Reopening Town Centres Safely

A recovery action plan in response to COVID-19

Contents

  • Overview
    • Making sure our centres are safe for visitors; Recovery planning
    • Working with many stakeholders
    • Phased approach
    • Shared vision
  • Understanding Phasing
    • Phase 1
    • Phase 2
    • Phase 3
  • Phasing, Timescales and Outputs
    • Phase 1
      • Temporary Public Realm Strategy
        • Core objectives
        • Key messages
          • New signage and social distancing markers
          • Wider pedestrian routes and highway safety
          • Covid support team
          • Extra cleaning and hand sanitiser stations
          • Car parks
          • Public toilets
          • Markets
          • Rough sleepers
          • Community safety
          • How busy is the town centre?
          • Accessibility
          • Target audiences
      • Business Support Strategy
        • Core objectives
        • Key messages
          • Direct advice to all SMEs
          • Business support advice to all businesses
          • Delivery of a business surgery ‘Shop Doctor Programme’ to assist independent traders
          • Utilisation of BID Ambassadors
          • Which shops are open?
          • Target audiences
      • Communication Strategy
        • Core objectives
        • Key messages
          • Phases
          • Target audiences
          • Channels of communication
    • Phase 2
    • Phase 3

Overview

Making Sure Our Centres Are Safe for Visitors; Recovery Planning

The town centres and local centres of Bassetlaw are driven by retail and tourism and Covid-19 is having a significant impact on both. As the lockdown eases, the Government has announced that all non-essential shops can re-open on Monday 15 June subject to meeting its Covid-19 secure guidelines.

This document shows how this District Council and its partners are working to support local businesses in our town centres to re-open safely as soon as is practicable and how the public are able to return safely.

With a focus on the larger town centres of Worksop and Retford at the outset, moving to further reviews of Harworth, Tuxford and smaller centres later, we are working with Nottinghamshire County Council to introduce necessary highways interventions for public safety reasons. This work is to assist people in following the national guidance on social distancing and other public safety measures to demonstrate to shoppers and visitors, that our town centres are safe to return and that local businesses can operate appropriately in these challenging times.

The Council wants to bring confidence back to local high streets and this plan seeks to contribute towards that reassurance in a stepped approach.

Working with Many Stakeholders

The District Council is leading this plan and in order to have a positive outcome and maintain a safe environment, the support of a number of stakeholders, the wider business community and the public is continuously required at various stages.

Phased Approach

A phased approach is essential to consider the ever changing environment. Whilst the lockdown has started to ease, at this stage no one is aware of what will happen with the impact of the virus or when things will change. This plan therefore has a phased approach and will be continually reviewed and refreshed in order to address these changing circumstances and guidance.

Shared Vision

There is unanimous agreement that Covid-19 recovery is essential, and Bassetlaw District Council in conjunction with partners has the following objectives:

  • To make sure that our town / local centres are made safe and feel welcoming to residents, visitors, employers and employees
  • We want to deliver a timing-appropriate marketing campaign that promotes Government guidance and highlights activities that are attractors to the high streets so people will know they can come back safely to shop and participate
  • The promotion of active travel to encourage alternative and sustainable modes of transport into our centres
  • Help our businesses with a tailored approach, to operate safely and effectively and consider alternative ways of working that may assist their success now and in the future, post Covid-19.

Understanding Phasing

The Prime Minister’s national lockdown instruction occurred to prevent the spread of the virus. In order to rebuild the economy the Government published a recovery strategy that identifies addressing the current social restriction and replacing them with smarter measures.[1]  Over the next few months, the way we move through steps to reopen our high streets safely follows the same pattern of plan, monitor, manage and will evolve accordingly.

At this time, it is envisaged that there will be a three phased approach, this could change, and so it should be recognised that this document is a dynamic and will be updated so as to respond to necessary changes as and when they occur. Therefore whilst phase 1 is plannable at this time, phases 2 & 3 will be reviewed at the identified / necessary time.

Phase 1

This is a review of the current timeframe.  It spans from the publication of the Government’s recovery strategy and aligns with the requirements/framework for the ‘Reopening the High Streets Safely’ Fund. For the purposes of the Bassetlaw Strategy, Phase 1 goes just beyond the point of the non-essential retail shops opening on 15 June 2020, so the Council can start to address impact before engaging preparations for the next phase.

