Business Rate Payers Consultation

Merton Council is to meet with businesses to ask them about their views on the council’s budget and business plan proposals.

 

Leader of the council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis will be at the civic centre on Thursday, 20 February 2020, 6pm – 7pm along with council officers and cabinet members to answer any questions and address concerns business owners may have about the proposals for 2020/21 and the business plan 2020-24.

 

The meeting is part of the council’s annual consultation with businesses on the financial decisions it has to make to balance the budget and plan for the coming four years.

 

Details of the proposed Business Plan will be considered by cabinet on 24 February 2020 and will be available on the council’s website after the meeting.

 

The Government designated a pan-London business rates pool in 2018-19, which piloted 100% retention in that year, and this was revised to pilot 75% retention in 2019-20. The Government confirmed in September 2019 its intention not to renew the London pilot in 2020-21, and for London to revert back to the pre-existing 2017-18 67% retention scheme (which was a partial pilot, reflecting the incremental impact of the rolling in of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and the Transport for London investment grant).

 

For 2020/21, London boroughs and the GLA have collectively agreed to continue to operate a Business Rates Pool based on the 67% scheme across London and distribute the financial benefit to each participating authority on an agreed basis.

 

The aim of the Pool continues to be to improve the well-being of the communities served by the participating authorities in London. By working together, they can retain a greater proportion of business rates growth within London, providing additional resources to support local communities and strengthen financial resilience following a decade of significant funding reductions.

 

In returning to the 67% retention scheme for London, London boroughs will receive a share of 30%, the GLA a share of 37% to reach the total 67% retention scheme, with the Government receiving the balance of 33%.

 

Merton Council recognises the importance of a vibrant local economy and the role local businesses play in creating jobs and prosperity. The responses to the consultation will all be considered as part of the business plan which will be finalised at full council on 4 March 2020.

 

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “I am a small businessman myself and was spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses so I understand businesses and how vital they are to the economic success of the borough. As a council we have adopted a business-like approach to our services and to the financial decisions we have to make. So I value greatly all our discussions with the business community when we get to hear their thoughts on what we’re doing and how we can continue to make Merton a place that’s business-friendly.”

 

For more information, and to confirm your attendance, contact Elaine Connaughton. Elaine.Connaughton@merton.gov.uk

 

Making Way for Change

Vibrancy of Wimbledon Town Centre

January is a time for reflection (albeit only briefly!) and as we gather up pace for our host of activities in 2020 we look back on what made Wimbledon wonderful in 2019. It was the year of culture, of art, of diversity at a time where some saw division, we saw hope. Wimbledon couldn’t have been prouder to be the home of the UK’s first rainbow crossing created by Merton Council saying many things from welcome all, to brightening up school children’s and theatre goers experience as they crossed our Broadway. We collaborated with an environmental artist highlighting the plight of house sparrows, birds that were common rather than rare, bringing free accessible art to all whilst enriching Wimbledon’s cultural scene.  

The thing is with Wimbledon we aren’t renowned as a tech quarter or the heart of the creative industry or a financial centre, we are a place that has diverse businesses that thrive on being with each other and just like it here because, well its Wimbledon. (and easy to get to and from by train, tube, tram, bus, bike or feet….!) Wimbledon has seen improved footfall, reduced crime and increased investment in office refurbishments providing high quality floor space. 

But it’s not just that this has strengthened our town centre’s look and feel, there’s a wider impact. There’s the, almost 100% positive response about these activities, from the businesses who choose Wimbledon, the people who work here, the visitors who use it and the residents who want a better town centre.  There’s an overwhelming sense of ‘feel good’ and in these challenging times of high streets and retail, it’s good to see a town centre step forward and buck a national trend.  

So will the trend stop of talking down our high streets, rather than looking at how they are adapting to change. We may have seen the inevitable closure of Debenhams here, but we have a growing, popular independent department store – Elys, which has adapted to changing customers’ needs, absolutely getting the Wimbledon customer. The Debenhams closure will bring opportunities: opportunities to do something different, adapt to the market and bring new energy into customer experiences.  This adaptation hasn’t been felt since large out of town shopping centres sprung up in the nineties ‘killing high streets’. The High Streets adapted, they recovered, they morphed into a new experience, but they came back.  

It’s time for High Streets to fight back. Let’s look at what we can do, rather than what we can’t and let’s make way for change. 

Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ Street Art

In collaboration with artist Louis Masai and local photographer and culture campaigner Cindy Sasha, Love Wimbledon enhances the allure of Wimbledon Town Centre with a recently-installed street art feature. Named ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, this stand-out art is inspired by the need to raise awareness of the decline of British birds in London, particularly the House Sparrow, which is renowned for its birdsong and seen as a vital part of urban life.

Brought to life by street artist Louis Masai, who is often best-known for his dynamic and inspiring wall murals of endangered animals, this new art features a male  and female house sparrow inferring the question of ‘where has the sparrow song gone’. As well as adding to the visual appeal of Wimbledon Town Centre, this art carries a strong environmental message, reflecting how birdsong has reduced over time, due to the population decline of this bird species.

According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), there has been a severe decline in the UK House Sparrow population, estimated as dropping by 71 per cent since 1977, which has led to the classification of these birds as a species of high conservation concern. Based on the hit single ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Icelandic musician Björk, the title for this art directly links to the disappearance of this species and their birdsong which could have a profound impact on human health. These natural sounds have been linked to improved mental and emotional health amongst humans, acting as the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life.

This installation also ties in closely with Love Wimbledon’s commitments to changing the landscape of Wimbledon so that it is a popular, attractive and interesting place for all. As said by collaborator Cindy Sasha, “street art can change a landscape of a town centre. I love it when the love spreads through art and sends such a positive message – we need more of it!”.

The presence of this street art helps to add to the appeal of The Broadway and energises the Wimbledon Town Centre. Enhancing the vibrancy of the town, directly benefits the businesses situated within the area, through means such as increasing footfall numbers. This is even more important given the current situation facing high streets across the UK, with more and more consumers leaning towards online shopping from large e-commerce retailers. Bringing a free piece of art to the streets of Wimbledon strengthens the arts and culture scene in the area, as well as acting as a driving force to encourage consumers to leave their homes and visit the town centre.

Love Wimbledon create and fund a variety of cultural and environmental notions in Wimbledon Town Centre, including previously installing the first rainbow pedestrian crossing in the UK, in partnership with Merton Council, to show support to the LGBTQ community in the area. This addition of this new wall art helps to enhance the Wimbledon experience and adds to the notion that there is more to Wimbledon than what meets the eye.

 

“This collaboration has brought an important message to Wimbledon, whilst also developing a stronger and more vivid cultural strategy for visitors to experience the town centre. The art is impactful, meaningful and has had a positive response from business, visitors and local residents.”

Sally Warren, Love Wimbledon

 

Find this new street art piece on Alwyne Road, off Wimbledon Hill Road, in Wimbledon Town Centre, and help to support this message.

 

Winter Wonderland brings Christmas to Wimbledon

 

Love Wimbledon’s Winter Wonderland brought a joyous warm glow to our town centre on Sunday 1 December.

 

With The Broadway closed to traffic, thousands of visitors filled the streets, enjoying festive entertainment, tucking in to traditional treats and getting hands-on with a host of activities for all ages. Shoppers were also treated to a huge array of unique and handmade gifts, including original art, homeware, clothing and accessories from local artisans at our Christmas Market.

Thank you to the businesses in Wimbledon for supporting the event, namely Centre Court Shopping Centre for the spectacular fireworks display, New Wimbledon Theatre who provided Cinderella cut outs for photos and Sticks N Sushi, a new addition to the array of delicious food stalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parking Charges Increase in January 2020

The cost of car parking in Merton Council’s car parks and on the streets in Wimbledon will be increasing on 14th January 2020.

 

Businesses will be aware that Love Wimbledon has been continuously lobbying to oppose these price increases by Merton Council. The reason for this increase is based on the need to improve air quality in the town centre.

Love Wimbledon is very supportive of initiatives that are likely to improve air quality and are working on a number of initiatives, such as recently planting 250 trees on Hartfield Road, as part of the The Woodland Trust’s ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ programme. However, this hike in parking prices will not impact buses and through-traffic, which create significant emissions for the town.

We are lobbying GLA and TfL to assist with this, for example, by changing their policies to introduce a cleaner bus fleet, as we strongly believe that raising parking charges by such a high percentage will have a detrimental impact on people’s perceptions of visiting the town – pushing them out to retail parks and further incentivising online shopping.

Read more on Love Wimbledon’s parking campaign and our work to oppose this price increase, including our response to Merton Council’s Parking Consultation.

We would of course also encourage you to use public transport wherever possible to reduce emissions and congestion in the town.

