AN ANDOVER business owner who recently made six of his staff redundant has blamed it on Test Valley Council for a lack of funding.

After 17 years of building Symbiosis to a multi-million pound turnover, business for Nigel Targett and his co-founder Vanessa Okell dried up overnight due to Covid-19.

“We’re devastated,” Mr Targett said.

“We went literally from a full order book for six months to zero.

"The work disappeared in a puff of smoke, and we’re not expecting to be able to work for some time. We’re hoping perhaps November.

"But unlike many business sectors, we have not had any government guidance as to when venues can reopen and we can finally start work."

Symbiosis is an exhibition stand design, build and installation company.

Through the early stages, staff were placed on furlough, and Mr Targett believed they would be eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant. Among other things, the Government website says a business is eligible if it "is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector."

But Test Valley Council did not approve this particular grant.

A council spokesperson, said: “The guidance received from central government around those who are eligible for this grant is clear. As this business is primarily a supply chain for the retail, hospitality and leisure category it is not eligible for this funding.

"We have even taken this particular case specifically back to central government to query. Central government has stated that funding is not applicable in this case, something which the company is also aware of.

“However, we are extremely pleased that we have been able to create a local grant scheme which means that Symbiosis has received a £10k grant from the council.

"It was unfortunate that the government grant criteria excluded them in the first place but TVBC has played its part in making sure that local companies get the funds they badly need.”

Exhibition companies have been hit hard by Covid-19 with the cancellation of many events until 2021.

Symbiosis has managed to do a small amount of work using existing equipment such as creating safety signage and screen for local shops and businesses.

“Sadly we’ve been forced to make local people redundant and I see more without the help of the council," Mr Targett finished.

"We’re a very close team, we know and care about every one of them and their families, because they are our extended work family.”