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HALESWORTH TOWN CENTRE

Local businesses continue to adapt to the changes. By the time you read this, we will be a few weeks into our second lockdown of 2020 and we do hope that you are all safe and well.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that there are over 75 businesses along the Thoroughfare and in the Market Place, most of which are independently owned? And there are many more businesses elsewhere in the town too. As a market town, we are also lucky that we have the Wednesday market which is always full of activity and the monthly Saturday Produce market that has now found a new home in the Rifle Hall. When you buy from a local independent you are supporting local people and the local economy. These businesses invest back in the community by shopping locally too, keeping the circle of local sustainability going, as well as supporting activities and events through things like sponsorship of local voluntary organisations and events. Supporting local businesses means that more of your pennies stay local and we say thank you to you all for that.
NEW WAYS OF SHOPPING
It’s been a tough year for many local businesses. “Lockdown 1” meant that many of our independently owned businesses had to close their doors for at least 12 weeks and for some it was longer. But we came through stronger and more adaptable. Those that could stay open managed to change how they worked quickly to provide better services to our local community by offering pre-ordering and deliveries. The latter was so vital for our neighbours who are more vulnerable. We all then worked hard to make sure that the centre of the town, the Thoroughfare and Market Place, were safe places to return to with businesses investing in screens, sanitising points and signage. “Face, hands and space” is now understood by most as the new way of going about our lives. The guidelines also meant that we had to reduce the numbers of people allowed inside at any one time, with customers asked to queue outside or make bookings for cafes, restaurants and health & beauty businesses. But we did it gladly and we would like to thank all of our customers and visitors for their tremendous support and loyalty by shopping and supporting local businesses during the summer and autumn months. Also, a huge thank you for the Halesworth volunteers who came out to guide and support local shoppers during the summer on changes to the way we now have to shop in the town centre – you were fabulous!
THOROUGHFARE CLOSURE
Another change saw the temporary closure of the Thoroughfare between 10am and 2pm everyday except Sunday. Supported by Halesworth Town Council, businesses wanted to create a safer environment for people in the town centre and more space for social distancing. We’ve had to change how we receive our deliveries to do this but we and our suppliers are getting used to this now. The closure has been successful so far and will continue as a temporary measure but with regular reviews.
CAR PARK CHARGES CHANGED
East Suffolk Council finally implemented changes to the car park charges in Halesworth in early October. The businesses and Halesworth Town Council had been funding the free hour’s parking for the last few years.
Parking charges are now consistent across East Suffolk Market Towns and there is 30 minutes free parking, with 2 hours now only £1 and up to 4 hours for £2. You can pay by cash or use the Ring-Go app on your phone. The change of the payment meters did cause some issues. Volunteers helped us out again by being available in the car parks to explain the new system over the first few days.
LOCKDOWN 2
We are all fully supportive of the need to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe however “Lockdown 2” could not have come at a worse time for local businesses with the festive season approaching. Businesses providing essential services have been allowed to remain open again but with more flexibility than at the start of Lockdown 1. This means that you can still shop locally in Halesworth for your essentials. Pubs and cafes have restarted takeaways and deliveries and some shops are offering “click&collect”. Councillor Annette Dunning, Halesworth Town Council, is keeping an up to date list of the businesses still trading and their
opening times. This can be found on Halesworth Town Council’s Facebook page.
FESTIVE HALESWORTH
We are all hoping that Boris gives the green light that all town centre businesses can reopen on December 3rd. If this happens, then we will be celebrating December in full festive style in Halesworth! The Christmas trees will be up and lit, shop windows will be decorated and many of the shops are organising to stay open late on Fridays for festive shopping. There will be food and hot drinks takeaways from local cafes and pubs but hopefully they will be open too. The details are being finalised (and again it will be contingent on government guidelines) but it is hoped that many of the businesses can open between 5.50 and 7.30pm to allow visitors to benefit from free car parking too. We will keep our Facebook page updated with news as we get nearer the time: Halesworth Market Town Shopping and Business Guide. We do hope that you will support local and shop festive in Halesworth during December.
AND NOW?
Whether we are visiting shops, cafes, hairdressers or other services, we all are responsible for keeping each other safe. Businesses will be following all of the guidelines but it is equally important that customers do the same. Who knows how long these guidelines will be in place or whether there will be further lockdowns? Who knows what the longer term impact will be on market towns like Halesworth. What is clear is that Halesworth businesses will change and adapt to support the community during any lockdown or difficult time, ensuring the most vulnerable are kept safe. Therefore please continue to buy locally, supporting the wide range of independent businesses and keeping your spend in the local community.
Karen Prime
On behalf of the Halesworth Town Centre Group
The Halesworth Town Centre Group was set up to improve communications to and between businesses in the Market Place and Thoroughfare. If you would like further information or are a business in the town centre who still does not get our emails, please contact Karen at halesworthtown@yahoo.com.