A vacant shop unit in Bishop Auckland has been brought back into use as a grooming parlour, thanks to council support.

Paws Pride and Groom is one of two businesses in the town to have recently benefitted from Durham County Council’s Targeted Business Improvement (TBI) scheme.

Business owner Paula Campbell was awarded cash to carry out a full internal refit of the premises in Fore Bondgate.

The money has also enabled her to give the front of the shop a refresh, with brand new signage now taking pride of place above the entrance.

Paula is also planning on taking on an apprentice now that the grooming parlour is up and running.

She said: “For many years I had aspirations to own and manage my own dog grooming business and the TBI most definitely supported me in achieving this. The fund has enabled me to create a quirky and professional environment with many customers commenting on how welcoming my salon is.

“The council has been extremely helpful in guiding me through the application process from beginning to end. This was fundamental to the success of the application as the more I understood the more confident I became about the whole process.

“I’m very proud of Paws Pride and Groom and look forward to building further on the uccess of our first six months.”

Neighbouring business Gregg Bros has also received support through the TBI initiative.

The front of the takeaway unit has been completely revamped, with improvements including new signage and new windows to the first floor.

The Targeted Business Improvement scheme aims to improve economic activity across the county’s retail centres; generate investment, employment and training opportunities; and improve the design and appearance of business premises.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Supporting small businesses is extremely important for sustaining and improving the vitality and viability of our town centres.

“During the past year, we have helped eight businesses in Bishop Auckland and we are currently working with two others.

“However, we are still open to further requests for support so I would encourage people to get in touch if they think that their business could also benefit.”

The Targeted Business Improvement scheme is open to businesses operating in a number of locations across County Durham. For more information, contact the economic development team on 03000 261 951, email TBI@durham.gov.uk or visit www.durham.gov.uk/helpwithbusinessfunding