An interview with

Lesley Crisp

Principal Economic Development Officer at Hertsmere Borough Council

Huq's insights help us to make smarter, evidence-led decisions

Hertsmere Borough Council selected Huq to provide monitoring coverage of four of its towns in June 2021. Prior to this, the council had never had a systematic monitoring solution in place. Instead they had relied on surveys carried out at intervals in different locations.

Our second year with Huq’s platform

Hertsmere Borough Council was keen to understand how pedestrians use their local high streets, and more particularly how these places were affected by the pandemic.

Which funds have you used the data for?

We used insight from Huq’s place monitoring platform as an evidence base to plan, implement and measure the impact of changes made using Welcome Back (WBF) and Shared Prosperity (SPF) funding.

Which modules did you decide to use?

We used Catchment areas to learn where people come from, Footfall to know how many, and Hourly Footfall to see when.

What were your main measurement aims?

When we started using Huq’s platform we where keen to study three specific areas.
For some time we had been running Market Days in our borough. We wanted to see whether attendance had recovered post-Covid. Similarly, we were aware that our Town Centres had suffered badly during that period. How quickly were people coming back? The same interest applied to the Night Time economy as well.

What did you learn from the insights?

We analysed four years worth of data to establish a pre-pandemic benchmark (how events performed before the pandemic). Compared to that baseline, footfall and hourly footfall data showed only a minimal uplift on the days and hours that the markets ran.

We then looked at how market days performed as restrictions eased while the country came out of lockdown. We saw no change to the performance of our Town Centre on market specific days based on footfall data.

Market Days averaged 7% below a normal day in 2022! Our hourly metrics also show the majority of Town Centre footfall occurred outside of the hours of the market day meaning the market had little to no effect in that period.

One a separate note, we wanted to improve the Night Time economy! Fridays and Saturdays showed a decrease in performance during the pandemic (as expected), in the ‘new normal’ we are starting to see improvements in our nighttime economy above the levels of prepandemic.

We are monitoring this moving forwards to create a more complete sample size to concretely understand if it is improving.

Making the case for change

Borehamwood market will be closing in August – we know the market days haven’t been successful, we truly understand to what extend this is the case with Huq’s data but we also had a feeling based on what our feedback was. Now we can invest our resources into other activities where demand is greater.

What's next for the Council?

Sky Studios is coming to Borehamwood in the Summer of 2022. We can’t wait to see the impact that this has on the local economy and small independent businesses as new workers and residents come to the area (along with the occasional celebrity!).

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) deadline is also just around the corner, with funding to continue the work that we are doing across Hertsmere to make it a greener, cleaner and more vibrant place.

Huq’s place monitoring data remains an important asset for us as we plan, action and measure the effects of our interventions. And with growing emphasis on evidence-based choices we’re certain that role will grow.

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