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…..

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.

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.

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…..

Council approve plans for “urban district” at Minoco Wharf

Design by Ballymore – submitted to Newham Council

Bloomberg are reporting today that Newham Council have given “preliminary permission” to developer Ballymore to build over 3,000 homes in the Royal Docks.

The project still needs approval by the Mayor of London but Minoco Wharf looks set on having a residential district along with bars, restaurants and shops. There’s also plans for 5,000 square metres of office space.

A variety of factories currently occupy the site and it’s next to the fairly unknown Lyle Park. The developer hopes that this will be the catalyst for regeneration of adjoining sites.

Disused warehouse on current site

Newham councillor caught up in parking protest

Councillor Ian Corbett, executive member for Environment and Infrastructure, found fame on video sharing site Youtube recently.

The East Ham Central councillor was out shopping when a group of business owners confronted him over parking fines.

The video shows Saroja De Silva March, owner of the Discount Warehouse, asking for his response on the parking fines her husband has been charged.

The amount owed is believed to be over £5,000 and these protesters are disputing this charge as they believe they had parked on their own property.

Forced labour at the Olympics – a different kind of business

In my last blog post, I looked at the possibility that there could be an increase in sex trafficking in East London during the Olympics.

But UK based human rights charity Anti-Slavery International thinks that the problem is more wide ranging than this. They fear that unscrupulous bosses and even criminal gangs could use the Olympics as a cover for exploitation of all kinds.

Paul Donohoe is from the organisation and had this to say….

Photo: vividbreeze/flickr

The Olympics has attracted a lot of investment to East London. And as we get closer to the event itself, there will be an increased need for construction workers, restaurant and hotel staff and casual labour. Paul Donohoe says that people from poorer parts of the world will be attracted by the prospect of earning a decent wage.

They know there will be an increased demand for casual workers and they might believe people who will offer them jobs at good wages and conditions. But he says…

Unfortunately in many cases people are exploited and instead of receiving their promised wages, they are paid a lot less. That wage may then be offset against a transportation and accommodation cost which they have to pay to the employer. This means that people who work are actually paying off more than they earn and end up with no cash at all.

It is not uncommon that at the end of their working time, they are still in debt to their employer which forces them to go home empty handed, if they can return home at all.

He explained that this type of ruse is really common. And the charity’s concern is the risk that the Olympics has in increasing the extent of this problem.

The charity believes that the government is not doing enough. But what is Anti-Slavery International doing to combat the problem?

The charity predicts this could affect other parts of the UK too. Paul Donohoe called it a ‘weird pull factor’. As jobs seemingly become available in East London, people might move from other areas of the country and this could in turn have a vacuum effect. So trafficking and forced labour could increase elsewhere too.