Pat Doody is the Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
While is it right that most of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP resource is directed to the response phase of the COVID-19 crisis, supporting both local and national government initiatives and providing a feedback loop from business to help inform strategies and highlight areas where current policies are not meeting needs, we are also heavily involved in planning for the recovery in Greater Lincolnshire.
That brings many challenges. It is rare that even the most learned of advisors cannot predict with any certainty how long a crisis will continue; deciding how long the lockdown should remain in place and estimating the speed and duration of the recovery are difficult challenges for even the most eminent experts.
Since the crisis began I have joined webinars and read articles that suggest that consumer behaviour is one of the factors that will influence the recovery of one our area’s strongest sectors: the visitor economy. The Government will one day announce a partial or graduated relaxation of the lockdown, but will consumers follow suit? Will they be cautious and hold back, or will they celebrate the end of lockdown with a clamour for social enrichment? This is difficult to judge.
There have been many positives to take from the crisis. Our considerate behaviour towards each other – our neighbourliness – has brought communities together, all pulling in the same direction in new ways to look after those in need. In my own village of Bassingham more than 100 people have joined the support group that delivers to the more vulnerable; I believe that our rethinking of who we value most highly in society will stay with us for a long time.
In future the world of business will be changed. There will be new opportunities; global supply chains will be rethought; home working will become the new normal; and there will be challenges too as the country seeks to balance the books and repay the COVID-19 overdraft. We at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, along with our county and district council colleagues and our MPs, will be concentrating our efforts to ensure that Greater Lincolnshire emerges from this unprecedented global crisis in the best possible shape.