A local Champions network will be established in Edinburgh to provide a direct link between the Council and businesses during the city's ongoing recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to create a new dedicated network was taken by elected members at an online meeting of the Full Council yesterday (Tuesday 28 July) and is set to involve individuals from local businesses, traders associations, community councils and other local groups to push forward policy proposals to help Edinburgh’s high streets.
It will become the latest in a long line of immediate measures put in place by the Council to provide support to businesses during and in the aftermath of Edinburgh's lockdown. Proposals will be brought forward to support businesses applying for tables and chairs licences and a local promotional campaign will also be explored to increase resident and visitor footfall, alongside floral planters to enhance local high streets and the option of 'green deliveries' using cargo bikes.
Council Leader Adam McVey said:
We want to strengthen communication with businesses and make sure traders are aware of routes they can use to raise ideas and concerns with the Council. This will help us respond as quickly and effectively as possible to the needs of local businesses through these enormously challenging times and beyond.
It's vital that we hear from businesses about their experiences and we also need to keep residents and communities’ views central to how we move forward. A Champions network will help us strike the right balance between what is necessary for our people, planet and economy in the coming months as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we all adapt to a new normal.
Depute Leader Cammy Day said:
Officers and Councillors from all parties have put an enormous amount of work into supporting local businesses during the pandemic and it's fantastic to see this constructive way of working continue.
At our Full Council meeting, there was strong consensus that we need to do all that we can to support businesses, for the wellbeing of our economy and jobs but also for our local communities. It's going to be important that we continue to hear from businesses about what they need and what they would find helpful. The creation of a Champions network will help us to do that.
Other Council steps to promote a sustainable economic recovery and support small businesses have included:
- Supporting businesses to gradually reopen safely with a 'Ready, Set, Go' advice service, including guidance provided to 20,000 business owners
- A more flexible approach to licensing to help more businesses apply to use outdoor space
- Accelerating plans to use the Council's supply chains to better support local business and stimulate economic growth
- Creating more space for people to travel to businesses safely and enjoyably through the Council's Spaces for People initiative, with priority being given to support walking, cycling, wheelchair use and prams
- Awarding more than 9,000 Government funded Coronavirus Business Support Grants to local businesses worth around £112.5m
- Supporting planned promotional activity with the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group to gradually market the City as an attractive place for shopping, dining out and visiting with a £55,000 contribution from the Council.
The full report on support for local businesses is available online.