Businesses in north Kirklees refused to beaten as country enters second lockdown

Shops and businesses across North Kirklees shut their doors for a second national lockdown - but refuse to be beaten.

Friday, 6th November 2020, 9:19 am
Updated Friday, 6th November 2020, 9:22 am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulled down the shutters with a stay-at-home message to combat Covid-19.

The lockdown was due to start today (Thursday) and run until December 2.

Though down, business owners in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Batley and Spen were refusing to be counted out.

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Donna and Rpbert Coe at Mirfield Emporium

For young Dewsbury entrepreneur Brad Walton his upmarket barber’s shop only opened on Monday of last week.

Nine days after opening Headhunters The Gentleman’s Quarters in Huddersfield Road, Scout Hill, he was locking the doors while remaining philosophical.

“Obviously we didn’t expect this but you have to deal with it,” said Brad, who will turn 21 during lockdown.

“We had a successful first few days and now we’ve got to close. We won’t be curling up and feeling sorry for ourselves.

“We are going to stay positive and motivated. You have to adapt and deal with whatever is thrown at you.”

Jessica Roebuck, who runs Crafty Kids, the former Timmy Tigers play gym in Union Street, Heckmondwike, said it was “devastating” to have to close again.

She only bought the business in January and said: “We haven’t had the chance to find out what the business is capable of.

“We have weathered the storm so far but since we re-opened after the first lockdown it’s been difficult running a business at 40% capacity. None of the bills are 40%.

“The winter months should be our busiest time. It’s devastating.”

Donna Coe at gift shop Mirfield Emporium said she was determined to keep people’s spirits up.

Donna and her staff kept the Mirfield town centre shop open until 8pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and business was hectic.

Preparing for lockdown, she said: “We learned so many lessons from last time. Our customers never let us down and we won’t let them down.

“We are staying positive because there is too much negativity about. We will do whatever it takes to keep people smiling.”

Donna says her business will continue behind closed doors with click and collect, free doorstep deliveries and a postal service.

John Foulstone, of The Woodman Inn in Batley Carr, one of the district’s longest-serving landlords, said pubs were “easy targets” for the Government.

“They try to make out that people catch Covid by going to the pub but there just aren’t as many pubs as there were 20 years ago.”

John, 60, who has been at the Woodman for 17 years, expects lockdown to continue into mid-December.

He added: “I don’t think they dare not open before Christmas because it would decimate not just my industry but the high street as well.

“We are in uncharted waters but you put the TV on and see one scientist saying we need a two-week circuit breaker and another saying we need a lockdown for two months. The public don’t know what to believe.”

As a bookmaker Bill Carrigill is used to hedging his bets - but as a businessman it’s tough when the goalposts are moved.

Last Friday Bill, who runs Carrigills which has four betting shops in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Heckmondwike and Earlsheaton, was preparing for a Tier 3 shutdown.

He has 20 staff and had prepared them for furlough from Monday. That all changed with Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement on Saturday night and Bill had to come up with a Plan B.

“We had to undo what we’d planned,” he said. “We expected to be closed from Monday but we could stay open for three days.

“Some staff had made arrangements so we opened but only on restricted hours.”

Under Tier 3 staff would have received two-thirds of their pay from the Government but under lockdown the extended furlough scheme pays 80%.

“That’s the only good thing that’s come out of this last minute change,” said Bill. “The extended furlough helps with staff wages and gives us a bit of respite.”

As it stands Kirklees remains in Tier 2 so, if that continues after lockdown, bookmakers can re-open. Under Tier 3 they must close.

Bill, who took over the Dewsbury-based firm set up by his late father George in 1954, came through the first lockdown when they were shut from March 20 to June 15.

Bill fears the shutdown of bookmakers has encouraged more punters to bet online with the big firms but independents fight back with specialist bets. Betting on the Irish lottery is popular with Carrigills’ clients.

During the latest lockdown Carrigills are taking bets from a limited number of clients over the phone.