Businesses leaders looking to breath new life back into district’s town centres

Support for retailers and businesses in all aspects is at the forefront of  Calderdale Council’s message as the country moves onto the next step of the lockdown easing roadmap.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 7:00 am

Shops deemed non-essential reopened on Monday along with hairdressers, indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos in another stride back towards normality.

High streets will still look a bit different but Deborah Harkins, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, said everyone has looked forward to Calderdale getting back to business and welcoming more people into our town centres.

“It’s really positive for people’s wellbeing and our economy,” she said.

Shoppers in Halifax town centre
Shoppers in Halifax town centre

“One of the best things we can all do to support the reopening of the retail and hospitality industries is to keep COVID-19 case rates down by doing the three big things (limit mixing with others, wear a face covering and self-isolate when necessary) and getting the vaccine when invited.

“Together, we can ensure that Calderdale starts to bounce back as safely as possible.”

The Hebden Bridge Business Forum is focusing on the retailers in terms of support for the borough’s businesses and the unique experience they offer.

A spokesperson for the forum said: “After a year of restrictions, the high street looks quite different and is likely to remain so. Going forward so much emphasis will be put on the retailer who can offer an experience and added value.

“We need to bring back – pleasure to be served, to receive suggestions, authentic interaction, to try on the item, be given good advice, great customer service. People are missing this so much.

“The Hebden Bridge Business Forum is trying to promote a micro economy with its Loyal to Local campaign and promote co-promotion, each business helps each other, even buying from each other will boost the local economy. Together we can get through this; we have to support one another.

“It will be challenging times for small independent retailers for many months to come but with local support and utilisation of local talent, anything is possible and that is our mandate at the Business Forum, to support, nurture and grow our economy.”

The Brighouse BID is also actively seeking new opportunities to help the town grow.

Lesley Adams, Co-Chair of the Brighouse BID steering group said: “The high street may be declining nationally, but we are prospering. We put it down to the quality and variety of our businesses.

“Our independent businesses, and the big retailers, are all thriving in Brighouse being used by thousands of people each week.”

New pedestrian areas with benches, plants and trees are being introduced in the town.

Construction work has started to create new ‘parklets’ – small parts of streets which are transformed into community spaces for people to stop, rest and enjoy whilst shopping.

Shelagh O’Neill, Calderdale Council’s Director of Regeneration and Strategy, said: “It’s fantastic to see work underway on these attractive new community spaces for people visiting Brighouse’s high street, which we’re committed to supporting as local businesses start to safely reopen in line with national guidelines.”