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West Berkshire independent businesses benefit from council grants scheme

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Two more businesses – Weavers Coffee Shop and the Old London Apprentice pub – have benefited from the Welcome Back Business Grants scheme being administered by West Berkshire Council.

The grants are aimed to help local firms recover from the hardships they faced during the pandemic and £140,000 was set aside for projects to support the district’s high streets, shopping areas and visitor economy to re-open successfully this summer.

Weavers Coffee Shop, in Weavers Walk, Newbury, received £1,005 to buy smart new tables, chairs and parasols for its outdoor seating area.

Landlord Ken Amor outside the Old London Apprentice pub.
Landlord Ken Amor outside the Old London Apprentice pub.

The independent business is predicting that these additions will attract up to 80 more customers per day and increase its overall revenue.

The Old London Apprentice, on the corner of Hambridge Road and Boundary Road in Newbury, has received £4,853 to help upgrade its outdoor seating area, with additional picnic tables, lighting, raised planters and a new picket fence.

At its beer and cider festival last month it was at full capacity and was able to welcome more than 250 new and old customers to its new-look outdoor venue.

Landlord Ken Amor told the Newbury Weekly News that the equipment bought with the grant money “enhanced the whole area”.

He said many people are still hesitant to go inside venues due to the pandemic. By creating an attractive outdoor seating area, the business has been able to attract more people to start socialising in a post-lockdown setting.

Following an application procedure, the remaining £140,000 money was distributed to a total of 24 small companies in West Berkshire.

Council leader Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) said: “It’s great to see local businesses like Weavers Coffee Shop, the Old London Apprentice and Little Yum Factory being so proactive in welcoming back old and new customers this summer.

“I can’t wait to see the outcome of what the other 24 businesses around the district have planned.

"We hope this funding will help drive footfall to these fantastic independent businesses and local suppliers, supporting a strong recovery in the West Berkshire local economy.”

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