Praise for Stansted businesses as lockdown eases
Stansted’s business community has impressed the new chair of Uttlesford District Council with its "enthusiasm to get going again" post lockdown.
As non-essential retailers reopened their doors to customers, Cllr Martin Foley visited the village to talk to shopkeepers, reinforcing his authority's offer of help and support to get businesses back on their feet.
And he praised the ingenuity and determination of business owners who had adapted during the coronavirus pandemic as well as Stansted Parish Council for its support.
"I was incredibly impressed by [Stansted Parish Council] chair Maureen Caton and the whole team as to how well they know their businesses locally. They're incredibly switched on and that's so important going forward," said Cllr Foley.
"I pay tribute to them for getting stuck in and standing up for their local business community. Some businesses have had no income and been dreadfully affected, and to see such enthusiasm to get going is incredible."
He toured Lower Street, visiting Kings Family Butchers, Yeoman's Café, florist and gift shop Paris Legore and fruiterer and greengrocer Steve Golding with Cllr Caton and Stansted Business Forum secretary Peter James.
"I've been visiting shops and businesses throughout the district to welcome them back to the high street, but also to listen to individual shopkeepers about the issues that are still present," said Cllr Foley.
"It's about clarity of message, and Uttlesford has been on the ball and kept on top of the situation throughout. There's always somebody at the end of the phone to speak to and we've been giving advice, various grants and generally pointing people to the right places, but it's also about underlining the health and safety message now.
"While we rejoice in gradually reopening, this virus is not going away – it's there and will still affect people in our area, which is why we have to be even more vigilant now.
"And while customers are pleased to get a bit of normality back, there's still a worry there about social distancing and how safe it is going into shops, and that's where shopkeepers have done an amazing job with laying out their shops. I really admire their flexibility to get on with it."
Cllr Caton said that all parties had worked hard to put measures in place to make reopening of shops and movement around the village safe. "Our businesses have coped really well with such adversity, and working in tandem with the business forum, we are here to help."
Mr James said the impact of lockdown on the village had been "catastrophic", particularly for pubs and restaurants. "It's tough times at the moment and people are very appreciative of our support. We launched the Stansted Business Directory earlier this month, which is brilliant because it lets people know businesses are still there."
Kam Yeoman, owner of Café Yeoman's and Mix Wine Bar in Lower Street, said they had made use of grants from Uttlesford to carry out refurbishment and praised the authority for its support.
"It's been very daunting and upmost in our minds has been people's safety, but the council has been very helpful and supportive."