Lambeth: Open for Business

Ambition and fairness.

Those two words underpin our priorities across Lambeth and I know they chime with local business people who want to realise their ambitions and aspirations in a borough that’s fair. Fair about cracking down on illegal trading that puts responsible businesses at risk; fair about using our influence to get the best deal for local people and fair in explaining how we make decisions that affect local businesses from parking to street cleaning and licensing.

In Lambeth, local really does mean local – over a third of those who work in the borough also live here. The rising cost of public transport and child care means being able to work locally is very attractive so we need to make sure that local businesses are able to thrive. We need to continue to attract the multi-million pound investments that are helping transform Vauxhall and Brixton, bringing homes, jobs and other opportunities.
From start-ups in the Impact Hub at the Town Hall to major redevelopment schemes, all of that feeds in to the local economy that is vital to retaining Lambeth’s unique character.

You’ve been very clear in telling me what you need and how we can help:

The right space:
New businesses need somewhere to start from, and then somewhere to grow into without being tied into a lease which becomes a barrier to growth. The Impact Hub at the Town Hall already has 70 member businesses the Meanwhile space at Pope’s Rd will offer similar space and we’re talking to Network Rail about opportunities under railway arches that are already seeing new business like the climbing centre at Vauxhall.

Support Services;
Businesses need to concentrate on what they’re good at but specialist services they need like legal, financial, HR and IT often prove costly to bring in on an ad hoc basis. We’re already working with our business improvement districts (BID’s) and across Lambeth’s town centres to see if there’s a way of providing these services on a collective or local B2B arrangement.

Friends & Neighbours:
Apart from specific financial and legal support mentioned above, you said you want be around other businesses who they could partner, trade or collaborate with – post offices, banks with a business facility, access to the internet, and Wifi networks along with space for real face to face meetings with clients or investors.
There’s a lot of that going on already through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), business associations, employers’ groups and initiatives like the Brixton Pound or the Vauxhall One Perk card.

20140731-175041-64241312.jpg In fact, Lambeth has the most BIDs in London with the biggest number of businesses too.

Location, location….
Businesses have to think about where they are – not just in terms of footfall and customers, but for their staff.
Is it easy and safe to get to work? Is there somewhere nearby that’s OK for lunch or a stroll – maybe a swim or gym session after work and what about shops nearby to get dinner on the way home, a card for a friend or an outfit for a night out?

Understanding the interconnectedness of our local environment is essential if Lambeth’s massive regeneration is to be more than a series of new buildings. Businesses are uniquely placed to see what works, what doesn’t and how small things can make a big difference to attracting more customers and retaining good staff. Lambeth is an aspirational borough that’s changing and growing before our eyes.

My role is to make sure that growth is good for everyone – not just the well off and well- connected.

Business is big in Lambeth but it’s not just big business, and that’s what makes the borough so attractive, innovative and creative. And the voice of business – your voice – is vital. If you’re interested in relocating to Lambeth or an existing business with ideas about what more could be done to support the business community in your neighbourhood (don’t everyone rush and say reduced business rates!) then please do get in touch.

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Whose future is it anyway? Get involved or lose out….

On Monday we set 20 young people from Brixton a challenge about the future of their town centre.

We asked them how to get young people involved in decisions about the regeneration of Brixton. Decisions about employment, affordable space for new enterprise, housing and the kind of developments they’d like to see.

We asked them to think, not only about the options that should be considered, but also where they would live and work in 5 – 10 years’ time.

Lambeth is changing. It’s growing and it’s attracting millions of pounds worth of investment. Our commitment is to make sure that everyone gets a fair crack at the jobs, homes, cultural and business opportunities this brings.

But communities need to fight for their share in the proceeds of growth too, particularly young people who really are the future of Lambeth.

The Youth Council and the National Citizenship Service, who held the challenge, are planning similar across the borough from Waterloo and Vauxhall to Streatham and Norwood. The idea is that young people are better at engaging with their peers (provided they have the right support) than old geezers like me.

Since I took on the cabinet post for growth and jobs last month, I’ve been struck by the different attitudes towards growth. Those who see opportunity and ambition and those who fear change will leave them behind.

Regeneration is often seen through the eyes of cynics who are quick to criticise ‘gentrification’ but ignore the benefits. If ‘gentrification’ means cleaner streets and safer estates then I’m all for it.

But, there is a deafening silence from those who stand to benefit most; people in need of affordable housing, access to jobs and business opportunities, safer public spaces and more culture and leisure.

This comment, from a Vauxhall resident, says it all: “those jobs won’t be for us, those businesses won’t be for us.”

We have to work together to make sure that’s not the case. But we also need to shout about the good stuff happening now – like Block Workout and all at Number 6, Steadman Scott’s boxing at the Rec, Ovalhouse coming soon, grow:brixton, the list goes on.

My challenge to you is find out what’s going on, make sure your voice is heard or sit back and let it pass you by. It’s your future.

Some ways to get involved

Come to an event listed on the events calender