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…..

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Business owner fears third Olympic upheaval

A building contractors, currently situated within the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, could be forced to move location for a third time due to the Olympic Games.

The company was initially based where the Olympic Stadium now stands. They received a compulsory purchase order in 2005 along with over 200 other businesses. This forced them to temporarily move to Beckton. Poor communications and transport links in Beckton nearly destroyed the firm, so they moved back to Stratford eight months ago. Now plans to build a university campus on the Carpenters Estate has once again thrown their future into doubt.

The director of P.A. Finlay, Nick Athienitis, told this website that despite a healthy workload, the stress of the moves has caused financial problems and has broken family ties. In the interview below, he details how the company has had to relocate and how the threat of another move is affecting the business.

PA Finlay offer a wide range of services, ranging from large construction works to general maintenance. In the audio slideshow below, Nick explains a bit more about the type of work the company does.

‘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?

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.