Council’s produce shop plan flops

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DESPITE giving it a second chance, the council’s local produce shop plan has flopped.

Chichester District Council set out to find a local business, and give it a boost with a high-street presence and a £75,000 grant from West Sussex County Council.

The first attempt earlier in the year found no suitable candidate, but officers decided to give it one last push.

However, this was to no avail.

The council’s cabinet met on Tuesday (November 5) and members were set to select an applicant to run the shop in a behind-closed-doors session.

But after the meeting a district council spokeswoman revealed the council had given up on the plan.

“Local producers initially suggested this project would help them to expand their businesses and we have worked hard to find a suitable tenant or operator who would make this business model work,” said the council spokeswoman.

“We had a great deal of interest in this project from both suppliers and from potential operators.

“However, due to the current economic climate, some of the expected applications did not materialise.

“Unfortunately, the applications that were submitted were unsuitable and so we were unable to proceed with them.

“We are incredibly disappointed with this outcome, but we intend to look at other ways in which we can support our local producers.”

The council was going to lease one of its properties on South Street, and give a £75,000 grant – but the shop would have to sell locally-sourced produce.

In the first round of applications, there were 11 applicants, but none were successful in their bids.

It is now unclear how the £75,000 grant from the county council will be spent, but it must be spent by March 31, 2014 or it is lost to the Chichester district.