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Keep it local

January 8, 2021 3:42 PM
By Andrea Glover

The pandemic brought out the kindness and strength of our communities. Volunteer groups sprang up across towns and villages to help others. We were offered practical help with shopping and collecting prescriptions. Food was delivered to those in need. Friendly voices called people who were alone and lonely. Just knowing that someone cares can help in difficult times.

We saw the hope and reassurance people get from nature. We learned the true value of our beautiful surroundings - the stunning coastline, the heritage of our market towns, our woodlands and our farmland. This same land produces milk, cheese, meat, cereals and vegetables - even wine, Christmas trees and electricity - under the care of our farmers and local producers.

The pandemic continues to have tragic and wide-ranging consequences and we'll feel its effects for some time. Yet we must also look to the future: what do we want the "new normal" to be? I believe we'll recover better, both emotionally and economically, if we can keep our connections to our local communities, our environment and nature.

There's much talk of a green recovery and I truly hope the UK Government supports and invests in this. Not only would this be good for the environment, it will create opportunities for sustainable new businesses and jobs. Building housing to better standards benefits residents and avoids future costs of retrofitting.

What can we do as individuals? One effect of the restrictions last year was increased spending at independent shops on local high streets. Data from Barclaycard suggests a whopping 28.6% increase in spending at independent food and drink shops such as butchers, bakers and off-licences compared to 2019. Let's keep shopping locally, supporting our retailers, farmers and local producers.

We know how badly our pubs, restaurants and cafes have been affected. Do I even need to say we must support them? I for one can't wait until I can go for a meal with friends, drop into a pub for a drink or just chat over a cup of coffee. And, once it's safe, we must welcome visitors, because our hospitality industry needs tourists if it's to recover and thrive again.

If we eat and shop locally we'll reduce the distances we travel. Some of us have shops and amenities within an easy walk. Others do not. Not all of us can travel without a car, and not every trip can be made without a car. But where we can, we should. Walking and cycling are good for our health and our environment, and give us time to notice and enjoy our surroundings.

I run the community facebook page Wow - What's on Willand, which aims to share information about local events, organisations, lost & found, clubs, groups, crime, recommendations for services, job vacancies and general discussions. I'm also part of our local climate action group. Our local Liberal Democrat members are involved in a range of local groups such as children's charities, food banks, environmental groups, conservation groups, church groups, cycling and running clubs.

If you aren't already part of a local group, think about what you'd enjoy doing with others, whether it's painting, walking, gardening or a book club. Join an existing group (many are operating via zoom) or even create one. Learn a new skill or teach a valuable skill to others. It's by being part of our local communities that we ensure they thrive.

I'm the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cullompton & Bradninch in the County Council elections scheduled for May. You can find information about the Liberal Democrats and our candidates at https://tivandhonlibdems.org.uk/en/. You can follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TivandHonLibDems and Twitter @TivHonLibDems.