By the time you read this, it will have been almost 12 months since the first COVID-19 lockdown. It’s been a pretty torrid time, especially since the autumn, with families unable to get together for Christmas and everyone locally in Tier 4, then an extended lockdown so the virus doesn’t overwhelm the hospitals. Lockdown during last summer was a foretaste of what it would be like to shut shops and businesses, but even with grants from the Government many people have struggled to keep their businesses afloat. Our high streets are already displaying ‘To Let’ or ‘For Sale’ signs so we can expect to see ‘pop-up’ shops while landlords find willing tenants.
I mentioned in the last edition the plan to make some changes to Berkhamsted High Street to improve social distancing, help our shops to gain more custom (the Borough has a team working on high street regeneration) and create a café culture that could attract more visitors who would support our shops. We have a few hurdles to jump before we can bring this to a public consultation, which will be undertaken with help from the County Council.
Coming back to lockdown and job loss, the Town Council has a budget to support local charities and volunteer groups. While it’s not possible for the Council to support individuals seeking help with bills or food, a good organisation to call is Dacorum Community Trust on 01442 253216.
Finally, a huge thanks to all staff keeping schools, play groups and shops open, and those volunteers helping with food deliveries to our vulnerable communities. Not forgetting all those unsung heroes – our paramedics, NHS staff, the Police and our Borough staff collecting bins and keeping the roads safe.
Cllr Garrick Stevens, Town Mayor