How BIDs and LEPs in the West Country are helping retailers reopen their doors to paying customers

Laura Ross
Marketing Executive - Membership
9th July 2020

A guide to the local support available in Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Swindon, to help businesses re-open safely and entice customers back to the high street during Covid-19

In this blog, we will look at information, resources and marketing campaigns that towns and cities across the West of England are offering to help businesses to re-open safely and entice customers back to our high streets.

The economy has taken a huge blow as a result of COVID-19, but the economy will and is starting to regain momentum. Every business has been affected differently - some have continued to trade relatively unscathed, others have closed down, whilst some businesses have thrived. Finding ways to boost your business is important for most.

With shops re-opening on 15th June across England, followed by pubs, bars and restaurants opening over the 4th July weekend, our high streets and town centres have taken the leap, adapting to new guidelines and measures to allow clients and customers to return. The Chancellor's Summer statement will provide a much-needed boost with a cut in VAT from from 20% to 5% for the tourism and hospitality sectors running from 15 July until 12 Jan 2021.

I know some people are wary of re-entering shops, cafés and restaurants, feeling concerned that the atmosphere will be different. However, over the last few weeks, we are seeing an incremental increase in confidence, footfall stats have steadily risen in each area and slowly, slowly we are returning to a new way of living, socialising and shopping in our local towns and cities. The government also want to entice the public back to restaurants with their ‘East out to Help Out’ campaign offering a 50% discount on meals in participating restaurants on Mondays – Wednesdays throughout August. 

Find out what each of the local authorities across our region have been doing to bring customers back into city centres. How have they been supporting businesses to open their doors? And what are the plans going forward?


#BristolTogether campaign 

‘Welcome Back Bristol, we’ve missed you’. ‘Together we’ve got this’ ‘Bristol Together, Safely reopening our city together’. These are some of the slogans that the #BristolTogether campaign is using to encourage shoppers to return to our high streets.  

They have also painted 374 giant hearts on green spaces such as College Green, Queen Square and Castle Park that clearly mark out socially distanced places to sit, socialise and perhaps share a picnic. The campaign reflects that returning to work, study and play must be done within the safety of existing government regulations. The campaign is led by Bristol City Centre BID alongside Visit Bristol, Business West and Broadmead BID in a partnership with the One City Economy Board and Bristol City Council. 

It is also supported by the European Regional Development fund through HM Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund. The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund is providing £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to councils across England to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. This funding could be relevant to every region that we’re looking at here. 

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

It’s the fiesta but not as you know it! Balloons will take to the skies over Bristol this summer with the inaugural Fiesta Flypast. Fiesta organisers promise a flypast one early morning during the first fortnight of August. There are also plans for a nightglow which will take place online including extra sepacila additions and a soundtrack produced to lift the spirits of the city. 

Bristol  International Balloon Fiesta chair, Chris Allcock, said: ““We are inviting Bristolians to watch the balloons from the safety of their own doorsteps and gardens. Social distancing means we absolutely cannot gather in parks or Bristol’s open spaces or invite our audiences to see the balloons take off or land, to protect our pilots and the public. Instead we’re asking people to give them a wave as they fly past Bristol’s communities.”

Bristol BID

Bristol BID has some helpful information to support businesses during coronavirus including a recovery plan with details on re-opening. 

The ‘latest news’ section is worth keeping an eye on, reflecting updates as the coronavirus outbreak evolves in the UK, most recently including information on the #RaiseTheBar campaign which asks the Government to increase the business rates threshold from £51,000 to £150,000 to allow retail, hospitality and leisure businesses across England and Wales a fighting chance of survival. There is also information about applying for the small business grants discretionary grants fund. 


• Bounce Back Bath Business Support 

Two free services available to support businesses in Bath and its surrounding communities – firstly, make use of a free Covid-19 awareness and prevention poster, and secondly, businesses can access a free local advertising forum to stimulate business as we overcome the economic effects. 

The free list of Bath businesses offering special Bounce back discounts range from restaurants, business services, service companies, non-profits, general retail, arts, entertainment and hospitality, manufacturing and distribution, communications, health, wellness and beauty and financial. You can also find out which Bath shops and businesses have already opened. 

• Bounce Back Art competition 

Bath BID & Bounce Back Bath and Minuteman Press Bath will fill the streets of Bath this summer with a parade of two-metre-high giant ‘bunting’ flags made from the artwork and designs of local people, inspiring everyone to ‘Rediscover Bath’. 

Bath BID CEO, Allison Herbert, said: “We are so pleased to see the city coming back to life after a tough few months. This is just one of a number of safe, socially-distant, joyful events celebrating the creativity of the people of Bath. 

• Bath Business Virtual Festival

Bath recognises that people and businesses are still very concerned and cautious, particularly in the events and hospitality industry, but feel a real need to stay connected to boost confidence and get their businesses firmly on a track to recovery.

A virtual festival aims to bring the Bath business community together - to meet, learn, share, network and do business.

The festival will be about learning, sharing, moving forward and thriving, supporting the local economy, local businesses and the city.

• Bath BID

Bath businesses can find relevant advice and information on the Bath Bid Covid-19 information for businessses page.  


• Gloucester BID and Support Gloucester campaign

Gloucester’s local businesses need the support of people returning to the high street. With so many businesses affected by COVID-19 and the closures necessary for everyone’s safety, Gloucester BID has launched ‘Support Gloucester’ - a way to help local businesses by making it easier to see where people can shop locally and support local businesses that are fighting back through these challenging times. 

Any business owner, or person linked to a business, can submit details of their organisation and give details of what they are doing through these times.

•‘ Think Gloucestershire’ campaign

One element of GFirst LEP’s Recovery Plan for the county is a promotional campaign to encourage everybody in the county to 'Think Gloucestershire'.

‘Think Gloucestershire’ includes encouraging staycations within the county, supporting local shops and restaurants, and from a business point of view, trying to support and buy from local businesses wherever possible.


Cheltenham BID – Back to Business Campaign

Cheltenham BID wants to help that process with its Back to Business campaign. They have pulled together four focused guides that they hope will help businesses of all kinds prepare for opening, and ensure they are ready when the time comes to actually throw open their doors. This includes the essentials to get your business ready for when you re-open (pdf). 

They’ll be updating all these areas as the advice from the Government and elsewhere changes. They are also offering free social distancing stickers to Cheltenham businesses. There is superb information and links on their site to guide you through the first steps to getting your business ready, health and safety essentials, benefits and savings and top marketing tips.


As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire, GFirst LEP is committed to bringing the most relevant and important coronavirus information as quickly as possible direct from the government. Here you can find valuable resources for planning for Gloucestershire’s business recovery, working safely during Coronavirus, the updated Covid-19 Business Impact Survey and more.


#ShineOnSwindon campaign

#ShineOnSwindon is a new campaign to support all businesses across Swindon town centre that have remained open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and have since reopened from 15th June onwards. Its aim is to shine a light on what fantastic businesses are available in Swindon Town Centre and to encourage people back into the City.

The campaign features a window decal star filled with colour, which will be given to businesses across the town centre to display as a symbol of support. 

Visitors can expect to see a variety of visual, digital and virtual experiences launching from August through to December, with the aim of bringing a fresh approach to promoting the town centre and the many businesses within it.

Swindon BID 

This dedicated Swindon Covid-19 webpage provides everything you need to know from the latest Government advice and support through to information on businesses that are open either in-store for essentials, online or for delivery.


If you would like to read more about how you can prepare for re-opening your business you may also be interested to read this blog:

Top 10 risks and controls to consider when re-opening your office during Covid-19


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