Many locals will remember that the offer of shops around Cheapside used to be limited. But a lot has been done to invest and improve the area. But the City of London has worked side by side with businesses located around Cheapside since 2007 to promote the area as a retail and leisure destination. Once a medieval trading market Cheapside has again become an attractive destination for visitors and people who work locally – with a great retail offer anchored by two hubs: One New Change and Royal Exchange.
In 2015 local businesses and the City of London Corporation established a Business Improvement District for Cheapside. This alliance has been actively supported by some local Councillors, and if I am fortunate to be elected to represent the Ward of Cheap, I will add my active support for local businesses, because it is essential we keep Cheapside a vibrant place to do business. I therefore recently met up with the Director of the Cheapside Business Alliance to discuss priorities going forward.
Boundry map of Cheapside Business Improvement District
A Business Improvement District (BIDs) is a geographical area in which local businesses have voted to invest collectively improve their environment. BIDs are business-led organisations funded by a mandatory levy on all eligible businesses. In 2014 local businesses were consulted and 5 key priorities for Cheapside were proposed:
- Employment, Enterprise and Training
- Signage and Way finding
- Tourism and Culture
- Business Awareness and Networking
- Marketing and Promotion
One of the initiatives has been to support the ‘Heart of the City’ initiative promoting Corporate Social Responsibility of local businesses to support our communities, for example looking at apprenticeships. The Cheapside Business Alliance also works with a dedicated employment service to help city residents and neighbouring communities find jobs locally. In 2015/16 this led to 56 job starts.
Youth employment is something I am passionate about as my previous role as Communications Director was for Ingeus – a company offering employment support globally – and I am a Trustee of Working Chance – a charity looking to give women ex-offenders (and their families) their independence back through employment.
Another important initiative is work to improve the local environment and air quality. Last week Cheapside volunteers helped with a City-wide initiative to raise awareness of unnecessary ‘idling’ of cars.
The team has also been successful in putting Cheapside on the map as an interesting area to visit not just during the week, but also in the weekends. Indeed, who hasn’t brought visitors to the terrace on One New Change to admire the views of the Thames and St Pauls?
If elected as local Councillor I will actively support these initiatives, and in particular use my marketing and communications experience to promote Cheapside as a great place to work, visit and shop. I will also work with the London City Police and the Cheapside Business Alliance to engage with businesses on local policing priorities and road safety.