BOURNEMOUTH council has begun distributing £336,000 in business rates relief.

In the spring budget the Government announced a £300 million scheme of business rates relief to be distributed by councils over a four year period, but in recent weeks has criticised those councils which had yet to hand out the cash, Bournemouth among them.

The borough says it has contacted 43 businesses eligible for a share of the grant, and 27 have confirmed they are eligible and been awarded a rebate.

Also, the council says, Local Government Minister Marcus Jones, has written with his congratulations for its "approach to administering business rates relief".

Last month Darren Vickers, council revenues manager, told the Echo: "We want to ensure we maximise the financial support for Bournemouth’s businesses and would encourage any business who would consider themselves eligible to submit an application."

The leader of Bournemouth council, Councillor John Beesley said: “It is important that we ensure financial support is given to Bournemouth’s businesses and it’s really positive that 27 businesses have already been awarded a rebate.

"We would encourage any local business who consider themselves eligible to apply.”