23 October 2007
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH COUNCIL CHIEF EXEC BY SOUTHWARK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Q You have now been in office for over a year. What would you say have been your main achievements to date and what would you hope to do in the future?
Being provocative, CEO's don't achieve anything. It's a team effort. My job has been to get the organisation into shape to represent the needs of the people of Southwark.
I've made progress this year. Some of the main achievements have been:
* Securing £220m to refurbish our secondary schools;
* Increased recycling to help reduce the Carbon FootPrint;
* School results have improved and there is hope of a new future for our young people;
* Improving Council Tax collection;
* Remarkable progress has been made in reducing crime and fear of crime. The overall crime rate has been reduced through a strong partnership with the police;
* Selection of the commercial development partner for the Elephant and Castle;
* The Woodene Estate is now being demolished;
* Significant reduction in teenage pregnancies, enabling many more young people to concentrate on their education.
Q London is likely to be regrouped into four sub-regions instead of the current five sub-regions, from 2008. This could mean that Southwark will be in London South East rather than Central London.
How do you see this impacting on Southwark?
I’m not convinced it will happen. It will not work. Southwark needs to be seen as Central London, which it is!
Q The main concern of businesses in Southwark is law and order - crime and fear of crime. What can be done to overcome these problems?
This is a complex problem. The Home Secretary told me last week he is going to commission a study to have an in-depth look at this problem and has included Southwark in this exercise.
Q Many small businesses in traditional business areas are suffering from the problems relating to access to their premises. What measures could we take to improve the situation for them?
We need more partnership working. We need to improve things. We have to find out what is getting in the way - but not about getting people into cars. We need to make places accessible by public transport.
Q Some 80 per cent of the jobs in the north of Southwark are provided by eleven employers. What can be done to strengthen the diversity of the business base to increase future growth prospects in the context of the knowledge economy and reduce the employment risk of major relocations?
Unless we upskill the local population then businesses won't diversify. We work in a number of ways to support business. It requires a complex intervention. Southwark Council itself is to relocate 2000 staff into London Bridge (Tooley Street).
Q Southwark is one of the few local boroughs without its own business loan scheme. Why can't Southwark introduce a £5000 loan scheme to help locally disadvantaged people have a better chance of starting their own businesses?
Worth considering. It would have to be a political decision. We would also have to find out if this proposed scheme was really wanted in the first place.
Q BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) are now established in two affluent business areas of Southwark. Is it not possible to start BIDs in the many disadvantaged areas of Southwark? Should we not be supporting and pioneering DIDs (Disadvantaged Improvement Districts) as well as BIDs?
This issue is complicated and challenging to get local businesses in disadvantaged areas to be interested.
Hon.Vice Presidents of Southwark Chamber of Commerce - appointed to High Office.
Right Honourable Harriet Harman MP QC has recently been elected to become the Vice Chair of the Labour Party and under the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been appointed Leader of the House of Commons.
Right Honourable Tessa Jowell MP has been appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Minister for London and Minister for the Olympics.
Southwark is very lucky to have two high calibre politicians representing the people of Southwark and the Chamber would like to wish them well and give them full support in their future work.
Hon. Vice President Honoured at Southwark Cathedral.
Terence Driscoll a long serving and dedicated member of Southwark Chamber, who passed away this Summer, had his life long achievements celebrated at Southwark Cathedral.
This was a rare honour for a local businessman, who had a long connection with Driscoll House at the Elephant and Castle.
His contribution to the local community will be missed by all. The Southwark Cathedral service was attended by the Chair of the Chamber, Patrick Blunt, Ken Hayes, Nancy Hammond and John Smith.
Why Your Business Should Join the Chamber of Commerce
The Southwark Chamber of Commerce was established in 1924 to represent business interests in Southwark. The reasons for joining the Chamber in 1924 are just as valid today. The Chamber provides one voice, maintains close liaison with our three high profile MPs, Simon Hughes, Tessa Jowell and Harriet Harman, the GLA family of institutions (including TFL and LDA) and other influential bodies.
The Chamber also provides: a non-political platform for exchange of views; free business advice and information with an entry in our Annual Directory and a page on our website; an opportunity to meet fellow members at social gatherings (Ascot, Golf, Boat Trips, garden parties; trade visits and above all providing strength in numbers - making sure YOUR voice is heard.
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