Bassetlaw District Council regards this as the period of safety first and has considered how it can welcome back people into the town centre and what visitors and shoppers should expect to see. There are a number of interventions that have already been put into place, some more to come, and others that are still being explored along with much needed guidance on how everyone should behave through adhering to the safety first approach.

Phase 2

This is likely to be sectoral based and progressively driving other town centre operations back into public access. This wider reopening will necessitate a review of phase 1 and the success of the interventions employed along with updated messages to relay how the town centres have changed. The Council will need to identify and respond to unfolding issues, share good news stories and work through the changing face of the town centres appropriately. The details of this phase will still be unknown until trends take shape through Phase 1, and therefore will be kept under review.

Phase 3

This is likely to be a review of the emerging trends and how they are working in practice. There will be likely changes to Government policy and a need to continue to re-enforce the key messages of safety.  This is a great area of uncertainty at this time and will be kept under close review.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy

Phasing, Timescales and Outputs

Phase 1

Timeframe; May – end June 2020

Key Focus; Retail Lockdown Easing

Key Message; Safety

Phase 1 Outputs

Temporary Public Realm Strategy

The aim of the Temporary Public Realm Strategy is to ensure that town centres are surveyed and interventions implemented, where appropriate, in order to deliver a safe retail environment, which adheres to the Government guidelines of social distancing and other safety measures. To ensure the space is Covid Secure and that residents, retailers, market traders and other stakeholders are fully informed of these measures.

Core objectives

  • To inform what has been done to get Bassetlaw’s town centres ready to reopen in terms of appropriate signage safety measures
  • To demonstrate the need for likely highways interventions in order to keep the public safe when distancing
  • To identify where advice can be gained from the public facing support team
  • To demonstrate what sanitation regimes are being put in place.
  • To manage expectations so that visitors are aware of interventions prior to visiting the town centres and know about the measures implemented

Key messages

New signage and social distancing markers

Bassetlaw has have already introduced new social distancing signage in Worksop and Retford to remind people of the simple things they can do when they are visiting in order to keep themselves and others safe.

In conjunction with local shops social distancing floor markers will also be put down to help people keep two metres apart from each other, especially as they may need to queue outside shops / banks. This is particularly problematic at areas of high footfall such as popular high street shops and cash machines.

It is likely that more signage will be erected as more people begin to flow to the towns if there are areas where a heightened focus is required, and Bassetlaw will also provide signage for other localised centres upon request.

Wider pedestrian routes and highway safety

The Council are looking to introduce wider pedestrian footways in some areas so that pedestrians can maintain social distancing through the town centres. This will only be at significant pinch points where it is thought that there may be some vehicular / pedestrian conflict. This may result in fewer on-street car parking spaces, the slowing of traffic speed or a one-way traffic rerouting for this temporary period. Steps to make sure that pedestrians can move safely around the towns will always remain the priority.

This will be communicated as soon as is practicable by Nottinghamshire County Council as the Highways Authority and the District Council if those changes are required. The town centres will be regularly monitored to see if the situation changes over time and if more or less interventions are required.

Covid support team

At busy times during Phase 1, the Council will have our Covid Support Officers on hand to help the public with any queries or concerns they may have and to guide people to follow the social distancing etiquette as this is new to us all and some are managing this better than others. These volunteer officers will be supervised by the BID Ambassadors and all will be visual in Worksop and Retford initially. This will be rolled out wider if social distancing becomes a problem elsewhere. They will be able to be clearly seen wearing labelled high-vis tabards. The Council will review the need for these assistive officers at each phase.

Extra cleaning and hand sanitiser stations

Usual street cleansing and litter picking will take place, and week commencing 08 June, there will be a deep clean of high contact points that people touch frequently such as benches, bins and handrails in the town centres.

Businesses will be advised that their doorways, door handles, windows etc. are their responsibility to keep clean, in addition the Council will be undertaking additional regular spray and wipe downs across Worksop and Retford town centres daily.

When the markets become operational in Worksop, Retford and potentially Harworth in the future, as they produce a higher footfall than a traditional trading day the Council has ordered hand sanitiser units that can be used without the need to touch a button, and by everyone. Once these arrive, they will be installed at the areas of highest footfall in our towns.

