Opening up the town centre

Published on 08 June 2020


Background

Bedford Borough Council and Bedford Business Improvement District (BID) are keen to safely, slowly and surely welcome residents and visitors back to Bedford Town Centre as the lockdown of the country from the Covid19 pandemic starts to lift.  

Many shops, leisure and cultural facilities and all bars/restaurants have been closed since March 23rd.  Following Government guidance at all times, the Council would like to work with all organisations with an interest in the town centre to share the same messages in advance of, and as the lockdown lifts. This will have to be responsive to changing guidance from Public Health England.

Messaging

To encourage people back into the town centre, it is believed that the key message of STAY SAFE, STAY LOCAL, STAY KIND will reassure people. 

Online shopping has been consumers’ only option during the lockdown and now is the time to come back and support the town centre. 

Building confidence through positive and engaging stories (real people, personal and business), evoking memories/nostalgia, encouraging local shopping and showing off what visitors are coming back to, supporting independents and chain stores, sharing testimonials and posts reaffirming safe, welcoming and local will be vital.  

It is proposed that initially one hashtag is used in any messages about recovery and a united approach – #OurBedford 

Obviously, individuals will continue to use their own related hashtags and/or specific ones to their business e.g. #shopbedford, #bedfordslocal, #localbedford for Bedford’s independent businesses.

The Council does not want to be prescriptive, but believes if we all work together with the same message it will encourage people to feel confident enough to come back in to the town centre.

Communication channels

At present the main media outlet to promote through is social media: websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.  The Council is proposing that all partners share posts amongst themselves which refer to the town centre, whilst continuing with their own individual posts.

The Council will use its Invest in Bedford email communications to share business support advice and guidance and will encourage any new business contacts gathered during the COVID process to sign up to receive messages.

Elected members, or Councillors,  will also be encouraged to share these messages when appropriate.

Physical

As a reminder to visitors, floor markings will be placed at strategic points in the town centre with the social distancing message on as well as a 2m line.  

A number of large vinyl banners will be put up in St Paul’s Square, Harpur Square, junction of Harpur Street/Lime Street and other key locations reminding people of the width of two metres.  

The Council will also print off ‘COVID secure’ posters for independent businesses once they have confirmed they have complied with the Government's guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19.

A message can also be displayed on the traffic digital boards located on the main entrances into the town centre.

Reactive floor markings: The Markets Team will be out regularly and where close queues build up, they will be authorised to put temporary markings on the floor (as is already being done at the market).

Latest News (June 2020)

Deep-clean and fixing street furniture and bins in the town centre.  Photos will be shared of the work taking place.

The Markets Team are preparing messages on their Facebook page and preparing St Paul’s and Harpur Square for the safe return of Bedford Market from Wednesday 3 June.  

 

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