As non-essential retail businesses reopen their doors, Westminster City Council is promoting a ‘Shop Local’ campaign to boost the local economy.
So far over 350 businesses in the city have signed up to the campaign which forms part of a larger package of measures to boost the economy in Westminster and support local businesses.
In May, an interactive map was launched by the council allowing users to easily access information about businesses and locate those who cater for their needs.
Today marks a significant milestone in the easing of lockdown restrictions for many business owners and retail workers across the UK.
Leader of Westminster City Council Rachael Robathan, and Cabinet Member for Business and Planning Cllr Matthew Green, paid a visit to retailers on Motcomb Street to see how they’re trading safely, and to promote the ‘Shop Local’ campaign.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council said:
“From the outset, I’ve strongly supported local businesses and will continue to do so as we progress through the lifting of lockdown restrictions. We’ve all experienced hardship as a result of this pandemic and it’s important to recognise and continue the strong community spirit we’ve seen flourish in our neighbourhoods.
“Local shops are the lifeblood of our communities and we are keen to promote the fantastic products and services available within Westminster.
“We want our residents to Shop Local, Spend Local, and Support Local Westminster.”
Cabinet Member for Business and Planning, Cllr Matthew Green said:
“As the city starts to safely re-open, we feel that our ‘Shop Local’ campaign can help local businesses to rebuild as well as to boost our neighbourhood economies by encouraging local spending.
“The wider support we’ve offered to businesses includes guidance on enforcing and managing social distancing regulations as they reopen to customers. We’ve also expanding pavement space and improved cycling routes across the city to help people get both into and around Westminster safely. We want to give our residents the confidence to return to Westminster shops and hope that the campaign will help support this.”
Some of the businesses in Motcomb Street, and across Westminster, have managed to stay open to supply essential items to residents such as food and groceries. Others, such as nearby florist Neill Strain, have managed to adapt and conduct business online, delivering their goods to consumers.
Mr Strain said:
“Although I wasn’t allowed to keep my boutique open throughout lockdown due to the government guidelines, we fortunately had an established online ordering service which enabled us to easily segue into operating on a solely e-commerce basis behind closed doors.
“Flowers and plants have scientifically proven benefits for health and wellbeing and at challenging times like these, people find great comfort and joy in being surrounded by them.
“It’s great once again open my doors to customers and make face-to-face transactions. I hope the campaign will bring residents back to their local high streets to support businesses like mine as we reopen and restart.”
The wider support offered by the council has included fielding queries from businesses and directing them to relevant government advice and funding options, as well as administering the government’s grant schemes. The council has allocated around £88m to over 5,000 businesses during the pandemic.
The council has also launched a discretionary grants scheme in line with government guidance. This will provide an additional £4m funding to small businesses.
A dedicated section of the council website gives users comprehensive information about funding and central government schemes that can assist them through this difficult period.
As lockdown eases and London’s streets begin to get busier once again, Westminster City Council have also introduced a number of measures throughout the city to help people move around the city safely, with an additional 5km of temporary wider pavements and 11km of cycle lanes installed to help support social distancing as the city reopens.