- Bromley Council propose to stop providing all support to Town Centres by removing Town Centre Manager (TCM) posts, including the TCM for Beckenham and Penge. Bromley hope to implement a Business Improvement District (BID) where businesses pay a levy and manage their own Town Centre affairs in Beckenham and Penge as they have done in Bromley and Orpington. Usually BIDS are implemented whilst maintaining TCM support to ensure a seamless transition from Council support to the BID (this is how the Council implemented the BIDs in Bromley and Orpington). For Beckenham and Penge there will be no TCM for 18 months to 2 years until a BID is implemented and there is absolutely no guarantee Beckenham and Penge businesses will agree to a BID. We could end up with no TCM, no BID and a run down town centre. The Council are doing this at a time when Beckenham is just about to embark on its most significant public realm improvement in 30 years. The Beckenham TCM has played an integral part in the TfL funded improvement scheme for the last 3 years and to remove the TCM post just before work commences is madness.
Read more about the proposal that goes to the Renewal and Recreation PDS Committee next Tuesday 26 January 2016.
The Beckenham Town Centre Team (chaired by the Copers Cope Area Residents Association, and including the Beckenham Business Association, Beckenham Society, West Beckenham Residents’ Association among others) and the Penge Town Team have written the following letter requesting the Renewal and Recreation PDS Committee REJECT this proposal.
“This is a joint letter to you from the Beckenham and Penge Town Centre Teams with the support of our Town Traders’ and Business associations. We are writing to you because we believe that the changes proposed in Agenda Item 7d will be harmful to our town centres and in particular will make it more difficult for you to reach the agreed Council policy on Town Centre Development.
The Beckenham and Penge Town Centre Teams were formed from traders and residents to help pave the way towards the replacement of traditional Town Centre Management with BIDs, in accordance with council policy. We share and support your determination to make this process a success. However, we have been dismayed to learn that under this proposal both remaining TCM positions will be made redundant from April 2016. We have been working to your previous timetable which continued our traditional Town Centre Management for a further year. We appreciate that the replacement model of employing one dedicated BID officer on a 2 year fixed term contract will allow a greater focus on promoting the BID process but we believe that neither of our towns are currently in the position to take this forward without the expected support of a TCM.
The immediate loss of TCM risks undoing the achievements of recent years; the process of transformation will become self-defeating making the acceptance of a BID by local traders less rather than more likely. Neither of our local business associations are currently enthusiastic supporters and more direct work needs to be carried out.
The justification for attempting to implement a BID without TCM support appears to be a belief that replacing a TCM with a dedicated BID officer will speed up the process. By changing your approach, you will in fact put the whole process in these towns at risk. History supports our contention. LBB successfully implemented BIDs in Bromley and Oprington whilst maintaining TCMs throughout the process. This is a formula that works, enabling the Council to drive through a BID and provide a seamless transition.
The scope of the proposed dedicated BID officer is unrealistic. It will not be possible for one person to successfully implement 2 BIDs (in Beckenham and Penge), be the liaison point for the existing BIDs (in Bromley and Orpington), provide phone TCM support by phone to businesses, Town Teams and other bodies (as suggested by Martin Pinnell) and manage any cross over from the Beckenham Public Realm Improvement and Penge NHB proposals. Put simply, having only one resource will not speed up the process.
The prosperity of a place is measured by its centre, whether this is a High Street or a small shopping parade. We believe the accelerated removal of all TCM support will result in lower standards. It will become more difficult to resolve issues arising from litter, commercial waste, street clutter, fly-posting, empty shops etc., and this will be detrimental to the amenity, vibrancy and prosperity of our towns. Convincing business to go into BID whilst simple issues go unresolved (as there is no TCM) will make the process more difficult and one BID officer will not have the capacity to assist.
We also question the Council’s timings. Support from traders is more likely after the current improvement schemes have been implemented rather than during a period of significant change. Our towns cannot be without TCM support during this period.
The report argues that only Beckenham and Penge have dedicated Town Centre managers implying that other places have no support. In fact, the TCMs have provided assistance for events, town initiatives, and streetscape issues in West Wickham, Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Biggin Hill amongst others. All these town centres will be disadvantaged by the proposals. Volunteers will not have the expertise nor the time to take on these responsibilities.
Town Centre Management is not just about Christmas lights, markets and town centre promotions; it is about improving local amenities for local people. Beckenham has recently been awarded the Prestigious Purple Flag for a well-managed night-time economy, having made changes that make Beckenham safer and more pleasant for revellers, businesses and local residents. It is the first place to achieve this status in the borough and one of only a handful if places in London. This aspirational achievement was product of the TCM and Town Team working together. The assessors were especially impressed by how TCM led this co-ordinated approach between council officers, police, businesses and residents associations and how well these groups worked together. It would be remiss of the Council not to support maintaining the Purple Flag whilst a BID is being set up.
The recommendation in the report asks you to support implementing BIDs in Beckenham and Penge by the withdrawal of TCM. You are being asked to make this decision before a feasibility study of the likely success of a BID in Beckenham and Penge (wholly different towns to Bromley and Orpington) has been undertaken. If this proposal goes through, the BIDs could fail simply because of lack of TCM support in the crucial build up period.
For our part, we support BIDs for our towns and want the process to be a success, To achieve this, we believe the Council should revert to the original plan to retain a TCM for a further year. Further funding is available to support the BID process and small amounts could be released from the TfL proposals for Beckenham and from the NHB proposals for Penge. Running both the TCM and BID for just one year would lead to a more positive outcome for the Council and for our towns. We call on the Scrutiny Committee to reject the officer recommendation in this report and ask for further consultation to develop a proposal which has a greater chance of success.
We hope you will consider our comments in the positive way they are intended and support our desire to make the BID process a success in both Beckenham and Penge.”
In the current climate we are concerned that all proposals to save money get the green light regardless of their chances of success. We encourage local people that are concerned about the loss to Town Centre Management support to voice their concerns asap by 17.00 Tuesday 26 January 2016 to:
- Your Ward Councillors
- Clock House: Vanessa.Allen@bromley.gov.uk, Ian.Dunn@bromley.gov.uk, Sarah.Phillips@bromley.gov.uk
- Copers Cope: Russell.Mellor@bromley.gov.uk, Michael.Tickner@bromley.gov.uk, Stephen.Wells@bromley.gov.uk
- Kelsey and Eden Park: Alan.Collins@bromley.gov.uk, Peter.Dean@bromley.gov.uk, Diane.Smith@bromley.gov.uk
- Penge and Cator: email@example.com, Kevin.Brooks@bromley.gov.uk, Peter.Fookes@bromley.gov.uk
- The Renewal and Recreation Portfolio Holder and the current head of Town Centre Management: Peter.Morgan@bromley.gov.uk, Martin.Pinnell@bromley.gov.uk
- The Renewal and Recreation PDS Committee: Ian.Payne@bromley.gov.uk, Michael.Rutherford@bromley.gov.uk, Douglas.Auld@bromley.gov.uk, Julian.Benington@bromley.gov.uk, Peter.Dean@bromley.gov.uk, Alexa.Michael@bromley.gov.uk, Neil.Reddin@bromley.gov.uk, Michael.Tickner@bromley.gov.uk, Angela.Wilkins@bromley.gov.uk, Anna.Begley@bromley.gov.uk
- Please also cc us in at firstname.lastname@example.org