SHOPPING areas in Leicester are set to benefit from £500,000 of city council funding to help support independent traders as they reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.
The money – from the city council’s capital funds – will build on work already undertaken to improve shop fronts, widen pavements and focus on independent shopping areas so that retailers can safely and confidently welcome back shoppers. It will also be used to support traders who want to apply for licences to put café seating outside their businesses.
The council cash complements more than £300,000 (£318,089) allocated to Leicester from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support businesses with social distancing, advice and marketing.
In addition, £450,000 has been received from the Department for Transport to support active travel, with a further £1.5million expected. This money can be used for more pavement widening schemes and street infrastructure that will make it easier for people to walk and cycle to their local shops.
Overall, this means a package of more than £1.2million of support for local shopping areas and retailers to help kick-start recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
In addition, the Government’s ongoing Access Fund – which has so far seen £200,000 given out to businesses via the city council – continues to support employers to make it easy for their staff to walk or cycle to work. The Access Fund can also help businesses switch to using low-emission vehicles for deliveries to their customers – which can be especially useful as the current conditions mean more retailers are offering a delivery service.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is a really tough time for local traders and we want to do all we can to support them, which is why were are releasing half a million pounds of council funding on top of Government money to help them get back on their feet.
“Among the things we can help with will be paying for businesses to apply for a café seating licence and providing grants for extra seating or tables, to help food and drink outlets that want to serve people outside.
“We are also offering grants for shops to make permanent improvements to their frontages, and we will be making shopping areas more attractive with greenery and street art, or perhaps by providing outdoor picnic areas.
“We have already widened pavements, enhanced street cleaning regimes and issued businesses with free floor vinyls to help with social distancing. And I’m sure people will have already seen the colourful pavement stencils and safety messages wrapped around lampposts in their local shopping areas.
“This money is about providing support for the small local businesses that really need it – both in the city centre and in our neighbourhoods – so that, as a city, we come out of this crisis in the best possible position to rebuild for the future.”
Notes to editors:
Leicester City Council recently published its reopening plan for the city, setting out how it will work with partners such as the Business Improvement District (BID) and others to support non-essential retail in reopening. The plan includes ensuring people can travel effectively and social-distance while they shop, as well as setting out principles for cleaning and safety in shopping areas.
Work to assist shops reopening is supported by the city council’s Transport Recovery Plan. Published at the end of May, the plan sets out goals for helping the city’s economy to recover following the lockdown, while also meeting the city’s environmental objectives to improve air quality and encourage people to make more sustainable travel choices.