Almost 5,000 Merton businesses have closed in past three years.
Figures released by the Liberal Democrats today on Small Business Saturday (Saturday 7 December) have revealed that 4,715 Merton businesses closed over the last three years, in the clearest sign yet of a Brexit hit to local high streets.
The rate of business closures in the borough has spiked since the 2016 EU referendum, with 29% more closures in the three years between 2016 and 2018 than in the preceding three years.
Across the UK one million businesses have closed their doors between 2016 and 2018, an increase of almost a third compared to 2013-2015.
The Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, Paul Kohler, has blasted the Conservatives for their failure to protect local businesses. “These figures are a damning indictment of the Conservative Party’s attitude towards local businesses”, said Paul Kohler.
Merton's "Local Plan" is the name for the new draft planning rules. These will provide the basis for planning decisions in the borough over the coming years.
As such, it is crucial that the Council get the plan right.
Merton Liberal Democrats have submitted a response to the Council's consultation on the Local Plan, and have suggested a number of improvements. In particular we would like to see a greater emphasis on the environment, community-led planning, and real action on affordable housing. We are also calling for a genuine debate on building heights and design, especially in Wimbledon town centre.
You can read our response in full here.
The Future Wimbledon Masterplan has been prepared by Merton Council to guide a long-term vision for the development of Wimbledon town centre. A consultation was held on the plan (which closed on 6th January), to which Merton Liberal Democrats submitted a response.
While we welcome the establishment of a Masterplan, we have strong reservations about the current document. It is heavily dependent on the Government deciding to proceed with Crossrail 2, shows an unhealthy interest in over-developing office space and branded retail establishments. We are calling for a genuine debate on building heights and design - missing from the draft Masterplan. Additionally, we would like to see more in the plan about ways to tackle air pollution, build new housing, and develop Wimbledon's cultural centre and as a place for the creative industries.
Unfortunately, as currently conceived, the Masterplan represents a missed opportunity to develop a scheme that could have garnered real community support.
Our response to the consultation can be read in full here.
The Liberal Democrats have published a paper setting out the challenges facing the UK’s creative industries as a result of Brexit.
The Power of Creativity and Brexit paints a testing picture for the industry, with potentially huge impacts from changes to freedom of movement, loss of investment and funding and less access to markets after Brexit.
The creative industries are of huge importance to Britain’s economy - the music industry alone contributes £3.8bn to the economy.
The value of exports to the EU across the creative industries is £19.8bn, and these products are not fully covered by WTO rules - a future option the government has failed to rule out.
6.1% of the creative industries workforce and 10% of the design, publishing and advertising workforce are EU (non-British) nationals. Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond has consistently refused to back guarantees for EU citizens rights after Brexit.
Baroness Bonham-Carter, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport said: “Liberal Democrats have always been proud to back the fantastic creative companies and individuals who are based in Britain. We will stand up for them as the government pursues a hard-Brexit that poses a real risk to their future prosperity. The Government have rightly recognised the impact of changes to market access for banks and financial services but they must think about other industries and sectors too."
Read the creative industries paper here.
Merton Liberal Democrats found out on Wednesday (embargoed until yesterday) that WHSmith will also be returning to Wimbledon in the Summer.
It's just been announced that Waterstones will be opening a new shop in Wimbledon in the Autumn.
The new shop will be at 40-42 The Broadway opposite The Piazza (currently Halfords).
In January Wimbledon’s large WHSmith and Waterstones will be closing, as their lease in Wimbledon Bridge House is up, and instead Metrobank will move in.
An application was made in February 2014 to allow the shops to be converted into a bank, with the landords supporting the change.
In December, when we asked if they would open other branches in the town - Waterstones said "there isn't a plan at this point" and WHSmith didn't respond to us. So in January, we launched our petition: