Council support package

WELLINGTON Shire Council will allocate $470,000 towards initiatives supporting local small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Alan Hall said since COVID-19 had hit Wellington, many local businesses had been doing it tough.

He said council had been working on ways it would help local businesses make it through this latest adversity, after the devastation from the bushfires in January and the worst drought in more than 100 years.

The package approved last week includes waiving business fees including portable advertising permit fees (12 months); the alfresco dining permit fee (12 months); roadside trading permit fees (eight months); tenancy costs for council-managed commercial properties and four caravan parks (five months); 2021 annual food and health registration fees; and planning permit application fees for business and commercial developments (April-December).

In addition, council will cover the cost of annual memberships for businesses to join their local business and tourism associations, including Dargo Business and Tourism Association, Heyfield Traders and Tourism, Loch Sport Business and Tourism Association, Maffra Business and Tourism Association, Port Albert Progress Association, Rosedale Chamber of Commerce, Sale Business and Tourism Association, Stratford Business and Tourism Association and Yarram Traders and Tourism.

The package also includes a plan for practical support, including meeting with businesses directly to assess their needs and provide connections to government support; the establishment of a social media platform to encourage people to shop locally; and a Wellington-based advertising campaign once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Cr Hall said he hoped this package would be the first step to helping local businesses to make it through this rough time.

“We don’t know what the future holds,” he said.

“We know many Wellington businesses have been struggling to keep their heads above water, from the drought to bushfires to the uncertainty of our timber industry, and now this pandemic.

“Please know that Wellington Shire Council is here to support local business in any way we possibly can, and we hope these measures will help.”