Banbury area business owner optimistic after 'rocky road' during year of Covid-19 lockdowns

One year on from the first national lockdown, a Banbury area business owner remains optimistic even after a tough last 12 months.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 11:30 pm
Rachel Foakes, who runs independent car dealership Foakeswagons in Warmington near Banbury, has found the last 12 months to be a ‘rocky road’, although she remains optimistic.

Rachel Foakes, who runs independent car dealership Foakeswagons in Warmington, has found the last 12 months to be a ‘rocky road’, although she remains optimistic.

She said: “I was in a good place last summer – I was allowed to reopen in June and things were going well. But then the various restrictions came in, and I’ve actually been shut since December because car dealerships are classed as ‘non-essential’, meaning customers couldn’t visit.

“People need to at least see a car before they buy it, and it’s only me who runs Foakeswagons, so I’ve got no one who can deliver cars like the large dealerships can.

“But the grants I’ve received while I’ve been shut have kept me ticking over, and now the government’s announced its roadmap out of lockdown, I’m hopeful I can reopen properly in April.

“I’m just excited to start working again. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m confident the customers will come back and I can begin to recover.”

The Warmington car dealership was one of a number of businesses to get government grants to help them survive the pandemic.

The car dealership received a grant from Stratford District Council, which set up an online business grants application form to allow applications to be processed more quickly.

While the last 12 months have been incredibly difficult, the district is now ready to gradually open up to residents and tourists alike.

The council’s Chief Executive David Buckland said: “I have to pay tribute to every single one of our officers who have worked so hard over the last 12 months to get us to this point.

“Whether it be the revenues team making sure businesses got given grants, environmental health making sure shops were following Covid safety guidelines, or our homelessness team securing emergency accommodation for those on the streets – they have all made a huge difference to the district’s fortunes.

“Ensuring the continued delivery of our services throughout this crisis was absolutely crucial, and every council department stepped up.

“There’s still quite a way to go before our district recovers completely, but thanks to our hard work in the last year and the take-up of the vaccine, I think we can get there.”