CORSHAM council is starting work on a post lockdown recovery plan for the town - as a straw poll of the town's businesses shows overwhelming optimism for the future.

While the impact of the lockdown has been either significantly or slightly negative for the majority, 85% have benefitted from one or more of the government’s business support initiatives, enabling them to furlough staff and obtain funding.

Most positive, though, is the finding that 96% of the businesses are genuinely optimistic about the future.

The recovery plans will look to building public confidence, at what changes might be needed to the public realm and open spaces and supporting Corsham’s economy.

. So far, around a third of businesses have been contacted including those who have been able to keep trading; those who have had to reinvent the services they offer, and those who are still closed and may be for some time yet.

Council Chairman Cllr Steve Abbott, who’s conducted a number of the survey interviews, said: “I think a very strong and positive message emerges that the businesses are ready to get going again - including those that will have a longer lockdown such as pubs and cafes, and those that provide personal services - and they and their employees have benefited significantly from the Government's support initiatives. It’s good news for the town.

“We are keen to talk to the larger companies on the industrial estates and, inevitably, there will be one or two not-so-good news stories from other areas of the local economy. We’re about to launch another survey aimed at those working in the Arts as we know this is a sector that is struggling. And those working on short-term or zero hours contracts, and self-employed people who have a short record of earnings, are likely to have suffered most as a result of the lockdown.

“The information we’re collecting will enable us to do as much as we can to help restore our vibrant town centre. We are encouraging people to shop local - obviously while still following the social distance guidelines which will be with us for some while yet - and support all the businesses in the town. That is the best way we can all help. By shopping local we can say thank you to those that were able to stay open and have been there for us over the last couple of months and also welcome back the businesses that had to close as they reopen.”