An open letter to Sarah Hayward, leader, Camden Council

We are writing to you as local residents to express our very serious concern at the proposal to create a business improvement district (BID) in Fitzrovia. We are astonished that the council has agreed to support a ballot without consultation with residents and small businesses.

We are aware that there is no statutory obligation for the BID company to consult those who are not potentially liable to pay a levy on their business rates, but this does not prevent the Council from engaging with residents and small businesses and discussing this proposed part-privatisation of our streets.

Residents and local groups have over the years have been pro-active in engaging with the Council to develop positive policies for this area and most recently working with the Council and local landowners to produce a Fitzrovia Area Action Plan. Against this background it is astonishing that the Council has not chosen to discuss the BID proposal with us. Under the relevant statutory instrument the council has the power to veto a BID proposal if it is in conflict with any policy adopted by the Council. We believe that the proposed BID is in direct conflict with the Council’s objectives in the Camden Plan. This specifically says:

“We want to renew local democracy in Camden by getting back in touch with residents of Camden so that they in turn feel better connected to the Council. That way Camden will feel more like everyone’s Council.”

In addition the mixed-use character of Fitzrovia with the many small businesses and residents makes it unsuitable for a conventional BID. A point illustrated by the fact that only about 230 large businesses are eligible to vote in the ballot but more than 1,200 businesses and more than 2,500 residents are totally excluded from the process, hardly compatible with the Council’s commitment to democracy and engaging with local residents.

Under the proposal there is no involvement of residents or small businesses to deliver priorities for the expenditure of monies raised by the BID. If a BID were considered appropriate for Fitzrovia it would have to be structured in a way which overcomes the identified shortcomings of the current proposal.

We urge you to exercise the Council’s power to veto the BID as currently proposed.

Yours sincerely

Linus Rees
Max Neufeld
Guy O’Connell
Clive Jennings
Eddie Duke-Low
Nazreen A. Subhan
Peter Whyatt