Town centres across Caerphilly County Borough will be revamped to create safe spaces for shoppers as Wales prepares to get back to business over the coming weeks.
Caerphilly County Borough Council is also encouraging residents to ‘shop local’ by temporarily waiving charges at town centre pay and display car parks until the end of the year.
Council leader Cllr Philippa Marsden said the authority anticipates First Minister Mark Drakeford is “likely to signal the reopening of some shops and business premises”, with an announcement from the Welsh Government on the next phase of easing lockdown restrictions due on Friday (June 19).
“We want to make sure that our town centres are prepared to welcome back shoppers in a safer and more sustainable manner,” Cllr Marsden said.
“We want to send out a clear message that our town centres will be open for business as soon as we get the go-ahead and we are encouraging the whole community to support retailers to help them recover from this very difficult time for the local economy.
“I’m sure our decision to offer temporary free parking will also be widely welcomed and provide a real boost for businesses.”
Measures to stop the spread of coronavirus will be implemented in town centres, including new signage, social distance markings, ‘one way’ pedestrian routes where appropriate and other arrangements to encourage people to maintain social distancing.
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Cllr Sean Morgan, deputy leader of the council, said: “We will engage the relevant town/community councils and the local ward councillors to discuss these proposals in more detail, but we need to move quickly to ensure plans are in place ahead of any relaxation of the current coronavirus restrictions.
“As soon as the first minister indicates that we can reopen our high streets, we want to ensure our towns are ready for business.
“We will now endeavour to implement these changes as soon as possible.”
Parking enforcement will also restart across the county borough this week, but parking will be free at all council-owned pay and display car parks for the rest of the year, with the reintroduction of charges planned for January, 2021.
In May, Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, urged residents to buy from locally-owned businesses and said: “At this time of crisis, local businesses, which are the lifeblood of communities in Caerphilly County, need our support.
“We need these local businesses to survive the pandemic and thrive in the future when we get back to normal.”
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