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Southampton City Council to receive £225k to re-open the high streets safely

Some measures will also be implemented in the five main district centres of Bitterne, Lordshill, Portswood, Shirley and Woolston.

Southampton City Council will be receiving a new £225k fund to help prepare for the safe reopening of the city centre and other districts, which will start with non-essential retailers beginning to open again from 15 June 2020, in line with Government guidelines.

The Reopening High Streets Safety Fund will help the city council to introduce social distancing and public health safety measures. These plans will help to kickstart the local economy, get people back to work and encourage customers back to the high street and shops.

Safety initiatives which Southampton City Council are working on for the city centre, in partnership with GO! Southampton, the city centre’s Business Improvement District (BID), include:

  • Defined queue management areas within the precinct, Above Bar Street and other high footfall areas. Retailers will also be fully briefed on effective queue management

  • Signage and supporting measures to promote and support ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus

  • Extra space for residents to walk and cycle more freely especially around busy bus stops

  • Plentiful, secure and convenient cycle parking

  • Enhanced street cleansing regimes for priority areas

  • Measures to support the safe re-opening of the hospitality industry which is planned for July – e.g. licensing outdoor seating area

Some measures will also be implemented in the five main district centres of Bitterne, Lordshill, Portswood, Shirley and Woolston, where necessary.

While the Government announced that non-essential retailers can open from 15 June, shoppers should not expect all shops to be open in Southampton from this date. Many of the national retailers are planning to open a small number of stores initially before rolling out reopening in all cities across the country, whilst the city centre market organisers are working closely with the council to safely reopen later in the month.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City & Place at Southampton City Council, said: “Southampton is known as a retail hub and we look forward to welcoming visitors back with effective safety measures in place. Getting customers back to the shops safely is going to be a vital part of kick-starting the recovery of our local economy and ensuring the future of our much-loved local businesses.

"Residents will quite rightly want reassurances that we’re doing everything we can to create a new and safe retail experience for them. The Reopening High Streets Safety Funding will enable us to put measures in place to re-open safety. We will also need the support of the public and local retailers to ensure everyone adheres to strict social distancing guidelines once they return.

"We’re encouraging residents to make journeys to our retail spaces by foot or bike where possible – to reduce emissions and traffic congestion. We applaud our local bus operators who are working tirelessly to ensure important social distancing measures are in place for those that need to travel by bus .”

Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton, said: “We’re pleased to be working with the council to ensure there’s a joined-up approach to the reopening of the city centre. Whilst our member businesses will be ensuring their own premises are Covid secure for their staff and customers, we’re keen for Southampton’s residents and visitors to see clear, consistent messaging in the city centre and for public spaces to be as straightforward to navigate as possible, offering reassurance that the city is a safe place to visit.

"We’re fully supportive of the initiatives to improve city centre access for cyclists and pedestrians as part of the Green Transport Recovery Plan; we currently have a unique opportunity to widen the choice of transport modes in the city with a focus on sustainable options.

"We’re also keen to see opportunities for outdoor dining progressed to ensure cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs are able to reopen as soon, safely and effectively as possible.

"This initial phase of the city’s reopening is part of our wider recovery plan for the BID area, with a range of initiatives planned to animate the city centre and encourage footfall over the coming months and beyond.”

Last week, Southampton City Council announced its Green Transport Recovery Plan which will deliver a package of transformative transport measures to help people travel healthily and safely in an era of social distancing. The £4.1m Green Transport Recovery Plan, to be delivered by the council’s Highways Partners Balfour Beatty Living Places, has been established in line with the Government’s recommendations for encouraging safe and active travel as we come out of lockdown.

It sets out a series of interventions to address two key challenges identified by the council. Firstly, it will enable people to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines as people start to travel more and, crucially, it will support people to keep walking and cycling following a staggering rise in active travel across the city.

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