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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 12:07 GMT
Business support for rural shops
Rural shop front
Rural shops are being helped to compete with nearby towns
Rural shopkeepers in Kent are being offered business advice from the New Year to help them compete with towns.

Tonbridge and Malling businesses are being offered a first visit from a Kent Rural Community Council representative, to decide if further support is needed.

Follow-up advice covers new technology and developing loyalty schemes - 12 shops have already been identified as possible participants.

The borough council is funding the scheme which starts this January.

Kent councillor David Aikman said: "Rural services already qualify for rate relief, but this is often not enough."

The cabinet member for community development added: "Many rural communities depend on the provision of local shops and services, which not only provide employment but are also a focus for community life."

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