Mayor’s column 25 June 2020

Finally, this week, some of our lovely local shops have been allowed to open!

Many shops have chosen to open and the ones that I saw this week, including the Saturday open market were managing well. By limiting numbers of customers at any one time, marking out safe walkways, pre-wrapping goods where possible, taking card payments only, and even setting up online pre-ordering facilities, many shops are trading ok.

We can’t wait for restrictions to be lifted even more – lowering the social distance length will help, but until then I’m proud of all those retailers who have been able to work out a way to offer their services to Frome residents, and wish them continued success as we go forward.

I popped into the town this week to support as many as I could and was able to meet shoppers in the town to find out how they were doing. Those I met were able to tell me they found the experience easy and safe. They were just delighted to be able to shop somewhere other than just supermarkets.

This week, our Market Place will be closed to traffic as we undertake phase two of the planned improvements. Many people have asked me, “Why now?” when it seems that shops have only just re-opened. It may seem strange logic, but in fact it’s the best time to do it.

It could not be done at the beginning of lockdown, as some people have suggested, because construction workers themselves were on lockdown. Since the partial easing of the lockdown rules, and with construction workers back in play, it’s been possible to contemplate the start of the work. To delay it until after the end of lockdown would be to hit traders hard when their businesses are just beginning to flourish again. Now is the perfect time.

Alongside the closure to the Market Place, the County Council has temporarily closed some of the side roads, and this gives us all the chance to move safely around the town, keep to our social distancing measures and give us the confidence to go shopping without fear. It’s a way for our retailers and shopkeepers to open up slowly and cope with all the government restrictions while still being able to operate. Remember, all the Mendip District Council car parks are open and free so please do visit the town centre. Above all else, stay safe and enjoy your week!

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