“I want to urgently get the whole of Harborough moving again and working again' vows council leader

'I am determined to do that as soon as it’s practically safe to do so according to Government guidance,' he told the Harborough Mail.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 12:12 pm
Updated Monday, 25th May 2020, 12:14 pm
An upbeat council chief has vowed to get Harborough back up and running as theCovid-19 crisis hits the UKs economy.

An upbeat council chief has vowed to get Harborough back up and running as the Covid-19 crisis hits the UK’s economy.

Cllr Phil King, leader of Harborough District Council, issued his warcry two months after the coronavirus lockdown was imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“I want to urgently get the whole of Harborough moving again and working again.

“I am determined to do that as soon as it’s practically safe to do so according to Government guidance,” he told the Harborough Mail.

“I can’t put a timescale on it because that’s just impossible.

“But I want to reassure local people that we are not sitting here on our hands waiting for things to happen.

“We are pro-actively talking to partners such as chambers of trade leaders as well as businesses as we all work to return to some sort of normality.

“We are focusing on getting economic growth moving again.

“I certainly don’t want unemployment doubling in Harborough as it goes up elsewhere.”

Cllr King said he’s keen to re-energise and re-ignite Market Harborough’s beleagured town centre – which has been a Covid-19 ghost-town for weeks.

“We want to get our pubs, restaurants, shops and every other business opened up again, busy and buoyant.

“We don’t want to see them all boarded up,” he declared.

“The coronavirus has been devastating.

“But we can and we will fight back.

“Planning applications for schemes such as home extensions and to build single houses are still coming in.

“That’s a great sign.

“So many people still want to invest time, effort and money into our future here in Harborough.

“It’s very positive as this will create and support jobs in construction, service and supply industries.

“We are right in the vanguard when it comes to putting together an economic recovery plan and we are leading from the front.”

Cllr King said they are staging regular virtual meetings with “business representatives from across the district”.

“We have spoken to Market Harborough chamber of trade as well as the East Midlands regional chamber to discuss the very challenging environment faced by businesses,” he said.

The council’s now aiming to set up more virtual meetings to “offer advice and guidance and further understand the issues businesses are facing at this critical time”.

“We will continue to look at how we can work with partners, such as the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership and others, to get our local economy open and growing again,” said Cllr King.

“We want to help get people back into work as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council, said: ''We need to understand what help is needed immediately.

“And if we are to have an effective recovery plan it's vitally important businesses have the opportunity to tell us what they feel they will need and the time the recovery plan will need to cover.”

He added: “Businesses are best placed to give us this vital information.

“We cannot produce a meaningful recovery plan for the district without them.”