Ilford BID hosts webinar to help businesses out of lockdown

Ilford BID host webinar for businesses on coronavirus roadmap

Ilford BID Manager Cyril Bekoe arranged a webinar yesterday (February 24) to help prepare local businesses for the roadmap ahead. - Credit: Paul Nixon

Navigating the roadmap out of lockdown dominated a recent webinar hosted by Ilford BID, who invited a number of speakers to discuss how the area can bounce back from Covid.

Chaired by BID manager Cyril Bekoe, representatives from Redbridge council and local business owners spoke at yesterday's virtual event (Wednesday, February 24).

The former - including leader Councillor Jas Athwal, cabinet member for finance, leisure and culture Councillor Kam Rai and director of public health, integrated strategy and commissioning Gladys Xavier - addressed issues concerning business owners as a tentative return to normality draws closer.

Cllr Athwal spoke of how the ailing economy disproportionately affects independent businesses.

He said: "In normal times, these shops thrive. However, when the economy suffers, so do our local businesses."

Jas Athwal speaking at Ilford BID webinar

Cllr Jas Athwal spoke at a webinar hosted by Ilford BID yesterday (Wednesday, February 24), reaffirming the Council's support for local businesses ahead of leaving lockdown. - Credit: Andrew Baker

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He pledged to keep listening to the business community, with this the "least we can do" to aid recovery.

Cllr Rai referred to plans which will "incentivise new businesses to come and set up in the borough".

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Arguing the positives of a fresh business infusion, the deputy leader also promised an emphasis on employing local at the London Living Wage, with plans also afoot to match those who are out of work with employment opportunities.

While a bustling Ilford is everyone's priority, health remains paramount. A successful roadmap out of lockdown requires a successful vaccination programme, with Ms Xavier providing another positive update on that score.

The director of public health confirmed that 60,000 people in Redbridge have now been vaccinated, affirming the recent news that the borough is amongst London's best

Redbridge director of public health speaks at Ilford BID webinar

Redbridge's Director of Public Health, Integrated Strategy and Commissioning Gladys Xavier confirmed that 60,000 people in Redbridge - of those eligible - have already been vaccinated against Covid-19. - Credit: Archant

Among the business owners to speak were Atul Shah of Tight Fit Jeans, Kafeel Khan of Costa Coffee, Ikram Wahid of Best Western Hotels and Jat Bhardwaj of Bar 21.

Similar issues permeated each account, with a desire for normality tempered by understandable caution and financial concern.

On the latter, the council's business rates manager Paul Nightingale confirmed that, as of Tuesday (February 23), £9.6million of payments had been made to local enterprises, with more to come.

In the closing address, Ilford South MP Sam Tarry praised the "fortitude" of Ilford businesses, asserting Labour's pro-extension position, both in respect of business rates relief and the furlough scheme.

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