Column: Back Our Communities and Shop Local

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 16th April:

This week saw the next steps of our route out of lockdown. It’s not just our pubs and restaurants that are starting to reopen, but also shops, gyms, hairdressers, salons & other outdoor attractions opening their doors as we emerge from this latest lockdown.

The past year has been hard, this last lockdown even harder still. Local businesses have faced unfamiliar circumstances with their doors having to close with short notice and owners and staff having to adapt their routine last minute.

The furlough scheme provided a lifeline for many local businesses, but as they start to reopen, and the end of the scheme is in sight, our individual support will be vital in ensuring that they can continue to trade after this crisis.

The government has already stated that it is not willing to support unviable businesses, however there is a strong case that most of these businesses are only in this situation because it has not been safe for them open and then operate at full capacity.

I’ve previously argued that the government needs to provide targeted support for these businesses and do more to ensure that they can reopen and thrive. The Labour party has also argued in favour of training for workers who have been furloughed for over 12 months ensuring that they still have the skills to work to their full potential.

Viable businesses still need more support in order to ensure their long-term ambitions. A helping hand to guide them through the end of the crisis will help prevent a knock-on effect to jobs and our local economy.

Barnsley Council’s newly published three-year plan shows a clear vision for the coming years by building back better and fairer after the pandemic. It’s leadership such as this that will ensure that Barnsley is ready to take on future challenges in the years ahead by protecting both its people, and its economy.

In the meantime, we can all do our bit by shopping local and investing into our community. Use independent retailers and shop at one of our fantastic local markets. Pop into your local pub for a pint and a bite to eat. Head over to places such as Elsecar Heritage Centre & Worsborough Mill for example which already support many fantastic local businesses, for a great day out with the family.

These are all small, fun activities that we can do but also make a very real difference to our community. I’m convinced we can not only recover from this crisis, but also thrive.

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  • Stephanie Peacock
    published this page in Coronavirus 2021-04-16 11:59:32 +0100