Great to be out in Virginia Water this morning meeting business owners and customers and delighted to see queues for several shops! It has been great to see the positivity across our towns and villages in recent weeks since the easing of covid restrictions and how our local shops and businesses have been working so hard to get ready to reopen, ensuring all covid secure measures are in place, and how customers are returning to support them now we are able.
Of course not all businesses have been able to reopen yet, and I am looking forward to when indoor hospitality, entertainment venues, such as cinemas and children’s play areas, and indoor gym classes can resume from 17 May. It is so important that we continue to support our high streets and local businesses. So I’m very pleased that the Government has announced new grant funding to help businesses meet the costs and challenges of reopening, including through the new Restart Grant Scheme. This funding does differ from previous grants and each business needs to apply individually. Details of how to apply are available here: https://www.runnymede.gov.uk/article/19345/Grants-for-Business-Rates.
As well as welcoming the reopening of shops and restaurants, and highlighting the importance of supporting local business, it was great to also discuss what more we can do. Issues such as business rates are raised regularly, and we need to ensure a level playing field between local shops and online retail. But local suggestions were raised too, whether it is better engagement, signage and parking, ways to improve the look of our local parades and high streets, and hosting more community fairs and events. I will be discussing these suggestions with our local councillors, and look forward to working together to continue to support local businesses and ensure we can retain the benefits they provide within our community.
I am looking forward to continuing to visit and engage with local businesses and resume face to face meetings where appropriate. If you know of any local business that would like to meet or raise issues with me, please do encourage them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.