COVID-19 infections and deaths are falling across the uk and the government is now looking to carefully ease the lockdown.

We already have non-essential shops reopen and I would like to again voice my support for the News and Journal’s excellent love local business campaign.

Other announcements are due shortly that I’m sure will help shops and my hope is we can start to move towards normality while making sure we limit the spread of the virus through regular handwashing, wearing face masks on public transport and by keeping our distance.

Many thanks to all shop owners and their staff who have worked so hard through the lockdown to prepare for reopening safely. I am looking forward to visiting and supporting shops all over the constituency. we are in this together.

However, the key to a successful reopening is to encourage the public to venture into town. to help with this, Stroud District Council recently received £106,000 from the government’s reopening high streets safely fund to help introduce safety measures to help retailers open and customers back into shops. We will all have to get used to the new ways of shopping but it is vital to do so because livelihoods really do depend on it. Even with the government’s grant support and bounce back loans, it is customers that make businesses thrive and retail is in a very difficult place.

A special shout out goes to nailsworth where flash flooding affected residents and shops last week. They will need even more support in the coming weeks and months. Gloucestershire County Council have informed me that they are investigating the causes of the flooding with Stroud District Council and developing a project to improve the drainage network to ensure that similar surface water flows can be safely discharged into the network or into the river at the junction of George Street and the A46.