This weekend I was delighted to take part in my first ribbon cutting of 2020 to open Cooks Florist and welcome them to Carpenders Park. Having been shut during the lockdown, owner Simon Fedrick was literally blooming at the prospect of getting the business growing again.

This ambition was echoed across Watford over the past week, from the high street to shopping parades that sit at the heart of our town's success. Our small businesses, shops, and traders are a phenomenal source of local employment, a driver of trade into the area, and an important partner for good community causes. Their success is woven into the fabric of our town’s success.

That is why after many months of being apart, now is the time for us to safely come together to back local business. We have an opportunity to invest in our local businesses to support them after a tough few months despite unprecedented economic support from the government.

In fact, since the end of March, almost 22,000 people in Watford have had their wages paid for by the Government as part of the two furlough schemes. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which provides grants to the self-employed, has been worth £18.9 million in Watford alone. Since the start of the lockdown measures, I have worked with the Treasury and other government departments to ensure small & medium-sized businesses were able to access grants worth up to £25,000 alongside business rates relief. I also spoke about the high street and the intu in the House of Commons just last week.

As the economy reopens in a safe and measured way, it is time we do what we can to back our local shops. That is why I am pleased to partner with the Watford Observer in supporting their #lovelocalbusiness campaign. In addition, I recently launched a new initiative called 'Get Dean on Your Team'. It is where local businesses, pubs, cafes, and charities can arrange for me to do a shift in their business. It doesn't matter what the job is - I am keen to get stuck in and involved hands-on to support you on the ground and in Parliament.

My goal is to help boost our town's local economy and build the relationship between small business and Westminster so I can continue to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear. If your local business would be keen to have me join for a shift, please email me on

As we come out of lockdown we need to support our local businesses whilst also following the guidance on social distancing to shop safely. Now more than ever, let us show local businesses how much they mean to our community and support Watford to get back to business.

  • Dean Russell is Conservative MP for Watford