Our retail, leisure and hospitality sector right across the Winchester District has had a difficult time during the pandemic.

It has been particularly hard for the many independent shops and traders we have, which don’t have the firepower and backing of many large chains.

They were already under threat from the supermarket chains and the online retailers such as Amazon.

These small businesses help bring variety to the city and to our market towns and villages.

They help prevent the more urban areas looking like any other town centre.

They provide a community focus and a vital lifeline to many residents.

It is therefore really important to protect them.

Many of these businesses will have benefitted from the £28m or so of government grants provided during the first lockdown.

More is to follow this time.

But Christmas is a vital time for them and without a strong trading period then, many may struggle to survive.

So let's all do our bit to support our local businesses, now and right up to Christmas.

Please do shop locally where you can, including using click and collect services where available.

Visit our local pubs and restaurants when they re-open, using their takeaway services during the restrictions.

Amazon and the supermarket chains will survive without you, our wonderful independent traders may not.

Hugh Lumby,

Shadow Portfolio holder for the Local Economy,

Upper Meon Valley ward,

Winchester City Council,

High Street,