England’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions was announced by the Prime Minister this week.
I understand the caution it shows and I thank the government for its clarity and for the dates that various sectors can work towards so we can start to get back to normal.
In Stroud, our hospitality, tourism and our wedding industries now know the position as long as the tests are met at each stage. This also goes for non-essential retail, sport and the leisure and beauty industries.
However, for many of these businesses, I am concerned the plan is too cautious and also a little inconsistent, especially in regards to the wedding industry and hospitality.
It appears sport fans could be back to 10,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors by May 17 but limits on weddings on May 17 will rise from 15 to only 30. Businesses that worked so hard to be Covid safe also cannot have customers inside at all for many months.
I do understand the government has to make tough decisions and balance a whole series of issues against keeping infection rates low and getting the economy moving. But I also know the frustration and the worry that not being able to earn an income is causing. I will be making representations to ministers and asking for flexibility in the rules as we move forward.
Last week, I held a very successful online cycling summit that brought together over 50 people from a wide-range of interested parties.
It was a really positive meeting where everyone was very committed to improving the cycling experience in Stroud.
I also met with the National Association of Cider Makers recently to discuss how the industry has been hit and I am asking the Chancellor for a reduction in excise duty, fruit ciders not to be taxed as wine and a short-term rescue package.
In Gloucestershire and across the south west region, it is an important industry that supports jobs in the rural economy and it has been impacted by the virus.
The last 12 months has seen the cider market contract by around 40% - that’s around 176 million pints of cider, according to the association.
It wants to help cider makers and apple growers. I am asking for these to be considered by The Chancellor in his budget next month.