Car parks

Our car parks are accessible and the use of the Ring-Go payment scheme is encouraged to minimise physical contact. At the moment, the Council think people can maintain social distancing when parking a vehicle. If someone happens to be getting out of their car at the same time as you, please wait to give them space so you can maintain your distance.

Public toilets

Because it is has not been possible to maintain social distancing in accessing our public toilets, they have been closed. This is a temporary measure and we are looking at reopening as soon as is practicable.

Retford

In Retford the toilets in Chancery Lane are planned to open on 15 June with appropriate signage and plentiful supply of hand washing product and this will be widely communicated once it has been confirmed. It is likely that Churchgate toilets will remain closed for a longer period as the restricted width shared ramped access means it is more difficult to manage social distancing.

Worksop

Bridge Street toilets in Worksop have been undergoing a refurbishment and will be open in due course when the works are complete. At this stage, this is planned for 24 June and that will be communicated widely once that has been confirmed. There will of course be a plentiful supply of hand washing product and appropriate signage.

Markets

The Council is working to get the markets open as soon as is practicable. This is not an easy task given as there are lots of stallholders wanting to trade, and less space in which to allow this given the need for people to socially distance.

Retford

The traditional market layout in Retford will need to be amended to ensure adequate social distancing can occur between stallholders, the surrounding business premises and passers-by. A revised layout has been drafted with appropriate signage and this is moving through a risk assessment. Once that is complete, we will publish the report so you can be reassured that it is a safe place to visit once again. It is confirmed that Retford market will open on Thursday 18 June 2020

Worksop

Worksop is more problematic as Bridge Street and Bridge Place are narrower public spaces than the market square in Retford. The distance between stalls, existing shops lining the usual layout, street furniture and passers-by, all make it difficult to maintain the 2 metre separation requirement. This, therefore, has had a detailed review in order to meet the safety needs of the public and many traders who wish to stand.

A revised layout has been drafted with appropriate signage and a risk assessment is being finalised. Once that is complete, we will publish the report so you can be reassured that it is a safe place to visit once again. It is confirmed that Worksop market will open on Wednesday 24 June 2020

Harworth

Harworth Town Council would also like to see an active and safely laid out market in Harworth town centre for its community and Bassetlaw District Council are working towards delivering that aim appropriately with them. The same measures in terms of social distancing and the publishing of risk assessments will be engaged in Harworth once the market can become operational there.

Rough sleepers

Bassetlaw will work with a number of external housing providers to assist and help house rough sleepers of all age groups and with each specific need, and this support includes access to a specialist outreach nurse and a mental health worker

All reports of homelessness or rough sleeping are phoned through to the Council’s Housing Options Team for appropriate action, as are reports of anti-social behaviour and any associated criminal activity. The Council is taking a proactive approach to looking at providing ongoing support to any hard to reach individuals and exploring pathways out of homelessness for them.

Community Safety

The Council has a Community Safety Team and their role is to look at crime prevention and reduction with strong partnerships with Nottinghamshire Police. Key objectives are the management of anti-social behaviour within the town centres, seeking to create safe, secure and accessible locations, and to dispel the fear of crime undermining a quality of life currently influenced by COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. The ambition is to create a town centre that has a reduced risk of crime and a sense of safety at all times whilst also allowing access for the Emergency Services.

The Council has ensured that all public space CCTV cameras have the best available view of all the town centres and where appropriate they are supplemented by the use of Shopwatch radios used by local businesses.

Worksop and Retford are covered by Public Space Protection Orders, which in part assist in the management of the Town Centre in relation to Anti-Social Behaviour. However, if suspicious activity is identified, liaison with the North Notts BID Ambassadors is always encouraged to keep town centres free of crime. This will provide irrefutable, evidence and the potential for further action in partnership with the Police.

How busy is the town centre?

The town centres of Worksop and Retford have Wifi that is enabled by the BID. The use of ‘geosense’ data from that resource, is being explored for its ability in sharing footfall data and how that data could be used. Any further progression in this area in terms of offering a safe environment will be shared in a subsequent update.

