Welcome Back Fund
Reopening High Street Safely Fund
In May 2020, the Government announced a new £50 million Reopening High Street Safely fund to enable councils to support their local high streets get safely back to business. This Fund was introduced to prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail. The fund was aimed at Council’s introducing a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops. The intention was to enable high streets to reopen safely and to ensure that customers felt safe when retuning to the high streets.
Ribble Valley were awarded a grant of £53,771 from the fund and quickly began preparing plans to enable our high streets to reopen safely and to enable the measures to be put into place before non-essential retail re-opened on 15th June 2020.
Welcome Back Fund
In March 2021 the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced a new £56 million Welcome Back Fund to help councils boost tourism, improve green spaces, and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups. The intention of the fund is to support a safe and successful reopening of the high streets.
Ribble Valley were awarded £53,771 funding through the Welcome Back Fund.
The funding was defrayed at risk with the Council submitting a claim each quarter for the money already spent. Both funds were funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the funds ended in March 2022.
By the end of the fund (31st March 2022) in excess of £81,000 of the fund had been utilised (this includes some VAT which is recoverable) on the following:
- Developed Action Plans
- Creation of a marketing campaign
- Signs and pavement markings, to raise awareness of the need to social distance
- Localised temporary road closures/ one-way systems to allow for extra space for pedestrians and socially distanced queuing at shops
- Increased pedestrian and cycle access in some town centres, through adjustments to traffic restrictions
- Temporary suspension of some parking spaces and laybys, where extra space for widening footpaths to help pedestrians respect social distancing rules could be provided.
- Engagement with local businesses including the provision of business guidance advice documentation
- Production of guidance document for Queue Management and Social Distancing Advice Note
- Shoppers Survey
- Production of banners and bollard covers to advise customers the high streets were re-open and social distancing measures.
- Christmas Tree Light Switch on event Clitheroe Market
- Consultants undertook a review of the medium-term impacts of Covid on our retail centres
- Purchase of temporary market stalls
- Pop-up promotional market events in Clitheroe and Longridge
- Advertisement material associated with pop up events
- Purchase of temporary bins
- Three short promotional films commissioned
- Purchase of Queens Jubilee materials
Medium-term impacts of Covid on our retail centres
As part of the Welcome Back Fund RVBC commissioned ARK Consultancy Ltd to explore the medium-term impact of Covid-19 on the borough’s three main retail areas: Clitheroe, Longridge and Whalley.
The objectives of the project were to:
- Develop longer term strategic action plans for the three retail areas
- Engage with stakeholders to understand any emerging issues
- Explore options for pilot projects to support the visitor economy
- Work with RVBC to identify options to make the retail areas more visually attractive and promote the areas
The Council’s Economic Development Team will now consider the recommendations within the report and options for our retail areas.