Bedford Conservative Councillors call for Increased Support for Bedford Town Centre Businesses
Bedford’s high street retailers have taken a devastating hit during the Covid 19 pandemic and it’s vital that Bedford Council supports local shops and businesses and that visitors feel safe to visit our town centre when lock down is relaxed.
Conservative Councillors are calling for 6 key measures to ensure that Bedford Council protects the health of all town visitors whilst also helping businesses ensure they can reopen safely and get moving again.
1) Bedford Council needs to provide super cleansing with public spaces disinfected and all council car parks lifts and doors, public toilets, library lifts and street furniture cleansed regularly throughout the opening hours of the town and they should work with businesses to install adequate temporary hand sanitiser stations across town
2) The Council should support social distancing by allowing restaurants and coffee shops greater access to public spaces for tables and chairs. There should be no charge, but safety and fire service access must be maintained.
3) More cycle parking is needed to encourage visitors back into town, ensure proper social distancing and to enable those who have taken up cycling to ride and park safely.
4) To encourage strong and vibrant street markets, stalls at Bedford Markets should be free to market traders for at least the next 3 months.
5) Bedford Council should support the development of a “Bedford Town Centre App” to create a ‘one stop shop’ to buy from local shops and explore local businesses. Other cities across the UK already use mobile technology to to promote their town centres for people looking for places to shop, eat, or things to do and to allow shoppers to easily buy online from local businesses so shoppers know they are buying from their local retailers and markets.
6) This all needs to be underpinned by an offer of increased free parking in Council run car parks, to encourage people to come into the town centre from further afield.
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Graeme Coombes commented:
“Like many Bedford residents, we are looking forward to the days when we can visit the town centre again and go to shops, cafes, hairdressers, florists, bars and restaurants (to name but a few).
Shoppers and visitors must feel safe to go to the town centre and we believe that the measures we are proposing are important, both to help re-vitalise our town centre businesses and at the same time protect town centre visitors and residents.
We all know that business have been massively effected by the Coronavirus pandemic and their employees have also been fearful for their jobs. We must make sure that we are able to get our town centre and businesses moving again, while keeping residents safe.”
Conservative Spokesperson for the Town Centre, Cllr. Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant, commented:
“Whilst we have all been doing the right thing and staying at home to look after each other to prevent this disease spreading, we must also consider how we as a local community can support those who have all but lost their livelihoods during this time.
The Council needs also to think sensitively and strike the right balance. Whilst people will be pleased to be out of lockdown when the time comes, we must consider those who have died and those who have so bravely worked through this to look after us all - the NHS, carers, posties, shop workers - the list goes on. I believe that Bedford Council needs to organise an outdoor display of local art where we invite residents to say thank you, leave tributes and safely display their work for others to see.”