been taken from the Business Rates Retention pilot scheme. This allows the councils to retain part of business rates which would usually be paid to Westminster.

The scheme is aimed at small and medium size businesses. The hope is it will help them become more resilient and ready to recover and grow.

What will they get? We are told that they will be able to work directly with industry experts to identify and develop their business model and customer experience. We at Leveller® Towers are a bit old and cynical. It is not clear what that really means. It does sound as if the main beneficiaries will end up being consultants. Nevertheless, right now anything that involves a cash injection to the local economy is welcome. At least someone is actually thinking about ways to help the tourist industry to have a future.

What companies that engage with the programme should get is a lot of free advice. They are promised “sector specialist and county-wide marketing, coronavirus-safe advice, business support and digital skills.

If you are interested and want to find out more go to

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