As the Covid-19 death and infection rates finally slow down we are left with a town, and an economy, which will be different from what we knew before.

The sad truth is that some shops on Watford's high street will never reopen their doors. High streets have been struggling for years as more of us shop on the internet, and the lockdown has accelerated this trend.

I started my career working at John Lewis and like all the Partner-employees at the store here in Watford I was desperately hoping that the store could somehow survive; with its closure now confirmed my heart goes out to those whose jobs depend on a thriving high street.

I’m fortunate to be able to walk to the Intu centre and I have missed the weekly trips into the town centre with the family during lockdown. There are some wonderful examples of local talent, innovation and entrepreneurship, which are not present in all towns, and the challenge for all of us is to ensure that the best elements of Watford survive and thrive as the town centre changes.

Nothing should be just ‘left to the market’ in these circumstances. The painfully slow recovery from the 2008 crisis was a result of the failure of the Conservative Government to invest properly to protect jobs – we can’t afford to make the same mistakes again.

In the Labour Party we have long argued that more public investment and better funding for local initiatives is the route to recovery; a recovery in which the benefits would be shared by us all. There may be fewer department stores in Watford, but new community hubs and local enterprises will fill these spaces if the people with new ideas receive the funding they need.

  • Chris Ostrowski was Labour candidate at the 2017 and 2019 general elections