Now that most businesses and shops in the area’s market towns have reopened, the focus has shifted to encouraging people to support local businesses for the long term.

The Reopening Huntindonshire campaign was launched to support local business and members of the public.The Reopening Huntindonshire campaign was launched to support local business and members of the public.

Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) has launched a survey to canvass the views of people in the area and wants to reinforce the message about supporting high streets and local businesses.

HDC leader Ryan Fuller said: “From popping into a local family-run bakery for a cake or a loaf of bread or buying a gift from an independent shop, by shopping locally you are helping local business owners and communities get back up and running. By visiting the town centre, you are supporting the local economy. Spending your money at a local business pumps money into the local economy which in turn helps to aid the national economic recovery.”

Cllr Fuller urged people to think about other aspects of shopping and doing business locally.

“Supporting our high streets creates much-needed jobs in local communities. Helping grow the number of local jobs makes Huntingdonshire a more appealing place to live and work,” he explained.

“You might think the best deals to be had are from the big chain or department stores, but you could be surprised to see how competitive prices are in your local shop. Independent retailers can offer tailored service and often reward regular customers.”

“Independent shops often source goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint and when shopping locally people are more likely to walk, cycle or use public transport to get there.”

St Ives mayor, Jonathan Pallant, said: “In business I have heard it said that ‘every challenge can be turned into an opportunity’, and in St Ives I’ve been so impressed by how our businesses have embraced the challenges of recent months and used the re-opening of the town as an opportunity to re-engage with their customers in new and exciting ways.

“Whether it’s table service and new smartphone-based menus in our restaurants, the ubiquity of contactless payments and hand sanitiser stations in our stores, or the joint working between the County, District and Town Council to give shoppers the pavement space they need, I am so proud of the efforts St Ives has made to ensure it remains a great place to live, work and visit.”

Huntingdon mayor, Steve McAdam, added: Our high streets and shopping centres are the beating heart of our towns. Speaking for Huntingdon, I welcome the district council’s plans to re-open our town centre shops and businesses as we slowly move out of the COVID-19 crisis. It is very important that people support our local shops, and independent businesses. It is these that provide the array of individual, original and personal service which injects a greater sense of vitality into our town. They are also the hardest hit and need the greatest support.”

Cllr Stephen Ferguson, mayor of St Neots, said: “I fully support all the hard work that HDC has done in safely reopening our town centre. If we are not careful though, those deserted streets could become the norm. The choice is simple, either we support our high street or face up to a future without it. I understand that Covid-19 has been financially tough on lots of people and many families are struggling to make ends meet. All I am asking is that you consider diverting as much regular spending as possible towards St Neots businesses. If everyone contributes a little the town will begin to flourish again.”

HDC says following on from the article in The Hunts Post last week, written by council leader, Cllr Ryan Fuller, it will continue its drive to support the market towns in Huntingdonshire.

“We are moving away from strictly ‘re-opening’ our town centres to focusing on the importance of thinking locally and how that translates to all our daily lives. To support our revised strategy and in the run-up to Christmas, we have launched a second residents’ survey. Your views are integral to how we deliver support as we continue to navigate through these challenging times.”

You can access the survey by visiting: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NQHWK6R.