Saturday, 22 October 2011

Guest Blog - North Finchley Business Forum – detailed research

By Paul Evans

(First posted on Finchlinks Website at )

Click the image to download (PDF)

Last week, I posted a write-up of the North Finchley Business Forum meeting at the Arts Depot.
A survey of local businesses was circulated at that meeting, and I’ve now had an electronic copy of it passed on to me. You can download a copy of the report here (large-ish PDF file). It doesn’t contain too many surprises. The focus among respondents on the parking issue is particularly notable, but you probably knew that before opening the report. That’s parking. Every aspect of parking. Everyone is annoyed about it. Parking – get the picture? Other issues include the high local Business Rates and a general sense that the area has deteriorated and isn’t particularly cared for. There was quite a lot of comment about petty crime and anti-social behaviour. Overall, it’s not a hugely optimistic picture, and this is something that needs to be addressed.

One thing that I found strangely lacking though, was an absence of calls for any kind of co-ordination.
Not wanting to put too many noses out of joint, but my experience of North Finchley isn’t always positive. There are lots of empty shops and the landlords don’t seem to realise that leaving them looking scruffy does nothing for the area or … er… the attractiveness of their own property.
This project in Walsall – getting local photographers to help dress the area up – would be good to see copied locally. Also, some places have freindly and helpful staff. Others don’t, and I suppose that’s their lookout. But the way shops serve people and present themselves has a knock-on for neighbouring shops.
I’m surprised at the lack of dialogue between local businesses – and the lack of a sense that it’s needed. There doesn’t seem to be much peer-pressure going on. Most businesses in the area are hugely dependent upon the reputation of the rest of the High St. Yes – that means that the parking needs sorting out, anti-social behaviour and crime need to be looked at and a bit of TLC could be applied by the council to the street furniture. But it also depends upon collective action by the local shops – and I was surprised no-one mentioned this in the survey. It does make me think, wouldn’t it be good if Mary Portas could be persuaded to come by and give a few pep-talks?
Paul Evans runs the Finchlinks website, which promotes the local community in Finchley. The Barnet Eye is always pleased to support local community and business initiatives. Please get in contact via the email link in my profile.

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