Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Barkingside Degeneration

a drawing of an Oak TreeEditor,
I would first like to thank you for inviting the business partnership to your meeting on regeneration. I have to say with the comments from the public and council I felt as if I were on a merry-go-round. Everyone was going around in circles and getting nowhere.

I am not sure why it was called a regeneration meeting? With Ray’s comments in mind it was more of a degeneration meeting. With Lee Scott agreeing and backing everything but able to help with nothing! You had Mark and Keith agreeing that Barkingside needs regenerating and that it needs money spent on it but there is no money in the forseeable future.

I can’t say I know a high street in such a poor state as Barkingside with stores closing due to high rents and rates and limited parking. I also understand that the council also intends to extend the parking payment times in order to get more revenue.

I recently visited Harold Hill shops without an empty shop in sight and in which many were independents. It was nice to see greengrocers, butchers and tailors.

I also enquired as to the rates that they were paying of which on average was a third of that in Barkingside, no wonder they were full. If the council wants to see growth in this high street then they need to make it viable to trade. The council state that they do not get the money from our council tax the business’s pay but it goes straight to government, well someone decides what we pay and this should be looked into before there is no return for this high street.

When high streets were formed deals were made with big names to trade in Barkingside to encourage growth of which Woolworths is one. If they want this high street to thrive subsidies have to be made to the business there.

The partnership has tried to work with the council and offered other solutions but we are still playing the waiting game. We have asked for a walk around in order to identify more parking spaces, we have asked for a trial FREE parking day in the end car parks in order to free up some of the side turnings that traders use on a daily basis. We have asked for seating in the high street for the elderly.

I know from speaking to other traders that there are many that will not survive the next three years, action needs to be taken

Daniel Kaye
Barkingside Home Hardware

Treasurer to Barkingside Business Partnership.


  1. I understand Mr Kaye's frustration, but it's worth pointing out that the MP present at the meeting, Lee Scott, is not in Government, so cannot attempt to change laws we may perceive to be inadequate until his Party is in power.

    It is also up to the local business community to ensure that the Traders Association is lively and pro-active - has it applied for another Continental Market for instance? is it using the local knowledge and professional skills of our councillors to the full?

  2. Why was it called a regeneration meeting? It was called that because the expectation up to 7 April had been that the council would have announced its plans as to how to proceed with the public consultation and the feasability study. That expectation was dashed on 7 April at a meeting at the Town Hall when, in response to comments from Harry Moth and from me, it was stated that the funding to proceed had still not been identified or allocated. Ray's comments, as always, are Ray's comments (and usually acerbic!).

    I agree about the general poor trading health of the High Street. There are what I perceive to be three basic reasons. First there are poor trading conditions for individual traders, particularly specialist food shops in the presence of the ever-increasing supermarkets. The northern end of the High Street in particular needs a "magnet" business to attract more people. Second the country's present planning laws are far too lax and, in Redbridge, not adequately enforced. Third there is Barkingside High Street's crackpot traffic scheme and the level of parking charges.

    That is why a regeneration scheme needs to be launched today rather than next week. The first steps should be consultation - local residents, businesses, and users of the High Street who, whilst living perhaps a couple of miles away, regard it as their shopping area. Funding needs to be identified and allocated not only to carry out the consultation and subsequent feasability study, but also to pay for any refurbishment or improvement work. THIS MUST NOT BE PREDICATED ON REDBRIDGE COUNCIL FLOGGING OFF LAND, OR ENCOURAGING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORE GROTTY BUY-TO-LET FLATS IN THE AREA. It might be that "interested parties" would need to consider putting money up front.

    The business rate, and the rateable values of shop premises, are not determined by Redbridge Council. The Valuation Office Agency (part of Revenue & Customs) sets rateable values, and the government determines the business rate that is applied nationally. It is true that the council collects it on behalf of the government.

    Some flexibility in Redbridge Council's attitude to parking charges is required. I tried in my time there to persuade council officers to look at an initial free parking period. They said it could not be done. EPPING FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL CAN, SO WHY NOT REDBRIDGE? I know the answer to the question: the will is not there, and the "one size fits all" is too convenient.

    A major change of attitude is required by Redbridge Council. It is up to us to remain united in ensuring that the change comes.

