New online business directory launched as Hitchin town centre reopens after 12 weeks

Hitchin's non-essential businesses have reopened for the first time as lockdown measures have eased.

Hitchin's non-essential businesses have reopened for the first time as lockdown measures have eased. Picture: Peter Moulton/Shutterstock. - Credit: Archant

A handy online tool that lets Hitchin residents find out more about businesses reopening in the town has launched, now people are flocking back to the shops as lockdown eases.

The Hitchin Basket, which has been launched by the town’s Business Improvement District, is a website that you can use to browse, order and check delivery options for businesses across Hitchin.

As non–essential stores were permitted to start trading again yesterday, not everyone felt confident enough to take to the high street.

The Hitchin Basket aims to allow residents to shop locally, while keeping safe.

But, for those who want venture back out into the new-look town centre, there are a number of stores that have reopened safely.

Many independent businesses are welcoming customers through their doors again, and have had to take COVID–friendly measures, such as installing 2m distancing signs and plastic screens at tills, to ensure they comply with government safety guidelines.

And controversial County Council safety measures, which include parking and delivery bay closures and large pedestrian barriers in town, are to be looked at again after a backlash from business owners, councillors and residents.

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Cllr Keith Hoskins, who was among North Hertfordshire District Council’s most vocal in challenging these measures, hopes to see the town centre’s pedestrianisation priority implemented all days of the week, rather than just Saturday.

He said: “We felt it would be much more sensible and much easier to extend this scheme rather than have all these barriers all over the place.

“The problem with the barriers is that if there are long queues outside Barclays, HSBC or Allinghams, what then happens is people are squashed in by barriers and having to walk in the road. If the road is open that’s not ideal and there are some safety issues.

“We want the high street gate closed to all but essential deliveries and discouraging through traffic, I think that would suffice.”

It’s expected that the County Council will look to publish legal notices and have these changes made to Hitchin Town Centre in the next three to four weeks – meaning by mid-July, the large barriers may be history.

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