Middlesbrough Council has worked with key partners and stakeholders to create a postlockdown plan that will boost trade and encourage visitors back to the town.
The town centre has been a particular area of focus, with many retailers having reopened in June. Following consultation with partners including Teesside University, public transport operators and retailers, the council has introduced a number of changes to increase customer confidence and support businesses as they reopen.
The temporary measures include handwashing stations, safety signage, one-way pedestrian systems and increased regular cleaning of ‘touch points’ such as pelican crossing buttons and street furniture.
Council workers were also temporarily redeployed to new town centre ambassador roles to assist shoppers and visitors. In a further show of support for business, free town centre parking was implemented for an initial four-week period from mid-June.
Things got off to a positive start, with footfall increasing by 90 per cent and Middlesbrough faring better than the national average. The safety measures are being regularly reviewed by planners, to ensure they are fit for purpose as more businesses reopen and visitor numbers increase.
Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston said: “The coronavirus pandemic has created a hugely challenging climate for business, not just in Middlesbrough but everywhere.
“The council will do all it can to support businesses to reopen, and stay open. As well as safely encouraging visitors and workers back to the town centre, staff have worked tirelessly to process much-needed business funding outlined by central government.
“Lockdown restrictions might be easing, but we know this is really just the beginning as businesses adapt their operations to fit the ‘new normal’. I’m confident the town will come back with a vibrant new energy.”
Small businesses have been hit hard by the current climate, particularly during lockdown. A campaign to support Middlesbrough businesses was launched in April and is set to continue as restrictions are eased.
The Buy Boro campaign promotes the benefits of buying locally, with its online directory initially promoting businesses offering delivery/collection during lockdown. As more businesses reopen, the campaign will extend to encourage consumers to shop locally, be it in person or online.
As Middlesbrough moves through its Covid-19 recovery plan, the implementation of the council’s town centre strategy will continue. The strategy outlines a clear vision for the future of the town centre, increasing urban living, encouraging business investment and making Middlesbrough the go-to destination of the Tees Valley.
Though just at the beginning of what will be a turbulent time for the UK economy, Middlesbrough is committed to supporting business through this unprecedented challenge.
To keep up to date with business news in Middlesbrough, or speak to a member of the investment team, visit investmiddlesbrough.co.uk.
To add your business to the Buy Boro directory, visit buyboro.co.uk.