The public health of North Cornwall has been my number one concern during this global pandemic, and the tourist economy in the constituency has responded in an incredible way, following guidance and supporting the NHS by shutting down at significant cost to business. We are now able to responsibly reopen different parts of the economy, and along with my Cornish colleagues in Westminster I have considered the situation and agree the time is right to open our vital tourism sector. My fellow Cornish MPs and I have discussed this with the Prime Minister directly and he has taken our comments into consideration.
Around 40% of private-sector jobs in North Cornwall are dependent on the tourism sector, many businesses have had no income for three months, and many staff have been furloughed. The reduction in the two-metre social distance rule will allow our tourism sector to room to breathe while maintaining an appropriate level of awareness of the coronavirus.
To date, the Government has made over £440 million in support available for businesses in Cornwall, but I know from my conversations with holiday parks, hotels and B&Bs, that the industry is keen to start generating revenue again.
If we can continue to think local, shop local, and responsibly support our tourist economy we will protect jobs and ensure that hard-working people in North Cornwall aren’t made redundant or have the worry of losing their jobs and their homes. It is vital we do what we can to support as many people as we can.
I recently had an opportunity to question the Health Minister in the House of Commons. He is aware that many of North Cornwall’s businesses are based around tourism, and that many of those may not reopen again in the winter should they find that social distancing is not maintained at a reduced level. I was also able to ask him to join our Cornish campaign—Think Local, Shop Local – which I know many of you have also given your support.
Of the businesses my team and I have spoken to, many report that their takings have been very good during the first few weeks of reopening. However, we must continue to think locally and where possible, use local businesses and services. I know it can sometimes be convenient to shop online, and there is a place in the market for big companies like Amazon or eBay, but if we want to protect our small and medium retail businesses and our high streets, then please Think Local, Shop Local.
Finally, Stratton hospital is a major campaign I have been involved in. I am very happy to report that it has been confirmed that the provision of overnight services at Stratton Hospital will remain in place until 31 March 2021 and then will be part of the annual contracting round.
The service is provided by an advanced clinician from Kernow Health CIC, who deliver the county’s urgent care service out of hours. The service is accessed by calling NHS 111 and treats people who would historically attend the minor injury unit out of hours, or who need an appointment with the out of hours GP service.
I am pleased that the 24-hour service at Stratton Hospital has been extended, the community needs this facility with other 24-hour facilities being so far away. We now need to work towards having the 24-hour service made permanent, and as part of the North Cornwall bid, we will be asking for more services to be based at Stratton.