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UPDATED INFORMATION Hitchin Town Centre Businesses 13/7/20
We have been doing our upmost over the past 3 months to keep you all up to date with the fast-moving changes and announcements by the Government and communicating relevant information on how and when you can access support, guidance and equipment.
 
The Hitchin BID team have been working hard to provide businesses with subsidised PPE, external floor stickers and signage to ease the financial pressures of reopening. We’ve installed 10 outdoor public hand sanitiser stations throughout the town and erected social distancing signage to help customer shop safely. As well as this we are working closely with the Council on reducing traffic by increasing pedestrianisation of the narrower areas of the town.
 
The recent launch of hitchinbasket.com has been successful in highlighting what the town centre has to offer by allowing customers to search for specific products and services available in the town centre. We are now working on launching the new ‘Eat Alfresco’ opportunity opening the Market Place up to restaurants and cafes for outdoor dining.
 
We are staying on top of delivering the BIDs day to day activities with our cardboard and coffee recycling, Street Rangers, floral displays, Information Centre and promotional activities to ensure the town centre is a vibrant, clean, safe and well promoted place for visitors and businesses to benefit form.
 
This situation has certainly highlighted the importance of our town centre businesses and community. When this crisis has passed, I’m confident that Hitchin will be stronger and more resilient to future challenges. If you require any equipment, guidance or assistance from the Hitchin BID team please get in touch.   
 
Businesses able to reopen from Monday
The following businesses which had to remain closed in law will be permitted to reopen from Monday 13 July: 
 
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and salons and beauty salons
  • Tanning booths and salons
  • Massage parlours
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Body and skin piercing services

The Chancellors Job Retention Bonus.
This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.
To be eligible, employees will need to:
 
  • Earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
  • Have been furloughed by you at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Have been continuously employed by you up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

Other new measures announced
The Chancellor also announced other measures, including:
 
  • The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – during August, diners can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday on meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating at participating restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments that have registered
  • VAT reduction – from 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels and B&Bs.

Hand Sanitisers, Face Masks & Floor Stickers  
We have plenty of equipment available to ensure you and your staff are as safe as possible while trading in the town centre. The Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm for you to come and collect reopening packs and extra products. If you cannot make it over, contact our Rangers who can drop them off. Please call 07540706832 or email rangers@hitchinherts.com  
 
  • Hand Sanitiser 500ml 70% Alcohol - £5
  • Outdoor/indoor social distancing floor stickers - £2
  • Cotton washable facemasks - £25 (pack of 50)
  • IIR anti droplet 95% filtration facemasks - £35 (Pack of 50)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes - £3

Tate Recruitment Free Webinar 
Emma Tarbox, the Manager of Tate Recruitment on Hermitage Road is running a free webinar on 22nd and 29th July for local businesses to gain insight and knowledge in helping you prepare your staff with a positive and productive mindset, ready to face the new working world. Please Click Here for more information or contact Emma.Tarbox@tate.co.uk 

Street Café Licence
New legislation is due to be passed at the end of this month to make applications for street furniture more streamlined and cheaper for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars. This will support businesses to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. Hitchin BID is in discussion with North Herts Council on how and when the applications will be available. I will contact you as soon as this comes out.

Opening the High Street Safely Fund
We have been working with NHDC on accessing a new funding stream from the Government. The ‘Opening High Streets Safely Fund’ is only accessible via the local council and would give us the opportunity to fund and run a town wide shop safe campaign to reassure and encourage customers back into the town centre.     
 
Pedestrianisation
We have been working with Herts County Council, North Herts Council and Highways on reducing through traffic in parts of the town centre to promote social distancing. From Monday 13th July the High Street will be closed Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm to all traffic implemented under an Emergency Traffic Order. With the increasing need for businesses to trade outside and create more open spaces we are running a short survey with businesses to see how changing traffic flow and pedestrianisation would help businesses. If you run a business on Sun Street, Bucklersbury, High Street or Hermitage Road please Click Here to access and complete the survey.
 
Marketing, Events and Promotions
We are working hard to create a series of marketing, events, and promotional activities to highlight the offer of the town. To compliment the new HitchinBasket.com website, we are creating a series of speciality shop and eat maps for the public to use while visiting the town. Although many activities have been postponed, we are looking forward to bringing back new events in the autumn/winter such as family friendly trails, Street Days and speciality markets. if you have any additional suggestions on future events and promotions please contact marketing@hitchinherts.com  

NHDC Car Parks
We have been in discussion with NHDC regarding their car parks in the town centre. A range of options have been put forward such as ‘Free After 3pm’, pay on exit mechanisms and the suggestion of Hitchin BID taking over management of the car parks to bring it more in line with businesses aspirations. If you have any additional feedback or suggestions please email tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com   
 
Hitchin Market
We have joined discussions with Hitchin Market Ltd and NHDC on short term repairs and improvements to Hitchin Market. NHDC is keen to support the Market in any way it can to ensure its future success and are proposing a series of improvements to attract new stallholders and visitors. As the Market plays an integral part of the town centre offer, I have joined the strategic board to advise and guide these decisions.
 
Hitchin Information Centre
As part of NHDCs Community Facilities Capital Grant, we have been approved funding to refurbish the Hitchin Information Centre with work due to start on 20th July. Hitchin Information will remain open for businesses advice, guidance and to collect PPE.
 
HitchinBasket.com 
The towns new business directory website has seen huge numbers of visitors. If you get a chance, please go on your profile and let us know if the information is correct. You can add additional pictures, videos and social media feeds. Please get in touch with marketing@hitchinherts.com