Review Of The Year

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In reviewing the past year, which has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdowns and restricted trading, our strong independent business community has shown resilience, supported by locals keen to shore up a high street starved of tourists and visitors, and glad to spend in Lytham where possible.

The UK government’s furlough scheme saved many of us from facing the worst of decisions, with most businesses still trading in some form.

Thanks without doubt go to Fylde Council for the prompt and efficient distribution of COVID grant monies, and the swift re-deployment of staff to this purpose.

At the request of members, an open letter from Lytham Business Partnership was formulated for businesses to send to their landlords regarding rent holidays or rent reductions.

As a business group, our May 2021 meeting was our first in-person event for over 15 months. Several Zoom meetings have taken place, which were helpful in touching base with fellow businesses, checking in on COVID-secure plans for re-opening and generally sharing concerns and some practical solutions.

I am sure you will all join with me in expressing gratitude to Denize Ashton, initiator of these Zoom meetings and who until recently has been Chair of this group. Like everyone, Denize has balanced personal and family obligations with work commitments during the pandemic. Her stoic perseverance has been key to the group’s continued survival recently and in the last few years, and she has been an exceptional cheerleader for Lytham. Indeed, Denize has been ahead of the curve for a long time regarding the importance of digital reach for the high street, which remains very much on the agenda.

The announcement of further restrictions for November was devastating for businesses hoping to take advantage of the potential boost in trade of the run-up to Christmas. Once more, grants and support from those shopping locally online, clicking and collecting and home delivery were all crucial to survival. Online presence was more important than ever for Lytham both for private enterprises and for public messages, and the incorporation of digital communication continues to be a key topic for this group as we emerge from the pandemic.

Suzanne Taylor, AGM June 2021