‘Welcome back to your high streets’ – Mid Sussex District Council launches campaign ahead of shops reopening

Monday, April 12, marks step two on the roadmap out of lockdown, when Mid Sussex shops, pubs and hair salons can welcome back customers.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 11:12 am
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 11:20 am

Business owners have been busy making sure that they are ready for the big day, and many workers are relieved to be making a return after worrying months on furlough.

Mid Sussex District Council has also been hard at work providing support to help the local economy recover, with a ‘Welcome back to your high streets’ campaign ready to go.

Its business grant funding was launched last March and continues to this day.

Nicola Bird, The Orchards Shopping Centre manager (front) and her team in Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards

A council spokesman told the Middy: “In all we have now supported local businesses with a current total of £39million in grant funding, including funding directly from MSDC. From April 6 we launched the national restart grant available to non-essential businesses and the hospitality and leisure sectors. Applications can be made via www.midsussexgrantapproval.co.uk”

When the first lockdown lifted in June 2020 the council encouraged people back into the local shops. It put up banners in car parks, digital messages in bus shelters urging people to stay local and shop safely.

Its message ‘Mid Sussex is Open’ was shown on the side of every waste truck, and it worked with Places Leisure to support the reopening of the leisure centres.

“We will do this again following the Government guidelines closely,” the council spokesman added.

Nicola Bird, The Orchards Shopping Centre manager (front) and her team in Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards

And at Christmas, the district council teamed up with the Middy for its Bringing Christmas Home campaign, further encouraging people to support local businesses.

‘A very welcomed step’

Haywards Heath Town Council said it welcomed the opening of shops, outside hospitality, some close contact services and the general relaxations of Covid 19 restrictions this coming Monday.

“This is a very welcomed step towards going back to some kind of normal life and the town council hopes that the shops, especially our independent local shops, get the much needed they boost they need,” added a spokesman.

New cafe and gym Mama Fit at The Martlets Shopping Centre in Burgess Hill.. Picture: Steve Robards

“Where the town council welcomes this move it must remind everyone to remember to adhere to the rules, as set down by the Prime Minister, that remain in place and that social distancing is adhered to along with the advice of hands, face and space.”

‘Businesses are optimistic’

Councillor Robert Eggleston, leader of Burgess Hill Town Council, praised the town for its ‘strong, independent retail and hospitality sector’ – and encouraged people to support them.

He added: “Despite the pandemic a number of new businesses have opened in town and they are very enthusiastic and optimistic for the future. But new or old the message is whenever you can ‘Go Local’.”

New trading spaces have opened in The Martlets Shopping Centre in Burgess Hill and include Scrapless, a refill and sustainable store

Shopping centres

Our shopping centres are also delighted to welcome back people from Monday.

Nicola Bird, manager of The Orchards Shopping Centre in Haywards Heath, said: “This has been a significantly long lockdown with many of our retailers visiting throughout expressing how eager they are to reopen on April 12.

“Our essential retailers have done a phenomenal job of keeping the Orchards open to continue serving our community.

“With many working from home, we’re delighted to have been here for our regular customers, but also a large majority that wouldn’t usually shop locally.”

She added that there seems to be a renewed appreciation for our towns, noting the Orchards’ footfall remained strong in comparison with national data.

But we must remember to socially distance, she said, and wear masks inside stores.

Nicola added: “Our retailers have worked tirelessly to ensure their stores remain Covid-safe. Queuing systems will be in place outside each store and we kindly ask that if the queue is full, to return later, in line with Government advice.

“We’re aware that a lot of our customers want to see our events and entertainment return, however all the while social distancing is in place, it wouldn’t be possible and the safety of our visitors always takes precedence.

“The Orchards sincerely thanks all of our customers who have continued to support our shopping centre and town. We are thrilled to be welcoming everyone back this coming Monday,

Sam Mansell, manager of the Market Place Shopping Centre in Burgess Hill, said she and her team were ‘extremely excited’ to welcome people back.

She reassured the community the wellbeing of customers, colleagues and retailers remained aa number one priority.

She added: “It is going to be lovely to see the Burgess Hill community again and to welcome back our customers to the centre for all their shopping needs.”

And Nadine King, manager of The Martlets Shopping Centre in Burgess Hill, reflected on a difficult year, but said she and her team have been working hard behind the scenes ‘to ensure Burgess Hill has something new to offer regardless of the recent struggle’.

The following new retailers have opened in The Martlets.

Eco2home - furniture emporium

Mama fit - women’s only gym/cafe

The Kiln - repair café/membership

Scrapless - refill and sustainable store

Locca designs - handmade children’s clothing and fabric printing

Fashion Remake store - upcycling existing garments

The Pantry - making good food accessible to all. Voucher operated