“Without assurance of support, businesses hoping that the Christmas boost would see them through are now facing an uncertain future,” said Bognor BID co-ordinator Heather Allen in a statement accompanying the letter.
“Town centre footfall is much lower than in previous years, showing a drop of around 16,500 visitors in the week of December 6-12 compared to 2019,” she added.
The calls come following the introduction of new measures designed to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, measures which make mandatory the wearing of face masks in public venues and shops.
It also comes alongside the announcement of a new £1 billion bailout package by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, which includes provisions for grants worth up to £6,000 for leisure and hospitality businesses.
For Trevor Pulleyblank, owner of the Trevali Guest House, a bed and breakfast in Belmont Street, Bognor Regis, the help can’t come soon enough.
“All we’ve had is cancellation after cancellation,” he said.
“We were due to be full up over Christmas and, by the end of the week, we’ll be lucky if we have one person coming in.”
There are concerns, however, that government grants won’t be enough to save all struggling businesses and that no provisions have yet been made for retail stores. “Six thousnd pounds may not be enough to save some businesses,” said Heygates bookshop owner Jason Passingham.