While the furlough scheme and grants have been a lifeline to many retailers they have all had an incredibly tough time. Ultimately they need customer footfall to get back going and it was great to see Horsham humming this weekend with a lot of people out on Friday night and the town also busy, despite very damp conditions, on Saturday.
The previous weekend I was in central London on Saturday, accompanying the Belgian Ambassador to his country’s annual commemoration at the Cenotaph and it was striking how quiet central London remains. This may simply be a reduced number of tourists but it may also be that people are more comfortable – even with social distancing measures very much in evidence - to shop local.
Among our retailers up and running again is the Cancer Research shop in East Street and I was pleased to hear that they are now back to opening on Sundays – another sign of the High Street gradually returning closer to normal, even with face coverings much in evidence.
Among other local outlets that have reopened are some of the fabulous local gardens for which the areas is justly famed. Visitors should check in advance as some venues require pre-booking but High Beeches, Nymans, Leonardslee and Wakehurst Place are among local attractions back in business at a glorious time of year.
For many families a day trip out is something they were looking forward to for months that can now be enjoyed. I am very conscious however of those who care for a disabled family member for whom the simple issue of finding accessible toilets can present real difficulties in planning ahead.
I was delighted to read that as part of the Government’s campaign to ensure there are “Changing Places” in every motorway service station, Pease Pottage Services has received a £37,700 grant from the Department for Transport to provide just such a facility.
Changing Places is a campaign working to support the rights of people with learning or physical disabilities, with the aim of having accessible toilets in all large public spaces. It is great to see a growing network across our area.
Photo Credit: Horsham’s East Street Cancer Research Shop. Face Coverings in evidence but the store returned to 7 Day Opening this week.