Task force unveiled to spearhead Cheltenham’s economic recovery

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 10 September 2020 7:20

An Economic Recovery Task Force has been formed to spearhead Cheltenham’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic – and its challenges became apparent immediately. 

Bringing together senior leaders from across the public, private, charity and voluntary sectors its aim is “to help drive forward the town’s economic recovery”. 

It met for the first time yesterday (September 9), shortly after which the landscape was changing again, underlining the challenges ahead for everyone, as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, introduced the nation to a new rule of six on gatherings and dreams of a moonshot testing plan.

None of which affects the general thrust of the Cheltenham task force - to seek to support the continued safe reopening of the town and use of public spaces in line with government advice. 

And the Task Force will also be looking forward, “recognising the need for a bold and brave approach to help secure the future vitality and the wider economic growth of the town” and will be ready to pounce on funding opportunities. 

“The future of our high streets and town centres is a fundamental challenge facing our towns and cities. It requires a similarly bold response with strong local leadership and partnership working - which is exactly what the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force provides,” said Diane Savory OBE, chair of The Task Force and also of GFirst LEP, who was also recently appointed to the national High Streets Task Force and ministerial-chaired Economic Recovery Workgroup (MHCLG). 

Cllr Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “The vital importance of Cheltenham’s town centre as a driver of economic recovery was strongly recognised throughout our recovery strategy, which we published in July. 

With this kind of shared commitment and partnership approach, I’m confident that Cheltenham will be ready – and will emerge stronger for the benefit of both our economy and our community.” 

Read more: Take part in our survey: Where now for Gloucestershire?

Nigel Jobson, Director of Cheltenham-based social media platform Maybe*, one of the 10 companies that form part of the Government’s High Streets Task Force, said: “The importance of digital communication in supporting the future of Cheltenham town centre could not be more important. 

Only 35 per cent of businesses with the Cheltenham Local Authority area have social media accounts and of those only 35 per cent of these are active on a daily basis. 

By comparison half of the planet, or 3.6bn people, use social media for three hrs per day. Our data shows that those businesses that master digital communication trade better. 

Upskilling businesses and encouraging them to become more active on social media has proven to deliver increased engagement, footfall and sales.” 

Task Force meetings will take place on a six-week cycle, with summarised notes prepared and published via Cheltenham Borough Council. 

Representation on the Task Force 

Diane Savory OBE (Chair)                 GFirst LEP 

Steve Jordan                                       CBC Leader 

Gareth Edmundson                           CBC CEX 

Tracey Crews                                       CBC Director of Planning 

Nigel Moore / Patrick Molyneux     GCC Cabinet 

Dorian Wragg                                      Bruton Knowles 

Darren Stevens                                   Prestbury Marketing 

Nigel Jobson                                        Maybe 

Antonia Shield                                    BPE Solicitors LLP 

Joe Roberts                                         Robert Limbrick Architects 

Madeline Howard                              Cygenta/Young people 

Nicola Inchbald                                  Cheltine 

Ian George                                          Cheltenham Festivals / Cheltenham Culture Board 

Tim Atkins                                           Golden Valley Development/CBC 

TBC                                                       Voluntary/community partnerships

Read more: Take part in our survey: Where now for Gloucestershire?