Let’s get out and shop!
It's taken time and determination but slowly things are returning to a ‘new normal’. This is evident, as the buzz returns to our retail hubs in Epsom, Ewell and Stoneleigh.
Along with other areas, we were awarded a small grant from the European Union Regional Development Fund to assist safe trading to take place.
We developed an action plan and formed a task force to help support and ease the return to our local high streets. The high street task force consists of staff from our temporarily closed venues. They have the mission to observe, patrol and reassure. They make suggestions to us, the county council, local business and shoppers to enable safe access and queuing.
Working in pairs and walking the streets has, in their own words, been “a real chance to be out and about in the community making a difference and helping our area return to relative normality”. They have helped instill a confidence within Epsom High Street, Ewell village centre and Stoneleigh Broadway.
Any issues or changes they find are usually swiftly addressed by the council or our partners. For example redesigning outdoor/shop queuing systems and supplying information signage. The team has helped t reshape the layout of the Epsom market to provide increased social distancing. They have also highlighted to businesses how outdoor seating can be better placed. They even organised hedges to be trimmed to increase pavement space.
When asked how businesses, shoppers and others have responded to the changes, all the team members expressed how positive everyone is. One said “I am amazed by how shops have altered to the new guidelines so quickly, with the public happy to abide with the new way of doing things”.
Another noted that most people tend to avoid crowded areas, queue when required and maintain social distance with little to no (obvious) complaints!
When asked how they were adapting to working in a very different role from their normal employment, the team mentioned that the only downside is the rainy day patrols. Luckily there haven't been too many of those!