A sense of normality has finally returned with the opening of pubs and restaurants. Their opening shows all too clearly how pubs in particular are so loved and enjoyed as being at the heart of the community. A place to meet and chat and enjoy a drink. I had a long overdue haircut and was one of the first in on Saturday for #Trimdependence day. The beard has also come off and so the caveman within me has been put back in the box, with my wife hoping never to return.
In reality we are still far from normal whilst Covid-19 remains even at a low level. Previously normal social interactions of a handshake, a friendly kiss on the cheek or even speaking with others at close proximity are unlikely to return for some time. We’ll get used to it I’m sure; a spin-off of such new social distancing measures may even be a lower infection rate of ‘normal’ seasonal coughs and colds certainly into this winter at least.
There will be other changes to the way we live and work. Home working is likely to become embedded as businesses realise that productivity has not reduced with some staff working remotely, and additionally they’ll calculate the true expense of servicing office space, particularly in London and other high cost locations so I can imagine the footprint of many corporate headquarters will reduce permanently. High Streets will need to find a new niche as spending that has migrated online over this period may never return in full. The trend was already happening, but what might have been a ten-year repositioning of the high street is likely to be accelerated into just one.
Another beneficial ‘spin-off’ is certainly an improved relationship between MPs and the local authorities within their constituencies which can only be a good thing and I’ve gained a lot from closer working with both Thanet and Dover District Council leaders and senior officers. Our weekly discussions cover Covid-19 obviously but also managing tourism and transport, rubbish and regeneration.
I’ve been working and encouraging new business investment – I hope to be able to tell you of new jobs for East Kent shortly. We also await the DCO decision from the government on RSP’s Manston plans. This is due this week – unless it is delayed once more.
Consultation on Ramsgate Port and Harbour has been extended – I’ve been working with The Ramsgate Society and The Ramsgate Regeneration Alliance to ensure that your voice is heard clearly and unambiguously as to what the future should hold for this local asset that has, for too long, been a liability to local taxpayers.