That said, when reflecting on all of the planning that has taken place, we are in a good place and Croydon is beginning to get back on its feet.
So what has been the approach, what has been done and what more do we need to do to continue the progress already made.
One things is for certain, there is no rule book. There is no guide and no instruction manual. We, like many places across the United Kingdom are feeling our way through a series of complex issues to support the reopening. What is crystal clear at the moment is the pandemic is still with us, we are still dealing with the impact of the virus and therefore at the heart of every decision taken in reopening the town centre is the safety and security of those we are welcoming back.
Being socially distant from one another is not necessarily something we are used to, whatever the distance. On approaching individuals, friends, family and colleagues, my first thought is making sure there is enough space to enable social distancing to take place. However difficult, that is what we must do, looking out for one another and keeping safe.
What we are all desperately seeking is clarification, information and an understanding as to what we can do and when. Croydon BID has updated its COVID-19 support tools by creating a new hub on our website at www.croydonbid.com/covid-19
. Businesses can find a wealth of information from reopening guidance including practical steps for businesses to take, queue management guidance, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance, advice on transport and now the new hospitality and leisure sector guidance with quick, handy practical advice for reopening.
Working with Croydon Council and many other partners, we developed a series of measures to support businesses but also to provide a level of reassurance and confidence to those that returned to Croydon town centre.
On 15th June 2020, Croydon town centre welcomed back its non-essential retail core. It is fair to say that the opportunity for a little retail therapy was not missed on many especially those wanting to get into Primark. We have introduced the Croydon Retail Operations Group which is now meeting every other week to review the current state of play. If you would like to be a part of this group, please contact Keely Dench.
Croydon BID has worked with many of the businesses across the town centre putting in place external queuing stencils outside businesses to control queues as the numbers coming back into the town centre increases. Our yellow and blue keep your distance markers are now dotted across the town centre alongside the Councils own markings.
The team have also created an internal floor sticker to aid with social distancing inside their premises. The stickers are free and can be ordered through Croydon BID. Brightly coloured, we hope they will indirectly bring a smile.
I am delighted that Croydon BID is working with Croydon Voluntary Action and Croydon Council on delivering a new team of volunteers who will be stationed across the town centre on key days of the week to add confidence, reassure and provide information, advice and guidance, improving the overall experience of Croydon town centre. It is great to see the private, public and third sector working in this way.
Don’t worry, our team of ambassadors return on 1st July 2020 and are raring to get back to work, supporting those in the town centre and of course, you, our businesses. It will be great to see Scott and Alex back in the town centre.
A consistent theme throughout the pandemic is cleanliness and the need to slow down transmission. Our incredible cleansing team has returned to the town centre and for the past two weeks have been working their way through the town centre, jet washing shop fronts, street pavements and cleansing street furniture. It’s great to have the team back, visible throughout the town centre, bringing back a little shine and sparkle. Should your business have any particular cleansing needs, please do not hesitate in contacting the team.
Independence day fast approaches and this year the emphasis is slightly different as the hospitality sector of England and Wales starts to take the tentative steps to reopening. We have been working closely with the Council, the Metropolitan Police, Licensing and the venues, working through the guidance so that they have what they need. Having been the first to close and one of the last to reopen, there is a desperate need to get the doors open and to welcome people back.
Our partners and businesses are now working through the expansion of outside seating areas through the Business and Planning bill and the introduction of a pavement licence till 30 September 2021. Practical guidance for venues in the town centre and across the borough is available on our website and within the newsletters.
We are continually reflecting on what is working and what is not. There is still a great deal for us to do within the town centre as we navigate our way through the pandemic and onward to a more stable and certain future. Greater signage will be appearing throughout the town centre promoting the need to keep socially distant, shop local, stay safe and above all be kind to one another.
And yes, the #RaiseTheBar campaign is still very much active with an update expected at the end of this week as we continue to lobby government to support businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of £51k+. You are not forgotten, not by us, not by the BID movement and not by the many national trade associations that have joined our cause.
For now, enjoy our town centre safely, have fun and keep your distance.