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'Remote working could save our high streets' - say Medway Liberal Democrats

November 22, 2020 10:56 AM
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells/Stuart Bourne

chatham high streetWith the news of a Kent and Medway Business Summit in January to look at high street changes, Brexit and the impact of Covid19. Medway Liberal Democrats know how difficult it has been for our businesses, and their response to the lockdown policies that the Government have introduced to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

A 'Centre for Cities' report which tracks the recovery of high streets in Britain's cities and large towns, lists Chatham as 'being weak' in its recovery, as pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed until 2 December. With unemployment rising, the report states 'South East England (outside London) is the UK region which has seen the biggest number of high street store closures since lock down began'.

Liberal Democrats have the recognised that the world has changed forever, and we have an opportunity to build back our country better. Both the employee and the employer have seen the positive effects of remote working for office based jobs. For the employee it is the removal of the commute, saving both time and money, and allowing more quality time. For the employer is the realisation they can save the overhead of maintaining an office space without any signification drop in production.

And the benefit to our country is that the removal of the commute will create a huge reduction in carbon produced from transport and halt the need for the large infrastructure projects that are destroying our natural landscape here in Medway. It also spreads wealth more evenly throughout country, rather than concentrating into the big cities like London. We would rather see our resident's hard earnt money spent here in Medway instead of London.

Stuart Bourne, for Medway Liberal Democrats said, " This year has had a huge economic impact on our towns and the COVID crisis has forced people to reconsider how they work and clearly this change will be permanent. This has opened up a massive opportunity to rejuvenate the high streets across Medway, but we need a forward thinking council that can see this opportunity and grab it by both hands.

Medway Liberal Democrats are therefore calling on Medway Council to assist this change by the promotion of local working hubs, for people without the space at home or still require social aspect of working. They will get the benefits of a practical work space but also be able to chat and socialise with other people. The added benefit is that it could completely redefine and revitalise the Medway town centres. Medway may see more diversification - more dining, more social activities as people may want to meet each other. Growth is to be expected in these areas.

Not only will vacant shops will be used by the hubs, but the extra footfall will draw in other businesses to the high-street. Sandwich bars, coffee shops, even regular retail chains would love to see the lunchtime office crowd walking into their doors. It will completely change local economies as commuters will no longer be spending their money in the big cities, but in their own towns.

Remote working may not work for every business and every person, but it's clear that a majority of office workers do not want to return to the old world before COVID. Such a shift could have profound implications on our home life, and by extension on the life of our towns in Medway."

ENDS