Accessibility

The Government’s High Streets Task Force has published a Danish case study which reveals that during  the pandemic, people are using public space differently and that walking and cycling have become more essential for movement. Spaces that are managed safely are attractive and promote the health and well-being of residents and visitors. Where traffic is reduced, this enhances social connectivity and whilst that is somewhat constrained at this time, multifunctional spaces are proven to gain the highest levels of activity around the clock. For this reason, the Council following its healthy place-making agenda, is exploring opportunities to encourage walking and cycling in conjunction with Sustrans, as sustainable modes of transport and are planning promotional events accordingly.

Target audiences for temporary public realm strategy

  • Residents
  • Visitors to the town centres from inside and outside the district
  • Key stakeholders and businesses

Business Support Strategy

The aim of the Business Support Strategy is to ensure that our local businesses are able to re-open successfully and safely thereby boosting the local economy. The Council wishes to support retail businesses who operate alongside public spaces and advise on how to make temporary adjustments to their premises and offer assistance on good practice for social distancing. The strategy focuses on supporting small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), these being generally a small or medium-sized enterprise with fewer than 250 employees.

Core objectives

  • To offer direct advice on social distancing to all SMEs to enable them to open successfully and safely adhering to Government guidelines
  • For all SMEs to receive direct advice on business planning and diversification

Key Messages

Direct advice to all SMEs

The Council has produced a resource for all businesses to offer recovery advice on how to manage social distancing principles and where to access help if further information is required. This will be accessible digitally on the Council’s website or in hard copy, delivered via the Economic Development Team. The hard copy versions will be distributed as soon as is practicable. Signposts to various networks are included in the pack including the HSE, the Council’s Environmental Health team and many more, including additional support for BID levy payers, one of the benefits that BID membership brings.

Business support advice to all businesses

The services of a business support consultant have been procured to help all town centre businesses on a three day per week basis, expanding on the advice given by the Council’s Economic Development  Team. This will look in particular at ways to reinvent the business  given social distancing requirements on the high street. Such methods could include; digital, electronic payments, adjusting delivery methods, cost effective marketing to raise the profile of their business.

Delivery of a business surgery ‘Shop Doctor Programme’ to assist independent traders

During the lockdown, some independent retailers have adapted to not having physical premises.  Some however, were not in the position to move their business on-line for practical, technological or financial reasons and support is limited as they do not reach the threshold to pay into the BID levy scheme. The Shop Doctor programme is specifically aimed at independent retailers in and around the town centres throughout the District.  The objectives being to offer:

  • Workshops; 1:1 and peer support, it will enable the business to look through customers’ eyes to view their shop frontages, internal presentation, customer experience and service as well as a mystery shopper exercise
  • Building resilience to market changes i.e. competing with a physical presence versus operating on-line
  • Access to resources to enable them to have an on-line presence, if they do not already have this facility, by considering what platforms are beneficial to their business. Included in this will how to engage with customers and build relevant site content

Utilisation of BID Ambassadors

In order to support the safe reopening of town centres, as part of the Public Realm Strategy there will be a Covid Support Team. That team will be led by the BID Ambassadors who will take on a supervision role as they have the knowledge of the town centres and have established links with the Council and the Police etc.  The focus will be on the key town centres at the outset, providing training and leadership for those less experienced. The BID Ambassador has already undertaken social distance training with the Institute of Place Management so is highly experienced in this field. Over time the Ambassadors will look to branch out that support across the district to ensure the management of all BID coverage areas.

Which shops are open?

The Council have already made contact with a number of businesses and will be building communications from 15 June in order to provide an online mapping service so that the public can view which businesses in the town centre have opened given the current lockdown restrictions. This will provide public certainty about peoples’ trips and maybe divert their journey to another of local town centres if there is an alternative option there that is open.

Target audiences for business support strategy

  • SMEs with business premises alongside public spaces with customers entering
  • All BID levy payers and Independent traders
  • All SMEs by publicising they are open
  • The public in being reassured that the BID Ambassadors are adequately trained and supervising the Covid support team.
  • The public in knowing that businesses are open

Communication Strategy

The aim of the Communications Strategy is to contribute to a smooth re-opening of Bassetlaw’s High Streets and Markets in line with Government guidelines of social distancing and other safety measures to ensure that they operate in a safe way, are Covid Secure and that residents, retailers, market traders and other stakeholders are fully informed of these measures.