  3. Stop all this pussy fotting around. I have lived in Barkingside for 60 years and remember very well what a lovely High Street Barkingside was. Gurrs Fishmongers, Eastwells Greengrocers,

  4. I can assure anonymous (whoever he or she may be) that I am certainly not pussy "fotting". My challenge to Redbridge Council is, get on with the job that you said last September you would do and stop deceiving people with half-baked, unfunded plans.

  5. Dear All I understand and share the frustration for action to improve and regenerate Barkingside,but wanted to put down what I am doing to help A) I am awaiting a petition from shopkeepers to present to parliament backing my calls for a strengthening in the powers that Local Councils have to enforce illegal shops and stalls this will then allow me to speak from the floor of the chamber on this and call for Government support ,B)I am talking to a number of new non conflicting with existing Businesses re coming to Barkingside some are already advanced and are doing foot fall studies and will then look for premises but that takes time and is outside both my own and council to say how long the process will take but it has been underway for some months now,C) I have offered to help get the monies needed and I am working with the council on this ,Barkingside is my local shopping centre where we shop I have lived here in the area all my life and want Barkingside to thrive and grow I believe by working together with Residents ,Shops and Barkingside 21,and all in area we can make a difference and change things for the better and pledge to continue working towards that goal Lee Scott MP Ilford North

  6. As usual, I am slightly on a tangent. I rarely go to Barkingside, not so much because it's Barkingside, just that I hate shopping (anywhere!) but, on two recent occasions, when I had to go to the High Street, I noticed two ladies who were 'not well' in the mind and behaving as if they were mentally distressed and I wonder if Barkingside High Street is used for housing people who should probably be cared for in safer conditions. Perhaps Barkingside High Street is more valuable (to the council) in this role and making it a more attractive proposition is not on the cards.

  7. We have lived in the borough for 15 years and I remember thinking how nice Barkingside High St was compared to Walthamstow High Street. It used to be a pleasure to shop in Barkingside, but it's been going downhill in the past 5 or 6 years in my opinion.
    Tesco should never have been given permission to take the Barnardo's land, this signalled the start of the closure of the little shops, like the ham and bacon shop that used to be opposite Superdrug, the camera shop opposite the pool, plus we lost the excellent fishmongers which was always busy until Tesco opened.

    Small shops can't compete, it's as simple as that. We already had Sainsbury's and Somerfield, so why did we need yet another supermarket? Tesco are notoriously bad at clearing up their trolleys, and other rubbish around their store so I think they have a totally negatibe impact on the High Street.

  8. I would dearly love to see a comprehensive regeneration of the Barkingside shopping centre but as has been commented this all takes a lot of money. The finances of the London Borough of Redbridge are clearly in a parlous state as evidenced by a comment made at a recent meeting of the Capital Programme Corporate Panel that the sale of 25% of the borough's assets will be needed to complete the Cabinet's ambitious capital spending programme; largely as a result of a massive growth in the school-age population; insolvency, it seems, is just around the corner.

  9. I would not call Redbridge Council's capital programme ambitious. It is self-evidently OVER ambitious, which is why they are having such trouble funding it. An old-fashioned principle is to pay for what you can afford.

    As to Tesco, the plans were actually refused by Redbridge Council, but allowed by a government inspector through the iniquitous appeals system.

  10. Let us face it Morris, its not their money they are playing with so they simply do not care about adopting a responsible approach to matters financial.

  11. Given the considerable increase in population because of newbuild in the Borough, surely income must be rising via Council Tax?

    Yes I know that the majority of Council income comes from Government Grants, but perhaps paying more attention to 'lost' Council Tax revenue per annum would also help?

  12. Perhaps, Judith, the issue is a matter of an increase in the numbers of children per household and not simply a matter of an increase in population; the more children there are to each household the greater the drain on local finances. A couple with just one or two children may cover the costs of their off-spring whereas it is highly probable that a couple with five or six children will be reliant to a substantial degree upon other tax-payers to cover the costs of theirs. Perhaps we have reached the point where child benefit should be limited to the first two children to each family unit; Oh dear I can already hear the cries of outrage!!!

  13. And what of the singles and childless couples on low income who have been hammered by the removal of the 10p starting tax rate?

    see BOM

  14. Fear not. Flash Gordon will sort it out - eventually.

  15. Having children is a lifestyle choice, why should the state subsidise that choice?

    Means test child benefit, just like other benefit, the money should go only to those who need it.

    Let it rain...