We have been working very closely with local businesses, and we know how much they have been looking forward to welcoming you back. Our local businesses are vital to the success of the district and so it is important that we all play our part in supporting them. This year has been particularly hard, which is why we have joined forces with the Observer series to encourage you to support local whenever you can.

Local businesses have gone to great lengths to make sure that their premises are Covid-Secure. Our dedicated Covid Information Recovery Officers have been out and about, making sure that businesses have the support they need and ensuring that they are following the Government's guidance.

If you have been out to one of the district's High Streets you may have also spotted our new Covid Ambassadors. They are there to offer extra support during the day and evening, making sure that people are maintaining social distancing. We've done this to provide extra safety measures and reassurance, so that people can continue to enjoy their festive experience, whether out shopping or having a meal.

We're also offering free parking every weekend in December at our Avenue de Chartres car park in Chichester; and offering you three hours parking when you select two at the majority of our car parks across the district when using the MiPermit app during December. This is an extra incentive to encourage people to shop locally.

All of this support is being delivered through our Christmas 'Shop local, visit local, support local' campaign. I'm sure you will have seen the personalised Christmas gift tags we have created for the city and each of our towns as part of the campaign. I live in Petworth, and I was delighted to see that many of the shops have the Petworth gift tags displayed in their shop windows. It looks wonderful and each area has used these graphics and the marketing packs we have provided in really innovative and creative ways. It has been fantastic to see. We've also provided tags for businesses to give away with purchases and you can download them from our website: .

I also want to draw attention to all of our fantastic arts, cultural and heritage organisations that also desperately need your support too. Over the Christmas period, many are offering socially distanced festive activities. Stansted Park is offering an online wreath making workshop, and Father Christmas will be once again visiting our Novium Museum: The Novium Museum - Father Christmas . We are trying to highlight the events that are taking place across the district on our website at: What's On and through our social media channels.

Although Christmas won't be the same this year, businesses and attractions have gone above and beyond to make this year as festive and special as they can. All we ask is that you continue to follow Government guidance - keep washing your hands regularly; wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and stay at least two metres apart - or one metre with a face covering or other precautions. We are keeping people up to date with the very latest information through our email newsletter; on our social media sites; and through our dedicated Coronavirus (COVID-19) web pages. This includes information on making a Christmas bubble with friends and family between 23 and 27 December, when you can form an exclusive Christmas bubble composed of people from no more than three households; updates on the coronavirus vaccines; and guidance on what you can and can't do in Tier 2 local restrictions.

We're also reminding eligible businesses that have had to close during the recent national restrictions to make sure that they apply for government funding on our website at: Business rates announcements. We are also currently working on a further scheme to support businesses which are experiencing financial losses due to Tier 2 restrictions. This scheme follows further recent announcements by central government. This scheme is called Local Restrictions Support Grant (open) and will shortly be publicised on our website: Coronavirus support for businesses. The Government is also releasing further funding for pubs that do not offer substantial meals and so have been unable to reopen. Information on this will be released shortly. We're also still issuing our business recovery grants - more information can be found here: , and we are also developing a further package of support for businesses for 2021.

Finally, I'd like to thank you all for continuing to play your part in keeping our communities safe and for supporting our local businesses.

Please stay safe.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council