Time out with the Chief Executive – September 2022

Reimagining, recreating, and innovating whether it be temporary or permanent, small or large brings with it, we hope, positive change.
There is no getting away from the fact that, like many other destinations, Croydon needs a lift. It is quite difficult to sit here and reflect on the past month.

A month which has been gripped with massive upheaval, challenge and change with decisions which have and will impact each and every one of us both professionally and personally. Equally, we have had some fun along the way too as we unveiled Unexpected Croydon so it had some light touch too.

Where to start!

The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II allowed many of us the opportunity to reflect, to pause and take stock a little. Her Majesty embodied an unwavering dedication, commitment and duty to her people that leaves many inspired to this day for her leadership through thick and thin. Her final duty conducted two days prior to her passing was to appoint our new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

For our new prime Minister, the last three weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind and demonstrate the pace at which politics can change. Recent weeks and days are a clear indication and illustration if ever one was needed as to how the decisions made by the government of the time can affect each and every one of us so personally and profoundly.

Business Improvement Districts have an important role in representing the needs of our businesses we serve. Croydon BID has led on the creation and delivery of a number of national campaigns to stand up and call for changes in policy to support growth. The cost of living somewhat clouds the equal threat to cost of doing business. Each challenge is interlinked through employment and the need for our economy to function and grow. Right now, many of the businesses we talk to across the country are focusing on survival with plans for recovery in tatters.

On 8th September 2022, we bought together over 150 Business Improvement Districts, UKHospitality, British Beer and Pub Association, UKInbound, British BIDs, Association of Town and City Management and The BID Foundation amongst others to launch the now national BusinessSOS campaign.

The asks are simple and include 100% Business Rate Relief up until 31st March 2023 and a reduction of the headline VAT rate from 20% to 12.5% and to reduce the VAT from 20% to 5% on all business-related energy bills.

Given the impact of the recent ‘fiscal event’ or mini-budget-statement’ delivered by The Chancellor of the Exchequer, we have seen a serious shift in the value of the pound and its market credibility. We will continue to build the campaign and represent your needs which given the impact of the past seven days is needed now more than ever before. What must be considered however is the need to be realistic in what policy changes can be adjusted without over extending government borrowing.

While we are not defined as being in recession, one thing is clear, this winter will be difficult.

While we will do all that we can to shine a light on national policy, my team and I will be focusing a lot of our time on putting in place activities and interventions that improve our town centre visually that attract people.

Reimagining, recreating, and innovating whether it be temporary or permanent, small or large brings with it, we hope, positive change. There is no getting away from the fact that, like many other destinations, Croydon needs a lift.

In August, we had a minor lift as Unexpected Croydon was revealed for all to see. Inflated 3D artworks appeared across selected buildings in the town centre to the delight of people that live, work and visit the borough.

Our high streets need something different. They need creativity, innovation, and a reimagining. Unexpected Croydon brought together a host of incredible art installations, bringing to life key parts of our town centre to attract people with a free trail that will enthral all ages at a time when we need a little light relief.

In total, eight designs ‘appeared’ overnight including: The Croydon love rocket at AMP House, Lizard Minelli on Dingwall Road, Grim Fingers at LSBU, the largest paintbrush seen at Fairfield Halls and a tentacle takeover on the High Street plus many more!

It certainly caught the attention of not just Croydon but further afield in the most incredible, positive way. Unexpected Croydon had everyone talking and was included in time Out London, Evening Standard while featuring on Good Morning Britain amongst other media outlets with a weekly audience reach of over 50 million.

As wonderful as it was, we are moving forward with our plans and will, in time for October launch Mythical Beasts in association with Centrale & Whitgift Shopping Centres. Explore Croydon’s lost labyrinth and discover a world of mythical creatures, made completely from toy-bricks. Inspired by legends from Ancient Greece, our family friendly Mythical Beasts trail will offer you the chance to take on an adventure like no other from 22nd – 30th October 2022 across the Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres.

As we gear up for the treats of October, we will be announcing that Croydon BID will lead one of the 14 major showcase events for Croydon, London Borough of Culture.

In Autumn 2023, Croydon Stands Tall will take centre stage across the town centre and borough with a trail of over 30 individually designed 8ft giraffe sculptures working in partnership with internationally renowned Wild In Art. What is more, Croydon Stands Tall will reach out to create a learning programme to bring together over 30 schools in the borough to offer them the opportunity to design 30 individual smaller giraffe sculptures to create a secondary trail. If that wasn’t enough, the trail will end with an auction with all giraffes sold off in aid of homelessness with an anticipated fund of c. £100,000 going to Crisis and in particular the Croydon Skylight.

I told you there was a lot! To finish, Christmas is fast approaching. Our new scheme was signed off some time ago as we look to invest in dressing the town centre for the festive season. While I cannot reveal too much, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a Christmas tree! More surprises to come as we look to finalise partnership deals to offer Croydon the head start that it needs this December.

I wish you all the best and hope to speak with you soon.