Remove covid barriers, says newly-formed BBC
A new Congleton business collective will write to Cheshire East councillors en masse to demand that measures implemented in the town to aid social distancing are removed.
Beartown Business Collective, as the group of Congleton traders and business owners, decided to be called at a meeting last Tuesday, agreed to sign letters stating that removing parking bays and installing barriers along some town centre streets was bad for their businesses.
The group also discussed some short and long-term goals to promote business in Congleton, including a revival of 2011’s Bearmania festival that saw more than 60 5ft bear statues erected across the town.
Dawn Gibbins, a philanthropist and former businesswoman who lives in Congleton, chaired the socially-distanced meeting at Congleton Town Hall with the help of her daughter, April Wild, co-owner of Wild and Wild café on Bridge Street.
She said: “It was proposed that we write a letter to Cheshire East councillors, and then each of us will send out our own copy en masse to get them to take away the signs and barriers in the town.”
Ms Gibbins said that there was a lot to get through at the meeting, including setting a name for the group. Originally, the plan was to call it Congleton Retailers Association but some felt that it was not inclusive of all types of businesses.
She continued: “At the meeting, we spoke about how it has been 10 years since we had Bearmania in the town and how nice it would be to bring it back to encourage people to come and shop in Congleton.
“We decided collectively that we would love to have the old bears back, as well as some new bears.”
Ms Gibbins said that the next step for the group would be to come up with a constitution, that would allow it to formally apply for various grant schemes.
Town mayor Coun Sally Ann Holland and Coun Russell Chadwick welcomed the group to the town hall before the meeting began.
Coun Chadwick said: “The Beartown Business Collective is an autonomous traders’ association that will work hand in glove with the town council.”
He backed the traders’ position on social distancing measures in the town centre: “I would like the barriers removing completely and the only social distancing indication to be the stickers. I think it looks awful. It’s overkill. We should get rid of all the barriers.”
The Chronicle reported recently that traders were unhappy with Cheshire East Council’s decision to suspend some on-street parking on Swan Bank and along parts of High Street and Lawton Street.
The Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for highways, Coun Laura Crane said that the measures were temporary and were introduced in response to the Government’s easing of lockdown. She said that some ideas put forward by town and parish councils in the borough have been used while others may be used in a later phase.