Latest message from Cllr John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council

Next week is Volunteers' Week. Whilst there is no big event or celebration planned to mark the occasion, the amazing contribution that millions of people have and are continuing to make up and down the country is still very much apparent. This national week-long initiative, which I think takes on special significance this year, is an opportunity to say 'thank you'. In our own district, so many volunteers have stepped up in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, from an individual helping out a neighbour to the many community support and charity groups. Life would certainly be harder for lots more people without this vital support network in place. We are keen to highlight some of the fantastic volunteering effort happening on our doorstep - there is much of it - and would invite individuals and voluntary groups to send in their stories and pictures. The easiest way to do this is to get in touch via the council's social media channels.

Speaking of saying 'thank you', this week was the 10th "clap for carers". The event, held every Thursday at 8pm, has become something of a ritual, although yesterday's may well be the last one after the person who came up with the idea suggested it should now come to an end. Either way, the appreciation and thanks we have to all those who are on the frontline in this fight, as well as those working behind the scenes, will continue.

With businesses and more shops beginning to re-open across the district, UDC officers have been working with business owners and partner agencies to create a safe environment for all. Outdoor markets and car showrooms can open from 1 June, and non-essential shops could begin to re-open from 15 June. In line with the government guidance, shop owners and market stall holders are making changes to ensure customers can shop safely, and things may seem very different from when you were last there. Signs and pavement markings will let you know what has changed. One-way systems may be put in place and some doorways closed off, contactless payment will be encouraged and, of course, the guidance around social distancing will remain. The message from our town centres, high streets and markets is clear - we are ready, we are safe and we are open for business.

29 May 2020