Plea for help from pet food stall that was only business turned down for a lockdown grant at Doncaster Corn Exchange

Officials are pledging to help a Doncaster businesswoman after she told how she was the only business in the Corn Exchange not to have been handed a grant.

By David Kessen
Sunday, 21st February 2021, 12:30 pm

Hirut Meshesha, runs a small pet food and accessories, HTM Pet Food and Accessories, in Doncaster Corn Exchange.

But she has not traded since October, and could not get the same grant as other businesses in that section of the market because she is classed as an essential shop. Mrs Meshesha, who has been on Doncaster market since 2011, said she had still had to pay rent on the stall.

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The Corn Exchange, Doncaster. Picture: NDFP-05-01-21-LockdownDoncaster NMSY-8

She said she was told that the market could have been opened to let her in – but there would be no security. That meant she was worried about her health and safety.

She said: “The building has been shut. There is no point in me being in there if there is no public. Also, if there is no security, there is no health and safety. I don’t think it would be safe.

"I asked about this in October, but was turned down for a grant.”

Chris Dungworth, head of Business Doncaster, said his team has looked into Mrs Meshesha’s situation and promised to work with her.

HTM Pet Food and Accessories, Doncaster Corn Exchange

He said: “Regrettably, she is not eligible for a grant under the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes because her business is considered to be an essential retailer, and is therefore not required to close under the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

“However, we are pleased to confirm that an alternative support grant is available for eligible businesses that have not been required to close, but who have seen a significant loss of trade during the lockdown period. Business Doncaster will work with the business owner to make sure they are aware of the grant, eligibility criteria and the application process.

“With regards to not being able to trade the management company who run the market estate have said the Corn Exchange has been closed for security reasons as no other businesses are open but the trader has not been stopped from opening. They are happy to talk to Mrs Mesheda about her options as the building can and will be re-opened as soon as the trader would like to open her unit for business.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.