It is exactly one year since the first lockdown came into force across England. As many take some time to reflect on the past year, the impact and the loss suffered, it is equally important that we look to the future and how together we can reshape, rebuild and recover locally, regionally and nationally.
The roadmap is now set and assuming it does not deviate demonstrates a certain level of certainty for us to work towards and as predicted illustrates the intention to take things slowly as we come out of lockdown. With respect to Covid-19, my approach and the approach is to focus on creating a safe environment for all to enjoy and at this stage of the game I am in favour of a precautionary lifting of restrictions.
There is no doubt that we are still very much dealing with the pandemic and with one eye on Europe and the increasing levels of cases, we must remember to be vigilant and sensible in our approach as we start to reopen.
You can read my response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget statement. Simply put, the question remains whether Rishi Sunak MP went far enough.
The restart grants are certainly welcome and I am delighted to see that the Raise The Bar campaign, led by Croydon BID influenced national policy to ensure businesses with a rateable value of £51k received financial support. Business Improvement Districts across the UK, as a combined voice, can and will make an extraordinary difference to support their members.
We have an 8-point plan to help reshape, rebuild and recover:
That’s the medium to long term. As I tell my children, nothing is impossible. On a more practical sense, the planning is well underway for the reopening of our town centre from 12th April 2021 with the release of non-essential retail, hair and beauty, indoor leisure facilities and outdoor serving for the hospitality sector. I for one cannot wait to see the town centre reopen its doors, breathing new life and looking forward.
Croydon BID is leading the way in supporting not just our members but the business community in general with a comprehensive guide to reopening. The guide is aimed at providing confidence to you and your business have all the information you need. What’s more the guide provides a clear outline as to the services provided to members as we look to reopen the town centre.
All of the signage is to be replaced, hand sanitiser stations added and queue markers resprayed. Our cleaning team is already back on site working with many of our members to make sure their businesses are ready for reopening. Further cleansing activities will focus on street furniture and shop fronts as we look to improve the look and feel. We will bring forward a level of colour and vibrancy with planting and hanging baskets.
Our night ranger team will continue as they have done through lockdown, providing a visible presence, support and patrols. Our ambassadors return to engage with business and support with the initial reopening phase. With greater marketing support planned and a series of future events, we are starting to piece together the next 6-12 months for the town centre.
Consumer confidence will take time to recover – no question. However, we are laying the foundations now to help improve confidence and slowly attracting people back into the centre. There will be hurdles to overcome, challenges to navigate but together, we can meet them head on.
That’s more than enough from me. Please take care and remember to stay safe.
Chief Executive, Croydon BID