Please note that whilst the Merton Council car parks and on-street parking are increasing, Centre Court and The Bridge car park prices will remain the same. For further details on these parking charge increases, visit the Merton Council website.

Support Local Businesses this Christmas

In light of the fast-approaching Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas Day, Love Wimbledon is urging businesses to encourage their employees to shop local this festive season and help to support small local independent businesses, charity shops and markets in Wimbledon Town Centre.

It is evident that online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years, with buying behaviour changing rapidly too. Now more than ever, consumers are buying and returning more items online, with next-day delivery and free returns becoming the new standard. Often shoppers buy clothes online with the expectation of returning them, with recent figures suggesting that almost half of what consumers spend online, is returned.

What is often forgotten is the environmental impact of these few mouse clicks, which is becoming increasingly relevant given the current state of climate change. Despite its advantages, shopping online has a large impact on the environment. Shopping online often means receiving more packages within multiple deliveries, typically from delivery trucks or vans, with excess packaging used, including single-use plastic. Compare this to shopping locally, where consumers tend to use their one trip to their local town centre to combine tasks, e.g. purchase Christmas presents, grab some groceries and browse through a bookstore.

 

Photo Credits: First Mile

 

Shopping local, also means that the money spent stays local. In other words, rather than adding to the profits of multi-national chains, this money goes into the pockets of your neighbours in the community. By choosing to shop local, this money could be helping a family-run independent business, who’s owners are trying to fund a new bike for their child. Local businesses tend to be smaller, produce less waste than their enormous counterparts, and usually buy locally, live locally, and therefore create less air pollution and traffic.

Love Wimbledon is passionate about sustainability and as a business, we look wherever possible to reduce our environmental impact. Whether this is through managing a single-use plastic free market or using local businesses as suppliers, we ensure we have sustainability on our agenda within all our planning.

 

“By shopping locally at our independent businesses, charity shops and our market stalls, you are helping to keep the character and diversity of our town centre alive. Shopping online also means losing out on receiving great customer service and often, local businesses offer good value and outstanding, personal service all year round, bringing a warm, welcoming personality to a town centre whilst building that all-important sense of community and belonging”

– Helen Clark Bell, CEO of Love Wimbledon.

 

Go one step further this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, by resisting the urge to sell more and instead opting for recycling or reusing initiatives instead, which help reduce the demand for new products and their associated carbon footprint. Your business can be more efficient by considering sustainability issues. These can include your supply chain, reducing your overhead costs, interrogating your waste streams to improve your recycling rate and generally support the business community in the Wimbledon Town Centre.

Love Wimbledon has teamed up with award-winning, zero to landfill, recycling and waste company First Mile, to help businesses make terrific savings through waste collections and recycling. To find out more information on sustainable cost-saving schemes offered by Love Wimbledon, visit our website.

 

Photo Credits: First Mile

 

Shop smart and shop local this season, and urge others to do the same. Wimbledon is full of great independent stores including Fayre & SquareFieldersAubergine Art GalleryHealth Zone and Phokas Barbers, as well as charity stops, including the National Institute for African Studies charity shop,  Cancer Research and Oxfam, and is home to our highly successful Christmas Markets. Opt against contributing to overproduction and the environmental impact of this, by going green this Black Friday and supporting our independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, Saturday 7th December.

 

Join our vision to ensure a brighter future for Wimbledon and help to strengthen our town centre businesses.

Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge

Sustainable Merton, Merton’s leading environmental charity, is bringing the first Community Fridge to the borough.

This meaningful project offers an exciting opportunity to stop edible surplus food from going to waste, and instead make this available to those who are struggling to afford to eat. The Community Fridge is essentially just a big fridge, located in an accessible, friendly space, where individuals and businesses can donate fresh edible food and members of the community can take what they want or need.

Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge project has been selected to participate in the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2019, the U.K.’s largest match funding campaign running from 3rd – 10th December 2019.

This means that the first £2000 in donations made via theBigGive.org.uk to the Community Fridge project during this week, will be matched and thus have twice the impact.

The aim is to raise a minimum of £10,000, which will contribute to the set up, running, maintenance and management of Merton’s first Community Fridge.

The need for food assistance in Merton is rising. Between 2015 – 2017, the number of residents accessing local food banks increased by 33%. At the same time, huge amounts of good food is going to waste, filling up overflowing landfill sites and producing greenhouse gases. Many local businesses and residents would be willing to donate fresh food if they had the opportunity, and a Community Fridge in Merton will provide this essential link that does not exist in the borough at present.

Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge will be a valuable contribution to the community, contributing to reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and food poverty. With the support from individuals and businesses, we can make a real difference to the lives of local people and protect our environment by keeping good food out of the bin and into the hands of those who need it most.

To find out more about the Community Fridge initiative, visit the following link.

Businesses Asking the Questions

Ahead of the General Election, Labour and Conservative politicians wanted to engage with businesses and provide a platform for local businesses to get their voices heard. We were pleased to be able to provide this opportunity for local businesses to meet the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, and the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid.

 

In an effort to get the business voices of Wimbledon heard, Rt Hon Sajid Javid recently visited the town, providing a platform for local businesses to question the current Chancellor of the Exchequer. Topics covered included infrastructure projects, employment and business tax. Naturally, mention of Brexit was also raised on several occasions. A range of businesses attended from retail to accountancy, the built environment to tech, enabling a discussion of the challenges that face different businesses in the area, both now and in the future.

In order to ensure a bright future for Wimbledon, Love Wimbledon lobby on a range of policies that could influence Wimbledon Town Centre, including Crossrail2 and Business Rates. This gave us the opportunity to wave the Wimbledon flag and that of our business community.

With the help of Love Wimbledon, Labour politician and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, also met with Wimbledon businesses.

A variety of small to medium businesses attended from different sectors and discussed issues around the broadband strategy, the future for the construction industry, employment issues, access to finance and land value tax to replace business rates.

Love Wimbledon BID is very keen to help our businesses to have their voice heard at strategic forums on the key issues affecting them, whilst also keeping Wimbledon town centre highlighted as a strong and attractive business base.

 

Welcome New Board Members

Angela Attah CIPD Christopher Kitley Elys

 

We would like to extend a warm welcome to Angela Attah and Christopher Kitley, new members of the Love Wimbledon Board.

Angela is Director of Legal and Governance at CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Through their expertise and research, CIPD drive positive change for business members in Wimbledon.

Christopher is General Manager at Elys, an iconic department store located in the heart of Wimbledon for over 140 years.  Part of the Morleys Stores umbrella, Elys of Wimbledon has remained competitive by taking a customer-centric approach to retail by connecting and responding to demand from the community.

The Love Wimbledon Board is made up of representatives of the Wimbledon Town Centre business community each bringing their own expertise whilst also representing our BID businesses with regards to sector, size and location within the town.

 

Find out more about the Love Wimbledon Board

Love Wimbledon Plant Over 250 New Trees

Probably the longest native woodland hedge in Wimbledon!

 

Love Wimbledon always strives to reduce it’s impact on the environment. Thus ahead of National Tree Week and in conjunction with the Woodland Trust’s The Big Climate Fightback, Love Wimbledon has pledged to help fight the climate emergency, by planting over 250 new saplings in Hartfield Road.

As well as being one of the best ways to fight a changing climate, planting trees can help to improve air quality and protect biodiversity in urban areas. Younger trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at a rate of nearly 6kgs per tree.

This means that the new hedge planted by Love Wimbledon will absorb approximately 1,500kgs of CO2 and have a significant impact upon air pollution in Wimbledon. This is especially significant given that the majority of buses in Wimbledon Town Centre, pass through Hartfield Road, in addition to cars, lorries, taxi’s and vans.

Love Wimbledon’s double-row hedge features a variety of species including Rowan, Hazel, Cherry, Elder and Crab Apple trees.

 

These saplings have been carefully selected to offer beautiful blossoms, bright berries and stunning autumn displays, whilst also acting as a connection for existing woodland so that wildlife stay on the move.

 

Trees are essential for people, wildlife and the environment. They absorb carbon, fight flooding, reduce pollution, nurture wildlife and make landscapes more resilient. But given the alarming rate of global warming on our planet, reducing our carbon emissions will never be enough.

 

‘It is vital that we grow a UK-wide patchwork of trees and woods – not just by planting, but also through natural regeneration. The woods, hedges and green spaces we create buffer existing habitats, tackle climate change and reverse wildlife decline – all at the same time’.

– The Woodland Trust

 

This comes as part of the ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ programme run by the Woodland Trust, and funded by SainsburysPeople’s Postcode LotteryYorkshire TeaJoules and Selfridges.

For more information on what Love Wimbledon are doing to improve air quality in Wimbledon Town Centre, including the Adopt A Tree campaign, visit our air quality page.