Croydon Enterprise Week: small business our last hope?

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?

Nestle Tower: soon to be vacated, and probably turned into flats. The council’s failed to find a major business to replace the jobs lost

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

Enquiries are via or 020 8253 1266.

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3 Responses to Croydon Enterprise Week: small business our last hope?

  1. One of the problems with the three old parties is that, for different reasons, they are only interested in large businesses. The majority of employment in Britain is in the SME sector and that is where most of the economic growth will come from.

    Of course UKIP has been saying this for years. It is nice when the three old parties finally catch up.

    Peter Staveley, Chairman, UKIP Croydon

  2. Why not take a leaf out of Germany’s book there new funding plan for SMEs is going great guns not very country in recession has no idea of how to get out of it!

  3. Jonathan Law says:

    Croydon’s town centre has become a disgrace and a joke. Smaller businesses were overlooked or driven out to make our TWO shopping malls the same as every other identi-kit mall in the country – no individuality or special shops that would make you want to come to Croydon. Then the parking charges are so high that when you consider that Croydon doesn’t have anything to make you want to visit it to shop more than any other place – the shoppers choose to go elsewhere.
    I have lived here for over 40 years and Croydon was rife with shops when I was younger and your shopping trip could take you from the Swan and Sugarloaf all the way to Broad Green – loads of good interesting shops run by small independent traders.

    You get the feeling that in recent decades the town centre management lobbied for all the attention to be paid exclusively to shops in North End, Drummond Centre (Centrale) and the Whitgift centre, as many visitors are unaware of the life that exists beyond the tram line or West Croydon Station. Of course this wasn’t helped at all by the DISASTROUS Park Place non-development that ensured that many of the other smaller and much valued businesses were forced out. The loss of Turtles toolshop/ironmongers is still felt and mourned by huge numbers across the borough. Clas Olsen is a welcome shop but doesn’t begin to touch what Turtles offered the town.

    Why the heck do we have 6 Express supermarkets (Waitrose , 2 x Sainsbury and 3 x Tescos) in the run from East Croydon to The Swan and Sugarloaf) which really don’t serve a wide enough range of foodstuffs as they insist on giving over much shelf space to alcohol and newspapers and magazines, when in fact we have more than enough newsagents & convenience stores that would offer that facility. In fact it is easier to buy a pint of beer than a pint of milk in Croydon now.

    What is amazing is the range of stuff that you CAN”T BUY IN CROYDON.
    For example: we no longer have a decent fabric shop or haberdashery (that I know of).
    We don’t have a proper Computer shop either – Currys Digital /PC World is NOT a proper computer shop.
    However if you want a pawnbrokers, or a bookmakers or somewhere to buy booze you are in luck!
    Some mobile phone companies have 3 or 4 ranches in the middle of Croydon – not exactly variety.

    I’d love to see all the empty shops and units in Park Street, St Georges Walk and Katherine Street turned over to small businesses or pop up shops at rates that could allow them to flourish.
    We have empty buildings that could become indoor markets with offerings ranging from antique furniture to secondhand records to alternative clothing stores or handmade tailoring.
    It could be like what used to be found in Camden market, High Street Kensington, or Affleck’s Palace in Manchester if allowed to flourish.

    Simple fact is that the shops in Croydon town centre no longer serve the needs of the borough’s residents very well

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