Mike Gapes MP wrote the following article for the Ilford Recorder’s ‘View from the House’ column:
“Many local and national businesses face great uncertainty. Those importing goods, or dependent on employees from other EU countries are worried about the disastrous implications of a No Deal Brexit. All face massive competitive pressures. Several household names recently ceased business or are in administration. In any competitive market economy there will inevitably be business failures as well as successes. But the move to online shopping and unfair competition from low tax or tax avoiding companies like Amazon who do not have to pay business rates threatens traditional shops. Local Ilford institutions Fairheads, Harrison and Gibson, Owen Clark and Bodgers are gone. We also recently lost local branches of Toys R Us, Maplins and Homebase. Sometimes a replacement company takes over such as Wilkinsons replacing Woolworths at The Exchange, but often we see a decline of diversity and too many take aways, charity or betting shops . I am pleased that the Ilford Business Improvement District ballot was successful and it will continue for a third 5-year term. I know that Redbridge Council is working with the BID to respond to current challenges facing and to support diversification of the town centre.
Redbridge Council has also published ambitious plans for regeneration, new housing and a new market.
However these plans will be fatally undermined if there is a continuing deterioration of public perceptions about Ilford. As a local resident and regular user of Ilford Station and bus stops on Cranbrook Road I know from personal experience how unpleasant that can sometimes be. Crime, aggressive begging and open drug dealing around Ilford Station is a matter of deep concern. I regularly raise these issues with Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police. I know they both face severe budget pressures. I understand arrests have been made and uniformed and plain clothed officers of the Met and the British Transport Police have recently undertaken operations to tackle drug dealing and child sexual exploitation. It is essential that much more is done, with an effective long term programme to clean up the Town Centre and make it safe and welcoming.”