Behind-the-scenes work prepares high streets in Wealden for reopening
Work is busily taking place behind the scenes to prepare Wealden high streets and neighbourhood shopping areas for a full re-opening as coronavirus restrictions ease.
It is hoped that non-essential stores will be able to welcome customers once more from April 12, in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Local business owners have been busy 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.
Wealden District Council has been preparing and distributing a range of marketing materials to Town and Parish councils and Chambers of Commerce across the District.
These materials, part of the council’s Shop And Dine Well in Wealden campaign, will remind people to stay socially distanced as they return to the high street to shop and eat, and include shop window stickers, posters, banners and café/bar coasters.
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.
The council recognises that, while many people cannot 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.
Councillor Roy Galley, Wealden District Council portfolio holder for Economic Development, said: “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.
“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.”
The Shop and Dine Well in Wealden campaign is funded from Wealden District Council’s allocation of Re-opening High Streets Safely 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.
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.