Free Cyber Protect Services by Metropolitan Police

The Cyber Protect Team at the Metropolitan Police Service, is an award-winning team that was set up to help protect small to medium-size businesses and charities in London, from the ever-growing threat of cyber crime.

They provide free advice, presentations and planning exercises that are impartial and tailored to the needs of each organisation. All services are continually revised to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest security guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Their free services include:

  • Cyber awareness presentations
    Covers basic cyber-hygiene principles which businesses can follow to mitigate cyber attacks, through use of real-life examples. Includes: phishing, social engineering, ransomware, secure connections, insider threat, password security and more. Presentations can be delivered virtually or in person.
  • Scanning online systems for vulnerabilities
    Use of specialist software to give your organisation’s online infrastructure an in-depth security check, assessing against a set of security controls to search for known vulnerabilities.
  • Decisions and disruptions exercise
    Designed to help decision makers within the organisation, learn the importance of making timely and correct decisions when it comes to cyber security, including what should be a priority.
  • Cyber escape room
    A fun, interactive exercise to teach staff good online security behaviours though a variety of problem-solving tasks.
  • NCSC exercise in a box
    An “around the table” discussion based exercise led by the Cyber Protect team which helps you understand your organisation’s preparedness and resilience to cyber attacks.
  • Videos, booklets and leaflets

To find out more, contact the Cyber Protect Team here.

Merton Best Business Awards are Back

Merton Chamber of Commerce have announced that the Merton Best Business Awards (MBBAs) are back for 2021.

After a year like no other, the 2021 MBBAs are back to recognise and celebrate Merton’s incredible business community. A new set of award categories has been designed to reflect the journey that businesses have been on: to recognise flexibility and resilience, and to celebrate their achievements against the odds.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that many businesses faced ongoing challenges throughout 2020, and despite the cancellation of the Merton Best Business Awards last year, Merton Chamber of Commerce believe that there is a great deal to reflect upon and to celebrate in 2021. Businesses in Merton – and the people in our community – have shown incredible resilience over the past 18 months, constantly adapting to survive this particular storm. The 2021 Merton Best Business Awards will seek to recognise that.

Government guidance permitting, the 2021 Merton Best Business Awards will launch in September as part of Bookfest on Wimbledon Common. The outdoor location and extended space will allow for the involvement of sponsors, past award winners and Merton businesses, for an evening of reflection and inspiration, as they share stories of the past year and consider what comes next.

Diana Sterck, CEO of Merton Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“Over the past 8 years, the Merton Best Business Awards have become a key event in the business calendar. I’m delighted that we are able to bring them back for 2021, so that we can give our business community a moment to reflect after a very tough year. If you’ve never entered the awards before, now is the perfect time to do so – there will be a new set of award categories, and we’re making the application process as simple as possible so that everyone can be involved. We’ve come through so much together – let’s celebrate that.”

Applications for the new award categories will open later in the year but businesses can register their interest now by emailing awards@mertonchamber.co.uk.

Creating Healthy, Flexible Workspaces post-Covid

Covid-19 has forced many businesses to adopt remote or hybrid working, undertake new practices around social distancing and safety, and think creatively about how to maintain a workplace culture at a disconnected time. As many offices look to return to Wimbledon Town Centre, it is clear that the workplace will need be an environment where employees feel safe, happy and comfortable to thrive in.

We heard from local office design and build experts Peldon Rose, on what considerations your workspace may need.

Enhanced collaborative and breakout spaces

As we return to work place it is crucial that we have space for informal conversations, to build upon the social capital that has been lost. Within the workspace ecosystem, breakout spaces help to encourage conversation and for us to chat and interact informally.

For Peldon Rose, our tea point and family-style dining area brings us together, it’s a place where we can enjoy a drink together after a busy week or break down those social barriers over a board game. It creates a positive atmosphere where we can celebrate business milestones or a colleague’s birthday.

