Wetherby town centre trade makes recovery

Numbers of people visiting Wetherby town centre recovered to near pre-pandemic levels before the start of the second national lockdown, according to analysis of the public WiFi network.

IntechnologySmartCities said average footfall in October was just seven per cent lower than in March and 50 per cent higher than in May and June during the first national lockdown.

Nearly 5,800 people have registered for the wireless network since it launched in April 2019 to increase the historic town’s access to the digital economy.

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Coun Neil O’Byrne, Mayor of Wetherby, said: “I am delighted the WiFi data indicates that many people, of all ages, are out and about in Wetherby town centre.

“I hope this is an indication that people are supporting our local traders, some of whom are operating on a ‘click and collect’ basis with reduced opening hours.

“The message is that Wetherby is open for business though adhering to the current rules to keep us all safe and well.”

IntechnologySmartCities is managing the network on behalf of Wetherby Town Council at no cost to the taxpayer.

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The network offers speeds of up to one gigabit per second, which is faster than most WiFi networks and on a par with the best business services.

Victor Hawkins, Chairman of Welcome to Wetherby, said: “The free public WiFi is boosting digital connectivity for local businesses and encouraging visitors to spend more time in Wetherby town centre.

“We look forward to welcoming more people back to Wetherby after the easing of lockdown restrictions so they can enjoy our wonderful Christmas lights and decorations and stock up on presents and provisions.”

The network can be found at _wetherbyfreewifi. It is family friendly, fully compliant with data protection laws and has an above-standard security level due to its public interface.

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Natalie Duffield, Chief Executive of IntechnologySmartCities, said: “We expect that towns like Wetherby will flourish in the coming years as remote working becomes the norm and people have less need to commute into city centres.

“Instead, they are spending more time and money closer to home, which is great news for local high streets and independent businesses. This trend highlights the need for town centres to have strong public WiFi networks.”