Business team bidding to shape Ilford’s future

Ben Collins and Wilma Sagoe in the high road

Ben Collins and Wilma Sagoe in the high road - Credit: Archant

If you have wandered through Ilford town centre recently you may have noticed flowers sprouting up amidst wicker sculptures.

Schoolchildren have been planting bulbs in baskets down the High Road to spruce up the shopping area.

This is a policy from Ilford’s Business Improvement District (BID), the unsung heroes behind the town centre.

Representing almost 400 businesses from Cranbrook to Clements Road, the BID is responsible for promoting its members and Ilford’s shopping areas.

It is behind the popular outdoor cinema in the summer, the ice skating rink in the winter and the return of the Christmas lights.

Manager Ben Collins and street ambassador Richard Culley are now half way through their second five year term, and are looking forward to shaping future regeneration.

Mr Collins told the Recorder: “So far one of our big successes has been installing the state of the art radio system connecting businesses.

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“The shops love it. They use it all the time, every day.”

Most of the members are connected up by radios with Mr Culley, Redbridge Police and the BID’s town centre security team.

If there is anti-social behaviour or theft in one of the shops, staff can immediately relay the offender’s detail to other businesses and police officers.

You will recognise Mr Culley in his purple uniform, constantly popping in and out of shops, talking to the BID’s members.

“He knows absolutely everyone,” Mr Collins said.

In the current term the BID have launched the hugely popular outdoor cinema and also YooHopp, a click and collect service for Ilford, designed to bring online shoppers into the town centre.

“It’s great because it allows all the independent stores to have a website presence,” Mr Collins explained.

The BID chief is particularly excited about the next two-and-a-half years.

“There’s so much great stuff happening, the Harrison Gibson redevelopment, town centre public realm improvements and Crossrail, it’s a really exciting time.

“We want to be at the forefront of this regeneration shaping it under one vision, together with Redbridge Council.”