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Shoppers return as more of town centre back in business

Tamworth Shop-safe symbolMany parts of Tamworth town centre are now back in business after a successful first week of trading following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen their doors as of Monday, June 15, as long as they had taken measures to become ‘Covid-secure’.

Around 90% of those high street businesses allowed to open in the latest phase have now done so and are back welcoming shoppers, alongside Tamworth market, which also made a welcome return this week.

A number of businesses have also reopened in Ankerside Shopping Centre.

The wider reopening of the town centre has been supported by the council’s new Shop Safe team of business advisors who have been busy helping retailers with the Government’s ‘five steps to working safely’, as well social distancing measures, risk assessments and queue management.

They have visited more than 70 businesses already, and have been working on making sure the town centre is a safe and welcoming environment, including installing hand sanitisers and putting up signage.

Shop-Safe-TamworthThe team is led by former John Lewis Tamworth boss Rob Holder, who also championed the town’s campaign to create a Business Improvement District, and supported by three members of the council’s Arts and Events team; Jody Ross, Ron Pyle and Marie Brindley.

They have been on the ground every day this week, and will be back for the first Saturday tomorrow, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Their work is being funded by a £67,455 grant from the European Regional Development Fund to create a safe shopping environment for businesses, shoppers and residents in the town.

It is part of a £50million ‘Reopening High Streets Safely Fund’ which is being distributed to local councils across England to help establish safe trading practices in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

They will continue to help retailers in the coming weeks, as well as engaging with those businesses which will hopefully be able to reopen in the next phase – predicted to be from July 4.

Cllr Jeremy Oates, Tamworth Borough Council’s cabinet member for Heritage and Growth, said: “It’s been great to see shoppers returning to Tamworth town centre in greater numbers this week as more retailers were able to reopen their doors, alongside the return of the market.

“Everyone has worked really hard to ensure that the town centre environment is safe and we thank all the businesses and market traders for their co-operation in sorting out queuing systems and measures that enable social distancing.

“We mustn’t forget of course that a number of town centre businesses have remained open throughout the pandemic and we thank them for continuing to provide a vital service to the people of Tamworth.

“Feedback from the first week of more businesses being open has been really good so far, with shoppers saying they have felt safe to come into Tamworth town centre to shop. And that’s what it’s all about. Our businesses have really suffered, and they now need our help and support more than ever, so we would encourage people to shop local wherever possible.”

Businesses and shoppers can find more advice and information about shopping safely on our new webpage at www.tamworth.gov.uk/shop-safe.           

Notes to Editors

The ‘Shop Safe’ project is receiving up to £67,455 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.