Of course, we also need to create areas that will allow us to fulfil our job roles to the best of our ability. Attracting employees back to the office is a huge focus for businesses across the country at the moment and balancing different personalities and preferences will be key to success. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or omnivert, we must encourage smart working and collaborative thinking in a way that is inclusive of all. Collaborative spaces like breakout areas, with tables and chairs outside of regular desks or meeting rooms, can help foster an atmosphere of collaboration, while areas designed for brainstorms or for eating lunch can bring the team together in new ways and provide them with resources to create something new.

For members of the team who may be cautious about returning to the office environment an agile working environment that includes features such as quiet areas or pods, provides somewhere they can work without being in the midst of it all.

Softer, inviting, and homely atmospheres.

While our work-from-home setups have varied drastically, we have all experienced a greater level of control over the atmosphere we work in. There are those of us who work while enjoying the background noise of a radio, and others who prefer to operate in complete silence. Similarly, we’ve adapted the lighting, temperature and even the aromas of our working environment to suit our personal preferences.

Now, after curating environments that optimise comfort, and in a lot of cases concentration, many will be anxious to leave the sanctuary of the home. This means employees will be looking to return to a workplace that feels almost like a home away from home. This was the inspiration behind one of our recent projects at The White Company. The design was centred around the concept of “going home to work ”. The team created a workplace that uses domestic design elements to create a calming atmosphere, with a variety of working destinations to cater for those who like to work in solitude, or alongside others.

In addition, we’ll see the installation of furniture that bridges the gap between home and work, stemming from a flexible attitude towards workspaces, that positions the comfort and wellbeing of employees at the centre.

Consider wellness and mental health

With a renewed awareness in the need to look after our health, workplaces are set to encourage the pursuit of physical activity. We went for walks during lockdown and witnessed first-hand the marked benefits this had on our physical and mental wellbeing and enjoyed exercising in lieu of commuting. We know that exercise exposes our brain to more oxygen, which helps to foster creative thinking and improved energy levels and  helps us to be more productive.

Whether it’s a workplace that can transform meeting rooms into a yoga studio or terrace spaces, a workplace that provides shower and bike-storage facilities, or a workplace with sit-stand desks, design should reflect and encourage physical movement. Designing a floorplan which allows occupants to navigate around the office to create their own desire paths is key to elevating physical and mental wellbeing in the office.

Calm the nerves

Our phased return to Peldon Rose HQ gave us the opportunity to test our own guidance methods, underpinned by Government guidelines to provide a safe and secure environment to support the wellbeing of our employees. Our learnings were honest and enabled us to refine our guidance for clients and in return it has provided us with knowledge of how to continue to adapt.

Due to the varying nature of workplaces across the country, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why it’s vital there is a full planning process in place and time is carved out to make these changes in your physical back-to-work plan. From Perspex screens at desks, to markers indicating where people can stand in high-traffic areas and regular handwashing/sanitising stations – for many it will look like a completely different workplace to the one we left in early March 2020. Water system flushing, air ventilation checks and ensuring all lifts are in full working order are also at the top of the list, to make sure that staff are as safe as possible when it comes to returning to the office.

For members of the team who may be cautious about returning to the office environment, an agile working environment that includes features such as quiet areas or pods, provides somewhere they can work without being in the midst of it all. You also free employees from their desks allowing them to discover new places to work in proximity to potential new friendships.

Although many will be apprehensive about returning, it’s important we find a way to start the return to work. Facilities managers and those with operational oversight should remain in control of the return-to-work planning to ensure all the necessary checks and procedures are carried out before anyone physically sets foot in the building. If businesses start to think creatively and integrate their culture into these new measures and ways of working, this return to normality will certainly be a welcome one for the office.

For further information on how enhance your workplace to the benefit of both your business and your people, contact Peldon Rose.

New Vinyls to Attract Potential Businesses

As part of improving the look and feel of the Wimbledon Town Centre in preparation for businesses re-opening this April, we worked with property management company Workman to ensure that the unsightly windows on the previous PC World and O2 units were improved by using graphic vinyls of potential shops.

We are working closely with property owners in the town, to ensure that empty units are well-maintained whilst they are vacant, for the next potential businesses, and also to keep the town looking attractive and clean.

