Traders’ apathy to Holbeach Business Forum plan

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LESS than ten per cent of Holbeach businesses backed a scheme by the town’s traders’ forum to get a business plan off the ground.

Holbeach Business Forum sent letters – which included a stamped addressed envelope and a printed reply slip – to 261 businesses in and around the town.

Only 45 traders replied and just 26 were positive responses.

Treasurer and membership secretary Roger Larner said the forum is disappointed with the response but he thought the problem lay with the fact that the businesses had been asked for money.

He said: “We asked for a donation of £50 from each business.

“We were so disappointed that the one-man bands didn’t give but we didn’t get responses from any of the big boys, with the exception of the Lincolnshire Co-op which donated £500.

“We understand that everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment because of the economic climate, but it would have taken two minutes to mark the slip and drop the envelope in the post – that’s what was most disappointing.”

The total pledged was £1,996, which fell well short of the £12,000 the forum needed to raise.

Mr Larner added: “We need to raise £20,000 altogether to pay for a professional company to produce the business plan for us.

“John King, who was a big supporter of the forum, had pledged £8,000 if businesses could raise £12,000 but he passed away in October. We haven’t gone back to his family about the money because we are nowhere near raising the £12,000 we needed.”

The plan now is for forum members to create a business plan themselves.

A group has been set up, led by David Matthewson, to pulled together a business plan, which will allow them to apply to the Government’s regional growth fund for a grant.

Mr Larner added: “Without a business plan we will be unable to apply for any grants that might be available.

“We have written to everyone who supported us and explained the situation, saying they can have their donations back if they wish, but so far no-one has asked for that.

“It is disheartening when the people we are trying to do this for aren’t interested but we’re doing it for the good of the town.

“What do people want from Holbeach in five years – a vibrant market town or a ghost town?”