We continue our discussions with West Suffolk Council, regarding the steps that they and we can take to reassure the public that visiting our town centre is a safe thing to do and once these plans are finalised I will share them with you. With retail businesses being able to open in just over a fortnight I am sure that many of you are already planning how you can make your premises safe for staff and customers and there is a bewildering amount of documents available linked to this subject.
To try and help you through this I have attached a guide which is relevant to shops and offices, which I would advise you to look at and use as a checklist against the steps you are intending to take. There will be a food and drink related guide to follow, in due course.
A couple of things I would want to point out now is that your staff and customers will expect your business to provide hand sanitiser for them and for surfaces to be regularly cleaned with disinfectant. It probably won’t be a huge surprise to you that getting hold of these items is not as easy as was previously the case and the cost has increased. I would suggest you make the ordering of these items a priority as there will be a huge demand that will only get greater the nearer we get to 15th June.
Recovery Plan (2)
As I have mentioned above we are working with the Council to do all we can between us to make the town centre safe for people to visit. What actions are taken is one issue but how we communicate the “safeness” of the town, to the public, is a very important issue. The same is true regarding your business, you need to be able to provide your customers with the confidence that visiting your premises creates a very low risk.
One way of doing this is to make them aware of the actions you are taking now and what will be in place when you reopen. This should be communicated to your customers in the most appropriate ways for them to receive the messages. This might be e mailing your customer database, or a sign in the window, or social media messaging or any combination of theses. In all cases though, visual evidence will be far more impactive than just text so you need to be a bit creative but photos or short video on a mobile phone will be fine.
If you do this then please share this with us so we can make all of our social media followers aware of what you are doing.
Customers have had 10 weeks off from physical shopping and not all will behave as they did before and hygiene will undoubtedly be a far more important issue that was ever the case previously. You will need to persuade people to go into your premises and a clear demonstration of how you value their health is going to be a big part of winning the “persuasion argument”. So let us, help you and tell as many people as possible what you are doing for your customers.
I am aware that during lockdown many of you have changed your business models and have looked to arrange the delivery of your goods to your customers. At the moment I appreciate that this is predominantly within the food and drink sector but this may become something that retailers want to consider moving forward. I know in regards of food some of you use Deliveroo or Just Eat but I am also aware that their charges are quite high and of course customer details are retained by them and not yourselves. I am aware that some of you work with Takeaway Taxis, a Suffolk based company who are keen to expand their presence in Bury St Edmunds and I understand that their charges to businesses are considerably less that the above companies I have mentioned. I have spoken to the Operations Manager, Milon Miah who would welcome the opportunity to discuss what services he could offer you and has asked that anyone who is interested complete the simple proforma on their website and this is the link. https://takeawaytaxi.co/restaurant-sign-up/
Independents Week 29th June – 5th July
As part of our preparations for helping Bury to bounce back we are keen to continue with our well established annual Independents Week when we celebrate our great range of independent businesses in the town. Whilst we can’t deliver what we normally do, we are planning to supplement this week with an increased presence and activity on social media. Further details will be shared ASAP. What would be helpful and appreciated is for businesses who would like to get involved, to send us details of any offers, promotions, new services or products post lockdown and if you were trading during lockdown any stories you would care to share etc Please send anything be they short videos, editorial, images or stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
I just wanted to reassure you, that on your behalf, we have commenced discussions with West Suffolk Council, regarding the town centre re-opening. There are clearly many necessary steps that will be required to be taken, to ensure that customers return to the town centre in sufficient numbers to justify the re-opening of the many businesses that are currently closed, as a consequence of Government advice.
It is too early to disclose the potential outcome but please, be assured, that we are fully aware of the necessity to ensure that your potential customers have confidence that the town centre is a safe place to visit.
At the moment there is much speculation regarding a planned announcement by the Prime Minister on Sunday that will potentially loosen the current “lockdown” restrictions and may allow many businesses that are currently closed, to reopen. If you choose to do this then there will be responsibilities, obligations and expectations from employees and customers alike that you will take certain steps to secure their safety. Much of this is currently being discussed in the media and may well require some visible signage and demarcation setting. Over the past few years the BID has worked with local company Coastline Graphics, on many occasions and I attach a pdf of products they are able to provide should you so wish to take this approach. Contact details are on the final page of the brochure.
In the midst of everything Covid-19 you may not have realised that, this Friday, is a Bank Holiday, commemorating the end of WWII in Europe 75 years ago. I have seen that a few of you are offering special promotions, offers or products to celebrate this prestigious anniversary. Both Our Bury St Edmunds and Bury St Edmunds & Beyond are promoting the businesses that are recognising the importance of the 8th May and if you are also doing the same please let me or Mike.email@example.com know so we can make the public aware of what you are doing.
Unclaimed Government funding is still available
Since early last month WSC have been administering the issuing of Government Grants (not loans) and to date have paid over £30m into the bank accounts of many local businesses including a great number of BID members. Across west Suffolk, over 80% of businesses entitled to funding have received their money but I am aware that there are still a few of our members who are entitled to these grants and have not yet claimed them, predominantly because Council staff can’t contact you. I have sent nearly 15 e mails this and last week to BID members who are entitled to these grants but having received them yet, so please check your junk folders, in case my message has gone into there.
Basically if your business, is a shop, restaurant, café, other food provider, hairdresser, barbers, beauty salon, nail bar, funeral director or estate agent, with a rateable value of under £51K, then you are entitled to some financial support. Initially there was a deadline of the 30th April for these grants to be issued but this has been extended but there will come a time when the unclaimed money will be returned to Central Government. If your business fits one of the above categories and you haven’t received a grant then please contact me asap and I can let you know if you are eligible and if so, who to contact to get the money paid to you.
A message from Jo Churchill MP
As you would expect, on your behalf, I have been in contact with our MP, Jo Churchill (a junior health minister ) about a number of issues recently that are affecting our town centre and/or our businesses. She has updated me on what she has been doing on these issues and is very interested and concerned about the impact upon our local community. She has recently been in contact about concerns she and the government have regarding the potential problems you might be facing from your landlord(s) at a time when trading for you is extremely difficult, restricted and in some cases may have ceased completely due to Government applied restrictions. She has asked me to share with you details of the new measures that the Government have introduced in this regard.
She would also like to remind you that if you haven’t yet received your business support grant, administered by West Suffolk Council, then please get in contact with them at Economic.firstname.lastname@example.org to check your eligibility.
If you want to find out about how to access the various financial support schemes, created by the Government, please click on this link https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Should you prefer to speak to someone then there is a Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565
BID member, A Plan Insurance have an arrangement with fellow BID member St Edmunds Butcher's, whereby if people mention them when quoting, A Plan will send a voucher for use in the butchers in exchange for the butcher promoting them on their social media. They are doing this to try and support local businesses at this difficult time. A Plan are happy to discuss a similar arrangement with other BID members, so if you are interested please email the manager email@example.com to discuss.