District council leader urges people to Think Local this Christmas

HDC is urging people to Think Local this Christmas.

HDC is urging people to Think Local this Christmas. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council leader Ryan Fuller writes for The Hunts Post.

Following the latest Government announcement – Huntingdonshire was been placed in Tier 2 alongside the rest of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Huntingdonshire currently has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, so while we are disappointed to be in a higher tier of restrictions than prior to lockdown, I urge residents and businesses to continue their diligent and sensible efforts to reduce transmission rates.

I sympathise with many who feel deeply unhappy at the continuation of restrictions; however, we have come too far to give up now and we must therefore continue to follow national guidance for the tier we are in whilst we make the case for the further relaxation of restrictions. I know that the longer we endure these constraints on our way of life that message becomes ever harder to accept, and it certainly becomes harder for me to ask of you. However, as much as I understand and share people’s frustration it will not help anybody, and certainly not our struggling businesses, if we see transmission rates start to rise again.

The district council will continue to administer Government support in the form of financial grants for eligible businesses. Applications for both the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) have been extended until 23:59 on December 31, to ensure eligible businesses can apply for financial support. In the coming weeks and months, we will also be expanding our business grant scheme and delivering new support to help more businesses.

More information about this and other support can be found on our website: Huntingdonshire.gov.uk and full details about Tier 2 restrictions can be found on the Government’s website – Gov.uk.

Looking towards the festive period, the council has been working hard to organise Covid-secure Christmas activities for our town centres, with each town offering a unique experience for visitors:

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St Ives – In association with the Burgess Hall, on each Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, Bridge Street will be home to a range of activities between 10:30 and 14:30, including: hot roast chestnuts, mulled wine provided by Floods Tavern, mince pies courtesy of Morrisons St Ives, Guess the sweeties in the jar’ competition; ‘cycle to the North Pole’ using One Leisure’s Cyclone Bike with the opportunity to win a gym membership, street acrobat elves’, Mother Christmas and Elf giving out gifts to children, ‘Snow Queen’ stilt walker giving out balloons, Christmas town decorations and wreaths – in association with St Ives Town Council.

St Neots – in association with St Neots Town Council, several festive attractions are planned for St Neots in the run up to Christmas, including: Christmas light grant fund for high street businesses, ‘Best dressed’ window competition for businesses,

regular farmers market traders with the addition of Christmas stalls on December 12/19 from 8am to 4pm, carol singers on Thursdays and Saturdays in the town. The Market Square will also feature local businesses selling food and drinks throughout December

Round Table Santa Sleigh Town Tour running through to Christmas raising money for local causes.

Finally, our #ThinkLocal – Make a Difference communications campaign continues encouraging support for our local independent businesses. Now is a critical time as we come out of lockdown into Tier 2 and many businesses are able to reopen, so if you can choose to spend your money in our high streets you are helping contribute to our local economy’s recovery. We are fortunate to have diverse and vibrant town centres in Huntingdonshire that each offer a unique experience. As shops are now reopening, I encourage people to support a local business this Christmas – they need us, and we need them.

Supporting our town centres is really important this Christmas, but it is also key to our long-term recovery throughout the district. As we move through the proposed Christmas relaxation period and into 2021, the support and development of our town centres remains one of the council’s top priorities.