BY LINDA QUINN
Council officials are consulting market traders and the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) on taking on the management of its iconic markets.
Council officials stress that the plan is still at the planning stage and that more thinking has to be done.
They believe a partnership of traders and BID would made sense as shops and street markets are seen as the same experience by shoppers and visitors.
The London Assembly is conducting a health check on BIDs, and its regeneration committee visited Pop Brixton in early September to hear from Brixton Bid, Lambeth council and The Market Traders Federation.
Gareth Bacon AM, Chairman of the London Assembly Regeneration Committee, said: “We’re investigating the effectiveness of BIDs and we have some important questions to ask about what exactly they do and what impact they have.
“We want to know how important they are to the regeneration of an area and how accountable they are to local communities – particularly when they start to take on traditional council-led services.
“It was great to see what is happening at Brixton BID and to hear about future plans for the area. It’s a vibrant place, where small businesses play a key role, but there are, of course, challenges, which our investigation will look into more broadly.”
Government has put £500,000 of taxpayers money into Bids.
Bid director Michael Smith told the committee that Brixton’s was elected by local businesses and 656 has signed up.
50 have already taken up the BID’s waste recycling scheme, he said.
The Bid team says it wants to make Brixton a “destination”.
Its ambition is to be a collective voice for businesses; to reduce costs through joint procurement; and to offer free training and collective marketing of the area.
Tom Bridgman of Lambeth council’s regeneration team told the committee that the council was developing three significant projects:
The town hall scheme to save money to invest back into services and provide enterprise space; 300 new homes and a theatre in Somerleyton Road; and
Brixton Central (where the old Popes Road car park was) with space for 600 new jobs.
“The BID is vital to the work on that,” he said. He stressed the council partnership with the BID is central to the High Street Award grant from the Greater London Authority.
The council and the BID are working closely with Brixton’s Market Traders Federation. Free WiFi across the town centre, for instance, would allow the BID to support retailers and businesses.
Gareth Bacon asked why Lambeth needed a BID. Lambeth Councillor Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for jobs and growth, said cuts meant that the council had had to think about how to deliver core services.
The responsibilities of the town centre manager – a post that no longer exists – are now shared between the BID and the council.
Cllr Hopkins said the BID consortium could speak to its members in a way the council could not.