Coronavirus recovery plan for Leighton Buzzard businesses being developed

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Leighton Buzzard is developing a recovery plan for the High Street so the town's businesses can bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.

Independent traders' group LB First recognises that the longer we stay in lockdown the safer the public will be, but chairman Gennaro Borrelli says it is a difficult balancing act with many businesses shut and staff furloughed.

He said: "We can either let the coronavirus shape the future of our town centre and community or we can fight back by supporting as many of our independent small businesses as possible and hang on to our uniqueness, variety and heritage.

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"If we come out of the lockdown too quickly we risk a second wave and another lockdown which would harm our economy even further as we wait for a vaccine to be developed.

LB First's Gennaro BorrelliLB First's Gennaro Borrelli
LB First's Gennaro Borrelli | jpimedia

"Many economists around the world are predicting a recession on a scale we've never seen before which is why many governments are borrowing vast sums of money to try to sustain businesses and the economy in a kind of dormant state, the idea being that we can 'bounce back' quickly hitting the road running in order to mitigate some of the effects of the recession.

"This is why the Federation of Small Business Special Interest Group (S.I.G.) and LB First are looking at and working on a local economic recovery plan and liaising with the town council and Central Beds Council.

"I recently spoke at the Bedfordshire Economic Resilience Committee which consisted of members of Bedford Borough Council, Luton Borough Council, Central Beds Council, SEMLEP, F.S.B. and Chamber of Commerce and will be speaking at an East of England conference including local MPs and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)."

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He said the focus was a short, medium and long term plan for recovery.

"In the short term it will be very much about promoting not just all of our local businesses and market traders but doing it in a way that promotes our town as a whole and encapsulates its uniqueness and heritage as well as its amazing community spirit and a good, working relationship creating a forum where businesses, community groups and local authorities can be inspired to come up with innovative solutions to the many difficult issues that we will undoubtedly be faced with.

"This will lay the foundations for the coming months and years and certainly in the medium term there will have to be continued support of one form or another from government and local authorities.

"Whilst some businesses have been able to continue trading others have had to adapt and offer an online option and in the long term, if not before, the aim is to have a universal online platform where customers can access and shop from all local businesses which is why if there is any business that is currently selling fresh produce or products locally that isn't already listed on the website then please get in touch so we can add your details."

For more information contact Gennaro on 07970 701871, of see the LB First Facebook page