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Swaffham newsagent calls for further rent relief as footfall down

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A market town newsagent is calling for support from a local authority after a steep decline in footfall during the pandemic.

Hayley Bright of Sue’s News in Swaffham has written to the town council who will consider her request for further pandemic rent relief during Wednesday’s full council meeting.

The town council previously agreed to a 50 per cent reduction in rent for the months of July, August and September after being contacted by Sue's News.

Picture: Sue's News
Picture: Sue's News

And the newsagent is now calling on further support citing the cancellation of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular show this year as a blow for her business at a challenging time.

In a letter seen by the Lynn News, Mrs Bright told the council: "Unfortunately trading conditions have not improved over recent months due to the Covid pandemic and we continue to be approximately 40 per cent down on footfall.

"We are now moving into our quietest time of the year and as mentioned in my last communication the cancellation of this year's Thursford show is a blow for trade for Swaffham businesses.

"With restrictions continuing and the likelihood for further stricter government guidelines this will be a difficult six months to get through.

"We absolutely appreciate and are very grateful for the financial help the council have given previously.

"We ask again please for your assistance for the coming winter months and if possible until the new financial year for a rent reduction."

She also referred to the "general slow demise" of high street shopping in addition to the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The market place newsagents was opened by former manager Sue Fulcher in 2014.

Also on the agenda for this week's Swaffham Town Council meeting is a proposal by councillor Ian Pilcher who chairs the finance committee.

This suggests the town council should not embark on any business commitment that has financial risk until "government guidance and policy gives a basis for reassurance to invest for the future".

Mr Pilcher's explanation reads: "We are in a very unusual and commercially challenging time, with no clarity of an end in sight.

"Across the arena of commerce, this is not the time for any unsecured investment risk, especially with third party funding."

He said financial risks could potentially cost the tax payer "for many years to come".

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