This large unit is in a highly visible spot on The Broadway which attracted anti-social behaviour. The vinyls were installed in late March and provide inspiration for businesses looking for retail space in our thriving town.

You can spot the vinyls on The Broadway in Wimbledon Town Centre.

Event Recap: More Independent Shops
and Better Places and Spaces

Summarising key findings from their latest business survey, Love Wimbledon BID held an online meeting attended by over 60 businesses, titled The Next Five Years. Over 80% of businesses, in our recent consultation think Love Wimbledon is promoting the Town Centre well, with 80% also agreeing they represent the interests of their business. Even in a year of pandemic more than ¾ of businesses agreed that Wimbledon has engaging events and is a great town to visit with even higher numbers agreeing they feel supported with a good range of services and marketing.

But not an organisation to sit still, during the overview more questions were asked of the attending audience. So what were the results? 85% thought families would be the biggest future market for Wimbledon Town Centre. When asked about new high street businesses, top of the polls was a desire to see more independents being part of the town centre, in fact improved retail was seen as the most important thing to attract visitors in the future. Big brands however weren’t seen as the real attraction receiving fewer than half the votes. There was a clear demand for healthier places and spaces, with major support to reduce traffic and improve the look and feel of Wimbledon town centre.

Alex Woolf, a Director of Romulus, the new owners of Centre Court Shopping, introduced himself discussing their Huddle formula of workspaces currently in Hammersmith acknowledging the importance of the strong residential market that is on Wimbledon’s doorstep. Mixed-use and rethinking buildings seems to be their approach, whilst entwining conservation and sustainability into their designs and future. A warm, Wimbledon welcome was extended to Alex and the rest of the Romulus team.

So what next? Love Wimbledon will be surveying visitors and community groups over the coming weeks to see what their priorities are, and as Love Wimbledon comes up to our BID renewal the aim will be to ensure we lobby for, or deliver these needs over the next five years, to help with a strong recovery from the pandemic and to make Wimbledon a more attractive place for everyone.

To watch a recording of the meeting click here.
Passcode: W.8L3!ER

Love Wimbledon’s response: Plan Wimbledon’s Neighbourhood Forum


Note: respond by 23rd May 2021 to have your say.

 

A community group called PlanWimbledon has applied to Merton Council to designate a proposed neighbourhood area, predominantly around Wimbledon and to become the designated Neighbourhood Forum for an area extending to around a third of Merton Borough, involving around 40,000 residents.

 

If the Council accepts this application to designate PlanWimbledon as the Neighbourhood Forum for this neighbourhood area, PlanWimbledon will be authorised to prepare a neighbourhood development plan “Neighbourhood Plan”. No other organisation may then be designated for any part of that neighbourhood area until this designation expires after five years or it is withdrawn.

 

Neighbourhood planning allows residents, employees and businesses to come together through a Neighbourhood Forum and produce a Neighbourhood Plan. Once adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan can be used to guide decisions on planning applications within the neighbourhood area.

 

Love Wimbledon is not objecting to the Forum being designated as a lead body for neighbourhood planning purposes for the wider area but is very concerned about the inclusion of Wimbledon Town Centre as the CBD within the designation application. There is currently a lack of detail in terms of the aims and aspirations of PlanWimbledon with regard to the Town Centre neither is there an understanding of the approach or relationship with the existing SPD adopted in November 2020 that has been developed through extensive consultation. There is also a lack of business involvement and say in terms of the governance structure of the proposed Forum.

 

Whilst there is no theoretical limit to the size of a neighbourhood planning area, with over 100 Forums now established in the GLA area, we note that most are in the 10-20,000 population bracket. There are exceptions such as Mill Hill (27,000), Finsbury Park and Stroud Green (30,000), Isle of Dogs (28,000), but these do not include centres of the same planning status as Wimbledon.

 

The proposed physical boundary and resulting population is of a large ‘town’ rather than a ‘neighbourhood’ size & larger than any other neighbourhood area of which we are aware. Whilst populations of 40,000 are more common outside of metropolitan areas – for example in market towns, these are mostly led by Town Councils with a long track record of engagement and delivery.

