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Councils in north Essex unite to help area get back to business

A new scheme to allow independent businesses access to click and collect and delivery is one of four projects being rolled-out to help North Essex get back on its feet as the economy re-opens after lockdown.

Click It Local is the first scheme to be introduced by the North Essex Economic Board (NEEB) as part of a series of initial actions designed to boost recovery from the pandemic, with money contributed to the initiatives from Covid-support funding provided by Government.

NEEB is a partnership of local authorities in the area: Braintree, Maldon, Tendring and Uttlesford district councils, Colchester Borough Council, Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council.

An e-commerce platform, Click It Local allows local independent shops to showcase their products to customers in the area. Shoppers can then buy items online – from multiple outlets – and have them delivered in one package, or ‘click and collect’ themselves.

Under the scheme Click It Local will collect sold items from local businesses and take them to a hub, where customers’ orders are packaged up before delivery. As part of the expansion, new hubs will be set up in Chelmsford and Colchester, while additional staff are being taken on.

Click It Local has been running in Uttlesford since November 2020, where it has already been a big success.

Cllr Neil Reeve, Portfolio Holder for the Economy, Investment and Corporate Strategy at Uttlesford District Council, said: “Since we partnered with Click It Local we have seen a considerable number of stores sign up and, most positively, a lot of repeat visitors – showing that residents really love the service.

“It has proved a great way for our independent businesses to showcase themselves and reach new customers, and I am pleased to see it roll out across the rest of North Essex.”

Steve Koch, founder of Click It Local, said: “I love shopping locally so wanted to find a way to help small shops offer the same level of speed and convenience that today’s online customers have come to expect.

“Our aim is to ensure we can all continue to shop local, support independent shops and provide for the local community.”

The councils now launching under NEEB are funding the first six months of membership to Click It Local for businesses, after which retailers pay 7.5% commission on sales. In comparison Amazon typically charges 20%.

Each member council will launch Click It Local in their specific area in the coming weeks as contracts are finalised.

The NEEB partnership is also pushing ahead with other projects to support residents and businesses in the area, including apprenticeships, jobs fairs and the Essex County Council Kickstart scheme to tackle youth unemployment. Details on these initiatives will be released in the coming months.

Long-term the NEEB member councils have committed to working together to promote economic growth across the region.