It is for this reason, that we are asking everyone to get behind their local businesses and to 'think local' every time they want to buy something. We are proud to have launched a campaign, in association with the Chichester Observer and Midhurst and Petworth Observer, to encourage everyone to support their local businesses. In this week's paper, you will find a poster that you can cut out and place in your window to show your support. You can also download this from our website. Our web pages also provide more information about the support we are offering businesses and how you can keep yourself safe while out and about. This includes looking out for the Government's 'COVID-19 Secure' posters in High Street windows, which show that the business has completed a risk assessment and put in the necessary measures to ensure social distancing.

Chichester Farmers' Market returned last Friday. Due to social distancing requirements, it has been temporarily moved into the Cattle Market car park. I'm pleased to say that it was a huge success. People respected the systems we had introduced and thanks to your support, many of the traders were sold out by the time the market finished at 2pm! This is great news and is a very positive sign to those shops that are about to reopen. The Wednesday and Saturday markets are also returning and for the time-being they will also be both located in the Cattle Market car park.

Our Economic Development team has been finding out which businesses intend to reopen and they have been offering support. We've shared free downloadable social distancing signage designs with anyone who wants to download it. This week, you will also see social distancing signage appearing in our towns and city. In the first instance, due to the rapidly changing landscape, we are introducing temporary signage. We are then planning more long-term signage that reflects individual towns and the city as we move forward into the summer months, when people have started to get used to the social distancing requirements and when most businesses will be open. At every step, we are involving our local partners in this work. We're also in the process of expanding our High Street Recovery group, to involve a range of retailers, local partners and council members. This will look at how we support our High Streets and local businesses moving forward.

We've also introduced some parking incentives in our car parks. Charges will resume in council-owned car parks on 8 June, however, there will be a number of new initiatives in place. The council will continue to offer free car parking for NHS and social care workers in Northgate car park, Chichester - which is close to St Richard's Hospital - until April 2021, while other incentives being introduced include:

  • free parking for everyone at the Avenue De Chartres car park every Saturday and Sunday; and
  • one hour's free parking for everyone when selecting two hours' using the MiPermit app.

Both these incentives will be in place for three months and will then be reviewed. To find out more, please see our  latest news.

Last week, we also launched the next stage of the business rate grant scheme. £1.8 million of government funding is now available to support small businesses in the Chichester District, which were previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. This additional funding is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Anyone who feels that they may qualify for this new funding can apply by visiting Business rates March 2020.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for their ongoing commitment and support throughout this time. We are very lucky to live in such a community focused area and we should be really proud of how our communities have come together to support those who need help the most. We now need to take this same approach when supporting our local businesses and join together to help them to recover and thrive.

Best Wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council

Date posted: 9 June 2020