Against the background of austerity, increasing levels of crime against the business community and the award of development contracts for brownfield sites in the BID area, this past year has not been without it’s challenges
The BID continues to work with and in some cases, challenge the Local Authority with respect to the level and quality of services provided. We are now expanding this work stream to discuss service delivery issues with the Police, the Environment Agency and the GLA.
Given the issues with traveller incursions and organised fly tipping currently being experienced in the area, the BID has come to the conclusion that additional resources need to be dedicated to mitigate the effects of such criminal behaviour.
To raise the profile of the issue and to apply pressure to the public sector, the BID recently organised a conference attended by politicians and senior officers from the Local Authorities, Police Borough Commanders, Police representatives from New Scotland Yard, the GLA, other key stake holders and by Businesses from across the area all to discuss a proposal for the delivery of a Business Crime Reduction Partnership. This has led to a further proposal for a cross borough multi-agency team to be developed to provide a more robust approach to the criminal behaviour being experienced.
The BID continues to support any initiative which levers additional resources into this area and whilst the BID increases expenditure on additional security patrol activity, the BID is using its influence to try to inform and pressure the leaders of the public sector for action to be taken. To this end I have now requested meetings with the Minister for London, the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
As Chairman, I represent the BID on the London BID development committee at the GLA, Chair the London Industrial BIDs subcommittee, sit on the London Riverside Employment Committee, attend committee meetings with TfL on transport development for business needs and also sit on the Met Police Business Crime Committee. In addition, I represent the interests of the Industrial sector on the National BIDs Chairman’s Board.
This past year contract awards have been made for the development of industrial sites on all remaining GLA owned brownfield sites in London Riverside worth in excess of £100M known as East+ and for the build out of the Rainham and Beam Park Housing Zone for 3,500 homes plus a new railway station.
The BID are anxious that the current businesses in the area are not unfairly impacted by these developments and that maximum advantage is obtained out of this expenditure. To this end, the BID are making very strong representations to the appropriate authorities about the continuing loss of industrial land to residential use, both in the London Riverside area and across London as this challenges the BID objectives of maintaining and increasing employment opportunities for the community in which we live.
Generally, budget cuts in the Public sector will continue to have a considerable impact on the delivery of front line services by the Council, the Police and other Government Agencies with the resulting risk of expectations that the BID should take up the slack.
The BID believe that it’s resources should be deployed within the principle of additionality and not used to plug gaps in Public Sector funding thus avoiding the possibility of services being paid for twice by businesses.
The support of this policy requires continuing pressure on the Authorities to ensure that the BID area does not unfairly bear cuts to frontline services and it is my intention to step up the pressure at the highest level to deliver this message.
The success of persuading the Council to appoint a senior Councillor onto the Board of Directors in a non-voting capacity will more effectively deliver this message to the Senior Managers of the Council.
Despite the challenges experienced this year, there have been some highlights.
The vast majority of the Superfast broadband project is now complete with many companies benefiting from faster and more reliable access to the internet. We are now looking to use the forthcoming development contracts to have the BID area designated as an ultra-fast broadband area for businesses and residents alike.
The BID working with Council has seen the completion of the first phase in the planting of trees in Ferry Lane South, a project that has succeeded in managing some of the parking issues in the area whilst contributing to the reduction of pollution and greening of the area. The BID have also shared success by working with the Council to undertake substantial flood risk reduction works, co-funding the mapping, repair and clearance of drainage ditches across the area.
All of this work increases the work load of the BID management team supporting these local and regional work streams and this year I personally have clocked up well over 280 hours working for the BID.
This forthcoming year brings the challenges of the BID re-ballot, business rate revaluation, Local Authority business rate retention and likely further cuts in public expenditure
So another busy year is anticipated!