Southport is back open for business with shops, restaurants, pubs and tourist attractions all welcoming visitors back as lockdown restrictions ease.
After the Prime Minister announced the next steps on the road to recovery, Amanda Milling MP was invited to Southport as part of a tour of the North West to see how businesses have adapted to provide a safe environment for customers and staff after three months in lockdown.
The Conservative Party Co-Chairman visited MP Damien Moore in Southport and enjoyed a tour of Silcock’s Funland at Southport Pier and Silcock’s Flavours Ice Cream Parlour on Nevill Street to see how the business is bouncing back following lockdown.
While in Funland she enjoyed operating one of the grabber arcade machines before serving ice creams to customers at Flavours Ice Cream Parlour, and was given a tour of all the safety initiatives and staff training measures which Silcock Leisure Group has put into place.
Silcock’s, which employs between 50 and 60 staff - more during the busy Summer season - has been operating in Southport since 1959 but has never faced a crisis like the Coronavirus pandemic.
They have been helped by Government measures including the furlough Job Retention scheme and last week’s announcement of a cut in VAT for hospitality, accommodation and attraction businesses from 20 per cent to 5 per cent.
Silcock’s is one of 490 businesses in the busy tourist town which stand to benefit from the measures. They are also looking forward to taking advantage of the Government’s new Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which was also revealed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week.
Amanda Milling MP said: “I would like to thank Damien Moore for a tour of Silcock’s Funland and Silcock’s Flavours to see how they have adapted to ensure their customers and staff are safe.
“Throughout the crisis the Government has protected millions of jobs and livelihoods, but now is the time to get businesses back on their feet and kickstart the economy in the region.
“Our plan for jobs is about supporting and creating jobs, boosting growth and aiding our economic recovery from coronavirus.
“We promised to level up towns across the North West and we remain committed to doing just that.”
Southport MP Damien Moore and Sefton Conservative Group Leader Cllr Tony Brough were delighted to host Amanda Milling MP on her visit to Southport.
Damien Moore said: “I was extremely pleased to welcome the Conservative Party Co-Chairman Amanda Milling, who I work with very closely in Parliament, here to Southport. It was a great opportunity for her to see our town and to see how local businesses are adapting and are reopening following the Covid crisis.
“Families will be looking to have some enjoyment this year after a very difficult few months and while many people may be reticent about going abroad, they can come and enjoy a great time and a wonderful holiday or a break here in Southport.
“Silcock’s is a great example of a firm in our town staffed by good people, who have been here for a long time and have been putting some effective safety measures in place to give customers confidence.
“We have some fantastic local independent businesses here in Southport. Businesses which are at the heart of our community. Having spoken to them I know just how hard it has been and it’s great that they are reopening.
“I would now encourage people to go out and support them and let’s get the great British high street back on its feet.”
Silcock’s Manager Justin Prescott said: “It was wonderful to welcome our MP Damien Moore and Conservative Party Co-Chairman Amanda Milling to Sunny Southport. There were blue skies throughout the visit, the weather was gorgeous and it was a great opportunity to show just how important the tourism industry is to our town. The visit puts Southport on the map which is what we need.
“We have put a lot of safety measures in place at Silcock’s. If customers feel safe, then they will come in and spend money in the local economy.
“We were delighted to welcome our VIP guests to Funland at Southport Pier and to Flavours Ice Cream Parlour, where we make our own ice cream using milk from local dairy farms.
“It was great to see Amanda Milling serving our ice cream to customers. The message to people was very much ‘support your local town’ and ‘Southport is very much open for business’.”
Silcock’s is among businesses in Southport to benefit from a number of Government schemes which were initially targeted at protecting jobs and businesses but are now focused on sparking the UK economy back into life.
Justin Prescott said: “The furlough scheme has been amazing. It has allowed Silcock’s to keep all of our staff employed and now the economy is opening up again, we have been able to bring them all back from furlough.
“The cut in VAT from 20% to 5% on food, accommodation and attractions is something which will really help us.
“We are finding out more about the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and whether we can take part but that sounds like something which can be a great help as well.”
Silcock’s is looking forward to a busy Summer in Southport but issued a plea to visitors that the stunning seaside town is open 12 months a year.
Justin Prescott said: “This Summer will be great but most of our premises are open all year round. Funland for example is open every day of the year except Christmas Day and so Winter tourism is important for us and for Southport as well.
“We have lost half of the Summer already due to the Coronavirus pandemic which is why schemes such as furlough and the VAT cut have really helped.”