 

Love Wimbledon BID welcomes and supports the view of Plan Wimbledon that the Town Centre is vital for accessing local services, shops, workplaces, hospitality, transport and hubs.  Over the last 9 years Love Wimbledon BID has invested significant effort to widely consult and influence the development of the masterplan and subsequent SPD.  Whilst we don’t consider the masterplan to be perfect, we understand the SPD guidance, together with the Local Plan policy framework for the centre, namely policies CS.6, CS.7, CS14 and CS18-20 are all strategic policies and therefore provide a strong statutory basis for planning purposes, with which any neighbourhood plan would have to be in conformity and yet this document is not referred to within the PlanWimbledon proposal.

 

Further, Wimbledon Town Centre is designated as a Major Centre in the London Plan and indeed is Merton’s only Major Centre. It is also designated as a GLA Opportunity Area with Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon in the emerging London Plan. Its role therefore is significant beyond Wimbledon. Having invested so much time and effort relating to the centre’s strategic as well as our local role, Love Wimbledon wants to build on what is already there in terms of the SPD Guidance and Local Plan Policies.

 

We are determined therefore, working with Merton Council, property owners, businesses, service providers and residents, to maximise our influence over the future spatial development of the Town Centre (i.e. Love Wimbledon BID’s agreed boundary) and how the existing 2020 masterplan develops out. Hence our desire to pursue a business-led Neighbourhood Forum and Plan which truly reflects business as well as residential issues.

 

A business-led Neighbourhood Forum and Plan, proposed by Love Wimbledon BID would need support from both residents and businesses in a referendum. The current proposition would not require this, and businesses could only have a say via their employees if they lived locally and, significantly, would not incorporate the views of the real estate property owners. Many existing business-led Neighbourhood Forums have a balance of business and resident representation on their steering groups (e.g. Hyde Park and Paddington, Central Ealing, Mayfair, Spitalfields). We also feel, as an existing community organisation, and through our extensive business network, that Love Wimbledon is very well placed to facilitate a dynamic dialogue between residents, businesses, and real estate interests. We are currently in the process of surveying key sectors we work with to explore this further. In terms of the Plan Wimbledon constitution, whilst businesses can join they do not appear to have a vote on the plan as businesses as a sector, and there appears to be no recognition of property owners or asset managers, which we find surprising given that the proposition to include a major metropolitan centre, but once again most likely relates to the unwieldy size of the proposed area.

 

The consultation launch date of 12th April is unfortunate with so many businesses just emerging from lockdown and as mentioned above, we are currently polling a cross section of businesses and property owners to get their views.  Early indications are that 90% of businesses from a range of commercial interests do not support this resident led neighbourhood plan including the Town Centre and verbal feedback from a recent Strategic Leaders Forum also supported this view.

 

We are receiving comments such as: –

“There is adequate planning control exercised by LB Merton. Further layers of control will add to an already lengthy process and will make Wimbledon a less attractive place in which to invest.”

“There is already in place a planning framework, it may not be perfect, but it is fair and provides the local neighbourhood an opportunity to put forward their concerns.”

 

Whilst we therefore do not support the inclusion of the Town Centre, we have offered to work with Plan Wimbledon using the significant technical support that is available from the Locality Aecom National Support Programme to try and identify areas of agreement between us and PlanWimbledon which could then be written up into a ‘Statement of Common Aims’.

 

Love Wimbledon is an established community organisation with a defined border and extensive relationships built up over the last nine years. We have invested significant time and resources working through the complex issues with CBD stakeholders relating to the spatial future of the CBD and believe that we are best placed to explore the opportunity of organising a business-led Neighbourhood Forum for Wimbledon Town Centre.

 

We urge all of our businesses to have their say by responding to Plan Wimbledon’s proposals here.

Facilitating New Partnerships: RSPCA & Centre Court

Love Wimbledon often facilitates collaboration between Wimbledon businesses and local organisations, and recently helped RSPCA Wimbledon find much-needed storage space in the town centre, so that they can continue their animal welfare work.

