THIS week’s column is an open letter to Doug Gurr, the chief executive of Amazon UK, with a copy to Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon and the company’s founder.

Dear Doug (and Jeff).

Congratulations on the opening of the Darlington fulfilment centre earlier this week. As someone who know the North of England first-hand Doug, you will be only too aware of the enormous positive impact of your company’s decision to invest in the North-East in this way. Not only are the initial 1,000 permanent jobs a boost for Darlington and the wider region but the potential for economic growth around Symmetry Park will be significant.

I appreciate that this will be a difficult time for you as a company as you try to ensure all your workers are kept safe and well during the Covid-19 crisis. As you continue to recruit new workers to meet increasing demand, I am sure the need to provide PPE for your workers and “Covid-Secure” working conditions will be a top priority. Whilst there will doubtless be extra costs associated in keeping your workplace safe, the news that as a worldwide enterprise your sales have soared to $75.4bn in the first three months of the year – over $33m an hour – must provide some financial reassurance.

The Northern Echo:

Alongside the challenges that the coronavirus brings to your own company, you will also be aware of the challenges faced by the wider community, not least the critical situation in many of our care homes.

You will be aware of the tragic situations faced by residents and their families alike who due to social distancing are unable to visit or spend time together – sometimes being limited only to wave to one another through windows – creating distress and upset for many, not least those elderly residents who are confused and bewildered by regulations which they may struggle to comprehend.

In the midst of this situation I wonder whether you would consider lending a helping hand to all of those in our care homes across the country? Many people have benefited from the way video calling has enabled them to keep in touch with those they love. As the makers and suppliers of some of the most accessible tablet devices on the market, I wonder whether you would consider providing these – free of charge – to every care home in the country who asks for them so that care home staff and carers would be enabled to use these devices to connect residents with their families during this time of national crisis in our care homes.

I appreciate that such a gesture and provision would come with a financial cost to your company. However I would hope that this would go some way to ameliorating some of the negative publicity that has arisen as a result of the reports of your tax arrangements.

It has been suggested that Amazon has found itself in a place of benefitting financially from the pandemic – something which is unclear given the extra Covid-19 costs that have accompanied your extra sales. What is clear is that you have a genuine opportunity to bless some of those most in need at this time with an extraordinary act of generosity which could live long in the memories that are made during this difficult time.

  • Arun Arora is vicar of St Nicholas Church, Durham