By Zoe Jewell, editor
Brixton businesses including Morleys and Satay Bar are behind a proposal to make the centre of Brixton a so-called ‘Business Improvement District’ (BID), which would take responsibility for running some key services in the Brixton town centre area to improve trading conditions.
For the BID to be successful, a formal ballot among everyone who pays business rates in the proposed district must be carried out.
Businesses above a certain size would then pay an extra levy on their mandatory business rate to pay for the running of the district, which could mean funding additional police officers to reduce crime or “beautifying” the area.
Around 30 businesses have registered interest in the plans so far. Ten are actively organizing the application including Morleys, Satay Bar, Healthy Eaters and Market House. The majority who have attended meetings on the BID have been small businesses, according to a spokesperson for Lambeth Council.
Devon Thomas, chair of the Brixton Business Forum, said: “We want to generate enough budget to do something constructive. It would be to consolidate the development of the street and indoor markets. It’s everything from beautifying the area to being more environmentally conscious, to supporting things like buying local.”
There are fears that the BID would fail to listen to the concerns of the many people who live in the town centre, as residents do not have to be consulted on the proposal or on the changes a successful BID would make to the district. Residents generally do not sit on the board.
Thomas insists this won’t happen in Brixton. “We will arrange so that people can pay to be a member and join. I’m a Brixtonian of 40 odd years and from the black community too, so I’m not going to build an organization that doesn’t include everybody. But people have got to come and engage, not stand on the sidelines and complain.”