Post Covid-19 Recovery for Gravesend Town Centre
The Committee was presented with a discussion document to assist with Post Covid-19 recovery planning for Gravesend Town Centre.
The Assistant Director (Communities) informed the Committee that a Plan for Town Centre recovery had been created which involved four main approaches, listed in full from pages 31-39 in the report. It was important that the approaches made were similar to other neighbouring local authorities so that there was unity across Kent:
· Actions undertaken during the lock down
· Planning for partial re-opening of the Town Centre
· Celebration/Commemoration events going forward
· Being part of the strategic plans for Kent
The Assistant Director (Communities) fielded questions from the Committee and explained that:
· Four marshals have been hired on temporary contracts to patrol the Town Centre; they were hired using the funds released by the Government a couple weeks ago to help local authorities reopen their Town Centres. They have been hired for the month but each week there will be a review to see if they are still required; they will help with the initial buzz of the reopening of bars and restaurants
· The Market Team is comprised of several Market operatives whose typical job role was to open up the Market and get it ready for operation. During lockdown the Market was closed so the team were redeployed to complete other tasks such as cleaning and redecorating. For the Markets reopening they installed social distancing measures, a one way system and hand sanitizer stations; they have now resumed their job roles
· Many businesses have taken positive steps towards maintaining social distancing in their stores but feedback will need to be sought from the independent shop community to see how they are faring. The team will build upon the contacts made during lockdown to make sure all the businesses in Gravesham are adequately supported
· No money given by the Government was used to create the knitted rainbows or any of the other creative arts projects. The artistic projects were created to make the Town appear more vibrant and hopefully attract more people to the Town over the coming weeks to help businesses
· The cleaning/replacement of broken paving slabs etc is a KCC function. The decision to implement parking charges from 01 June 2020 followed the approach of other neighbouring local authorities. Parking is within the Leader’s portfolio and can be raised with him
· A number of comments were received about the extension of pedestrianisation of New Road affecting deliveries for shops; the Town Centre Manager has been working hard with them to find a suitable solution such as a permit system. Members should inform the Assistant Director (Communities) of any businesses that may need assistance
· A Chatham based company was used to print the infographics signage as that company were able to supply everything that was required in a short amount of time. In the future, the team can look to work with Gravesham based companies
· An event in Gravesham to recognise the hard work from frontline workers and volunteers through the COVID-19 pandemic would be welcome in Gravesham but it isn’t deemed suitable to hold such an event in the current climate. An event will definitely be considered for the future when it is safer for larger gatherings
The Chair summarised the discussion of the report.
Members of the Committee thanked the Assistant Director (Communities) for all the teams’ hard work and dedication to maintain public safety while also creating a safe environment of the Town Centre to reopen.