Cheltenham is emerging from hibernation!
It was an enormous pleasure over the weekend to head back out to the shops for the first time in months, and to see our high streets coming back to life. The shops I visited, from Scarlet Monkey on London Road to the Entertainer on the High Street and Cook on Bath Road, look a bit different. Perspex screens and circulation routes are the order of the day, but it was so lovely to be able to speak to staff, who were clearly delighted to be interacting with customers again.
The Chief Medical Officers of all four nations have downgraded the UK’s Covid Alert Level from four to three, and the Government has eased the social distancing rule to 'one metre plus' to unlock thousands of business, with precautions such as face masks to limit the risks of transmission.
In a huge boost for Cheltenham’s hospitality industry, pubs, restaurants and cafes can open again from 4 July. Museums like the Wilson will be able to open its doors, Pittville Pump Room can welcome visitors and places of worship will be able to accommodate wedding ceremonies for up to 30 people.
As we unlock, I want this too to be the moment that we consolidate the remarkable progress in recent weeks in tackling homelessness.
Rough sleeping is unacceptable in a civilised society and I have long been passionate about eradicating it. We have made great strides in Cheltenham on this issue in recent years, and particularly during COVID when hotel rooms have been sourced to boost accommodation.
I am proud too of the £500,000 Government investment that has gone into the town’s homelessness hub located in Cheltenham’s YMCA. The hub provides vulnerable people with accommodation and a range of debt, substance abuse and mental health support.
In Parliament I will be working for that support to be sustained. Let’s end rough sleeping in Cheltenham for good.