It seems amazing that it was only a month ago that I was writing optimistically about the superb new Bath Spa University art school in the re-modelled Herman Miller building in Locksbrook Road. The world has certainly changed in the last four weeks.
However, one of the things I mentioned in that piece was the importance of planners showing much greater flexibility in their thinking when it comes to re-using existing buildings which are not suitable for modern requirements. In the current circumstances that plea is even more heartfelt.
In fact I’d go further and say that it is to be hoped that anyone bold enough to still be continuing with development schemes will receive a specially sympathetic hearing so that there is a stream of projects ready and waiting to go once normality returns. It would be only too easy for investors to hit the pause button and wait to see what the future holds. But if they did that it would put plans back, delay start dates and even potentially endanger the very existence of the scheme. So let’s get behind those people with the confidence to press on regardless – their input is vital for the health of the local economy.
In the meantime members of the Chamber and Initiative are doing their level best to cope. Many professional services companies had been preparing for home working but even they were caught out by the speed of the shut down. Thankfully the broadband service seems to be holding up and video conferencing has gone from being a peripheral gimmick to a core business tool.
Other businesses are not so lucky and instead have been working their way through the rules and regulations surrounding furlough, business rate relief and other funding streams. We’re still hearing stories of people who find a gap between announcements from Government ministers and what really happens on the ground. Hopefully systems will soon be in place to ensure the promised help reaches the people who need it.
As part of the larger Business West Group our members have been able to contribute to a new portal on the website www.tradingthroughcoronavirus.co.uk This provides a wealth of information, including case studies, illustrating how businesses have handled the problems thrown up by the situation. It’s an ever moving picture, but if people are able to keep up to date they will stand a much better chance of getting through intact.