Should We Be Supporting Our Local Businesses With Council Backed Schemes?

Like many, I can’t wait for the day to return to some sort of normality and once again able to walk down our High Street without fear of a deadly infection.

With the Government announcing that we are facing a ‘significant recession’ we need to do our very best to stem the loss of businesses from our district and make sure that when workers are taken off furlough they have jobs to return to.

Accomodation and food being the worse hit sector

On today’s leaders call with the Council, I have asked whether the Council will look at schemes such as a temporary pedestrianisation of the High Street in Rayleigh, to enable people to use the High Street safely within social distancing guidelines and also give cafes and restaurants a safe outdoor space to operate in the summer months and will give the hardest hit sector a chance to survive. Rayleigh’s Wednesday market could be spaced out and allow traders to return to work. With the reduction in traffic on our roads, it could be an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss, both economically and socially.

Elsewhere in the Country, local Councils have proactive support schemes to “support ideas/projects that will help to revitalise, and perhaps repurpose, our high street spaces and rural communities” such as this one in East Riding, Yorkshire with the offer of grants of up to £10,000. It’s a proactive approach to securing the prosperity of their community and I believe this is what is needed right now for our community. In other areas, there are schemes such as ‘Pay It Forward’ which allows businesses to pre-sell their goods and services.

Perhaps we should be bold and seize a golden opportunity, to harness the feelings that many are having as they re-evaluate their work/life balance and they seek to work locally, but also as a Council to drive our local economy forward and build more longterm local businesses.

What do you think? Is now the right time for change? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the author 

James Newport

Essex County Councillor for Rayleigh North, Rochford District Councillor for Downhall & Rawreth and Rayleigh Town Councillor for Sweyne.

  • Would make an ideal opportunity in order to encourage foot-fall in the centre of town. Children could ride their bikes and scooters safely and yes pubs & cafes should be allowed to expand onto the footpaths to help social distancing. Give it try. It won’t cost much and can be easily reversed if unsuccessful.

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