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CEO Blog - October 2020

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We all have the right to feel tired, frustrated, lonely, concerned and worried as we continue to battle with a worldwide pandemic that has taken hold of our country for the past six months and shows no sign of wanting to let go.

Since my last blog, the realisation that a second wave is beating on the front door terrifies me in so many way as I am sure it does many of you.

In the past month, we have seen a raft of new restrictions, increased local lockdowns, confusion, lack of clarity in some quarters and a desperate need to support our communities including our businesses with many clinging on for dear life. It sounds dramatic but I doubt that it is far from the reality of what many of you are all facing.

On Monday 12th October, a new series of Covid-19 restrictions were announced by the Prime Minister as the spread of the virus gathers pace ahead of the winter months. It is hoped that the new three tier system will slow down the rate of transmission across the country but also to provide greater clarity for you and me as to what we can and can’t do.

The ‘medium’ alert level includes the Rule of Six with hospitality closing their doors at 10pm. The restrictions for those on ‘high’ alert focus largely on preventing the mixing of households or bubbles indoors with the Rule of Six still applying to outdoor spaces including outdoor gardens. Finally, those on ‘very high’ alert face the toughest of restrictions with no social mixing, pubs and bars must close unless they can operate as a restaurant and finally, people will be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.  

My concern is not with the risk system per say but it is the lack of financial support available to businesses across the ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert levels. Currently, as it stands, the government has made available £3,000 per month financial grants to businesses forced to close in an area at ‘Very High’ risk.

My first question is whether £3,000 is really enough to support businesses per month who have either very little or no revenue coming in to the business and escalating costs. Businesses need far greater support from the Government to help cover core costs such as rent – an issue that has been on the radar ever since the closure of businesses under the first lockdown in March 2020.

However, my biggest concern focuses on an area, such as London, moving from ‘medium’ alert to a ‘high’ alert area. Although the additional restrictions focus on social mixing, it is the impact to consumer confidence on sectors that have been ravaged these past six months that would be devastating, with no financial support system in place to support the business.

These issues and more will concentrate much of the attention and discussion of the Mayor of London’s Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) Business Taskforce of which I represent the Croydon business community. I will be making the case for greater financial support for businesses from Government as the weeks’ progress.

We can but learn from the first wave (I hope) and as such the SCG Business Taskforce will feed in recommendations to the Mayor of London to begin putting together a route map out of the second wave with increased intervention and support for businesses and a need for a greater co-ordinated push to improve consumer confidence when the time is right.  

Be rest assured that we are representing your challenges and concerns at every level and would encourage you to talk to us at any point about any concern you may have, large or small.

For now, the team is actively working to provide greater support as we approach the winter months and the festive season.

To support the night time economy and hospitality sector, we are preparing to launch our Night Rangers who will provide extra visibility and presence and information to not only our hospitality venues but to those that use them. Working Wednesday to Sunday, 7pm – midnight, the team are on hand to help the town centre.

We hope that increasing our investment in Christmas lights will offer not only a bright note to end my blog on but an additional reason for customers to visit Croydon town centre when it needs them most.

Although these are dark times, I am buoyed by the Croydon community, our resilience and our determined outlook to overcome any obstacles put in our way. It makes me feel especially proud to be associated with Croydon.

My thanks as always for your continued support of Croydon BID, stay safe and stay in touch.

See you soon.

Matt

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