Comprehensive package to help shoppers and businesses stay safe

Canterbury High Street
Canterbury High Street pre-coronavirus. Pic: Julie Blackmer

Helping people stay safe as they shop is at the heart of a comprehensive package of measures to help the district’s high streets to reopen on Monday 15 June.

Helping people stay safe as they shop is at the heart of a comprehensive package of measures to help the district’s high streets to reopen on Monday 15 June.

While businesses will be doing lots of work themselves to ensure they comply with the government guidelines, Canterbury City Council is working with a range of organisations on what are the first significant steps towards economic recovery as non-essential retailers are allowed to open their doors and welcome shoppers for the first time in months.

As part of the government’s package of business support measures designed to mitigate the effects of the Covid19 pandemic, the city council has access to £146,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), although there are very strict rules on how that can be spent.

On top of that cash, the city council earmarked £100,000 to support recovery in its emergency budget which was recently approved by the Covid19 Emergency Committee.

In the early stages, help will be given to Canterbury, Herne Bay, Whitstable and Tankerton. Businesses in the villages and other smaller commercial centres will be able to access business support and advice as well as any artwork that is produced.

Council Leader Cllr Rob Thomas said: “As lockdown is lifted it is really important for us to work together to reinvigorate our high streets by making them look as good as they can and supporting businesses to help their customers and staff stay safe.

“These are the first steps towards the district getting back on its feet and supporting the district’s longer-term economic recovery will be a priority for the weeks and months to come.

“None of us have faced this sort of challenge before so we need to be fleet of foot, able to adapt quickly, spot problems and come up with innovative answers.

“What we do on Monday might need to be changed by Thursday as we better understand people’s behaviour and needs in what will become a new normal. This will be even more important as different parts of the various strands of the economy are unlocked each with their unique needs.

“The key will be for us all to be in constant contact so we can capitalise on the opportunities presented by an ever-changing and developing situation and do what we can to encourage businesses to survive and then flourish.”

Lisa Carlson, Chief Executive of the Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District (BID) said: “To say the situation we are all facing as lockdown is eased is challenging is an enormous understatement.

“But I have great faith in the resilience and ingenuity of businesses in the BID area and elsewhere to tackle and overcome the challenges. It is a cliche but, in this instance, it happens to be true. This is definitely a marathon not a sprint. Monday is important but so is every day over the next few years.

“We have been working hard behind the scenes during lockdown to help our levy payers but there will be much more to do in the coming weeks. This will be dependent on the feedback we get from retailers, other businesses and, most importantly, our customers.

“We will come across issues that need addressing but there are lots of opportunities too, not least to work even more closely together for a common aim.”

The action being taken includes:

  • A temporary tariff at Holmans Meadow (£2 per hour capped at £3.50), Castle Street multi-storey (£1.90 an hour capped at £3.50) and Station Road West multi-storey (£1.90 an hour capped at £3.50) to provide an alternative to shop workers affected by park and ride, which costs £3.50 to use, being closed
  • The reopening of all three park and ride car parks without a bus service at the cost of 50p a day. This would enable some people to walk and cycle into the city or walk to work at a number of retail parks. They could also catch ordinary, timetabled Stagecoach buses if they wish
  • Retain free car parking for NHS and social care workers as well as NHS volunteers at non-ANPR car parks
  • Distance markings on the ground in Canterbury courtesy of the BID and Whitefriars
  • Hand sanitising stations in the main car parks
  • Jet washing of key streets by 15 June with others to follow
  • Extra graffiti removal in high streets
  • Extra opening and cleaning of public toilets in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay
  • Fewer market stallholders and street traders in Canterbury to allow for social distancing - this situation will be kept under review
  • Signs welcoming visitors and shoppers and asking them to keep a safe distance and take their time
  • Information for visitors to help them plan their trip
  • Detailed guidance given to businesses to help them stay Covid Secure especially as government advice evolves
  • Information being given to help businesses keep their customers up to date and how to report problems
  • Planning the reopening of Canterbury City Council venues such as the Beaney and the Neptune Coworking Hub
  • Vinyls on empty units and development sites such as Debenhams in Canterbury, the Beach Street development in Herne Bay and a site in Whitstable yet to be decided

In the longer term, the council will work with others on reinvigorating tourism, boosting shop local campaigns and putting on events once it is safe to do so.

Social distancing rules are based on government guidelines and are not included in the legislation so the council’s Enforcement Officers do not have the power to take action.

Douglas Rattray, the council’s Head of Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “Our parking Enforcement Officers will be working normally and our environmental Enforcement Officers will be offering advice to businesses and the public.

“We will use our existing powers against anti-social behaviour and our Environmental Health Officers will continue to work with food businesses that are offering takeaways to follow the rules and keep everyone safe.”

This is the position with open public toilets from Monday 15 June, with the situation under constant review:

Canterbury

Canterbury Lane
Tower Way
Canterbury Cemetery
Whitefriars

Herne Bay

St George’s
Hampton Pier
Herne Bay Cemetery
William Street
Memorial Park
Bandstand Outer
Hampton Pleasure
Westcliff
King’s Hall
Reculver

Whitstable

Skinners Alley
Faversham Road
Harbour Street
Whitstable Cemetery
Beach Walk
Horsebridge

Tankerton

St Anne’s

Hand-sanitising stations will be in the main car parks, as follows:

Canterbury

Watling Street
Station Road West multi-storey
Castle Street multi-storey
Holmans Meadow

Herne Bay

William Street
Neptune

Whitstable 

Gorrell Tank
Middle Wall

Extra cleaning in high streets - jet washing (streets in bold by 15 June):

Canterbury

High Street (from Clocktower down)
Guildhall Street
Buttermarket & Burgate
Bus station

Herne Bay

Mortimer Street
High Street
William Street

Whitstable

Harbour Street leading into High Street
High Street
Oxford Street
Sea Street between Duke of Cumberland and Horsebridge/Zizzi

Published: 9th June 2020