We had an excellent meeting this morning with the usual welcome and introductions, after which Tig Armstrong, from South Norfolk Council, talked briefly about the grants which are available for businesses during this Covid-19 pandemic. There is a discretionary fund as well as the known national schemes. This has a deadline which is coming up.
To find out more, visit https://www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-information/support-businesses 
To keep right up to date, sign up for their newsletter. There is also a survey they would appreciate you completing. Tig will be back for our March meeting, Weds 3rd March, to talk about the grants and support available in more detail. Email info@hdbf.org.uk to be sent a link to the meeting.

Then Clive Attwood and Trevor Graham talked about the Neighbourhood Development Plan that Harleston Town Council and NDP committee are compiling at the moment. We talked about the things we liked about the town and its challenges in competition with other towns nearby. Environmental aspects were mentioned and we underlined the wish for a business park to be added to the plan. Clive Attwood is to report back to the NDP Committee.


For our November zoom meeting we were very pleased to welcome Councillor John Fuller OBE, leader of South Norfolk Council, as our main speaker.

Cllr Fuller spoke firstly about his business history and how he got to his position as leader of South Norfolk district council. He then moved on to explain the areas he covered in his role. The main focus of his talk, however, was how the region was affected by the current Covid-19 crisis and what they were trying to do to help everyone through this period. He mentioned how many were affected by this from businesses, to employees who now face losing their jobs and having to look for work, which would be increasingly difficult for the 50+ age group. SNDC have offered grants to help businesses bounce back, and in particular, have spent money on market towns to try and adapt them to make them safe for customers

Harleston was one of these towns that they looked to support and Cllr Fuller went on to explain why they had brought the changes they did to the town centre when shops reopened in July. He admitted that some mistakes were made, but there was very little time to put it all together so that the shops could open in time in a safe way. They listened to the initial problems these changes made and tried to adjust were they could

He also mentioned the survey that was taken out to get the views of what everybody thought of the changes made. Although he had seen only the first drafts of these results they seemed to indicate a 50/50 split in the findings

Cllr Fuller then went on to speak about the future. The council has secured over £400,000 in funding to improve the town centre. This he stressed was not to pedestrianize the town centre. It was up to the town to come together to figure out the best way to spend the money on improving the centre taking into account everyones needs. He stressed the importance of small towns now in a Covid-19 world, were it was important for people to not have to travel far to get what they need. He stated that Harleston needs to be a town where people can “linger” for a while, not just pop in and out. He challenged all of us to come together and spend the money wisely. This amount together with other improvements already secured by Martin Wilby meant that Cllr Fuller believed Harleston really has the chance of a bright future

After Cllr Fuller's talk we then had the chance to go around all the attendees of the meeting so that they could introduce themselves and discuss any business issues/problems they wanted to talk about within the group

Our next meeting will again be on Zoom on Wednesday 2nd December around 8am, at which we will be welcoming our MP, Richard Bacon. The Forum is a great opportunity for your business to get support and to network with other like minded people in the area. If you wish to join us then look on our website www.hdbf.org.uk for more details.

Andrew Denny – Chairman HDBF

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