BUSINESSES in Selby will benefit from a new scheme aimed at giving them the support they need to survive.

The announcement follows a statement from the owners of Greenwoods menswear, which blamed the closure of the store after more than 50 years on Gowthorpe on high rent and business rates.

A spokeswoman for Selby District Council said rents were set by the private sector and business rate levels were set by central government, but the authority was looking at how it can better support local businesses as part of its Programme for Growth.

She said: "We’ve linked up with Business Support York & North Yorkshire to make sure we are giving local businesses the information and support they need, whilst also offering the opportunity to network and build businesses contacts.

“We’ve also facilitated the establishment of the Selby Town Local Enterprise Partnership (STEP), which is made up of large and small independent retailers, councillors and representatives from the Central Community Engagement Forum."

The council has allocated £150,000 towards the work of STEP, to "create a diverse mix of shops and businesses", with an aim to attract shoppers to Selby, and comparing the area with other successful towns to understand how Selby differs and can compete.

The spokeswoman said: "Next steps will include identifying what residents need from the town and what is missing. Creating the right mix of retail and other businesses is essential for jobs and prosperity in the district."

Richard Schofield, who owns Heaven and Home in Gowthorpe, said: "We are being asked for rates at the same rate as York, and I think the whole thing needs looking at.

"We are surrounded by empty shops that aren't paying any rates and charity shops that aren't paying any rates. Stores like Greenwoods are being asked for too much to be there, so there's no reason to be there."

The spokeswoman said: “We know this is a key issue for both the residents and businesses in our district, which is why we are working hard to put in place long-term plans to find solutions and opportunities.”