It is great to see many more local shops opening up this week for the first time in nearly three months. While it isn’t possible for every premises and every type of outlet to reopen, this is real progress. Getting more people back to work, supporting local businesses, and getting our economy moving is vitally important.
Because of the Coronavirus and subsequent shutdown, retail has badly suffered. It was already facing challenges due to the trend of greater internet shopping and high rents. While reopening helps, the need for social distancing is bound to have an impact for some time to come.
I support consumer choice and my own choice is to support local shops whenever possible. If we don’t use them, we may end up without them and then risk having no choice at all. I encourage everyone to support our local shops and businesses at this challenging time, but it is also really important to adhere to their social distancing measures and new ways of shopping, such as following one-way systems. We should also be patient when things take longer and treat our shop workers with courtesy and understanding, as they work in challenging circumstances to keep people safe while they are in store.
Last week at Crawley Borough Council, the Scrutiny Committee agreed to proposals from my Conservative colleagues to set up a panel to look at how our neighbourhood parades are run by the Council. This is very timely as we had advocated this before the outbreak, but it has now become even more imperative given how retail is facing more challenges, in addition to high rents from the Council as landlord.
This was only the second Borough Council meeting of any kind for Councillors since early March. These meetings are now taking place online and in theory viewable to the public, but with a ruling Labour Administration that likes to avoid scrutiny, it’s suspiciously hard to find the links on the Council’s website to view meetings. I encourage people to view the next Scrutiny meeting that is taking place next Monday the 22nd at 7pm.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
17th June 2020