A ‘FLEXIBLE’ framework plan has been drafted setting out the Royal Borough’s economic recovery post-coronavirus.

A report known as the ‘local place recovery strategy’ sets out how the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) will continue to work with and support communities, volunteers, businesses, and the town centres.

The renewal strategy is split into three sections: communities, places, and partnerships.

‘Empowering’ communities

Some of the works involve maintaining the community hub – which has nearly 50 groups and over 700 volunteers – to continue helping vulnerable people or those shielding during the pandemic.

It also states support for those unemployed by improving their skills and education to get back into the jobs market.

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The plan also looks at mentoring programmes for young people to support their health and wellbeing during Covid-19.

Government data suggests that there were around 17,500 furloughed employees in the borough.

In the Royal Borough, the number of claimants rose to 4,010, with the proportion of those aged 16 to 64 claiming rising from 2.8 per cent in April 2020 to 4.3 per cent in May 2020.

Chris Joyce, head of infrastructure, sustainability, and economic growth, said: “We’re going to need to look at how we reskill those people and how we get them back into the workforce because long-term structural unemployment has wider impacts on communities and the economy itself.”

RBWM will also work in partnerships with Berkshire and Thames Valley strategies and forums in terms of recovery.

Building ‘lasting’ partnerships with local businesses

The report also looks into building stronger partnerships with local businesses – which includes creating guidance for a safe reopening from lockdown and supporting social distancing.

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RBWM will also launch a ‘shop local/stay local’ campaign to promote independent businesses within the borough.

A ‘business engagement channel’ will be created for the council to build ‘stronger partnerships’ with businesses to identify their needs as well as supporting their ‘re-imagined’ business model to fit into the new post-Covid-19 environment.

Creating a ‘great’ place to work and live

Plans for the town centres could also be included to make them ‘fit for purpose’ by making them more community focused in the long-term as office and retail could be depleted in a post-Covid-19 world.

Officers are currently reviewing both Windsor and Maidenhead town centres to make better use of the street spaces and capacity to create pop-up spaces with registered landlords for businesses to use in the short-term.

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Cultural exhibitions through the borough’s museum services and events will also be explored to be set up within the town centres to create ‘vibrancy’ and ‘vitality’.

Other plans could include investing more in digital infrastructure and ‘maximise opportunities’ to invest in walking and cycling measures through government funds to support net zero carbon.

RBWM will also look at campaigns such as the ‘Discover Your Royal Borough’ to promote the borough and independent traders as a destination to visit for domestic tourists and for businesses to set up shop.

An officer said the plans has ‘some initial actions’ but are ‘flexible’ as more information is developed showing what the long-term impact of the coronavirus will have on the economy.

Councillor Jon Davey said: “In relation to what technologies we need, everybody’s not going to need the big stuff. We’ve got to start thinking small stuff.

“I think we’re going to be very much more cottage industry as a nation. We’re going to have small jobs, not big jobs and we got to start thinking in that direction as well.”

He added RBWM should ‘pick the brains’ of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Britton to make the Royal Borough attractive for domestic visitors, businesses and their workforce to visit and stay in the borough.

Cllr Davey said: “I think we need to bring it down a notch. It’s great to think big – but let’s be realistic as well.”

The ‘local place recovery strategy’ was heard at the infrastructure overview and scrutiny meeting on September 17 (Thursday) where the report will be presented at cabinet on September 24 (Thursday).