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CEO Blog - 14th August 2020

The news that the UK is now in recession, the first time in 11 years, may come as no surprise to any of us based on the events of the last four months but it is a defining moment of the challenges ahead for all of us as we grapple with the impact of Covid-19 both locally, regionally and nationally.
In many senses, the pandemic has acted as a reset button, imposing on us the need to change our daily lives, the way we interact, come together and of course, the way we do business. We are experiencing change at an unrelenting pace with no rule book and a desperate need to overcome the issues, discover the solutions and adapt to a new business as usual. 
 
Throughout the pandemic, much of the approach has been on dealing with the colossal challenges we face right now, working through possible solutions to meet the need. 
 
We created and led on the successful Raise The Bar campaign which is now starting to see local and regional authorities changing their approach to issue discretionary funding to businesses with a rateable value of £51k+. Millions of pounds are being issued across England and Wales to support businesses most at need in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Could more be done? Yes, absolutely and we will continue to advocate for your needs. 
 
We have played a significant role on the reopening of the town centre with respect to the reopening of retail and hospitality, designing solutions that work for the town centre that support and promote safety at its core. 
 
The uncertainty hasn’t vanished, the pandemic is still very much part of our everyday lives but at the same time, we need to focus our attentions on dealing with the medium and short term effects of Covid-19 and how we, as Croydon BID, can support you and your business. 
 
Croydon BID, like many of our members, is continually adapting its approach to the pandemic so that we can deliver value to you and your business. Our mission is to: 
 
Maximise our voice as a business improvement district to positively influence and represent your needs and views and the business community at large
 
Invest in the delivery of a safe and secure environment to help boost our local economy, improving business and consumer confidence 
 
Improve the overall look and feel of Croydon Town Centre in order to create an attractive space for our employees, residents and visitors
 
Working with partners and engaging with our members, provide clarity, support and leadership by representing the needs of our business community in key areas that fundamentally influence and change the direction of the town centre 
 
In responding to the changing landscape, a greater emphasis will be placed on inward investment, innovative meanwhile use activations and the promotion of Croydon as a destination of choice. 
 
Fundamentally, consumer confidence is at an all-time low with a great deal of uncertainty on a number of levels including our personal health and well-being. The challenge of attracting people back into our town centres and high streets is immense and will take a collective approach by everyone involved. 
 
What is important for you, me and your business is clarity and a greater understanding as to the future regeneration of the town centre and the borough so that you can plan effectively. This has been a constant concern in the town centre and is now more important than ever if we are to provide concrete certainty for business growth in the future. 
 
Under the leadership of Darren Hockaday, Chair of Croydon BID and the board of directors, my team and I will set about to deliver against five strategic outputs to support the medium and long term aspirations of Croydon Town Centre: 
 
Growth – Fundamentally, when faced with challenges, the likelihood is opportunities are not far behind. As a business improvement district, we will always strive to evolve and grow. We must always be looking to deliver greater value and in this case, how we can collectively work together to deliver for the town centre. Croydon must be in a position whereby it can be at the front of the opportunity queue, agile in its approach and clear as to its plan, providing direction, leadership and certainty.
 
Safety and security – we will be increasing the levels of engagement and intelligence locally, reducing the impact of business crime and anti-social behaviour and improving the overall feeling of safety and security. It’s a challenge, no mistake about it but again, our collective approach with the Met, Croydon Council and importantly you, the membership will bring forward approaches to improve this priority area.
 
Place Management – Like you, we want the town centre to improve in its look, feel and attractiveness which in turn coupled with improved safety will help to boost consumer confidence and support footfall as we look to the long term, post Covid-19. It means greater cleaning, maintenance, colour and vibrancy to our streets. 
 
Retail - High Streets across the country were struggling pre-Covid. The result of the pandemic has sped up the process of decline in an unimaginable way leaving in its wake independents and household names struggling to compete. The focus with retail is to increase footfall, increase dwell time and increase spend. We need to take risks with some of our interventions, create and deliver value and above all work together to improve consumer confidence. 
 
Hospitality and Night Time Economy – The hospitality industry has been severely affected by Covid-19 with equally low consumer confidence. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme will support for the month of August in driving footfall back but a long term approach and plan is required by collective partners to support.
 
These are unprecedented times. The challenges are uncompromising and they need quick, fast moving decisions to overcome them with no instruction manual. We will overcome them, we will find new solutions, we will deliver and we will do it together.  
 
We will do all that is in our power to support you, to represent you and to deliver for you. 
 
Stay safe and thank you for your continued support. 
 

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