16 April 2021
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our responses.
Today's Question: What can the council do to support businesses as they try to get back on their feet this week?
Local businesses are special, they give Cambridge people livelihoods and Cambridge its character and heritage - they are the very fabric of our community. This year has been terrifically hard on most local businesses - a number not having survived and others have lost staff to the virus. Many people have switched to buying online to feel safe from the virus, but we are craving human connection and sense of place with the isolation of lockdowns.
The Council working with these businesses through Cambridge BID (Business Improvement District), the Chamber of Commerce and other organisations should run a publicity drive using local papers, radio and television and social media, to encourage everyone to shop local and independently, including the wonderful Cambridge Market, and to avoid tax-dodging online retailers such as Amazon when there are better local alternatives. We should extend our community spirit by supporting the local businesses throughout the city who make shopping here so diverse and inclusive.
Concrete actions include; ensuring every business is aware of its eligibility for Restart Grants and Additional Restrictions Grant scheme; making sure there are broad eligibility criteria, and ensuring the application is simple and rapidly paid out - will make the difference between businesses surviving or not. For cafés, pubs and restaurants, permitting tables and chairs on the pavement outside, with awnings and shelters to mitigate our unpredictable weather would help. ‘Support your local business’ days where the costs of local buses, Park-and-Ride, or parking are offset from purchases by local businesses, requiring cooperation between businesses, and the City and County Councils as well as the Mayor! So let’s all act responsibly and work together for our common goal of a thriving city for all its inhabitants.
Our response was written by Dr Hannah Charlotte Copley. Hannah is a local NHS medical doctor and Medical Research Council clinical research training fellow, as well as a Greens4Abbey candidate.