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Feb 14 2013

Cllr Kam Chana: Harrow Businesses Struggling to Stay Afloat

cllr_kam_chanaDear Editor

If there is one thing I agree with Cllr. Keith Ferry (Labour’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration) about, it is the important role our business community plays in Harrow. Fostering entrepreneurs, supporting our local traders and welcoming enterprise are vital in keeping our borough a place we are proud of. However, Cllr. Ferry is disingenuous to claim that an increase in business start-ups means his support for business having a “massive
impact”.

Yes, the number of business start-ups has increased, but it is unfair to paint such a rosy picture. You only have to speak to the owners, managers and supervisors of our businesses and they will tell you what is really happening. Many are struggling to stay afloat, to pay wages, and to settle bills. And Cllr. Ferry knows this, because the number of businesses in Harrow which don’t survive remains high, and other Outer London boroughs are growing at a much healthier rate. Prosperity is finding a home elsewhere.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Harrow, with the exception of Hounslow, ranks bottom…[/pullquote]In terms of total businesses in West London, Harrow, with the exception of Hounslow, ranks bottom – and while 4,530 new businesses were ‘born’ from 2009 to 2011, 4,155 businesses ‘died’. A business in Harrow currently has less than a 45% chance of surviving 5 years, meaning that the majority simply won’t make it. Declining revenue from business rates is estimated to have cost the Council in excess of £9 million since 2006, and Harrow is one of only 4 boroughs to experience such a decline since 2000; while others such as Hammersmith and Fulham have seen 90% increases. We’ve also seen the relocation of two of Harrow’s largest employers, GI Capital and Winsor & Newton, out of the borough.

Other boroughs such as Merton, Barking and Dagenham and Barnet have seen their proportion of new businesses rise between 3 and 4%; even neighbouring Brent have increased their proportion by nearly 1.5%. This is in stark contrast to Harrow, which, since the height of the recession in 2009, has only increased by a measly 0.3%. Cllr. Ferry can cherry-pick nice statistics for his press releases all he wants, but the overall trend points to Harrow not having the business environment it so dearly needs.

With increased localised powers for Business Rates, Council Tax and Community Infrastructure Levies being transferred, the Council has more tools at its disposal to prevent Harrow from becoming a dormant borough. Cllr. Ferry talks a good game, but can he honestly say his ad-hoc, ‘one night only’ and one size fits all, business advice evenings is him doing all he can to encourage investment in Harrow and support our local businesses? Harrow’s
business community deserves more from Cllr. Ferry and more from their Council – and they need it now!

Yours,

Cllr. Kam Chana
Shadow Portfolio Holder for Business
Harrow Council

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1 comment

  1. Morepowertothepeople

    I am sick Of Harrow Council and their press releases showing them in a great light, when the reality and truth is a large part of the time it is absolute codswallop! People this is not just about Cllrs lying through their teeth, it is more to do with Messrs Lockwood & Co burying anything that shows them in a bad light! This Borough is going downhill rapidly, and the powers that be in the Council only care about their next fat pay cheque! And if I hear them use the word ‘innovative’ one more time I shall scream!

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