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Opinion: West Ealing businesses unite over the failure of the Business Improvement District to support the area

Businesses in West Ealing have come together as Businesses Unite, a collective of over 60 businesses in the area who are against the renewal of the Business Improvement District. They say the current arrangements for the West Ealing BID have failed local businesses with more than 90 businesses closed in recent years along with ongoing crime and violence increasing in the area. 

They share why they are voting no for West Ealing BID.

“Why is it time for Vote No for the West Ealing BID? West Ealing has been part of the Business Improvement District (BID) since 2019. The BID is now due
for renewal and will have a further term of 5 years.

“Over the past 5 years the BID had a total levy of £ £1,050,000 which was collected from the local businesses in the area.

“The levy was to be used for:
• Safety and Security
• Collective Business Voice
• Place Promotion and Events
• Environment and Placemaking
• Local People, Local Jobs

“Whilst the BID has been ongoing the crime in the area has increased, so much so there are over 90 businesses which have closed, due to financial difficulties, at least in part, impacted by shoplifting, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour. The budget expenditure for the next 5 years has been cut
from £154,000 to £22,500 for Safety and Security. This will not help reduce crime and prevent businesses from closing or staff being assaulted.

“One store stated they had to display empty boxes on the shelving to prevent shoplifters taking goods, even though the business lead was unhappy with the local store managers decision. A new business which has recently opened has stated that shoplifting is rife and they can’t do anything to stop it.

“The BID states it is the Collective Business Voice, however many businesses have not had contact with any of the BID team asking for their input in over two years. With the 90 businesses closing, where is the voice to help those? The BID states they have been negotiating discounts for key business costs, this is not the case for 70+ businesses who have had no assistance or advice whatsoever in this respect.

“No events have taken place since 8 September 2018, yet there was £258,500 over the five year term which was allocated for Place promotions and Events. So where has the money been spent? In the next five years it is proposed the expenditure will be reduced to £22,500. A reduction of £236,000. £154,000 was allocated to Environment and Placemaking, stating street management would monitor issues to ensure streets are ‘clean and safe’.

“After speaking with businesses who have been in West Ealing for over 30 years it is clear the area is ‘unsafe’ due to the anti-social behaviour and blatant carefree drug taking. Hanging baskets and lamp post banners just don’t cut it when the streets are so dirty. Free recycling and Pest control was offered at the beginning of the term in 2019 which then changed to ‘Limited’. Many businesses have described the recycling as poor. Hefty and disproportionate fines have been levied on businesses for incorrect labelling and other minor errors.

“The BID has clearly failed to provide the service promised and has let the business community and local residents of West Ealing down.

“The original BID was intended and promised to deliver safe streets and a clean environment in an effort to increase footfall and support businesses in uncertain times.

“This has failed to be delivered. There has been a total lack of support, no voice for businesses and dirty streets. The final insult has been the use of aggressive and unauthorised bailiffs in an attempt to pressurise for payment.

“There is a belief that those who do not cause problems for the BID team are given preferential treatment.

“Over £262k was spent in the first 5 year term for office fees and salaries to run BID and for the proposed new term this has increased to £335k. The question remains, why should local businesses have to pay for this when they are struggling to survive in the present economic climate?

“This amounts to an extra ‘tax’ burden for struggling businesses, when the business rates should be covering the services already.

“What is the West Ealing BID doing for the businesses? Nothing!

“What happens next? Businesses can now take back their voices and unite. As a collective the businesses can be part of Business Unite where we can negotiate cheaper services, for example, Recycling, Pest control, Water and Energy. A website to show transparency with complaints by businesses to the council, with all responses posted on the common website.”

For more on Businesses Unite, click here.

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