A festival organiser who has been trying to access financial support for almost a year says he is being "fobbed off" by those in power.

William Grant, who runs the Stonehenge Solstice Festival in Berwick St James, has made four different applications over the course of the pandemic.

But almost 12 months since the first lockdown began, he has received no payment.

Wiltshire Council says it is "not our intention to turn away businesses" and that it is "keen to help wherever we can".

But the 60-year-old claims his company is an example of those which "slipped through the net" and is continuing to fight for support.

'It's not on'

Like other large-scale events, Stonehenge Solstice Festival had to be called off last year as a result of the pandemic.

Tickets were either refunded or rolled over to this year.

"We've had absolutely no income but we still had all the costs," Mr Grant said.

"We lost a significant amount of money but because it's not a permanent site - it rents part of a campsite and private building - it's not rated and the Government payment scheme is based on rates so we didn't get anything."

After the first application was rejected, Mr Grant applied for a different support grant.

However, he says the council contacted him to ask him to resend it after losing the paperwork.

Even after the application was resubmitted, Mr Grant claims there have been delays in processing it.

He is now waiting to hear the outcome of a fourth application for the Additional Restrictions Support scheme which he submitted in January.

Salisbury Journal: William GrantWilliam Grant

He said: "We're just being fobbed off.

"They said there will be a payment but lockdown started on March 23 and here we are almost 12 months on and we've had zero support for the festival.

"We have been trying for a year, it's been going on and on.

"What else can you do other than chase them?

"I understand they are under pressure which is why I haven't banged the drum too much about it but I think that after 12 months, it's not on and there's other people like me that need help."

'We've paid taxes'

Mr Grant has received financial help for his other business, Stonehenge Campsite Ltd, but is still fighting to be awarded funding for the festival which he says is "completely separate".

"It's been going for 11 years, we've paid taxes, we've supported lots of other businesses, the coach company, local bands, caterers...

"It's not a massive festival but it supports the local economy and we've paid taxes for the last 10/11 years so I don't feel guilty that we should get some support."

"We're just one of a few business that have slipped through the net," he added.

Receiving funding of up to £10,000 "would help us reduce the losses".

"It would be very helpful," he said.

The council's response

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, has responded to Mr Grant's claims.

He said: “We cannot comment on individual cases, but it is not our intention to turn away businesses in need of support where a case can be made in-line with the Government criteria for funding.

"Where businesses do not meet the Government criteria for a COVID-19 business support grant we signpost them to other sources of support including our partners at the Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub who can help businesses navigate the various support schemes available. They can be contacted on 01793 698005 or at hello@SWGrowthHub.co.uk.

"We understand this is a stressful time for businesses, and we are keen to help wherever we can, whether this is through advice, wellbeing support or individual hardship support.

"Since the start of the pandemic, we have given out nearly 24,000 grants totalling over £127 million and we are currently processing over 1,200 applications to the Additional Restrictions Support scheme, which supports businesses without a rates bill or businesses not listed in national restrictions. We expect to out grants totalling a further £7 million by the end of the week."

This year's Stonehenge Solstice Festival will go ahead as planned between June 18 and June 21.

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