Bournemouth town centre is getting ready to welcome back visitors in the next stage of lockdown easing.

Non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality and services like hairdressers can reopen from Monday.

And major projects are well underway to help the town look its best for the big day. These are being spearheaded by the Bournemouth Town Centre BID in partnership with BCP Council in the as part of the BID’s 'Reconnect Initiative'.

Work includes:

•            Cleaning and painting lampposts, benches and other street furniture in Commercial Road, Westover Road, Old Christchurch Road and Horseshoe Common.

The spruce up is being paid for by community infrastructure levy money and supplemented by Town Centre BID funding. Backed by ward councillors Mike Greene and Hazel Allen, it is being carried out by BCP's decorating teams.

•            A deep clean across the town centre with as much of the area as possible covered by Monday again jointly funded by the Town Centre BID & BCP.

•            Reapplication of 700 ‘Queue Here’ floor stickers throughout the town centre to aid social distancing and queueing.

•            Window vinyls on a number of empty units, with welcome messages for visitors, funded by EU, the BID and BCP Council and working with the landlords.

•            The first stage of hanging baskets throughout the town.

•            Promotional videos from local businesses highlighting the 'Reconnect' theme.

Town Centre BID chairman, Martin Davies, said: "It has been a really difficult 12 months for everyone but we are all hugely optimistic about the town centre reopening for business again once and for all.

Bournemouth Echo:

“There is a lot to feel positive about, thanks to some great partnership working in its truest sense it will be wonderful to see people reconnect with their family, friends and colleagues in the town centre.”

Cllr Greene said: “It will be great to see the town centre spick and span, and working in partnership with the Business Improvement District is the ideal way to get it there.

"This year has been really tough for high street retailers and hospitality providers alike. I am really looking forward to seeing the place buzzing and people enjoying the experience of being out there again.

BCP Council's cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Philip Broadhead said: "Last year, following the first lockdown, Bournemouth was the number one in the whole country for the bounce back of our high streets.

"We not only expect the same this year, but want to build on this and make the whole BCP area the destination of choice for visitors.

"In addition, the extra funds, events and investment into enhanced offerings we’re ploughing into the area benefits our residents too, and we’re determined that 2021 will be a year to remember for all the right reasons – which is what we all need right now.

"We are doing this in a number of ways; by working hand in hand with our Business Improvement Districts, dramatically increasing our investment from the council in things like making our streets cleaner and safer, and also channelling the various government grants into supporting businesses to recover quickly.

"Over the next few weeks, we’ll be launching schemes such as our Bounce Back Challenge Fund, Welcome Back fund, Business Restart Grants and more."

And independent retailers have been working together to ensure the town keeps its unique draw for visitors.

Keith McNicol, managing director of Richmond Classics, in Westover Road, said he has been working with independent restaurants to encourage people to “dress up and eat out”.

Mr McNicol told the Daily Echo: “We are very excited, everyone has been waiting and waiting and waiting.

“Our social media campaign has been like a child waiting for Christmas, it is how many sleeps before we open.

“The emphasis is using the words up and out. We have worked alongside local restaurants in Bournemouth, it’s about dressing up and eating out.

“The camaraderie with retailers now is unbelievable, we are all working together to achieve the same thing.

“There’s no competition anymore, Bournemouth is the competition.

“We are striving together to get Bournemouth as a destination for people to visit, more important than ever to visit independent businesses which are the backbone of our town, otherwise we are a clone town which we were before the pandemic.

“It has been really hard, it has been frustrating, this lockdown has been worse than before mentally for people and for their spirit, it has been cold and it has been wet.

“Now we can just look forward, we have got the May bank holiday, hopefully people will come to Bournemouth on staycation, Bournemouth has to be ready and not get adverse publicity as we did last year.

Bournemouth Echo:

“It is extremely important now, with everybody being given the vaccination, there should be no reason for another lockdown.

“It is paramount because the vaccination is the answer, if we go into another lockdown, what answer is there?

“When the vaccination has gone through everybody, we should be able to treat this like we do with the flu.

“The public have got to utilise what is in their town which is the independent businesses if they want them to stay and carry on and flourish. We can only be here if we are supported.

“Independent businesses are the backbone of the town. I think with the new BCP in, we are going in the right direction.”