Council, BID and others working towards bringing St Albans businesses Inside Out

George Street in St Albans.

George Street in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

An ‘Inside Out’ St Albans may be the key to enabling city centre businesses to safely reopen during the summer.

With coronavirus lockdown measures slowly easing for different sectors in the UK, high streets and city centres are having to find ways to adapt to a new normal.

St Albans BID, the district council and the chamber of commerce have been championing the Inside Out St Albans initiative, which could see the temporary pedestrianisation of the centre, and bring your favourite stores outdoors.

This initiative would be combined with creating a greener city centre, making social distancing easier to achieve and enabling businesses to trade outside sooner, so they can make the most of those vital summer months.

The portfolio holder for business, tourism and culture, and BID co-chair Mandy McNeil said: “This is supported by the Cathedral, St Albans Pubs, Independent Hospitality and Retail Association, Chamber of Commerce and other groups, and is being looked at by the local government authorities.

“Our retail and hospitality businesses presented an innovative initiative to Cllr White and myself, asking for council’s support to implement, including lobbying central government where necessary for relaxation of planning and licensing rules.

“It’s our job to listen to and support our businesses and community with this initiative, which clearly benefits many businesses directly and indirectly and will create a community focused, vibrant and resilient city centre.

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“SADC officers and a COVID-19 task group are working almost 24/7 to find ways to support our businesses so that they can trade safely inside and outside, pending central government support and social distancing guidelines.

“Many of our businesses are optimistic that, with a modicum of support from local government and central government – including more funding in the form of grants, not debt – they will be able to survive.”

The St Albans BID is also working via MP Daisy Cooper, the Federation for Small Business, Visit Herts and the Herts LEP to get this message across to central government.

Sarah Gillow, co-chair of the St Albans BID added: “Our businesses need a mix of trading platforms to give customers and clients a safe environment so that they have the confidence to go shopping and dining again and Inside Out St Albans, may facilitate that and help some businesses survive the summer.