Stephen Timms MP answers your questions

I met up with MP for East Ham Stephen Timms and put some of your questions to him.

We spoke about some of the most common and pressing concerns that businesses in Newham have with regard to the Olympics – having to change delivery times, transport problems, lack of communication from the council, and a relaxation of Sunday Trading laws for example.

He told me that he’s pushing parliament to allow businesses located near the Olympic Park who have incurred costs to be able to claim compensation.

Click below to find out how and to watch our discussion…..

‘If the ground goes, we go’ – the family business that wont survive without West Ham

Nathan’s Pie and Eels Shop is a family run business that’s been in East Ham for over 75 years. And it’s been at it’s current location on Barking Road with the Boleyn Ground just behind it since 1974.

Photo: Rosebud 23/flickr

The shop does most of its trade on football days when West Ham United play at home. And hungry fans queuing for an hour to sit down to traditional pie and mash or jellied eels is a sight to behold.

Upton Park Stadium, as it is otherwise known, has a total capacity of over 35,000. That’s a lot of hungry customers!

Photo: Not Forgotten/flickr

But West Ham might be leaving the grounds they’ve been in since 1904.

Owner Richard Nathan

They are among 4 bidders seeking to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after the Games are over. The club had looked set to seal the deal last year, but this fell through after talks with prospective partners Newham Council collapsed in October, following complaints from Tottenham, Orient and another anonymous bidder. This time OPLC, the Olympic Park Legacy Company has offered the stadium on a 99 year lease basis rather than a permanent one.

Owner Richard Nathan told me that if West Ham goes, Nathan’s is going too. He said that the area has changed dramatically over the last few years. And with most of his regular customers moving away, it’s the match days (20 in a year if West Ham is doing well) that provide the bulk of his trade.

He has other sites in mind – but they’re definitely not in Newham.

When I asked him how the Olympic Games will affect his business, Richard told me that he thinks that despite serving up quintessentially East London fare, he’s too far away from the Olympic Stadium to benefit from increased footfall.

But for Richard and other businesses on Barking Road, the West Ham move is a much bigger concern, and they’re watching the progress of the bid with baited breath.

Local pub faces an uncertain future and says the Olympics ‘hasn’t done them any favours’

Carpenters Arms Landlord and lady

The Carpenters Arms located just metres from the Olympic Site on the Carpenter’s Estate in Stratford faces an uncertain future as the borough continues to undergo radical changes. Regeneration in the area resulting in road blocks and houses and factories disappearing from the vacinity have led to a dramatic decrease in business. We spoke to the landlord Seamus on a Friday afternoon. He told us that just two years ago the place would have been packed. When we were there, there were only 3 other people in the pub.

And now plans for a new UCL campus in the area are causing further worries.

When asked whether he thought the Olympic Games would bring increased business to his pub, he said he couldn’t be sure, as the council haven’t informed him about new entrances and exits to the road the pub is located on.

Seamus told this website that he would like to be able to make plans for the future, such renovations and improvements, but doesn’t know whether the pub is coming or going…..

Ask MP Stephen Timms

We will be interviewing MP for East Ham Stephen Timms next week.

Photo:ICAEW Press Office/flickr

He has been MP for the area since 1994, having previously been Labour’s MP for Newham North East. He’s the shadow minister for employment and was formerly financial secretary to the treasury.

Stephen Timms was elected to Newham Council in 1984 and chaired the Planning Committee from 1987 to 1990, before serving as Leader of the Council from 1990 to 1994.

He has lived in the East London Borough of Newham since 1979. He has concentrated on regeneration in East London – including regeneration partnerships, the Thames Gateway initiative, Stratford international station on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and the Olympics in Newham in 2012.

We plan to put some of the concerns we have heard from small business owners and workers over the course of the last few months to him. These include the effect on businesses of road closures, VIP lanes and congestion, compulsory purchase orders, problems of forced labour, how changes to Sunday Trading laws could affect businesses and much more.

If you have any questions you would like us to ask, please tweet us on @2012newham or leave a comment on this site……

We look forward to hearing from you!

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?

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…..

‘London’s secret weapon’ – and how the Olympics is inspiring the business people of the future

Much has been said and written about the effects, both positive and negative, of the Olympic Games on the borough of Newham in particular, and on London and the country as a whole.

But where did it all begin?

Cast your mind back to a time when we didn’t know whether London, Paris, Madrid, Moscow or New York would host the event. In July 2005 Lord Sebastian Coe led a delegation to Singapore to make its final presentation to the International Olympic Committee. Amoung the delegation was 30 young people from East London.

They have since been described as ‘London’s Secret Weapon’.

This is an extract from Sebastian Coe’s speech:

Why are so many here, taking the place of businessmen and politicians? It’s because we’re serious about inspiring young people. Each one of them comes from East London, from the communities who will be touched directly by our Games.

Most of these young people were from Langdon School. It’s a designated sports college, located just 5 km from the Olympic Site.

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I talked to Jan Ward, assistant head teacher at the school. She told me how the students were a key part of the Olympic bid and how, in turn the Olympics is inspiring their futures….

Here’s what some of the students themselves felt about the experience:

Year 8 boy:

Going to Singapore made me learn how much effort was being put into the London bid. It showed me how competitive the bid to get the Olympics was. All the cities that tried to win the bid all tried really hard. Paris has bid a couple of times before, just like London. However, we won! It will mean lots of jobs for the area, and it will be good for businesses and tourism. It will also give people the opportunity to see so many sports right here in London. I can’t wait to be there.

Year 8 girl:

From the experience of going to Singapore, we learnt a lot about other people and about ourselves. We learnt just what we are capable of.  Being there gave us a lot of confidence and encouragement to do more for sports in the future. Not only was this a phenomenal experience but it has also opened up doors to other things. All young people will benefit from this as we will now have the Olympics and it will encourage a lot more people to get involved. It will also open up a lot for careers as well as for sports. All the hard work that went into it really did  pay off. So Thank you for giving me this fantastic experience.

A training venue for Taekwondo 

This summer Langdon School will break up early on July 13th and hand over its facilities to London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG). The school will then become a training venue for taekwondo competitors. Up to 128 athletes will train at the venue every day and LOCOG expects that there will be 12 buses each day transporting the athletes to and from the Olympic village.

But they do not anticipate any disruption to local businesses which they say will be accessible as usual. The school will receive around £50,000 in return and will use the funds for infrastructure upgrading to roadways and fencing and also some redecoration for the sports hall.