This update includes information on:
• Support for businesses and shoppers returning to the city centre and towns
• Registrar services
• Parking update
• Business grants
• Loneliness Awareness Week
• Carers Week
• Face coverings on public transport
Support for businesses and shoppers returning to the city centre and towns
Hanley city centre:
A range of measures have been introduced in the city centre to give reassurance and confidence to workers, shoppers and visitors that the reopening is being managed carefully and responsibly, with the interests of people’s health and safety at the forefront of our plans. The work has involved detailed planning and collaboration with businesses to do this in a way that takes in local knowledge to manage potential hotspots and to physically point out the signage, barriers and other visible measures in place to help.
In the city centre measures put in place alongside the Business Information District include:
- Metal barriers are in place at a number of shops – directing people in and out of premises.
- Queue markings are in place – these are footprint signs on the floor spacing out two metres. They have been put in place in 109 locations.
- Larger stencils are being prepared to welcome people into the city centre and will be installed in the coming days.
- Establishments such as banks, Boots, and KFC are all currently open. Primark, TK Maxx and intu Potteries will all open on Monday, June 15.
- A queuing system has been put in place for people visiting the cash point at the NatWest bank – the queue takes people up Huntbach Street. Highways teams have narrowed the road there, to allow extra space for a walkway.
- Work has been taking place with businesses, so that barriers lead to and from specific entry and exit points to premises, for example, Boots has approximately seven entry/exit doors, and these have been restricted to one for going in, one for going out.
Other towns in the city:
All of our towns in Stoke-on-Trent are open for business from Monday, June 15. We are looking to address hotspots in all our town centres where similar measures as in the city centre may be needed. These will be targeted where required in a measured way. These measures have been funded through the High Street Fund from government of which we received £227,000. We are working through with businesses what’s needed in their areas. We will share more information as the situation evolves.
Social distancing measures have been put in place across the cities bus stations. These include a reduction in the number of seats available, directional markings including floor stickers and social distancing guidance.
As part of the phased return of our markets, both indoor and outdoor markets are reopening next week.
We have worked with the traders to plan the re-opening with all necessary safety measures in place to protect shoppers and traders. This will include social distancing markers and reminders and hygiene sanitising facilities.
Support a local, independent business and pay them a visit.
Outdoor markets are reopening from Monday, June 15:
- Hanley outdoor market at Fountain Square, Hanley, open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
- Bentilee outdoor market at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre car park, open Tuesdays 9am to 4pm.
- Fenton outdoor market at City Road, open Thursdays 8am to 3pm.
Sunday outdoor market and car boot sale at Birch Terrace next to Hanley bus station will remain closed until further notice.
Indoor markets are reopening from Wednesday, June 17:
- Hanley indoor market, open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
- Stoke indoor market, open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
- Longton indoor market, open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
- Tunstall indoor market, open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
The markets will operate with restricted entrance and exit arrangements, with hand sanitisers in place and one-way systems for shoppers. Stoke City’s community trust team will be out in the markets, supporting shoppers, advising them on safety measures and guiding them round the one-way systems in place.
Adrian Hurst, head of Stoke City’s Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to be helping the council to re-open four of the city’s indoor markets following the relaxing of lockdown rules. Eight members of our community staff will be assisting council employees and helping them to ensure social distance restrictions are adhered to.”
Please remember to adhere to the social distancing measures in place when you visit. Visit www.stoke.gov.uk/markets for more information about our city wide markets.
Registrar services in Hanley Town Hall for the registering of births are resuming on Monday, June 15. Please note that this will be via appointment in advance only as have a considerable backlog of registrations that will take many weeks to complete. We ask people for their patience at this time.
Parking on any of the council’s 42 car parks in towns and the city centre will be free until the end of June, to support businesses, shoppers and visitors in the recovery from the coronavirus.
During the coronavirus restrictions, parking enforcement had been eased to support key workers and in light of national advice that people should only make essential journeys.
