RETAILERS across West Oxfordshire are set to benefit from a support package and expert advice with the launch of a new scheme.

West Oxfordshire District Council's cabinet yesterday (15) approved a pilot project to give independent shops and cafes the chance to apply for help, with 10 businesses in line to be chosen.

The package, which has been developed in conjunction with retail consultants Caprese Ltd, includes an appraisal of their business and help with identifying where improvements could be made.

Councillor Richard Langridge, cabinet member for local economy, said: “West Oxfordshire’s market towns have weathered the recession well.

"There are low retail vacancy rates across the district and free parking is continuing to help draw in visitors.

“However, behind the success we understand that times are tough, especially for independent shops and cafes, which play a vital role in our town centres.

"Rather than offer small, one-off grants, we believe that a comprehensive support package could bring real, longer-term benefits for our smaller retailers - good news for them and the district as a whole.”

Selected retailers will be asked to pay £50 each towards the £800 support package, with the council paying the rest.

All small town centre retailers in West Oxfordshire must apply to register their interest in the scheme by Friday, February 7. For details visit or call 01993 861482.