Has Croydon Council abandoned all hope of attracting a large, private sector business to take up some of the tens of thousands of square feet of empty office space in the town centre, much of it due to be vacated by the likes of Nestle or Bank of America?
That seems to be the implication of a statement by Vidhi Mohan, the Conservative-run council’s cabinet member for economic development, in announcing Enterprise Week in the borough.
“Croydon’s future will increasingly look to small and medium enterprise owners,” was attributed to Mohan in a statement issued by the Ministry of Truth at Taberner House.
“As the UK’s economic trends change increasingly it is the SMEs who will drive the UK’s economic growth.”
So not the banks, even following the multi-trillion pound bail-out to save the economy? And not the property speculators, despite the urban regeneration scheme which Croydon Council has backed with at least £450 million of public money and property?
Some may find it odd how quiet our council has gone over the bullish promises that leader Mike Fisher and the CEO, Jon Rouse, were making about the need to roll the dice with public money on the property market.
It is beginning to look as if Mohan and his buddies running Croydon Council have admitted defeat and given up on attracting another major blue chip to the centre of town – where Mohan is a councillor for Fairfield ward – to replace the exiting Nestle and Bank of America, with the near-2,000 jobs that they will be taking with them when they leave in the next few months.
Certainly, promises from the local MP, Gavin Barwell, of a government department re-locating to Croydon from Whitehall have come to nowt.
There are other signs of the lack of economic progress in central Croydon. A feature in The Observer at the weekend about the undeveloped Ruskin Square site – which owners Stanhope have shelved until they have a major business on board to pre-let the tracts of office space they want to build at East Croydon – has prompted some reactions that suggest that there remains no immediate prospect of building work beginning on the key site.
It is against that background that Croydon’s Enterprise Week is to be staged over the next week.
Running from November 5 to 10, there is a range of events intended to assist existing Croydon SMEs and those interested in trying to start a business.
A joint initiative by Croydon Council, NatWest Bank, Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA), the week includes one-to-one sessions, workshops, seminars and a Dragons’ Den competition.
Topics covered range from an introduction to small business start-up and an introduction to social media for your business to writing a business plan, what a bank looks at when asked for funding, training opportunities, social enterprises and collaborative working.
Booking is advised as places are limited. The itinerary and online booking forms are at www.croydonenterprise.org.
Enquiries are via firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8253 1266.
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