A new campaign called Swindon’s Bouncing Back has been launched to highlight the positive steps taken by Swindon Borough Council and various partners to encourage investment in the town and to help businesses get back on their feet following lockdown.
Official data published in August by Centre for Cities – an independent think tank dedicated to helping the UK’s towns and cities improve – classified Swindon’s town centre economy as ‘Strong,’ (an assessment of the performance of Swindon’s centre before the pandemic. )
Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said, “Swindon entered lockdown with a strong economy, and early indications suggest that it is bouncing back. Footfall in the town centre is now at almost 80 percent of pre-lockdown levels, and its increase this summer outperformed the national average.
“However, cities across the country are facing a tough future, with retail and hospitality jobs under threat while many people continue to work from home. Swindon Council’s encouragement of town centre visitors and support for businesses puts the area in a strong position to move forward and protect jobs.”
The Council is bringing together several projects – some of which directly relate to coronavirus and some of which form part of the Council’s wider economic investment plans – to reassure residents and businesses that the town is well placed to bounce back from the current direct result of the pandemic.
So far -regarding COVID-19 – the Council has:
- Introduced a fast-track system to process temporary pavement licences to enable hospitality businesses to serve customers outdoors
- Administered around £30m in lifeline funding to over 2,300 local businesses affected by COVID-19
- Provided wellbeing advice and support to local businesses and residents over the past six months
- Worked with landlords and businesses across the borough to welcome people back to work safely
In terms of wider economic support, the Council has:
- Bid for a slice of the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund to help revitalise the town centre
- Sought to regenerate Fleming Way with a new £25m bus interchange
- Introduced schemes to make it easier for people to walk and cycle around the town
- Allocated almost £200,000 of funding to help shops reopen safely
- Worked with Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership to fund the town’s Quality Bus Corridors
- Progressed an ambitious five-year plan for a Swindon Heritage Action Zone to revitalise the town’s unique heritage and unlock its economic potential
- Paved the way for Zurich’s new state-of-the-art office to be built in the town centre
- Coordinated support for businesses at risk of closure and people at risk of redundancy
The Council is playing a key role in the economic recovery of Swindon, but its contribution is just one part of a wider effort involving residents and businesses, all of whom have an important part to play in boosting the local economy.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said, “As our lives slowly begin to return to normal, we want to use this opportunity to make sure Swindon’s economic recovery is strong and enduring.
“So that not only means providing support to local businesses to help them get back on their feet, as we have been doing in recent months, but pushing ahead with major capital projects such as Zurich’s new state-of-the-art headquarters and improving our connectivity through the ongoing work at Junction 15 of the M4.”