£1m investment in Brixton Market agreed

August is normally a slow month for traders but the stall-holders on Electric Avenue can look forward to nearly £1m of investment after proposals to spruce up the market were approved last week. 
  
Over the past six months we have been working with Brixton Market Traders Federation and asking shoppers what they thought worked and what they thought didn’t work about the market. As a result, a number of improvements will be made to the look and layout of Electric Avenue.

The most noticeable will be that stalls will be re-positioned, so that they are no longer squashed close to one side of the street. Instead they will occupy the middle of the road which we hope will make it easier for people to move around the market and make the stalls visible to shoppers on both sides of the road. Traders will get also get larger, modern pitches so they have more space and can display more goods. A recurring complaint about the current market is that there is too much rubbish, with big piles of cardboard boxes and bin bags left to mount up at the side of the road as the day goes on. To address this new hand held-electric carts will be introduced, allowing waste to be collected more frequently.  

A number of other small tweaks will be made too. For details, as well as pictures of the new-look market see: http://futurebrixton.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/20150727-design-proposals.pdf

It goes without saying that the street market and the traders who operate it are an integral part of Brixton’s character and identity. We hope this investment and the plans that we have worked up together will be good for traders, good for shoppers and help the market go from strength to strength.

Work is set to get underway in October and will be completed by March 2016.

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New support for local businesses in Lambeth

Local businesses in uncertain times need a little extra support to compete – the Council is offering a long term sustainable helping hand in the form of business loans in partnership between Lambeth Council and Funding Circle. 

Our manifesto in 2014 contained the commitment to support the creation of 5,000 new jobs in the borough and a commitment to supporting local businesses. Most businesses in Lambeth are small and medium sized, employing on the whole local people and making sure that local economies have a regular customer base over and above residents. They keep our town centres balanced and functioning, help young people with work experience and offer opportunities for local people to work locally.

But when I speak to businesses they talk to me about how they are being squeezed – rising costs, less money in the system as well as challenges around premises and the unavailability of space.

Business owners and entrepreneurs also tell me that access to finance is still a real issue. Banks are reluctant to lend and as a result businesses are starved of the investment they need to expand. As London becomes more competitive, standing still is not an option but lack of funding makes it difficult to adapt and keep ahead of the curve.

Funding Circle is filling a gap by allowing real people and organisations around the UK to lend directly to the businesses they choose and I am delighted that Lambeth is one the first local authorities to offer this support. The Council is kick-starting this initiative with £100,000 to help local SMEs to grow and create jobs but we hope to see it grow over time, and for successful businesses and investors to keep a sharp eye out for Lambeth’s emerging talents.

Our priority will be to focus loans on the track record of businesses rather than their projected future plans and to offer support that is quicker and more flexible than that offered by the banks. Funding Circle have facilitated £209 million in loans to UK businesses since 2010 and have over 60,000 investors. 

To qualify, businesses must be based in Lambeth, have a minimum £100,000 turnover and have been around for at least two years. The application process has opened today and businesses can apply directly and check their eligibility at https://www.fundingcircle.com/uk/businesses/.

More information about Funding Circle can be found here.

With POP Brixton, Brixton Works and various other initiatives across the borough we are helping local businesses find the space to grow and develop. With Funding Circle they will have the finance they need, employing local people along the way and having a mechanism to give back to those following them on the path to success.