At the last full council meeting on Tuesday 8th December, Councillor Debbie Davies (Baildon) and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group spoke in favour of the Conservative motion to help businesses recover from COVID and addressed the Liberal Democrat's motion
Thank you Lord Mayor,
I’d just like to make a few points, firstly on the Liberal Democrat motion and secondly in support of our motion.
Cllr Ward raises some important points about caring for people and I found the next of kin tale particularly distressing. I agree that treating people with compassion, respect and understanding is absolutely vital, both now and in the future.
However his motion seeks support for one person households specifically during the current pandemic. I am sure we would all agree this is important and although we may disagree on the rights and wrongs of the actions of the government during this crisis I think one thing we would probably all agree on is the rightful recognition of the vulnerability of single adult households with the introduction of support bubbles. These have been a lifeline for many single people who have been able to retain links with family, friends or partners for practical and emotional support.
The Liberal Democrat motion goes on to propose specific support for solitary people without family – I’m sure this is well intentioned but what I think most people want is the ability to find support when they need it in a simple and accessible way with services available to anybody in need. I think the 431000 number has been well publicised for this purpose. For these reasons we will be voting against this motion.
With regard to our motion on Covid 19 and The Way Forward I want to focus on what practical steps we as a Council can take to help shops and businesses to recover going forwards.
It was reported yesterday that every council in Yorkshire has asked for more money from the government to support the struggling retail sector but no mention of what we are doing to help ourselves.
The government has allowed shops to extend their opening hours from Monday to Saturday which as well as being convenient for customers who work should also enable people to avoid busy times.
As a Council we could also support our shops if action is taken now. Last year we brought a motion to Council calling for free parking in the run up to Christmas – this was sadly defeated but I am appealing to you to think again and offer this concession for at least the last fortnight before Christmas Day.
This would provide a boost to shops who have had to remain closed through no fault of their own and encourage shoppers to get out and spend money rather than stay in and shop via the internet.
Many other Councils in Yorkshire are providing free parking, for example Kirklees has had no charges in its Council run car parks for nine months and Wakefield has no charges in their car parks or on street until 18th January next year.
These councils clearly see free parking as a way to help residents and businesses and support the recovery from Covid 19 and it would be fantastic if the Bradford district could also benefit from this.
In addition to parking charges we want to see rents for shops and businesses owned by the Council to be reviewed in the light of Covid.
It is unfortunately inevitable that some businesses will fold in the coming months and in order to make our district attractive to new investors it needs to be affordable and welcoming. Empty units, as well as not bringing in any income to the Council, make an area look run down, can attract crime and discourage other people from setting up businesses. In my ward of Baildon we currently have a key retail unit standing empty plus in nearby Shipley I noticed that Argos are not returning to their prominent site which is a real loss to the town.
Let’s take the lead and do whatever we can to support the district’s recovery going forward.
We urge you to support our motion, thank you.