Local Economy Team - Nick Wolff, Principal Strategy Officer
Tower Bridge Road Allliance, Suhel Ahmed
Business Improvement District, Russell Dryden
Albion Street Steering Group, Pauline Adenwalla
Local Economy Team
Nick Wolff, principal strategy officer, explained that Southwark’s economic wellbeing strategy had four priorities:
· Employment – narrowing the gap with the London employment rate
· Southwark – the place of choice to start and grow a business
· Thriving town centres and high streets
· Promoting financial well-being and independence.
The recession had led to a significant reduction in business start-ups. By 2012, start ups had recovered, but the need for business support remained significant. A £1 million business support fund was available for activities to support growing businesses facing specific barriers. Business support services were at aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Connectivity – Small and medium enterprises could receive up to £3,000 to fund high speed broadband connection.
Business Engagement – Southwark Business Forum planned to improve links between the council and business in the borough. Strong partnerships with employers were essential for the delivery of employment ambitions of 5,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships by 2018.
The High Street challenge – That was open to community and business groups and individuals with great ideas to improve town centres and high streets in Southwark.
Southwark now had four Business Improvement Districts, the most recent being in Bermondsey. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
In response residents made the following points:
- Signage was needed to highlight that shoppers could park in Surrey Quays shopping centre and use the shops on Lower Road.
- Better promotion of what was going on in the local area was needed, such as magazines and newsletters, not just things on the website.
The chair asked for Nick to follow up on the resident’s points in particular the need for parking signage, and to produce a written response prior to the next meeting.
Tower Bridge Alliance
Suhel Ahmed, from the Tower Bridge Road Alliance, explained that the alliance was formed in 2012 with help from the community restoration fund. Since that time the alliance had worked on several projects in the area, including the shop-fronts scheme, network events and a Christmas fair. The alliance worked with the council to secure parking for local shoppers and also on the high street challenge. Currently the alliance was working with local artists to enhance the appearance of local buildings and thereby draw more people to the area.
Business Improvement District
Russell Dryden, from the Blue Business Association, explained that the business improvement district (BID) was about creating a group to have a voice for the area, whilst working with the council and the community. 89% of local businesses had voted in favour of becoming a BID. As part of the BID local businesses made contributions to a central fund according to their size. This fund would raise about £115,000 per year. A five-year plan would be developed by the businesses for the improvement of the area. One idea involved a community kitchen that would train eight young people for qualifications in the catering trade.
In response to a question about the former biscuit factory being opened up to create a route to the Blue from areas to the North East, Russell said that plan was being developed and would happen. He highlighted the various creative industries taking place in that area.
Albion Street Steering Group
Pauline Adenwalla, from the Albion Street Steering Group (ASSG), explained that Albion Street formed the gateway to Rotherhithe and was a street in transition. The ASSG was formed in 2011. Funding was crucial to delivering various ideas for the area. The ASSG had successfully attracted funding for public realm and shop facia improvements. There were plans to introduce Scandinavian design in the former community centre and the school. Ongoing challenges were the future of the old civic building, uses for the Albion pub and the Little Crown both in private ownership. The ASSG continued to work with the major local stakeholders to develop the area.
Bermondsey Street Area Partnership
Claire Birks, from Bermondsey Street Area Partnership (BSAP), explained that BSAP were a group of volunteers who lived or worked locally and wanted to improve the area for everyone. The group was set up 20 years ago and over that time there had been various new businesses set up. These included restaurants, fashion and arts premises plus a conservation area. There were still some challenges such as the narrow streets coping with high traffic volumes and attracting residents north of the railway line to walk and shop in the area. About seven years ago, the Bermondsey Street festival started which was like a village fair with over one hundred stalls and various events during the day. Last year about 20,000 people attended. A Christmas fair and arts trails (guided walks) were planned. Social events in businesses premises were held every couple of months. Contact www.bermondseyvillage.org.uk