Esther McVey has urged council bosses to consult with business owners on what is needed to help them thrive when Covid restrictions are lifted, as Government announce more than £600,000 will be handed to the area.
The Tatton MP said it was vital the cash was spent correctly and efficiently, to encourage footfall, keep people in jobs and protect livelihoods.
Cheshire East and West Council will receive £339,533 and Cheshire West and Cheshire £305,395 as part of Government’s Welcome Back Fund to support a safe and successful reopening.
Ms McVey said: “As restrictions are eased and businesses prepare to reopen their doors, we need to do everything we can to support them and it is vital they have their say. While there is not time for a formal consultation, I would urge the council to talk to business owners so they can ensure this extra money will really benefit businesses and in turn protecting jobs. Our businesses and high streets have suffered tremendously but I have been impressed by the great fortitude shown and how they tried to adapt in any way they could, including selling online or providing takeaway services. We all have a part to play as the country reopens and I would hope people will continue to support local business and shop locally.”
From April 12 non-essential retail can reopen and restaurants and pubs can serve customers outside with groups of up to six people from different households meeting or two households of any size.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said the money could be used how councils deemed suitable but suggested providing more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups, as well as install signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing. Street markets and festivals to support local businesses could also be set up.
Ms McVey said the money must not be wasted on putting up more barriers in Knutsford.
She said: “I have been clear in my opposition to these barriers from the beginning. Not only are they ugly, but they give the impression the high street is closed. We also do not need any more signs as people are more than capable of maintaining social distancing and are aware of what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe. It is vital the council get this right when allocating and spending this money as so much is at stake.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners, and tourists back safely.
“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.”