Column by Cllr Toby Savage, leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

As non-essential shops re-open, it’s really cheering to see South Gloucestershire’s high streets stir back to life. At the time of going to print, it looks very likely that the hospitality sector will be opening up too. I’m sure many of us have missed a pint down at our local so it will be wonderful to welcome back much-loved pubs, eateries and hotels in time for summer.

We’re doing everything we can to help businesses get back on their feet. So far, we’ve granted almost £34 million in funding support to those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and we will be paying out another £0.5 million in grants to small and micro businesses. This is on top of a ‘holiday’ from paying business rates.

We also want to make it as safe as possible for you to access local high streets. Although lockdown is easing, we’re still at a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic - the virus will be prevalent until there is a vaccine. To maintain social distancing, people will need extra space to get around safely. Shops, restaurants and cafes may start to trade outside their premises, with space for customers to queue outside too.

To help, we’re introducing measures to enable more walking and cycling in and around town centres and local communities. In some places, this will mean reduced road space for cars, but council car parks and disabled parking will be maintained and continue to be free for all.

As we work our way around each of our local high streets, we’ve made some changes that are already helping. By reducing car traffic, we’re creating the space to allow people to shop safely and with confidence and many retailers can trade from directly outside their premises, adding a welcoming and vibrant feel to the area.

Please support your local high streets and be kind and considerate to those who are nervous at being out and about, but wish to give their support to local traders too.

For more information visit or call our Freephone helpline number 0800 953 7778.