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Stourport business owner criticises council over mystery grant money
6:20am Tuesday 4th February 2014 in News
A STOURPORT business owner has criticised Wyre Forest District Council for withholding information from her about a refurbishment grant that was used by previous tenants to renovate her shop.
Stephanie Morrison, owner of chocolate and sugar specialist Delicia Does in Stourport High Street, said she would like to know exactly what a £3,000 refurbishment grant was spent on, which was given to and spent by the previous tenants only six months before she moved in.
Miss Morrison said she can see little evidence of what the money was spent on in the shop, which was shut down by Environmental Health two months ago as it was unsuitable to prepare food in.
A district council spokeswoman said the council does hold a breakdown of what the grant money was spent on but the "contract for those works were a matter between the previous occupier and the contractor direct".
Miss Morrison, of Rock, said: "The previous tenant got the full council regeneration grant. That grant is supposed to be for structural work and the front of the shop so it will basically benefit the town and the shop.
"I've had so many problems with my shop since I've moved in. As a tenant, I would like to know what they spent £3,000 on. They [the council] should be able to tell me instantly. Three strip lights and a laminated floor, I'm sorry but that's not £3,000. I just want the council to be clear and honest.
"The window frame is rotten, the lighting had to be re-wired and the roof is falling in.
"The council is obviously not checking what that money is being spent on. I've been closed for two months, I can't get any help as far as I'm aware."
The previous tenants, Simply Baked, were entitled to the grant as the shop had been empty for more than three months. The bakery left the property after six months.
Miss Morrison said she will be sending a formal complaint to the council for withholding the information.
Mike Parker, Wyre Forest District Council’s director of economic prosperity and place, said: "The council awarded a grant to the previous occupant of 7 High Street, Stourport in March 2013 to carry out improvements to electrical wiring, a front canopy, a new floor and general painting and decoration.
"The council has been in correspondence with Ms Morrison in an effort to assist her with the information we hold, but the extent of the grant award the council made does not cover the matters that have caused the shop to be closed.
"The matter is between Ms Morrison and her landlord if the premises are in an unsatisfactory condition”.
A spokeswoman for the council added: "We had copies of the invoices for the work done under the grant scheme before the monies were released. The contract for those works were a matter between the previous occupier and the contractor direct."
Miss Morrison hopes to be open in time for Valentines Day after repair work has been completed.
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