Ilford needs to ‘adapt or die’

PUBLISHED: 11:50 12 June 2018

Street ambassadors. Picture: Paul Nixon

Street ambassadors. Picture: Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon Photography 01473430707 07904296577

From the daily commute to the nightly putting the children to sleep, life can feel like a survival of the fittest competition at times.

Residents and businesses can ask them questions. Picture: Paul Nixon Residents and businesses can ask them questions. Picture: Paul Nixon

This mantra is not just applicable to people and Ben Collins, Manager of Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) said the town centre need to adapt or face death.

The organisation works on behalf of almost 400 businesses in Ilford town centre to create an attractive, welcoming, vibrant and economically successful trading area.

Mr Collins has seen Ilford change in the six years in his role but said we are approaching the most exciting period in the town’s story.

“The town centre needs to change and BID and the local authority realise this,” he said.

Street ambassadors. Picture: Paul Nixon Street ambassadors. Picture: Paul Nixon

“We have got regeneration taking place at the former Harrison and Gibson development and the council are looking and at swimming pool and more leisure facilities.

“We can be the key driver to help the centre adapt to be what it needs to be and deliver a town centre experience fit for what people expect these days- people want more of an experience.”

Mr Collins said it is important the BID objectives are created in line with Redbridge Council to “maximise the opportunity Crossrail brings” and it is not just about taking on services that have been reduced.

“The buzzword is very much opportunity - it is Ilford’s time,” he added.

Ben Collins, Ilford BID manager. Picture: Paul Nixon Ben Collins, Ilford BID manager. Picture: Paul Nixon

“Everything BID does has to be additional, we can’t just pick up on local authority services because of the cuts.

“If it enhances the experience we will do it .”

The organisation has previously invested in more police for the town centre and has also launched a street ambassador project.

You may have seen people in blue/ purple tops walking around and residents can ask them questions and go to them for help.

These centre services are only possible if businesses in the area vote for BID to continue.

Every five years a mandate is produced and businesses along the High Street, Cranbrook Road, Clements Road and by Roden Street have to agree to it and pay a levy to fund it.

If the majority agree to the new objectives at a vote in October 2018, the plan will roll out in April next year.

“If businesses don’t vote the BID in we are not here to do it - it’s like a tap if you turn it off it will stop,” he added.

“We want to make Ilford an experience not just a high street - it is about adapting to survive.

“We want to make the town centre enjoyable and give it a mixed use. “Diversifying the town centre will bring people in and allow residents to enjoy it. It is not just about leisure but it will give people a reason to come in.”

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