Cllr Aled Richards-Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Skills and Employment.
As Wandsworth Conservatives, we know that our local businesses are at the heart of our communities. They serve us all year round and contribute so much of the buzz and vitality that makes Wandsworth such a great place to live.
When the pandemic began, Conservative-controlled Wandsworth Council distributed over £100m worth of business grants and rates relief to businesses forced to close.
When the first lockdown ended, the Council took radical action to give our shops and hospitality businesses a shot in the arm by temporarily pedestrianising three of our High Streets: Northcote Road, Old York Road and Bedford Hill – and we plan to do this again.
The results surpassed our expectations: businesses on those roads reported trade being up, on average, 30% compared to the previous year. Many businesses told us the measures had literally saved them!
As we come up to the crucial Christmas trading period for our businesses, we’re still doing everything we can to help our local businesses. This includes:
- Encouraging our residents to shop local. We’ve promoted local businesses through our digital and shop-window 'Shop Local' campaign, and we’ve showcased local businesses through Independent Shops Directory and our Virtual Wandsworth gift directory.
- Maximising High Street appeal by improving shop frontages, facilitating pop-up uses in vacant commercial premises, and displaying local artists' work on units undergoing development (have you seen the Arding & Hobbs building in Clapham Junction, or Battersea High Street recently?).
- Publishing a list of outdoor pubs and our 'Foodie trails’ to show residents where they can drink and dine out in Wandsworth.
- Helping as many independent businesses as possible to get trading online, by providing training in digital skills, helping businesses access funding, and securing places for local businesses in a Small Business Virtual Christmas Market.
Our High Streets and local businesses have been there for us during Covid – and Wandsworth Conservatives will be there for them now, and in the future too.