A Southport woman has praised her ward councillor and the local authority after she says they came to her rescue and helped save her business.

Jennifer Butler Scholes owns local companies Empowered Bumps and The Hart Space which offer classes and support to expectant parents and new parents but like many firms had been forced to close doors due to the Covid crisis.

As the lockdown eases though, she says her sector has been forgotten by the government which has failed to give clear guidelines enabling it to reopen and provided little assistance to many of the self-employed practitioners in the field. Jennifer explained:

“Most of the groups that run from The Hart Space are female-led businesses. Nearly all of the class facilitators weren’t eligible for the government income support scheme as they had not been trading long enough or got next to nothing from it.”

“The lack of clarity over guidelines for our sector also meant that none of us knew where we stood to restart either, so we were all left in limbo with my premises shut.”
The local businesswoman then asked for help from the town’s MP, Damien Moore but after a couple of weeks of contact, she says his office had still failed to provide the guidance she’d requested, eventually offering instead to ask a question in the House of Commons.

Describing the response as “disappointing” Jennifer says the day before she’d already spoken to one of her local councillors, Greg Myers, as she was increasingly worried by the delay and for her business. She continued:

“The councillor immediately understood the real danger to the business and was just really reassuring and helpful. He came up with a number of positive suggestions and also quickly set wheels in motion within the council to ensure I got support.”

“Public health officers then swung into action and were brilliant, within days I’d got all the advice and help I needed to navigate a way through all the confusion. After so long shut I can now reopen safely in August.”

“I suspect we’d have been going under if it had carried on much longer and it’s not just my business this has really helped but the dozen or so others that use our premises that can now work again.”

“Sefton came to our rescue when others failed to and I can’t thank them and my councillor enough.”

Councillor Myers says that the authority has done a remarkable job during the crisis of looking after residents and assisting thousands of local businesses, commenting:

“I’m delighted we could help Jen, and by extension the other businesses and young families who use her facility in Hart Street and wish them every success getting going again.”

“The council along with other key workers has done much of the heavy lifting locally to help residents during the Covid Crisis. I’ve been hugely impressed by the immense efforts of our wonderful staff right across the range of services and my Labour colleagues in the cabinet.”

“They’ve helped so many in Southport and across the borough, from local firms to vulnerable residents shielding and Sefton’s response has rightly won many plaudits.”

“Let’s hope this is recognised by the government so it doesn’t renege on its promise to meet our Covid costs in full, as the resulting cuts will only damage the very services that have looked after our residents in this crisis.”