Wiltshire Publications

Council wants to know how businesses are coping post-Covid

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IN A bid to help local businesses who are experiencing loss of trade due to the pandemic, town councillors discussed setting up a town business survey and footfall count, at their last meeting.

The mayor, cllr Mike Sutton, who raised the idea, said the survey would give a picture of the level of activity for local businesses following the Covid-19 emergency.

He explained that shops and businesses have been going through an unprecedented emergency, and now was the right time to do a survey, acting with the business community. He said, “We need to find out the level of activity in the town, and engage with businesses and retail, to find out where they see the future and how we can help them.”

Cllr Sheila Kimmins asked who would undertake the survey and how would it be carried out. Cllr Sutton suggested a town council committee, saying it should not be outsourced. He explained that the town council had always carried out its own survey of footfall in the town. “It is us who should be engaging with our electors,” he said.

Councillor Gordon King said he entirely supported the business survey. “All businesses have been affected by this virus,” he said, “but we do not know to what extent.” He said that it would be important going forward to know if people’s shopping habits had changed, whether they were shopping more locally, and whether other people were coming to Westbury.

Councillor Ian Cunningham said that town councillors used to carry out a regular footfall count about 4/5 times a year and Wiltshire Council took on the process and did their own system. He suggested the clerk could ask Wiltshire Council if they are still carrying out such a system. Councillor Sutton agreed that similar work might already being carried out by other groups. “We need to find out where our business capacity is at the moment and where they are likely to be,” he said.

Councillors agreed to ask the highways, planning and development committee to possibly pass on the planning of the business survey to the town improvement group.