Wiltshire

Salisbury spy attack: City gets £1m to boost trade after poisoning

Open for business sign outside closed card shop Image copyright PA
Image caption Salisbury has been declared officially safe outside police cordons

Businesses in Salisbury are being offered compensation from a £1m government fund to help them recover after the poisoning of a former spy.

Traders have been hit by a drop in sales since former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were attacked.

Wiltshire Council leader Baroness Jane Scott said the rescue package was agreed in Westminster on Monday.

On Tuesday Defra declared the city officially safe outside police cordons.

Commenting on the funding, Baroness Scott said: "It will enable us to carry on with the things we're doing, rate relief and small amounts of money to help with rent."

At a meeting earlier on Tuesday, Wiltshire Council heard how some Salisbury businesses lost 90% of their takings.

The average amount lost since the nerve agent attack was about 20%.

Compensation is also available for individuals who can prove they lost earnings as a result of cordons.

The meeting also heard decontamination of sites would start when investigations finished, which could be as early as next week.

Other steps being taken include finding new drop-off points for coach tours that normally stop outside The Maltings, where the victims were found on a bench.

Baroness Scott said she hoped there were would be more grants to help build up a long-term plan to revive trade.

The council will work with Visit Wiltshire to create a new marketing campaign to attract tourists back into the city.

Baroness Scott said: "We need to make sure there's lot going on in this city, that we're telling people it's safe and there's money to market the city in the future."

The council introduced free parking at its car parks in the city on Saturday as a temporary measure.

The Old Ale House in the city has seen a 20% drop in trade since the attacks, but business partner Shane O'Neill said the free parking was helping.

"We are seeing a lot more foreign tourists coming in which is a real benefit to us because they've been avoiding the place. It's been really difficult," he said.

Image caption On Saturday free parking came into effect which boosted the number of shoppers coming into the city

Naomi House charity shop in The Maltings has seen a 70% drop in sales.

Manager Audrey French said: "For the last three weeks, we've been really been struggling to get any custom in, any footfall past the shop or anything, because of the cordoned area.

"On Saturday, the trade did pick up quite significantly which was lovely, but we have a long, long way to go."

Image copyright EPA/ YULIA SKRIPAL/FACEBOOK
Image caption Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33 were poisoned by a nerve agent called Novichok

The impact of the free parking has also been felt by other businesses.

Suzie Mason from Casa Fina said: "It was like a tap being turned on - it was fantastic.

"People have been really supportive but we just need that to carry on. We need a long-term solution."

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