Core objectives

  • To promote what has been done to get the local town centres in Worksop, Retford, Harworth and Tuxford ready to reopen – e.g. safety measures and practices being put in place, a welcome back for visitors, shoppers, retailers, businesses and stakeholders, stay safe messages
  • To ensure visitors know what they can expect when they come into the town centres through advance knowledge of queuing and one-way systems, new market layouts, etc.
  • To ensure visitors and shoppers know what is expected of them while they visit through clear and easy to understand messages and signage – effective social distancing, hand sanitising, not grouping together etc.
  • Publicise the support that is available from the Economic Development Team and North Notts BID to retailers, market traders, key stakeholders as more shops and market traders return to our high streets.
  • To ensure our social media channels are used efficiently and effectively to promote the campaign
  • Gain buy-in from key stakeholders and capitalise on their social media presence to help deliver our messages
  • To work with local and regional media to ensure key messages are disseminated to residents/visitors on a regular basis

Key messages

Key messages will updated in a dynamic action plan aligned with a phased campaign.

Phase 1 (pre-opening/opening of town centres) - Welcome back to the town centre, what visitors and shoppers should expect to see, and guidance on how they should behave through safety clear messaging and signage.

Phase 2 (Wider opening of town centres) – Re-enforcement of key messages, update messages on how the town centres have changed, identify and respond to emerging issues, share good news stories. 

Phase 3 (Once things have bedded in) – Continue to re-enforce of key messages, updates to any changes in Government guidance, identify and respond to emerging issues, share good news stories.

Channels of Communication

External:

  • Council website - www.bassetlaw.gov.uk
  • Social Media – Facebook and Twitter
  • Press releases to local and regional media
  • Press comment
  • Media interview
  • Customer Services
  • E-Newsletter
  • Email
  • Posters/floor stickers
  • Town Centre Noticeboards and External Council Office Noticeboards
  • Radio Advertising
  • BID
  • Stakeholders and Partners

Internal:

  • Staff Newsletter
  • Email
  • Notice boards
  • Posters
  • Councillor briefing – Member Information Bulletin

Target audiences for communications strategy

  • Residents
  • Visitors to the town centres from inside and outside the district
  • Key stakeholders and businesses
  • Local and regional media
  • Councillors
  • Staff 

Phase 2

Timeframe; end June 2020 – ??? July 2020

Key Focus; Likely to be Leisure and Hospitality Lockdown Easing

Key Message; To be Determined


Phase 2 Outputs

To be Determined

Phase 3

Timeframe; ??? July 2020 – Onwards

Key Focus; Remaining Lockdown Measures Easing

Key Message; To be Determined


Phase 3 Outputs

To be Determined

Feedback and Delivery

Budget

The activities detailed in this document will be strategically led by Bassetlaw District Council utilising the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund allocated to Bassetlaw, and the Council will seek to work collaboratively with the identified partners at the relevant stages.

The Council will be required periodically to submit a return to Government for the drawdown of this funding.

Timescale

Whilst the majority of this Plan is detailed as Phase 1 and covers the immediate timeframe where planning for the next swathe of lockdown restrictions lifting on 15 June is the prioritisation exercise, guidance is being filtered through from Government daily and the Council will be monitoring those recommendations and be responsive to them.

It will be necessary to continually monitor Government guidance, plus the experience on the ground and review this document regularly over the next year as phases 2 and 3 approach. This document represents Update No.1.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be undertaken throughout the process, with the Council chairing a ‘Reopening the High Streets Safely’ working group. Partners can attend that group as and when necessary for specific issues / actions to be explored. It may not be necessary for all parties to be present at every meeting.

Future public and business impacts will be reviewed at the point of satisfactory data collection.

Delivery

For further information contact:

Beverley Alderton-Sambrook, Head of Regeneration, Bassetlaw District Council Beverley.alderton-sambrook@bassetlaw.gov.uk

Sally Gilborn, Chief Executive, North Notts Business Improvement District sally.gillborn@northnottsbid.co.uk

Stakeholders


Last Updated on Tuesday, June 23, 2020