A NEW app designed to encourage more people to shop locally will be introduced as Herefordshire recovers from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Herefordshire Council awarded a £61,500 contract to Loyal Free to set up, host and maintain a mobile app for use across Herefordshire, but not the city of Hereford itself.

The decision notice from the council said Hereford Business Improvement District already already had an app available, so the city would not be covered by this.

The decision to award the three-year contract said the council recognised the "crucial role" towns and high streets had in the economy and community.

"Providing support to our market towns and high streets to enable recovery as soon as possible is therefore one of the council’s immediate priorities," it said.

"Cabinet members have a vision for Herefordshire to join the growing number of councils and organisations that have a bespoke digital platform linked to local businesses that offers our residents incentives and encouragement to shop and play."

Outlining reasons for the decision, taken by director for adults and communities Stephen Vickers, the document said the impact of the pandemic on businesses, jobs and households will continue to be felt for years to come.

It said Covid-19 caused the largest contraction in the UK economy for more than 300 years, but admitted the vaccination and roadmap out of lockdown has offered "more immediate hope".

The app will be designed to "offer incentives and encouragement to shop and play locally".

Had the council not taken this decision to award the contract, which will cost £61,500 plus VAT for three years, it feared a missed opportunity to restart the economy, and a "continuous decline" in visitor number to Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Leominster, Kington and Bromyard.