R4U led UDC approves £1million Covid High Street and local economy recovery programme and urges government to delay Tier-3 decision

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has urged the government and Essex County Council to support local businesses by not forcing Uttlesford under Covid Tier 3 restrictions until at least after the Christmas bank holiday shutdown. For the last 2 months Uttlesford has consistently had significantly lower infection rates than most other areas in Essex and East Herts. In addition R4U’s administration at UDC has approved a local £1m Covid local economy recovery programme.

John Lodge (R4U) John Lodge (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Lodge, who is Leader of Uttlesford District Council, said “The Covid infection rates in Uttlesford are half those of our neighbours in Essex and a third of those county districts near London. Residents and businesses have worked incredibly hard to achieve these lower levels. Last week Secretary of State Matt Hancock MP announced that he was considering moving the whole of Essex under Tier 3. That would force the closing of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality; the shuttering of many local retail businesses and independent traders; and restrictions on meeting people socially outdoors.

Cllr Lodge continued “The run up to Christmas is so important for local businesses, many who are surviving on a cliff edge. At UDC over the weekend we wrote to the government and ECC to ask that they delay any decision to move Uttlesford to Tier 3 until at least the start of the Christmas break. That week will likely make little difference to infection rates, but could keep many businesses afloat that rely on pre-Christmas trade. With infections in Uttlesford more comparable to low levels in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, it would seem that Uttlesford residents and businesses have done their part and heeded government advice. All we’re asking is that the government acknowledge this fact and support our economy right now.”

Neil Reeve (R4U) Neil Reeve (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Neil Reeve, who has the UDC portfolio for Economic Development and Investment, added “At UDC we are doing our part. Last week at the council we approved a £1million Covid High Street and local economy recovery programme. It is important to stress it will not be paid for by local council tax payers. This programme has been made possible because of extra income our administration at UDC has generated by the rapid implementation of our commercial investment strategy to fix the long term hole in the finances left by the previous council. The first £355,000 of this will be focused on helping our local businesses and those who have unfortunately become unemployed retool, reskill, and restart. Those in need should contact UDC via the council’s coronavirus webpage. UDC will publish more details after Christmas. In the meantime we ask the government to support our local economy in the run up to Christmas.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.