THE man behind one of the county’s biggest business success stories has asked Herefordshire Council for “retrospective funding” of a six-figure property deal – citing the council’s £500,000 for British Land as a precedent.

In an open letter to Herefordshire Council leader Councillor John Jarvis, Mark Ellis, cofounder of M&M Direct and now a property developer, said his locally-sourced shop conversion – that brought cookery and homeware chain Lakeland to Commercial Street, creating 20 jobs – cost £200,000 out of his own pocket with no grants or subsidies.

Lakeland, said Mr Ellis, was wanted by the former Edgar Street Grid (now Hereford Futures) for the Old Livestock Market causing “much indecision” over the move.

“I managed to secure them for the historic core of the city and they have been a huge boost to Commercial Street,” said Mr Ellis.

He said council cabinet approval of £500,000 for British Land to cover “changing market conditions” over the ESG deal sets a precedent.

“Can I apply for funding retrospectively for my scheme? After all it is done, delivered, created jobs and it is performing,” said Mr Ellis.

And if that funding isn’t forthcoming, Mr Ellis says the council could always front up a sum for a similar conversion he has planned in Hereford city centre.