While all non-essential stores in England are currently closed until at least 12 April, work is taking place behind the scenes to prepare Wealden high streets and neighbourhood shopping areas for a full re-opening as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Conservative-led Wealden District Council has continued its ‘Shop & Dine Well in Wealden’ campaign throughout the latest lockdown by promoting local businesses offering click and collect or delivery services. The Council has also prepared and distributed a range of marketing materials to local Town and Parish councils and Chambers of Commerce across the District.
The marketing packs include shop window stickers, posters, banners and café/bar coasters to remind people to stay socially distanced as they return to the high street to shop and eat. Advertisements have also been placed in local parish magazines, community radio stations, local newspapers and magazines and on social media to remind people to adhere to Government guidelines.
However, whilst many people can’t wait to shop freely again, there is concern that some vulnerable people may be wary of returning to their high streets, social clubs or groups.
“Our high streets and neighbourhood shops have had a really tough time this past year and we are pleased to provide resources to help them re-open safely. In doing so, our high streets will be ready to go as soon as restriction ease.” said Conservative councillor Roy Galley, Wealden District Council portfolio holder for Economic Development.
“We ask all residents to be respectful of others as the high street re-opens for business. We all have an individual responsibility to stay safe when out shopping and dining, but we must be mindful that there will be many people who haven’t left their homes in a very long time.
“Our communities are made up of people with different needs and confidence levels. We hope that promoting safe social interactions will help us re-build strong, confident and inclusive communities.”
Local business owners have also been preparing for re-opening their premises, with many taking health and safety advice from the Council’s Environmental Health team. Where feasible, some traders have introduced one-way traffic flows on their premises, limits to the number of people allowed in at any one time, and re-organised displays to facilitate social distancing.
Cafes and restaurants have also been preparing for re-opening by undertaking deep cleaning, making more room for customers by relocating tables, and providing alfresco seating options where possible.
The Shop & Dine Well in Wealden campaign is funded from Wealden District Council’s allocation of Re-opening High Streets Safely (RHSS) monies awarded by the UK Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project is receiving up to £143,302 of funding from the ERDF as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The MHCLG is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding