Crimes against businesses in Newham drop in the lead up to the Games

In the last two years, Newham has seen a 45% drop in robberies against businesses. That’s significantly more than the London average drop of just under 15%.

Andrew Stanley from Andrew Stanley Woodworking says he hasn’t been ram raided since London won the Olympic bid back in 2005. Before that, being robbed was something of an occupational hazard.

His business is located just 600 metres from the Olympic site. He says a drop in crime against small businesses like his are one of the positive impacts the Games have had on the area.

Of the six Olympic host boroughs, Newham used to be the worst in terms of business robberies. But in recent years, as the following chart illustrates, there has been a significant drop in this type of crime, and the borough is now on an equal footing with Waltham Forest and Greenwich. The chart shows the number of business robberies in the six Olympic boroughs over a 10 year period from the year 2000. Notice how Newham experiences a surge in business robberies around 2005 and then a dramatic drop after 2007. The statistics are from the Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping and its Crime Mapping Data Tables.

Statistics from Met Police

But what’s behind the fall?

A key part of the winning bid was an emphasis on the social benefits of sport. In the run up to the bid almost £1m of government money was spent encouraging young east Londoners to engage in different sports. Over 64,000 young people took part in 26 different Olympic activities including fencing, swimming, gymnastics and boxing. Olympic ‘Gold Cards’ allowed young people to gain access to Newham’s four leisure centres.

And in 2005, the year of the winning bid, the number of young people in the borough making a first court appearance dropped by a quarter. This compared with a mere 1% reduction in other parts of London. Overall the figures for juvenile court appearances in Newham were down by just under 40%.

So it appears that promoting sport has had a beneficial by-product – it may have caused a dramatic reduction in Newham’s crime figures.

But Andrew Stanley has another more direct theory. He believes the drop in business robberies is down to the increase in policing and security in the area around the Olympic Site:

Security continues to beef up as the event itself approaches

Up to 12,000 police will be dedicated to policing on the busiest days of the Games, and about 9,500 of those will be in London.

And as the event itself looms large on the horizon, Chris Allison, the Met Police’s assistant commissioner and national Olympic security co-ordinator, successfully secured an agreement from chief constables around the country to postpone cuts to certain key areas such as firearms, explosive detector dogs, mounted police until after the Games.

But those reductions will be phased in after the Games. So will the borough of Newham continue to enjoy a drop in crime rates when the party has left town?

Developer chosen for Silvertown Quays regeneration

Derelict factory Millennium Mills on current site

The London Development Agency this week announced Chelsfield are the preferred bidder to redevelop Silvertown Quays.

The 50-acre site, which is part of the enterprise zone, is currently home to the derelict former flour factory Millennium Mills, which closed in 1984.

It’s thought it will cost £1.2bn to redevelop the site and the proposal includes 228,570 square meters of commercial and retail space, and 126,440 square metres of housing.

Design by Arup/AHHM – submitted to Newham Council

There’s also plans to include education, research and innovation centres. Work is due to start in the next two years and a completion date of 2018 has been given.

More on this story can be found here.

Data: Newham spending linked to deprivation

In an earlier post I detailed Newham’s spending as being the highest in London and the second highest per person.

Whilst this is hardly surprising as poorer boroughs need to spend more I thought I’d show this data with the aid of two heat maps.

The first is a map of the London boroughs scaled as to how much they spent per head in the tax year 2010/2011 (source: Audit Commission). You have to click on them and you’ll be taken to another site where you can zoom in and click on each borough to find out more details:

The second shows a map of the amount of people unemployed scaled against each borough. This data was produced by the GLA in 2010.

Newham leads the way for business start-ups

New figures reveal that in the last two years more businesses have started in Newham than any other London borough. The data also shows they rank second out of all authorities in England and Wales.

The findings were carried out by Experian and revealed by the BBC. They show that the number of businesses in Newham rose from 10,238 in early 2010 to 14,672 at the start of this year – an increase of 43.3%.

The main reason for this is the new Westfield Shopping Centre and the regeneration around the Olympic site. As well as the establishing of an Enterprise Zone in the Royal Docks.

There was also good news for neighbouring Barking and Dagenham which saw 7,685 new companies find their feet in the same time period.

This good news for the borough appears against a backdrop of gloom for London in general. The number of businesses in the capital dropped by 1.5%. Hounslow saw the biggest number of insolvencies, relocations and closures with a decrease of 3,169 businesses.

The alternative Olympics tour – this Saturday

Those over at the Site/Fringe project have planned a screening day for their finished film this coming Saturday. The production details how communities near the Olympic site have been affected by the Games. They’ll also be a walking tour conducted by one of the residents of the Carpenters Estate.

Six MA students from Goldsmiths University are behind this project along with CARP, The Friends of Queens Market and the Save the Atherton Campaign. The collected material from the event will become part of the Museum of London’s collection.

They’re meeting this Saturday 24th March at 3.00pm outside Stratford Tube Station.

Image courtesy of site/fringe

Living with Auntie: BBC granted permission to move into Carpenters Estate

Newham Council’s planning committee last night gave permission for the BBC and Al Jazeera to use two tower blocks overlooking the Olympic Park. From May till the end of September the top five floors of Lund Point and Dennison Point (pictured above) will change use from residential flats into a media broadcasting venue.

These blocks of flats form part of the 1960’s Carpenters Estate in Stratford. Since 2010 the council has begun a rehousing programme for tenants as homes are earmarked for redevelopment. Last year a deal was signed with University College London to look at the possibility of building a second campus in this area, much to the anger of current residents.

Al Jazeera image of studio to be built on the roof of Dennison Point – submitted to Newham Council

The towers are mostly vacant with around a quarter of the flats being used in both. In Lund Point (to be used by the BBC) there are five flats still occupied on the upper five floors, in Dennison (to be used by Al Jazeera) there are seven. Effectively, these tenants will be living within a media production centre throughout these five months.

The council has received written objections from twelve residents, most of whom were present at Stratford Town Hall last night. One was even allowed to keep hold of his placard inside the council chamber (pictured right).

Amy Brennan, who lives on the top floor of Lund Point, was worried about excessive noise from the studios. She said:

“How can I be expected to get a decent night’s sleep? I feel stressed and anxious at the mere prospect with sharing my building, my home, with a high-profile media organisation…shame on the BBC and Newham Council. Two organisations that exist to serve the public.”

She added:

“Why should we have to put up with this serious disruption to our daily lives? This discomfort in our homes? So that you Newham Council can make some extra money? You are capitalising on my discomfort, my ill-health and the discomfort of other residents.”

David McGinn, who moved into Lund Point six months ago, spoke on behalf of CARP (Carpenters Against Regeneration Plan). He brought up concerns regarding asbestos, something the BBC will have to tackle if they need to redesign the space for broadcasting purposes. He said:

“Newham Council informed residents awhile back that the reason the asbestos is still in the building was because it was too dangerous to move, that now seems to be no longer the case when there’s some money involved.”

He also mentioned his concerns regarding security and spoke about the ongoing regeneration project. He said:

“The council has been trying for seven years to move everyone out of the blocks for redevelopment. Having failed to do so, the council have now decided to redevelop it with the residents still in place.”

Jamie Hindhaugh, BBC’s Head of Production for the Games, was in attendance. He spoke directly to locals, responding to their concerns. He said:

“What the BBC are proposing is essentially a news coverage which is very much in a quiet environment, which the BBC will want to maintain throughout their period of occupancy there.”

It seems like the BBC’s hands have been tied. They couldn’t contact and consult residents until they had planning permission and in my view it looked as if the council hadn’t done a particularly good job in the interim. McGinn, allowed to speak again in what was turning into a very open and informal meeting, spoke about the building work that had already begun. He said:

“Why has it come to this? It’s because there’s been no engagement, no substantive consultation beyond this specific planning process. And we’ve been told by the [Tenant Management Organisation] that the council actually point blank refused to send a letter to the residents of Lund Point explaining what works were going on.”

The BBC, after reaching an initial agreement with Newham Council, has allowed all building work to be done by council contractors. It’s these contractors that have already dug two exploratory holes near the base of the towers and erected scaffolding.

Stratford Town Hall

Then the conversation turned to money. Prompted by a councillor as to what would make residents reason with the broadcasters, McGinn said:

“A discussion about actual financial compensation I think will not go amiss here.”

The chair of the meeting, Cllr Ron Manley, was quick to say that any agreement would be between the residents and the BBC and wouldn’t be a part of this planning application. Thoughts turned to the financing of this temporary studio. Cllr Shelia Thomas, Plaistow South ward, asked:

“How much money is the council making out of this planning application?”

Cllr Ron Manley responded that he didn’t have any idea but that all money paid by the BBC “will be ploughed back into sports and education for the borough”.

Despite the anxiety and anger shown at this meeting, representatives from the BBC and local tenants left on good terms and arranged to meet again to start more detailed discussions. Whatever its long term future, Carpenters Estate will be getting two high profile tenants for the Olympics. So when you’re watching the likes of Clare Balding, Gary Lineker, Hazel Irvine and Sue Barker this Summer – spare a thought for the people just metres beneath their feet, going about their daily lives.

Latest: Sunday trading laws may be suspended during Olympics

The Chancellor on Budget Day. Photo: HM Treasury

The chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce that Sunday trading laws will be suspended for 8 weeks from July 22nd during the Olympics and Paralympic Games in next week’s budget.

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 stipulates that shops over 280 square metres are restricted to 6 hours of continuous trading between 10am and 6pm on Sundays.

The government hopes that visitors to the Olympics will take advantage of the extended hours to shop before and after games events, thus boosting the UK economy.

But some MPs have already criticised the move saying that the Chancellor should have consulted first before making his announcement. Tory MP Nadine Dorries said this on twitter: ‘Arrogant to impose without debate and vote of whole house’.

The change will require emergency legislation which will have to be passed through the houses of Parliament and is likely to face opposition.

Without a change in the law, the three biggest souvenir shops at the Olympic village in Stratford would have had to close their doors before 6pm missing out on spectators leaving events.

Details of the plans emerged as Mr Osborne said in the Budget he wanted “to ensure it is the working person who gets most support”.

He is due to meet Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander to discuss the final details tomorrow.

When the idea has been talked about in the past, it has faced opposition not only from Church leaders and trade unions, but also from small businesses who fear that they will be the ones to lose out. The change in legislation would after all benefit those larger businesses, such as supermarkets, department stores, garden centres and retail parks who currently are restricted by the Trading Act.

And while the relaxation of the law is a temporary proposal, there are fears that if the change is economically successful it may become a permanent move.

These shopkeepers, all located very close to a big supermarket have differing views on the matter…..

Shaheen from T&S Halal Meat pointed out that the supermarket brings in custom to the area. Because he provides specialist products, he’s not concerned about the increased competition.

 

But for Thomas from Pep Traditional, a small convenience store, the change in the law is a real worry. he told me that Sunday is the only good trading day for them.

 

And Hassan from Costcutters agrees.

 

Let us know how you think this could affect your business…..