A package of free business support has been established to help all businesses directly or indirectly affected by the Buncefield fire. This joint service, set up by Business Link Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Dacorum Borough Council, includes up to £5,000 of specialist expertise for any business struggling to recover or continue, as a result of the blaze.

The fuel depot fire, from an explosion described as the biggest ever in peace-time Europe, began at 6am on Sunday December 11. As the Fire and Rescue services tackled the blaze, roads and schools were closed for number of days over health concerns from the resultant smoke. But, for local residents and businesses, the effects will be longer term. The free service has been designed to support local businesses at this difficult time. It provides access to useful contacts and telephone numbers for expert support, advice on legal issues and other organisations well-placed to represent local business needs. A property search service also helps businesses with short-term location difficulties. Experienced business advisers are on hand to offer one-to-one practical support.

This includes up to 10 days consultancy to undertake a full business assessment. Following this, a tailored recovery/ development plan can be put together to address issues such as cashflow, creditors, debtors, premises, insurance, IT and data recovery, customers, employees, communications, orders, suppliers, stock, plant, logistics, contracts and services. Access to a poll of technical specialists including legal, ICT, property and logistics has also been set up with initial advice, guidance and assessment provided at no cost.

Tim Hutchings, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Many local businesses have been affected by this terrible fire. And, coming as it did just a fortnight before Christmas, it has been an added blow for many local people.” John Collier, Chief Executive of Business Link Hertfordshire, added: “It is vital that we do whatever possible to support the local community and it is hoped that this package of free services will go some way to alleviate the problems faced by many local firms.” An emergency helpline has been set up for businesses – 01727 813813 – where they will be put through to a team of business advisers who can help with their enquiries. Also the Herts chamber website is providing hourly updates on the situation and how to get assistance on www.hertschamber.com . Herts Chamber of commerce and Industry (HCCI) and Business Link Hertfordshire have issued a joint press releases and set up a helpline for local businesses with a team of financial advisers on stand-by, ready to give immediate advice on staffing, meeting orders, premises, insurance claims, etc. For further information, please contact the Press Office, Business Link Hertfordshire on 01727 813476 (minicom 01727 813555)