Tuesday 1 November 2016

Brent Council takes another step towards becoming a business

 Brent residents have got used to being called ‘customers’ by our council but a new report on 'Income generation' going before Scrutiny Commitee LINK shows how Brent Council is becoming a business as a way to generate income to counteract government cuts to its funding.

The market advertised below  is just one of its initiatives. The annual Brent Fireworks Display has this year been  moved from Roundwood Park in the south of the borough.  The report makes clear that this is partly because of the income generation opportunity offered by a move to Wembley Park:

We aim to use our facilities in the Civic Centre on Event Days to generate income for the Council. This could be from holding corporate hospitality to having market stalls in the foyer. There is also an opportunity to partner with Quintain to have markets on their land on some kind of profit share basis. We would seek to charge stall holders a fee and there is an option to receive a percentage of any income generated. 

For example, the Civic Enterprise Team are currently implementing ways to generate income at the Council’s annual fireworks celebration, to be held on 6 November 2016. The event is moving from Roundwood Park to the Wembley Park area and the event is expecting up to 25k people to attend. We will be holding a Christmas market in the Civic Centre, with stall holders selling food, drink and crafts in the Grand Hall and Boardrooms. There will also be cultural and children’s activities.
The council also has its eye on generating income through letting out our parks  and open spaces for income generating events:
We are also exploring the potential to hold large scale events in parks aiming for audiences at a minimum level of 2000 people. Brent have a lot of beautiful parks and the most appropriate park to the type of event would be chosen. For example Roundwood and Gladstone parks have capacity to hold events and good transportation links. Income would be generated from selling of tickets, sponsorship of goods, advertising and stall holder fees. Corporate hospitality packages would also be offered to appeal to different markets and offer differential pricing. 

These events should also attract visitors from outside of Brent enabling us to showcase our vibrant mix of cultures and enhance our promotion of community cohesion. Should we be able to generate income from initiatives such as green gyms and exercise classes in parks we will also help to deliver improved health outcomes by keeping residents fit, healthy and active. This will contribute towards lowering the pressure on demand-led budgets. A key priority for Brent 2020. 

An additional plan is to hire out Brent parks for weddings and the report notes:
There is a lucrative market in weddings. There is a great opportunity to offer weddings in parks and there are no competitors offering this in West London. We will also offer packages including wedding planning services and registration.
Most of our primary schools come under Brent Council oversight and currently they ‘buy into’ council services.  Now it is not just a matter of the income paying for the service but also perhaps making a profit from them:
As part of income generating activity and adding value to Brent schools we are working closely with schools to develop a new product portfolio based on their needs and requirements. This project will enable us to contribute to raising educational standards in Brent and generate income at the same time. 

The council is also keen to sell advertising space on its building and other assets.  Extending advertising on 7 new sites could make a significant aesthetic impact on the borough.
The council’s plan to turn itself into a lender for small business is likely to raise a few eyebrows, not least because of the interest rates it envisages:
This idea is for the Council to provide financial investment to support Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The model proposed provides a safe way to receive return on investment and seek to develop one of Brent 2020 priorities for business growth. This initiative supports the economy and employment opportunities in Brent by lending SMEs finance through a crowdfunding organisation on a fixed interest rate (currently at 7.2%) return to Brent Council. The model provides a guaranteed return which covers the risk of bad debt. An approximate fee of 3% is incurred annually to the Council with the model. Initially the proposal is to have up to £200k available for business to apply for an amount. A benefit of this initiative is that the Council would receive a better rate of interest than a saving account but also by supporting business growth we can support regeneration of the borough by seeking to increase employment opportunities thereby helping to reduce the number of businesses failing, reducing unemployment rates and a reliance  on benefits.
There are a host of other proposals in the document that includes raising the cost of  parking in the Civic Centre's underground car park and letting out more office space within the building to other bodies as well as hiring out space in the library and foyer.

The Council is already committed to setting up a Housing Management Agency and its own Bailiff  force now it appears it will be an advertising agency, events organiser, markets organiser and bank!


Anonymous said...

'The Corporation of Wembley in Brent'?

Alan Wheatley

Communitarian said...

That might explain the corporate look and user unfriendly grey carpets and stark white walls in the Willesden Green Library Centre.

Nan. said...

As I remember it, Brent's cheques always stated the account holder as Brent Corporation.

How about issuing shares?

Some sort of mutual savings society to underpin the business lending and generate slightly above the high street savings rates for investors?

How well does the council invest its overnight funds?

Memorial, or other occasion, plaques on lamp posts perhaps with a finite life of x years with option to renew (not enough park benches to accommodate)?

Memorial, or other occasion, street tree sponsorship in some way?

The automated answering on 0208 937 1234 could also be commercially sponsored:

'you are though to Brent Council - sponsored by McVities, purveyors of then next thing in healthier fat digestive biscuits. If you know the extension you need, please dial it now' etc.......... for example.

No, I'm not joking: if you're going to do it, might as well be thorough.