As we ease out of lockdown it is heartening to see that the district recorded zero covid fatalities in the previous three weeks (No covid deaths in three weeks as lockdown eases, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p12). It is also encouraging that we can start to see a few more people outside and reconnect with loved ones. We all want to move back to normality as soon as is safe, but residents are telling me of their concerns about possible setbacks.
So, it was good to hear that through technology we can start to safely open up our high street. The Locale app sounds like a great way to help to begin the regeneration of the local economy whilst alleviating residents’ health concerns (App to help ease fears as lockdown is eased, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p26)
Kent County Council and Canterbury City Council have a massive part to play. They must come together to find ways to help local businesses and create jobs that also address health and environmental concerns.
If the eminent business forecaster Professor Richard Scase is right, and retail parks become a thing of the past (Retail parks could be gone in a decade, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p14), then the high street must grasp the opportunity to attract more visitors. This can only be done if KCC and CCC learn to adapt to a post-covid shopping experience. More attractions need to open up, and it’s great to hear that after two decades a new hotel will open in the location of the old Slatters hotel (Hotel to finally open more than 20 years after Slatters closed, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p5) – the restaurant sounds like a great space to relax. However, with more people visiting, our councils must anticipate what is needed to help our city flourish. A more affordable bus service, interconnected cycle routes that allow commuting, secure bike lockers, places to change out of bike gear with bike service stations, and more electric car charging points are all needed. All of this is necessary to combat predicted congestion and to improve air quality, it is this type of joined-up thinking that both KCC and CCC need to engage in.
Let’s boost the local economy but take note of the rightful concerns our local residents share.
Labour and Co-operative Candidate for Canterbury City North