Monmouthshire County Council has been working to support businesses and help residents feel confident about returning to their town and village centres, as non-essential shops prepare to reopen.
As part of this process the council recently ran a survey to get a clearer picture of how residents felt, what their concerns were, and to ask for ideas and feedback about how the county’s towns and villages might look in the future.
Following these findings and discussions with the Town and Community Councils and the local Monmouthshire Business Forum, the Council is launching ‘Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire’ today. This campaign celebrates the unique nature of the county’s villages and towns, encourages residents to support independent businesses by shopping locally, and provides businesses with clear guidance about what they need to do in order to reopen.
Cllr Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Land Use Planning said:
“Independent businesses have faced major challenges since lockdown was announced so we want to give them as much support possible as they work towards reopening. Our website will now have a dedicated section addressing their needs. On the ‘Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire’ pages they can access essential information and resources that can be downloaded, such as posters, signage. It will also include the information they need to ensure their customers and staff are as safe as possible, such as how to conduct a risk assessment. The information will be updated regularly as legislation changes to ensure that it is beneficial long term as well.”
Monmouthshire County Council is also working with the town and community councils to put measures in place progressively from next week, that will help make residents feel more confident, such as social distancing signage, a 20mph speed limit in key central areas to enable pedestrians and cyclists to feel safer, health and safety measures, and ensuring businesses are aware of what they need to do to be ‘COVID secure’.
The measures being brought in will be tailored to each town. In Abergavenny, Chepstow, Magor and Monmouth there will be a number of noticeable changes, such as stenciled social distancing signage on pavements, barriers, reduced speed limits, and trial road closures or one way systems. In Caldicot, there will be enhanced restrictions within the existing pedestrianised area. These were decided on collectively by each town council and community council, town by town with Monmouthshire County Council. Consultations with business forums have also taken place.
In Usk, the council will be adopting the town council’s recommendations regarding measures. These include traffic light controls on Bridge Street to create a single carriageway and allow for widened pedestrian areas. In Gilwern and Raglan, there will be minimal changes as a result of the consultation with the community council.
All the measures put in place will be evaluated in real time, and adapted according to how they are received by the community and how effective they are.
Cllr Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services added:
“As preparations are made to reopen Monmouthshire’s towns and villages, we want to ensure that this is done as safely as possible.
“We have listened to the feedback from residents who took part in the survey and know that although these initial measures are short-term, they could form the basis of long-term changes and improvements to our towns. It is reassuring that the majority of residents who responded expressed a clear determination to shop locally, so we want to do everything we can to make that as enjoyable and safe as possible. The survey has brought to light many wonderful ideas and useful feedback, including more online shopping opportunities with local businesses, more Active Travel schemes, more outdoor cafes, and socially-distanced events.”
So this is not the end of the process, we will be evolving and adapting plans and would still love to hear residents’ ideas. These can be submitted via a link on the Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire page on the council’s website and will be shared with the appropriate town and community councils. We are open to conversations with other town and village communities who may feel they could benefit from some of the measures introduced ”
For more information visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk and click on the Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire link.