TEST Valley Borough Council was recognised for its friendly nature to small businesses at an industry award scheme.

The authority scooped ‘highly commended’ in the Best All Round Small Business Friendly Council category at the Federation of Small Business Awards for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight last month.

Portfolio holder for estates and economic development, Councillor David Drew, said: “We were delighted to have been highly commended for our work to support small businesses in the borough. The awards always provide a fascinating insight into all the great work that is going on across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to help grow and develop small businesses.

“We support local businesses in a variety of ways, including through grants and accessing specialist advice and guidance. Ensuring the borough is a great place to work and do business is one of the council’s main priorities.”

To date the council has awarded almost £100,000 in Independent Retailer Grants and Business Incentive Grants, helping 589 businesses in the area.

In addition, the Andover Skills Training Fund has helped to upskill more than 500 Andover residents in 145 businesses by contributing towards their training costs.

Cllr Drew added: “I am passionate about our local businesses and the council will continue to do everything possible to help them to flourish and thrive.”

Test Valley has seen one of the highest rates of business growth in Hampshire over the past seven years, with 1,170 new businesses launched in the area between 2010 and 2017.