Well Its summer at last and after long months of lockdown we all are keen to enjoy the open spaces and return to some form of normality. Our physical and mental health needs the boost of exercise and interaction with each other – and its great that we can all get out more. Many of you have worked through the last 3 months in challenging and essential work and now need some well-earned rest and relaxation.
The government advice is changing daily with new social distancing and visiting rules for family and friends. It would be easy to think we have defeated the COVID virus, but the reality is its still active in our community and still claiming lives locally.
With our shops now reopening and the long-awaited return of our pubs, hairdressers, markets, and other services the towns streets will become busy once again.
I would like to thank Bill Lomas the Town Crier for his dedication and good humour. Bill has kept up our spirits despite the circumstances, and I was delighted to join him for our photograph above.
The dilemma is that you are now free to come into our streets and shops – but you want to be safe. Queues will now form around our shops and into our streets, this presents a potential transmission risk for the virus.There is clearly a wide range of perception of what a safe distance is and just how we should move around each other, without invading each other’s personal space
After pressure from several councillors measures have been taken to widen the pedestrian areas in Derby Street by suspending the parking there. Our markets are now carefully controlled, and the towns retailers have redesigned their shops areas to protect you and themselves. All these efforts will make being in our streets safer. To support our local economy many councillors are also pressing SMDC for all off street parking to be free during this recovery period.
The government fiscal interventions have been jaw dropping in their scale. Supporting employees through furlough and businesses with grants to keep them afloat. Of course, its crunch time as the shops reopen and we gradually return to shopping traditionally .There is a government fund of £87,000 given to the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to improve safety and to promote trade on our high streets as they reopen. We at Town Council will engage with SMDC to ensure that such funding is effectively used in Leek.
The town and surrounding villages have shown a true community spirit and many people have found a connectivity that had been lost in our busy modern lives. The online social media platforms in Leek are full of people being creative, sharing recipes and many uplifting positive stories of neighbourliness. This ‘sharing and caring’ along with new working methods and less intensive commuting patterns may be something positive in the legacy of the pandemic
Finally, as we try to enjoy the summertime after months of stress and personal constraints let us all be responsible. Sadly, as we have seen reported in the national press and on social media recently in some towns people actions have been totally reckless – in reality some are being a ‘COVIDIOTS’- and at the same time potentially putting lives at risk.
I hope you will all stay safe through the weeks ahead and we continue to help each other.
Leek Mayor, Cllr Stephen Wales.