Business owners urge people to show support for town

A town's businesses say they have been counting the cost after adverse publicity over a covid outbreak has turned it into a 'ghost town'.

Craven Arms is safe and open to visitors is the message from local businesses, including Tuffins' commercial director Harry Delves.
Craven Arms is safe and open to visitors is the message from local businesses, including Tuffins' commercial director Harry Delves.

Craven Arms was the focus of attention over an outbreak of coronavirus at a travellers' site outside the town.

Now business owners are encouraging people to return to the town, which they say is open for business – and probably safer than anywhere else in the county due to the amount of testing carried out.

Temporary testing sites were set up as a result of the outbreak and there have now been no positive tests for more than 11 days.

There were also no cases outside the caravan site and within the community.

Harry Delves, commercial director at Tuffins supermarket, which has been open throughout the pandemic and delivering free of charge to more than 300 homes a week, said they were 40 per cent down on where they should be in the wake of the recent outbreak.

Naomi Denton, who runs Laila's Cafe in the town said she had seen business cut by 70 per cent in the wake of the outbreak.

Both have urged people to come back and support the town's businesses, with fears over what could happen if visitors stay away in the long term.

Mr Delves said: "We have been very resolute throughout the pandemic and been able to carry on trading but it has been hard and now to get hit with this, where people are still not wanting to go out to Craven Arms through no fault of our own, is very distressing. The clear message from my part is Craven Arms is Covid clear and open for business."

He added: "It is safer than anywhere else because people have been so vigilant down to the outbreak.

"The outbreak was also not within the community and it was contained within the site so there has not been any covid within the community – the council and the health authorities have worked very hard to make sure that is the case.

"It is not only our business, it is for everyone because footfall has fallen through the floor so we need the word out there that we have all carried on throughout this and want to get the town back buzzing again."

Mr Delves said the impact of the coverage had been "devastating".

He said: "If you were watching the TV on the day it happened there was an image of our store on there when it was nothing to do with the outbreak.

"With everything we have done, we were delivering food free to more than 300 households a week, then to be hit with that is devastating.

Ms Denton said: "There was a steady increase in business each week after lockdown and as soon as the outbreak happened Craven Arms became like a ghost town, which I guess was to be expected but it has been completely clear for 11 days and it is still like a ghost town."

She added: "People may actually be safer in Craven Arms now because more people have been tested than anywhere else."

Ms Denton urged people to show their support, adding: "It would be a shame to lose any of the wonderful places we have in Craven Arms."

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