A BUSINESS which has “burned through a million pounds” and laid off most of its staff during the pandemic has accused the government of “madness”.

Quadrant2Design, based in Poole, designs and builds stands at trade shows held in the UK’s biggest exhibition venues.

Its managing director, Alan Jenkins, blamed the government for the cancellation of events this summer which he hoped would restore the business.

In a letter to Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson, Mr Jenkins said: “We have not invoiced a single job since March 2020. Unlike retail or hospitality, we have had no open periods during the pandemic. Your government has completely shut down our entire industry.

“We have survived thus far, by dismissing the majority of our 47 staff, selling all our vehicles, turning off the gas heating and by taking virtually every single cost cutting measure you can imagine.”

He said he had been sitting in his office throughout the winter with no heating as he fought to save the business.

“We have burned through a million pounds of reserves (carefully built up over decades) and are now loaded up with your government’s magic money tree debt,” he said.

“We were betting everything on the resumption of the exhibition industry in June/July onwards.

“Over the previous week we have issued job offers to numbers of new and returning staff. We were looking forward to training these people on our equipment, and in the building of our stands, ready for a number of shows in July onwards.”

But he said recent media appearances by health secretary Matt Hancock had spread doubt about plans for the full reopening of the economy on June 21, while Boris Johnson had “weighed in with his usual fence-sitting, bumbling, incoherent, dishonest nonsense”.

The Facilities Show, scheduled for July 12-14, was cancelled shortly afterwards, and Mr Jenkins said the government’s “fearmongering” had prompted the organisers to call it off.

Several other trade shows planned for July have also been scrapped. Mr Jenkins said he government was “desperate to perpetuate this madness for as long as possible”.

Mr Tomlinson said: “I want to see all restrictions lifted as quickly as possible.

“The prime minister’s roadmap has been created to ensure a steady and irreversible march to freedom from restrictions. But as ever, it does depend upon the evidence and the data. With this new variant of concern spreading, it is sensible for the government to keep all options. In fact it would be irresponsible not to do so.”

He said the recent reopening of hospitality and indoor leisure was a “big step forwards”.

He added: “I am confident that with this sensible but cautious approach, our local businesses will be able to flourish, both this summer and into the future.”