THE Mayor of Swanage has issued a rallying cry in support of town centre businesses, as some non-essential shops open for the first time since lockdown began.

From Monday many High Street shops will be taking their first tentative steps into the new Covid-19 world, and Cllr Mike Bonfield is urging residents to 'use them or lose them'.

In a lengthy post online, Cllr Bonfield said: "Please help all Swanage businesses and shops by buying local, these are the businesses and local residents who have all done their best to support our community during this difficult time."

But he also stressed the importance of carrying on within the guidelines and to continue maintaining social distancing.

"Swanage’s pavements are not designed for this," he said. "So I ask that everyone has patience and respects other peoples’ space."

The mayor also asked residents to continue supporting not only the vulnerable, but also the many people who may be lonely and missing loved ones.

He said: "During the past 12 weeks it has been so heart-warming to see so many local people helping in so many ways, and I hope that this carries on.

"Even though things are slowly improving, there are a number of residents who would still like to see a friendly face."

As from Monday, June 15 all Swanage Town Council owned car parks will be fully open, and charging will be re-introduced and enforced.

Meanwhile, the decision as to when to reopen the town's public toilets is continually under review, said the mayor.

He said: "We have been so lucky over the last 12 weeks to have had such good weather. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we had had the bad, wet weather of the winter, at least we have been able to take our exercise outside in nice warm conditions.

"It has been disappointing not to have been able to welcome visitors to our beautiful area during this period, and I think about the start to the season that Swanage could have had if we had not had this terrible pandemic.

"I hope that the warm, sunny weather continues and that we slowly see our visitors return to help us all start to put some money back in our piggy banks to get us through next winter."