Safety and health are at the forefront of an operational recovery strategy which comes into force next week to support the reopening of most shops in Warrington town centre.
Warrington Business Improvement District (BID) has been working with Warrington Borough Council and Golden Square Shopping Centre, Warrington’s Own Buses, Warrington Disability Partnership and the Police to help the town centre get back to business, safely.
The easing of the government’s lockdown measures means businesses that sell ‘non-essential’ goods and services – such as clothes shops, department stores, electronics retailers and book sellers will be permitted to re-open from Monday 15 June.
People coming into the town centre will see that a number of changes have been made to improve safety. These include highways improvements, increased support for cyclists and pedestrians and new safety signage to keep people safe as they move around the town centre.
The council has created more space for cyclists and pedestrians coming into and out of the town centre, with the introduction of some one-way roads, changing some routes to prioritise cyclists, and installing temporary signage for traffic to improve safety.
There has been a surge in people cycling during the coronavirus pandemic and the council wants to support the continuation of the move towards active travel.
Warrington’s Own Buses is supporting safe, socially-distanced travel through on-board capacity limits of 25%, screens and sanitisers and personal protective equipment. Face coverings must be worn by all people travelling and customers are asked to use the exact change wherever possible.
A SAFER TOWN CENTRE
Working with partners, businesses and particularly the Business Improvement District (BID), the council has introduced a number of measures to improve town centre safety
There will be a range of new signage, directing people to navigate the town centre via a one-way route, to keep their distance from other shoppers and to stay left where possible. The signs include key messages such as ‘keep your distance, ‘stay left, stay safe’, ‘follow the designated one way’, and ‘maintain the gap’. This is particularly prominent in Golden Square, where a great deal of work has taken place to make the shopping centre as safe as possible.
Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “I’m delighted that Warrington town centre is about to open for business once more. It’s vital that we get back to business, restart our local economy, and get our town moving again. However, during these unprecedented times, it’s clear that we’re going to have to do things differently.
“Public safety is paramount, and that’s why, working with our partners, we’ve introduced a range of new measures, from one-way routes and designated queuing areas to increased space for cyclists and pedestrians. We want everyone to feel confident that when they travel into the town centre to shop, work and enjoy leisure activities they can do so safely.
“You can help us by following the guidelines, being considerate of others and remembering that the new signage is there to protect everyone. Working together, we can make our town centre safe, accessible and ready to thrive again.”
As part of the work, the Council is also rolling out designated queueing areas for the vast majority of shops This will involve floor signage being placed in public areas to support businesses to queue their customers outside their premises.
Warrington BID is working with Warrington Voluntary Action on a project to create a team of meet-and-greet volunteers to help shoppers get around the town centre. People are also asked to keep in mind, and be patient with, people with access needs, such as sight or mobility issues, or other hidden disabilities, as they may not always be able follow the new rules and guidelines.
Warrington BID Manager, Harriet Roberts said: ‘Behind the scenes there’s been a huge cross sector of people in all council departments, organisations and businesses coming together. There’s been a real effort to cut through red tape and move mountains in a very short time in order to reopen the town centre as quickly and as safely as we can.
‘We’re now contacting businesses directly to find out how the lockdown has affected their trade and to establish what support would be most helpful in getting them back on their feet. For SMEs this could be about providing one to one business advisors, training or marketing support.
‘How we come out of lockdown will depend on being able to celebrate the same story, harness civic pride and build on the community spirit which is at the heart of what makes Warrington so special. Warrington BID’s new digital promotional campaign has a ‘back in town’ message which will emphasise those values of solidarity, support, respect and kindness to others. We want to share our stories of survival, hope and sustainability.’