Councils across England shared £56m of ERDF funding to support the return to high streets safely and help build back better from the pandemic. This funding the “Welcome Back Fund” (the fund) builds on the £50m Reopening High Street Safely Fund (RHSSF) allocated to councils in 2020 and formed part of the wider support government provided to communities and businesses, to protect jobs, support the most vulnerable and ensure no one is left behind as we continued to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and begin to build back better.
Boston was allocated £62,811 towards activities to support the safe return to our high streets. Any commitments from this funding must be paid in full before the 31st March 2022.
Areas of scope included:
- Support to develop an action plan for how the local authority may begin to safely reopen their local economies.
- Communications and public information activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely
- Business-facing awareness raising activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely.
- Temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely.
In addition to the scope above which was applicable to the Reopening the High Streets Fund, the Welcome Back Fund also supported 2 new strands of activity:
- Support to promote a safe public environment for a local area’s visitor economy.
- Support local authorities to develop plans for responding to the medium-term impact of Covid-19 including trialling new ideas particularly where these relate to the High Street.
The combined allocation for Boston of both the Reopening the High Streets and the Welcome Back Fund was £125,622.
What has been delivered from this funding?
Activities that have been delivered by officers of the council following consultation with partners and community groups throughout the two year period have included the following:
- Creating and updating the Reopening the High Streets Action Plan
- Correspondence with businesses at the start of the pandemic
- Key message sharing through street signage, floor markers, artwork on dustbin lorries and road sweepers
- Support of the street ambassador scheme
- Video and photographic content to share the key messages and support businesses, trust in our place and high streets
- Mobile Christmas entertainment to support social distancing
- Trails, such as tea lights around the Buoys and the high streets during the Christmas Market and the elf trail in November and December
- Art installation at Christmas of a reindeer and sleigh at the church as a photo opportunity and to welcome people to the town centre and support the Christmas in Boston Group
- Increased lighting at the fire garden to support visibility and social distancing
- Promotion of Boston in paper publications
- Banners in the streets with key messages
- Video Campaign of what to expect when travelling, shopping and visiting hospitality and the high streets
- Repurposing vacant shops through window dressing to signpost to wider offers in the town
- Contracting a retail specialist advisor to support businesses adapt and awareness of other support nationally
- Footfall and Data Management System
- Deep clean of public toilets at Central Park
- Additional benches in Central Park
- Additional picnic tables in Central Park
- Clean and maintenance of the 2016 monolith wayfinding scheme
- Support towards the purchasing of new bulbs and planters by the Boston in Bloom Community Group
- Visitor Maps of the town
- Materials to paint and repair existing benches and railings within the high streets
- New Market Stall covers and clips
- 6 new Gazebos for the markets and events
- Hire and advertisement on the Liqourpond Street Billboard
- Radio campaign for the market on Lincs FM
- Purchase of reusable bags promoting the market
- Purchase of Bunting to brighten the market and welcome people
- Commission of photographs to support the Visit Boston UK Website
- Provision of entertainment on the market throughout March including face painting, music and balloon artists