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Possilpark traders rise to challenge of Covid-19

Driven by local traders, a steering group has been formed with funds made available through the Scottish Government. 

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Work has been ongoing over the past year on plans for Possilpark to become a Business Improvement District through funding and support from Scotland’s Towns Partnerships and hosted by ng homes.

Driven by local traders, a steering group to take this forward has been formed, with funds made available through the Scottish Government. One of the team’s early successes has been to secure funds from Glasgow City Council to start a programme of improving local shop fronts, which will make a huge improvement to the area visually.

Jackie Shearer, the consultant for Possilpark Business Improvement District, has been working tirelessly in the area, meeting with local traders, carrying out consultation events, working with architects on designs for the improved shop fronts and environmental works.

Due to the impact of Covid-19, there will be a change in how the consultation will take place, and this will include the use of social media and an online engagement event. These will offer updates on the shop front improvement project, the business improvement district and will signpost businesses to available support linked to the Covid-19 crisis. It will also offer a network for traders and business to share ideas and support each other in the Possilpark area.

Since lockdown was announced, the community has come together to support each other and many of the local traders have stepped up to the challenges lockdown has posed. The steering group have been meeting through Zoom and were clear that they wanted to continue to provide a service for the community and to help in any way that they can. They have been working alongside ng homes' Regeneration Department in providing food and other support in responding to community needs. This has included Saracen Street Traders, Gary Walker Butchers, and Shopsmart Convenience Store and Post Office which have been providing food as part of ng homes' partnership for food parcels and hot meals for the elderly, those in isolation or with underlying health conditions. Eyepad Opticians is offering a ‘free spectacle repair service’ for older people in the community and Possobilities is providing free hot meals for the elderly and vulnerable which can be accessed through referrals from housing staff and other agencies.

Allied Vehicles Ltd, one of the major employers in the area, has donated funds towards community support, purchased visors for key workers, and is also operating an ongoing repair service for emergency vehicles. It is continuing to look at how they can further support the community and encourage other local traders to become involved.

John Thorburn, Chairperson of ng homes, said: “It became clear, at the outset, that this crisis was going to have a significant impact on our community as many would be in a situation of having to socially isolate and, for others, maintaining social distancing whilst out shopping. Therefore, the concept of working with local traders and businesses which would provide more accessibility for the community and support the local economy was vital."

Brian Kelly, Chair of the Steering Group, said: “As a group of traders, we have been working for quite some time to develop this project which will make such a difference to the area. We are aware that this will take place over a period of time and see it as a positive move forward. Our current focus has clearly been on responding to this crisis, and we would encourage other traders to get involved."

This view was also endorsed by Gerry Facenna, owner and Chairman of Allied Vehicles Group.

He said: “As someone who grew up in Possilpark, and has grown a successful business in the area, supporting the community and creating jobs, both I and Allied Vehicles Group are proud to play our part in the remaking of Saracen Street and the surrounding areas.

"There are amazing people trying to thrive here, and improving Possilpark can only be a positive thing.

"During this period, we have many challenges to face as a community, and as businesses, but we will be stronger working together."

Bob Doris MSP said: “The steering group are doing all we can to ensure lockdown has minimal impact on our ambitious plans. I am sure the investment being made by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council within Possilpark will be well used to boost Saracen Street and the wider area.

"My thanks to Jackie Shearer for her drive in pushing these plans forward, and for the unflinching commitment of local businesses who are committed to the area and want to invest in Possilpark’s future."

Phil Prentice is the Chief Officer of Scotland's Towns Partnership and a National Programme Director for a Scotland’s Improvement Districts.

He said: “If this project continues to gather momentum and, ultimately, is successful, then this exciting Community Business Improvement District will provide us all with a fantastic blueprint for neighbourhoods and communities across Scotland, which, perhaps, up until now, has felt left behind. The local Businesses, NG Homes, NHS, Police, Community Groups and the City Council all collaborating on a future vision for Possilpark.”

Plans are afoot for a series of digital engagement events to update traders and other interested members of the community on progress to date and future plans. If you would like to know more, please go to www.possilparkbid.co.uk

Pictured: Brian Kelly (Eyepad Opticians), Gary Walker (Gary Walker Butchers), Omar Afzal (Post Office), David Facenna (Allied Vehicles), Margaret Fraser (ng homes), and Jackie Shearer (BID consultant)

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