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New ‘shop safe’ team appointed to support safe reopening of the high street for local business and community

shop safe logoA specialist ‘shop safe’ town centre business advisory team is being appointed by Tamworth Borough Council to help support the safe reopening of the high street.

The council has been allocated £67,455 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, and as more retailers prepare to re-open from June 15.

In Tamworth, a team of Covid business advisors are being deployed, who will work closely with businesses on the ground to make their premises safe in accordance with Covid guidelines, as well as looking at what wider adaptations might be needed around the town centre and larger neighbourhood retail areas.

Overall the aim will be to help people safely return to their high street and support local businesses to build resilience and adaptability, while continuing to control the spread of coronavirus.

The team of four will be led by Rob Holder, former manager of John Lewis Tamworth, who has more than 30 years of retail experience and has been an advocate for the area for many years.

Rob also led the town’s campaign to create a Business Improvement District and has good relationships with lots of local businesses, as well as the practical experience of running a retail store.

He will be supported by three high street business advisors who will spend the coming weeks helping businesses to adapt their working practices to be Covid-secure.

They will also assist in the practical implementation of a safe shopping environment, including signage, queue management, monitoring pinch points and high footfall areas and helping to tackle issues as they arise. This will be particularly important on market days (Tuesdays and Saturdays).

Cllr Jeremy Oates, Tamworth Borough Council’s, Cabinet member for Heritage and Growth, said: “A number of essential businesses have been operating safely in the town centre throughout the pandemic and the lockdown phase, but many had to close their doors in the interests of public safety.

“Easing of restrictions means they can start to reopen from June 15, as long as they have completed the necessary risk assessments and implemented the appropriate safety measures as per the Government guidance.

“We all want our businesses to reopen, and we also want to ensure that our high street is as safe as it can be from a coronavirus point of view, so people feel confident to come back and support our local economy.

“The ERDF money enables us to take an active role in supporting businesses to achieve this, and to help tackle other issues that arise. There’s a lot to think about, and discussions are already taking place with some of the town’s businesses and the market operators, but there’s a lot more work to do and this will continue as guidance changes and depending on what happens with the pandemic.”

Rob Holder said: “I’m delighted to be supporting this initiative with Tamworth Borough Council to create a safe and resilient high street for all. We’ll be out and about in the town centre from this week to help businesses become Covid-secure and we’ll report back to the council about problems or issues they are facing.

“We’ll also be looking at it from a shopper’s perspective and making sure that people can make their way through the town safely and feel confident about visiting and supporting town centre businesses, which will be desperate to get back up and running.”

The full town centre team is expected to be in place this week, but any businesses who have immediate concerns can email at business@tamworth.gov.uk. We are particularly keen to hear from small town centre retailers as to whether they plan to open on June 15 and if they need any support.

A new web page has also been created where businesses can find links to all the relevant guidance for their sector, as well as risk assessment templates and posters to display in their windows to show they have taken steps to become ‘Covid-secure’. This can be viewed at www.tamworth.gov.uk/shop-safe.

Notes

This 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.