Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The new kids on the municipal block

Regeneration is no longer just the preserve of Whitehall and town halls. Sub-regional bodies and their private sector partners are aiming high and getting things done.
The capital is adjusting itself to some new realities. Whether Londoners realise it or not, the traditional pillars of national and local government are increasingly absorbing the views of sub-regional bodies and their private sector partners. In the new municipal landscape, these entities are driving local economic growth and trying out some new ideas along the way.
Beyond SW1 and City Hall, London has a myriad of organisations that are picking up activities and taking responsibility simply because they can. Whilst the main players shrink and endlessly remind us that there’s no money, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Business Improvement Districts and the Cross River Partnership (let’s call them ‘public-private partnerships’ for now) are aiming high and getting things done.
BIDs will, from time to time, spring up in London’s commercial hotspots. Outwardly their remit is limited to improving the look and feel of their local surroundings, but they are often the organisations that are the driving force behind major regeneration. BIDs are funded through a fee levied on firms operating within set boundary areas; hence they have real money to spend on improving business conditions. BIDs operate in a similar way to LEPs, not least through their reliance on private sector members to make investment decisions.
The Cross River Partnership is a shining example of just how influential these organisations can be when they collaborate. Consisting of seven central London local authorities and 15 BIDs, it has a cross-London remit, allowing it to deliver on major projects funded by the European Union and other institutions to bring significant change and huge benefits to the capital.
Together these bodies occupy the new landscape. Their private sector outlook and spendable resource means they can think bigger and act quickly when opportunities present themselves. In many respects the traditional behemoths of local and central government are effectively relegated to a supporting role rather than a leading one – a role they’re not always comfortable with. Where once new local players might have been told what was what if they started getting too influential, the austerity agenda has loosened the command and control instincts of the traditional local authority-led approach to project management.
The opportunity for local authorities and government departments is clearly to adapt to this changing landscape and start trying to work out how to make the most of its dynamic players – let’s have a minister with specific responsibility for LEPs and BIDs for example, or greater collaboration between local councils following the example of the Cross River Partnership.
The outposts of local and central government should more readily view and accept the leaders of public private partnerships as willing and able associates with whom strong local alliances can be formed. With vision and drive, the new organisations on the block can move forward during the age of austerity and I am confident that London is well placed to adapt to this new landscape.
Simon Pitkeathley is chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited, private sector co-chair of the Cross River Partnership and chair of the London Enterprise Panel’s European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF) Committee
He tweets at @pitkeathley

CTU May Video Blog

We've been sending out surveys to find out what you love about Camden, what needs to be improved, and where CTU should be focused. We're delighted that a majority of you have recognised a real improvement across the board since CTU was voted in, and from the feedback so far we recognise real concerns to include business rates, small businesses being pushed out and retaining the character of Camden. All of these things we lobby on, shout about and strive to continue to make real a difference! If you would like to fill in this survey, please do so, we'd love to hear from you!

We're very excited that a new BID is in the pipeline to cover Euston - improving this area for businesses will of course be beneficial to Camden too. But more information on that another time! 

The Mayor of Camden is hosting a breakfast on May 15th. It's a great chance for us to catch up with business leaders of Camden, gauge what you're happy with and what needs to be worked on, and continue to serve your interests as best as possible. All BID members are invited - please get in touch if you haven't received an invite yet! You can RSVP to 

And finally, Bridge the Gap - an event held by the Mayor on May 28th to celebrate the amazing diversity of Camden. Create and repair relationships, embrace differences, enjoy a variety of local art and music - be there!

That's all for this month! Subscribe, get in contact, tweet us, like our Facebook page - we want to hear from you!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Dec Video Blog

Nov Video Blog

Oct Video Blog

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

CTU Sept Video Blog

Monday, 20 August 2012

Third option for micro biz finance

I keep speaking with micro businesses, and people trying to help them, about access to funding.  It's obviously a perennial problem and one that all governments seem to struggle with, never mind the entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses and thereby our economy.  The obvious solutions come in two forms.  Either you borrow from the bank, assuming they'll lend to you and you have the stomach and acres of time to deal with them, their forms and their constant monitoring (I once received a threat of a £50 fine from my bank for failing to complete a minor form on a loan I'd already repaid), or you gift large amounts of equity to equally time consuming, and hungry, investors.  Neither option is terribly appealing or that practical to your typical micro business person, struggling to build their business.

But I recently came across another solution.  How about a bigger business, who's nervously sitting on it's cash, taking a micro under it's wing, in return for some equity, and giving it access to itself?  Bigger businesses can usually borrow at silly rates right now and have access to economies of scale.  What what if  it took a suitable start up, in the same sector, under it's wing and grew it just by letting it have access to the same facilities it uses?  The benefits to both businesses are obvious, especially as the parent gets to effectively grow new talent from within (take a look at what Google's up to) without having to put very much in place.  We all know that growing entrepreneurs from within a workforce is almost pointless yet these are the people you need if you're going to stay ahead.

Can't say more at this stage but let's just say that I learned about this idea from personal experience.  The real trick for the economy would be for government to find a way to facilitate this sort of thing on a wide scale.  I've no idea which economic model it fits into, but it feels like a market intervention worth pursuing to me.

CTU Aug VBlog

Friday, 8 June 2012

June CTU Update