It was really refreshing to read the article in last week’s paper from East Devon journalism student, Alexandra Walters. In her excellent article, Alexandra set out her stall about the importance of supporting local businesses and she’s spot on!
Furlough, business rates relief and government grants may have kept the wolf from the door and jobs on the books, but it’ll never replace the need for customers flowing regularly through the door. Within weeks, many businesses will be able to re-open as we emerge from the pandemic. I’m really looking forward to visiting my favourite shops again. Judging by the hustle and bustle of our high streets after the last two lockdowns, I’m not alone.
Supporting local shops and buying local has never been so important. Proper customer service certainly beats the click of a computer mouse when buying online and every local purchase protects local jobs. It’s also important to invest in our shopping areas to encourage people back into our town centres and high streets.
The government is investing £230,000 in East Devon to help prepare Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth for summer. This cash injection is designed to help boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and pop-up food stalls and support plans to bid for further investment.
The money is on the way to East Devon District Council who must decide how to spend it and rest assured, I’ll be watching every penny. I have long campaigned for transformative investment in Exmouth and the council now has the funding they need to put together a strong bid to government to secure up to £20m. I have already been in touch and offered my support.
Exmouth town centre has been hit hard by the pandemic and we’ve seen too many shops close. Two banks have also announced they will soon shut for good. I’ve asked both banks to reconsider their plans but ultimately, it’s sadly their decision.
It is now crucial that every Exmouth district councillor backs my call to the council to bid for up to £20m investment for the town. If they don’t grasp this opportunity, they will be letting our town down.