When Putney Animal Hospital closed last year, RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth & Sutton District Branch lost their Cat/Kitten Rehoming Centre, situated on the site. The branch manager, Laura Kennedy, approached the Love Wimbledon team to see if we could help the branch to find suitable premises to store their equipment and supplies for their animal welfare work in the area. The RSPA branch also supports Wimbledon Foodbank with a Pet Foodbank, and accepts and processes donations for their two charity shops in Earlsfield and Wandsworth. It was crucial to find available space to organise these vital activities.

Kevin Gallagher, Operations Manager at Love Wimbledon, approached the Centre Director of Centre Court Shopping Centre, Simon Plumb, to see if he could help. Simon kindly agreed to supply a unit (free of charge) for an initial 6-month period to Laura, and the whole branch, who were delighted and relieved at the news. Kevin commented: “It is great that Centre Court could step in and support this local branch of a national charity. Another good example of Love Local, at this difficult time.”

“We deeply appreciate this help from the business community of Wimbledon Town Centre, which in turn will allow us to continue our work supporting animals and vulnerable pet owners in our area. We would like to think it is the start of a great partnership”

– Carmel Suthons-Saker, Branch Chair, RSPCA Wimbledon

Laura, Branch Manager at RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth & Sutton also added – “many thanks to both Kevin from Love Wimbledon and Simon from Centre Court for helping us through this difficult situation, it has been a real lifesaver!”.

Love Wimbledon are a conduit of partnerships such as this, which support a great cause, build new connections for our businesses and bring further exposure to our town centre.

 

Plan Wimbledon Consultation

Aerial photograph of Wimbledon Town Centre

A consultation is due to start on April 12th for residents and businesses to decide on the designation of a Neighbourhood Forum for Wimbledon. This would lead the way to consultation and subsequent development of a Neighbourhood Plan that would then be put to a referendum.

Neighbourhood planning is a right for communities introduced through the Localism Act 2011. Communities can shape development and impact on planning applications in their areas through the production of Neighbourhood Development Plans (often referred to simply as Neighbourhood Plans), Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. Only one organisation or body can be designated as a neighbourhood forum for each neighbourhood area.

The group called PlanWimbledon are proposing a large area for the Neighbourhood Plan of which Wimbledon Town Centre, as the main central business district, would be a small but very significant part. What has been highlighted through this, is the opportunity this presents to Wimbledon Town Centre to consider developing a business-led Neighbourhood Forum and so as a result we will be proposing this within our objectives for our third term and are therefore unable to support Plan Wimbledon Forum.

Apply for the EU Settlement Scheme

Businesses that employ EU, EEA or Swiss Citizens should encourage their employees to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) before 30th June 2021 to continue working and living in the UK.

This toolkit contains key information to provide employees about the EU Settlement Scheme, including eligibility and support.

Employees who would like advice about their EUSS application can contact:

  • Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth provide specialist advice to people who work in Merton. To access the support email eusettlement@caml.org.uk or telephone 07796 931 724
  • Polish Family Association offer digital assistance and general advice. To book an appointment call them on 07917401064, or email info@polishfamily.org.uk.

Find additional information about the EU Settlement Scheme through Gov.uk or Merton Council and Brexit advice for businesses here.

Darwin & Wallace Wins Publican Award

Inside 601 Queen's Rd bar

Darwin & Wallace, a collection of unique neighbourhood bars, including 601 Queen’s Rd in Wimbledon Town Centre, has won a Publican Award for best drinks offer.

In a recent virtual ceremony, the Publican Awards honoured pub companies across the UK that have continued to excel despite a difficult year and in the face of utter chaos. The hospitality sector has been among the hardest hit by the Coronavirus outbreak which has been devastating for many businesses.

In their 30th year, the Publican Awards are the stand-out event for pub companies throughout the country. With the awards seen as ‘the ones to win’, and attracting hundreds of entries each year, these are the industry awards for the leading pub companies.

For more information about Darwin & Wallace and 601 Queen’s Rd click here.