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Coronavirus: Council leader’s ‘shop local’ plea as stores reopen

Coronavirus: Council leader’s ‘shop local’ plea as stores reopen

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 6:07am 16th June 2020.

Main image: James Street, Harrogate

Smaller businesses need continued support from shoppers to survive

  • The leader of Harrogate Borough Council has made a plea for people to shop local following the opening of non-essential shops.
  • Richard Cooper claims it's smaller businesses that need continued support from shoppers to survive the pandemic.
  • He claims some parts of Harrogate town centre need to be pedestrianised to create even more space for shoppers.

The leader of Harrogate Borough Council has warned high streets are facing a “critical” time as he issued a plea for people to shop locally.

Coun Richard Cooper’s rallying call comes as the district took a large leap out of lockdown on Monday (15 June), with shops reopening their doors for the first time in 12 weeks.

Long queues of keen shoppers have already been spotted outside big brand stores in Harrogate – but Coun Cooper says the district’s smaller businesses will need continued support from shoppers if they are to survive the pandemic.

Mr Cooper said:

“If people don’t shop locally now then they may find in six months time there are far fewer shops on our high street.

“We say we love our indies, we say we hate to see empty shops. If we say those things and we mean them then we need to act accordingly by making the effort to spend locally whether that’s physically in our retail centres or online in the many great delivery or collect offers now available from local shops.”

To welcome shoppers back to the high streets, social distancing signs and directions depicting safer routes have been put up around Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon.

Temporary barriers have also been installed on some streets to widen footpaths for social distancing.

And in more drastic measures, Coun Cooper has renewed his call for some parts of Harrogate town centre to be pedestrianised to create even more space for shoppers and to discourage the use of cars.

He added:

“I still think it would be best to use the road space to help as many people as possible to socially distance in the town centres.

“In Harrogate this could be achieved by closing James Street and Albert Street to traffic. The parking spaces are already coned off so this doesn’t seem a difficult thing to do.”

In other safety measures, council ‘ambassadors’ have been out on the high streets to give out safety advice – and businesses have been sent ‘toolkits’ to keep shoppers and traders safe. 

Coun Cooper concluded:

“Many of our public conveniences have been re-opened and many more are scheduled to do so over the coming days.

“We will also be seeing what land the borough council has available to help food and drink outlets with social distancing when they reopen hopefully on 4 July.”