Cotswold MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown made the visit to Moreton-in-Marsh this week to see how the high street was coping during the coronavirus lockdown.
How is Moreton-in-Marsh high street coping with Covid-19?
In order to answer that question, I spent a morning with Nigel Moor, county councillor for the Stow-on-the-Wold Division (which covers Moreton-in-Marsh), visiting shops in the town and meeting their owners to discuss how they have been doing during this period.
Moreton has a large range of shops many of which have an online presence.
These range from The Cotswold Cheese Company shop, which was started three years ago and found a niche in the market for very high-quality cheese from around Europe, as well as featuring many from the UK.
The easing of lockdown has also enabled people to visit Helen and Douglas House charity shop which is run by two excellent people and they reported strong business since their recent reopening .
The Estate Agents are flat out at the moment and we visited R.A. Bennett and Hayman-Joyce.
They are experiencing a flood of viewings. Increased interest from London and prices are starting to rise at least in the short term.
James Hayman-Joyce was able to give me the welcome news that next year’s Moreton Shows will be bigger and more varied than ever.
The real takeaway from our visit was that those shops that had a good online presence such as Windsor House Deco interior furnishings run by Andy Green which is doing really well.
Innovatively, he has knocked through from the old hardware shop into the residential part creating an absolute encyclopaedia of everything one might want to furnish a home.
Our final visit was to the toy shop run by Miss Jefferies. There were so many parents and children trying to enter that we did not want to interrupt trade by intruding inside.
All of these conversations prove that if a business finds a niche market, sells a high-quality product, and is backed up by an online presence, it will flourish despite the problems covid-19 presents.
The one topic that came up time and time again was the controversial subject of car parking.
The town council has done another survey, it is contemplating redistributing its parking in the centre strip by the war memorial, and possibly by purchasing the Royal British Legion which is excellent.
Cotswold District Council want to alter the pavements to widen them, possibly making them one way to make the town safer for covid reasons.
The county council want to control the high street to prevent all day parking.
The shops, who are just recovering from covid, are fearful and bemused about what is going to happen and so is the MP!
However, all these authorities must work together to find a solution to this years’ old problem and I will be encouraging them to do so.