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Residents urged to shop local as town centres start to reopen

19 June 2020

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Andrew Lord.

The council is backing businesses and calling for residents to do the same as town centres across the borough started to reopen this week.

Teams have been hitting the streets as residents headed out to support local businesses after non-essential retailers were given the green light to re-open by government following a period of enforced closure as part of the coronavirus lockdown.

Staff from the public protection team have been visiting retailers across all the borough's town centres to check in on them and offer guidance and support on how to operate safely.

They have also joined forces with the Rochdale Development Agency to phone hundreds of business to talk through reopening, offer advice and make sure they've got everything they need.

Street cleaning has also been stepped up significantly, with an additional focus on key areas like benches, railings and pedestrian crossings. New floral displays have been planted to create a welcoming, attractive environment.

Eye catching signage will also be installed to remind people about the importance of avoiding close contact with others.

Lots of free downloadable resources, like posters and social media graphics to communicate with customers, have been created and made available for businesses to use via the council's website.

As well as non-essential retail shops, the borough's markets are returning, with Rochdale and Heywood markets already back open and Middleton Market set to return from Tuesday, 23 June 2020.

'I'm pleased our efforts are giving people the confidence to return to our fantastic town centres'

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for business, skills and regeneration, said: "We're doing everything we can to help get our town centres back on track after such a challenging few months. I'm pleased the measures we're taking are giving people the confidence to visit our fantastic local businesses and support them and the many livelihoods which depend on their continued success.

"This work has been a real combined effort, with Rochdale Business Improvement District, Rochdale Development Agency, GMP and many more, all working together to get things back on track. We'll continue to support businesses over the coming months, as the lifting of lockdown continues."

Andrew Lord, owner of Lord's Butchers in Middleton, said: "We switched to delivery for most of lockdown, which was a lifeline for some of our customers, but it's great to be back.

"We've been in Middleton town centre for more than 100 years, so it's fantastic to be here and see other businesses reopening and the area coming back to life. We're operating a one in, one out policy and it's going very smoothly."

A host of handy downloadable resources have been available for businesses on the council's website

Cheryl Johnson, who was out shopping in Rochdale, said: "It's all very well organised, with markings on the floor, so it's been quite self-explanatory and I feel safe. It's my first time back in town and it feels nice to return to some normality."

Paul Ambrose, manager of the Rochdale BID, said: "We're delighted to welcome shoppers back to the town after what's been a tough few months.

"We've demonstrated unprecedented support, resilience and collaboration during lockdown. I want to encourage shoppers to visit our stores, and boost the local economy. The more money you spend in your local independent businesses, the more that stays in our community."