A new Economic Recovery Task Force has been formed to spearhead Cheltenham’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hosted by Cheltenham Borough Council, the new Task Force, which met for the first time today, brings together senior leaders from across the public and private sector to help drive forward the town’s economic recovery.
Building on the success of the former Cheltenham Development Task Force, a key area of focus will be Cheltenham town centre, including immediate interventions to support the continued safe reopening of the town centre and use of public spaces in line with government advice. However, with Covid-19 having accelerated an already challenging environment, the Task Force will be looking to the future and the need for a new approach to help secure the future vitality and the wider economic growth of the Town.
The Task Force will be fleet of foot and alongside responding to funding opportunities across the economic recovery agenda will be act as a key vehicle for lobbying partners, stakeholders and government to drive flexibilities in the delivery of economic recovery interventions across both local, county level and national issues.
The Task Force is chaired by GFirst LEP Chair and senior industry figure Diane Savory OBE. Alongside her regional leadership role, Diane’s recent appointment to the national High Streets Task Force and ministerial-chaired Economic Recovery Workgroup (MHCLG) ensures that the Cheltenham Task Force is feeding into and helping to inform what is a priority regional, national and international agenda.
Diane Savory OBE, Chair of the Task Force said: “The future of our high streets and town centres is a fundamental challenge facing our towns and cities. It requires a similarly bold response with strong local leadership and partnership working – which is exactly what the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force provides. I’m delighted to have been asked to Chair the group and look forward to doing all I can to help bring forward the kind of new thinking and innovation needed to future-proof Cheltenham’s town centre.”
Cllr Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “The vital importance of Cheltenham’s town centre as a driver of economic recovery was strongly recognised throughout our Recovery Strategy, which we published in July. I’m delighted therefore that we’ve been able to bring partners together so quickly to form this Task Force and to drive this forward.”
“Of course, there are challenges ahead – but there will also be opportunities for those that are ready. With this kind of shared commitment and partnership approach, I’m confident that Cheltenham will be ready – and will emerge stronger with a vibrant town centre at the heart of our economy and our community.”
Nigel Jobson, Director of Cheltenham-based social media platform Maybe*, one of the ten companies that form part of the Government’s High Streets Task Force, added: “The importance of digital communication in supporting the future of Cheltenham town centre could not be more important. Only 35% of businesses with the Cheltenham Local Authority area have social media accounts and of those only 35% of these are active on a daily basis.
By comparison 1/2 of the planet or 3.6bn people use social media for 3 hrs per day. Our data shows that those businesses that master digital communication trade better.
Upskilling businesses and encouraging them to become more active on social media has proven to deliver increased engagement, footfall and sales.”
Task Force meetings will take place on a six week cycle, with summarised notes prepared and published via Cheltenham Borough Council.