Councillor Brown said: “We want to send a clear message to businesses and visitors to our shops and towns: we are supporting you as much as we can do and this city is open for business. We know how difficult the last three months have been through the lockdown, and by making our car parks free until the end of June, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to return.
The reopening of high street shops and other retail means that footfall in the city will start to increase and this contribution will certainly help in the short-term as our economy starts to recover. We continue to urge residents to follow safety advice set out in Covid-19 secure shops, markets and other retail outlets and to adhere to the markers and safety measures put in place in various locations to help with this.”
Traffic enforcement patrols will also be stepping up from next week and residents and businesses are reminded to be mindful of parking respectfully and in line with restrictions given the anticipated increase in traffic.
Small business grants
On March 31, we announced £57m of funding under the small business grants scheme. So far we have processed 3,630 £10,000 small business grants, 334 £10,000 retail grants and 387 £25,000 retail grants.
We have paid out a total of £49,315,00 to 92% of businesses that we have identified. 394 eligible businesses have still not submitted applications and we are encouraging those to check the criteria and apply via www.stoke.gov.uk/businessratesgrants.
Discretionary business grants
The Local Authority Discretionary Business Grant scheme closed for applications on June 3, with a total fund of £2.8m available. We will now be allocating £5,000 per business on the discretionary grants and have approximately 236 we are likely to pay, although in around 78 cases we need further information from the applicant, so this will take a little time before we can allocate.
Businesses to benefit from the grants include those in shared spaces, markets and charities in line with the government priority groups. This will use approximately £1.3m of the £2.8m received. We will then open applications for a second time over the coming weeks.
We want to support as many businesses as possible as we know this money is a lifeline to help businesses to keep going.
Loneliness Awareness Week (15 – 19 June)
Next week is Loneliness Awareness Week. These challenging times have made loneliness and isolation more prominent in our communities and we want to make sure people have access to support if they are feeling isolated. There are lots of organisations who can offer help and advice, and we will share more details on these next week.
We are asking people to draw a hand to symbolise ‘W.A.V.E Goodbye to Loneliness’ and to take a photo and tag in #WAVEStoke on social media – you can be as creative as you like!
Who around you could be lonely? Keep an eye out for neighbours, friends and family who may be feeling lonely or isolated.
Ask “Are you alright?” Take five minutes to chat and listen to them.
Value the small things – a text off your friend or a phone call from someone. Everyone can play a part. Loneliness can significantly harm health, but little things like a friendly smile can make a BIG difference.
Together, we can W.A.V.E goodbye to loneliness.
This week is Carers Week – an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK and this year’s theme is ‘Making Caring Visible.’ There are an additional 4.5 million people caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the Covid-19 pandemic began. This is on top of the 9.1 million unpaid carers who were already caring before the outbreak.
We know what a fantastic job carers across our city – they are making a huge difference. The city council’s adult social care teams can offer support and advice. Click here to find out more or telephone 0800 561 0015.
There is also a Young Carer’s Team who work with young carers and their families to ensure the right support from the right people is in place, such as practical support and support from schools and colleges and opportunities from organisations such as The Carers Hub. If you or somebody you know is a young carer, please contact the Advice and Access team on 01782 232200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also local organisations offering support for carers including:
- The Carers Hub
- Approach Staffordshire For Positive Dementia Support
- North Staffs Carers
- PEGiS -Parent Engagement Group in Stoke – for parents/carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND)
- Caudwell Children
- Lifeworks Staffordshire – Supporting People on the Autistic Spectrum
Find out more about Carers Week here.
Face coverings on public transport
As per the Transport Secretary’s announcement last week, wearing face coverings on public transport will be mandatory in England from Monday June 15.
Please be aware:
- The new guidance refers to face coverings – not surgical masks – which you can easily make at home.
- Exemptions will be made for very young children, the disabled and those with breathing difficulties.
- You can be refused travel if you don’t comply and could be fined. Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police, as necessary.
You can find the Transport Secretary’s full statement here.