In Conversation With…
Camden Town Unlimited and Euston Town were pleased to host Sir Keir Starmer, the incumbent candidate for Holborn and St Pancras MP, at a forum with our members on Friday 5th May. The event featured an insightful discussion on the key policy issues affecting local businesses, including Brexit, HS2 and business rates. Given Sir Keir’s role as Labour’s Brexit spokesperson, members were particularly keen to discuss how to get the best outcomes for business during the Brexit negotiations. There was broad agreement that access to European talent pools should be preserved as a priority, giving businesses flexibility in their ability to fill skills gaps in their teams.
The redevelopment of Euston Station for HS2 was also discussed. Concerns were raised that the construction process could see local communities disrupted for a twenty year period. It was acknowledged that many important commitments have been secured from HS2 Ltd on compensation and mitigation over the past few years, and going forward it will be vital to hold HS2 Ltd to the promises it has made to the Camden and Euston areas.
On business rates, all were in agreement that there is a need for long term reform following the unprecedented rates-rise that hit London firms in April. There was particular interest in exploring options that tax businesses after they have experienced growth in profits rather than taxing business based solely on property value.
Altogether, the event was a great success and future business forums will follow to address the pressing issues affecting our businesses. So watch this space.
Camden Council Leader Georgia Gould and Cabinet Member for Finance, Technology and Growth Theo Blackwell joined us for our second ‘In conversation with…’ event. The discussion covered ways to build on the strengths of Camden’s business community as a unique knowledge quarter and improve the area as a place to do business, as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by business rates, Brexit and HS2.
There was interest in growing Camden to be the ‘home of innovation’ with greater fusion between its successful tech and creative sectors. A key part of this will be local business input into the STEAM curriculum that Camden Council is developing for local skills, to ensure that the right skills are being nurtured to support these sectors and that those who live in the area will be able to benefit from the jobs local businesses are creating. There was also strong interest in strengthening connections between small businesses and large international companies based in the area, and facilitating greater fusion of business growth in King’s Cross with growth in Camden Town and Euston. BIDs were mentioned as an important part of this development.
Hope was expressed that business rates devolution will enfranchise businesses in London. There was agreement that it is time to begin preparing for this to ensure that Camden’s businesses can see tangible benefits from the business rates collected locally. There was also agreement on the importance of preserving Camden’s position as a gateway to Europe post Brexit and communicating strongly to HS2 that the redevelopment of Euston is a unique opportunity for the area and London that should not be missed.
On the topic of HS2, the favourable outcome discussed was a joined up approach for each station to minimise the impact on the local community. The need for a master development partner to understand the objectives of all local communities was of paramount importance. The benefits of developments such as Kings Cross and in the future, Euston must be felt by people who visit, live and work here.
All involved hoped that this discussion would be the beginning of an ongoing conversation between local businesses and Camden Council, especially as the Council seeks to develop its plans for the area post 2025 and explores opportunities to use its procurement process and property holdings to benefit local business needs.