James Wild: At last ... here comes the summer
The latest column from the North West Norfolk MP during the pandemic period, Friday, August 7, 2020
Scorchio! The forecast is for another hot weekend. Sun, sand, and sea is a winning combination and little wonder so many visitors want to come and enjoy all North West Norfolk’s coast has to offer.
For tourism businesses that have been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions this is very welcome.
It is good news that pubs, restaurants, and hotels are seeing increased bookings.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme offering 50 per cent discount worth up to £10 per head every Monday to Wednesday in August is proving a helpful boost. I took advantage of the start of the scheme with a delicious lunch at the Rose and Crown in Harpley.
Similarly, attractions are welcoming back visitors. I toured the Sea Life centre with the manager to see the Covid-19 secure measures they have put in place.
There is a healthy demand for booked tickets if you want to see Squirt – the new penguin chick, piranhas, or seals being helped back to health.
But high visitor numbers inevitably mean busy coast roads.
Last Friday, I was in Burnham Overy and then passed through Brancaster. The scenes were chaotic with irresponsible drivers parked all over the grass verges and blocking farm gates.
Police were on the scene stopping traffic heading down to the beach car park. Over the weekend, I was in contact with them and I welcome the cones and other measures put in place.
These will likely be needed again this week and longer term solutions are required to ensure local residents are not adversely affected.
I was pleased that more support to help our economy was announced this week.
As part of the government’s Getting Building package, new investment will benefit North West Norfolk including the Enterprise Zone Accelerator Fund to support growth in Lynn.
There is more than £3 million for New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to double the size of Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme which was launched in April.
Businesses in West Norfolk have received a third of the first £750,000 grants made across the county and there’s also additional funding for fibre rollout to public buildings in Norfolk.
While this is welcome, the late postponement of easing more lockdown measures last week in response to increased transmission rates in some areas came as a bitter blow for many.
Wedding receptions of up to 30 guests, close contact beauty treatments, reopening bowling alleys, and other changes were all paused for at least a fortnight. I continue to make the case for these firms and for additional support to be considered for those not allowed to open.
There was better news with two new rapid tests that can detect Covid-19 and other viruses and give results in just 90 minutes. Ultimately, delays in easing restrictions are a reminder that Covid-19 has not gone away. Stay vigilant and enjoy summer safely.