Adventurer Per Lindstrand calls for rates help from Shropshire Council as crisis deepens

One of Shropshire’s best known businessmen has called for rate relief for his business due to impact of coronavirus.

Per Lindstrand in happier times
Per Lindstrand in happier times

Balloon adventurer and business owner, Per Lindstrand, says he has been told by Shropshire Council that he must pay his £30,000 rates, or close his Lindstrand Technologies factory in Oswestry.

Mr Lindstrand said: “We are not even being given an extension of time to pay, to take into account the fact that we were closed for half of the year.

“If we can not get any rate relief we need time to claw back money we lost during the lockdown.

Mr Lindstrand put Oswestry on the ballooning world map when he launched his business in the market town but he says that says despite putting money into the Shropshire economy over the past 40 decades, he has had no help from the council in dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown.

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The owner of Lindstrand Technologies says he is facing a rates bill of more than £30,000 which he has been told he must pay by the end of the month.

He is calling for more help for businesses like his. He said, unlike smaller firms or those in categories such as hospitality, retail or leisure, his factory has not been eligible for council help.

Per Lindstrand, Steve Fossett and Virgin Boss Richard Branson, on one of their ballooning adventures

Mr Lindstrand shot to fame when he teamed up with Virgin Tycoon, Richard Branson, to win a series of ballooning records.

He was the first man to fly a hot air balloon across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the flights with Richard Branson made daily headlines. He also took a ballon high and to the edge of space. His 1988 world altitude record flight to 20,000 metres lasted for 16 years.

The ballooning expert opened his factory in Oswestry 42 years ago and has produced some of the most advanced lighter-than-air airships and inflatable structures in the world.

Film

Last year Lindstrand secured a contract for the film The Aeronauts, starring Eddie Redmayne. The winning bid to the makers of The Aeronauts led to months of work for Oswestry company Lindstrand Balloons, from building an authentic Victorian craft to flying it during filming.

The stars even visited Oswestry to see the balloon baskets and envelopes being created.

But this year general production at the factory on the Maesbury Road Industrial Estate was halted in March.

Mr Lindstrand said: “By Government order we had to shut down completely for six months. Staff were furloughed and I was the only one in the factory.”

“We are open during this lockdown but it will take us time to claw back the money we lost earlier in the year.

“Yet we can get no rate relief and we have been told unless we pay up by the end of November we will be closed down.

“It is appalling the way manufacturing is being treated.

“We employ 30 people and were one of the first businesses to move onto Oswestry’s industrial estate.

“We have had no help from Shropshire Council.

“The only thing I have ever asked for were double yellow lines to stop people parking at the entrance to the factory and I didn’t even get that.”

Shropshire Council has published the latest help for businesses on its website.

The latest, local restrictions support grants, are available only to businesses that have been forced to close because of latest lockdown rules.

Shropshire Council has been approached for comment on Mr Lindstrand’s claims.

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