Owner of holiday let in village near Banbury grateful for relief grant from council during Covid-19 pandemic
The owner of a holiday let in a Cotswolds village near Banbury is hoping for a brighter future after the council went ‘the extra mile’ to help keep his business going.
Mike Wilson, who opened his one-bedroom holiday let in the village of Brailes near Banbury last August, saw his income plummet when the latest lockdown came into effect.
He applied for a grant to keep the businesses afloat – but then allowed a couple who had suffered an internal building issue to stay while it was fixed, potentially voiding the grant.
Mike said: “I wasn’t sure whether I’d actually be eligible for this grant because I’d allowed someone to stay due to an emergency.
“But when I explained the situation to the customer service team at Stratford District Council, they said it was at their discretion and therefore allowed it because it was an emergency situation.
“It was so important to us, as we were forced to cancel bookings around Christmas and New Year which cost us quite a lot of money.
“Ever since then, the team has been extremely helpful by informing me about any new grants I can apply for, and exactly when grant money is due to be paid without me having to ask.
“The council has really gone the extra mile to help me, and I don’t think you get that a lot these days.”
Mike is hopeful the government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown will happen as scheduled so guests will start to book with him again.
He added: “We’re feeling cautious about the near future – we’ve got a booking in June but many people are simply viewing rather than booking because they are unsure about what’s going to happen”.
“Our guests usually come to enjoy the Cotswolds or to visit Stratford – but with many key attractions shut at the moment, I don’t think people are as confident to book a break here.
“I hope the vaccine rollout continues to go well so things like pubs and theatres are more likely to open up again when the government said they would. That’s when our guests will start coming back.”
Cllr Matt Jennings, portfolio holder for tourism and economic development Stratford District Council, said: “It’s crucial that we as a council are doing everything we can to keep holiday lets like Mike’s going before we come out of lockdown and reopen the economy.
“A huge part of Stratford District’s economy depends on tourists coming to visit – and any who travel from afar will need places to stay.
“I’m really pleased that Mike has been impressed with our service through what is a difficult time for businesses like his. We’ll continue to offer advice and support to businesses that need it, and we’re hopeful demand will return when restrictions are eased.”