Settle reopens as the UK’s first Rainbow Town

Photo credit: Anthony Ward
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The Yorkshire Dales market town of Settle has become the UK’s first Rainbow Town, now that some of the lockdown restrictions have been lifted and businesses are permitted to open.

The initiative has seen local businesses re-opening with special discounts and offers for frontline NHS staff and care workers, as an ongoing practical ‘thank you’ to them as the town re-opens to visitors.

Over 30 businesses in Settle have already signed up to the scheme, with more joining every day. Offers are available from traders displaying the Settle Rainbow Town logo on their website or premises.

Frontline NHS staff and care workers can enjoy benefits such as free entry to The Folly Museum, money off at Cottontail Crafts and a 10 per cent reduction on a stay at Woodlands House. A full list of participating businesses and offer details are displayed on the town’s website.

David Sexton of Woodlands House first suggested the Rainbow Town concept. It is being co-ordinated through Vibrant Settle, a community partnership in the North Craven market town that spearheads several initiatives to support the local economy including the popular annual Settle flowerpot festival, which fell victim to Covid-19 this year.

David Sexton explains what inspired the idea:

“While countless businesses throughout the country are offering special deals and discounts for NHS and other key workers, we thought it would be great if Settle businesses not only joined in, but also progressed the idea further and co-ordinated our efforts to form the first Rainbow Town.

“Individual shops, accommodation and hospitality providers along with many others have come together to give frontline health and care workers a meaningful thank you, which will be a positive legacy of Covid-19 going forward.”

Steve Amphlett, of Visit Settle, says the town is slowly coming to life again. Most of the businesses there are small independent retailers and many have only just kept their heads above water via their online outlets. During the lockdown, this meant that locals who were cocooning could often order products online and have them delivered straight to their door. The community has stayed strong.

Now, each shop is developing its own way to manage customers while maintaining social distancing. He says of Settle’s new Rainbow Town status, “This is a great way to show appreciation for critical workers now that businesses are permitted to reopen. But visitors are still requested to respect our residents by following the government rules on travel and social distancing.”

Let’s see if more Yorkshire towns follow suit over the coming weeks and months.

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