The Mayor and Deputy Mayor go to Town

On the morning of Monday 15th June, in glorious sunshine, Deputy Mayor Ian Cooper and I toured the town centre, calling on the shops and businesses who had finally been allowed to open their doors after the lockdown. We were eager to welcome them back with open arms (but no hugging!) after closing their doors all those months ago on 23rd March. The High Street was already noticeably busier with traffic, and many more people on the pavement, carefully socially distancing. Shipston is starting to feel more like itself again!

As we went from shop to shop meeting excited proprietors, each trader had a different story to tell. All of them have had to adapt their premises and devise strategies for dealing with the public. They are all very well prepared to welcome people through their doors while ensuring that the health and safety of everyone remains paramount. Many have installed screens and one-way systems, and all have sanitiser available. Some staff are wearing masks and visors and the dress shops have steamers to treat the clothes after people have tried them on. As ever, each business is individual and has had different problems to deal with. One shopkeeper, for example, decided to install new shelving which has arrived but, owing to current shortages, he is unable to buy the wood for battens to install it.

It was a nice surprise to discover that there are some new faces on the scene. At least one business has changed hands in the interim and it was also encouraging to discover at least two empty shops are being redecorated ready for their new occupants.

We are of course incredibly grateful to all those Shipston businesses who have traded throughout this coronavirus crisis, keeping us all supplied with the essentials. It is impressive how local traders have adapted, for example moving to online ordering and delivery services. We are also only too aware that there are still many who cannot yet open for a variety of reasons. So, we really look forward to also welcoming them back as soon as they are allowed or feel able to trade.

Sheelagh Saunders, Mayor of Shipston

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