Storm-hit communities show they’re open for business

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton.
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton.
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Companies in Northumberland will have the chance to show they’re back and open for business, thanks to a new interactive map launched by Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton today.

He said the initiative would help communities throughout the county let the country know that they were getting back on their feet, following record-breaking wet weather in December.

The floods in the aftermath of Storms Desmond and Eva affected more than 80 local businesses in Northumberland, which saw very heavy rainfall across the region.

Today’s new interactive map will give traders, tourists and residents the chance to put details of their local businesses online, to show they are open for business – from pubs and restaurants to grocery stores and tourist attractions.

Mr Wharton said: “We are determined to do everything we can to support those businesses affected by flooding this winter.

“Today’s interactive map does just that, offering the chance for hard-working business owners and customers across Northumberland to state loud and clear that they are open for business.

“Already 150 businesses have put their pins in the map – I would urge others to follow their lead.”

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “It’s been a tough time for the thousands of businesses who suffered from the devastating floods at the end of last year. Many of them have benefitted from our £11 million rapid support package and are trading again, but that is only the first step on the road to recovery. This interactive map gives them an opportunity to tell the world they are back in business and provide a boost to their local communities.”

Today’s move was welcomed by local leaders.

Allen Creedy, Newcastle and Northumberland branch chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Following severe flooding, small businesses have gone above and beyond to try to stay open in the North of England. They are at the heart of local communities, and when disasters hit they are often at the forefront of the recovery effort. We are pleased to see a Government initiative designed to support and reward them for this effort. Customers sometimes need reminding that many small firms stay open for business, whatever the weather.”

The interactive map will offer real-time updates on the businesses that have re-opened in the wake of the floods, with information crowd-sourced from businesses and their customers.

Those wanting to upload details of companies re-opening in flood-affected areas can visit http://communities.maps.arcgis.com/apps/GeoForm/index.html?appid=ceeb04f94f36408abda8c545bab24eaa where they can complete a simple form with details of the business – including location and opening times.

Anyone uploading details will also be able to tweet them, using the dedicated #OpenforBusiness hashtag.

It means the map will provide an easily accessible place for: Businesses, wanting to let their communities – and those travelling to their area - know they are open; customers, who can offer their support to their favourite business as it gets back up and running; and tourists, who will be able to see at a glance what is open in any particular area as they plan their holiday.

Ministers have announced a package of support worth more than £200million – including more than £800,000 for Northumberland to help flood-affected communities, available through Northumberland County Council.

The Government recently launched a PR campaign, co-ordinated by VisitEngland and VisitBritain, with £1million in new funding, encouraging British families to spend their Easter break in the North of England.

The package builds on £15million of funding already allocated through the GREAT Britain campaign to encourage tourists to visit the North of England.