As a paper produced by a voluntary organisation Fitzrovia News was running at a loss and its long term viability was not sustainable. The Pandemonium have stepped in to save the paper after income from charitable donations had fallen. The paper will be re-structured along market lines after its previous collectivist organisation had failed to prove itself. The paper will be business-led and with a new editorial team.
The Pandemonium are currently finalising plans to create a business improvement district (BID) in Fitzrovia and view Fitzrovia News as a vital partner to push their plans forward.
Mr Greaves says: “Over the next few months we will be completing our engagement with local business and deciding how we will apply the BID levy. We hope to acquire BID status very soon after we have completed consultation with those businesses which could benefit from paying the levy. Fitzrovia News will be a very important part of this marketing strategy.”
The Pandemonium have come a long way since they were first formed in 2009. They’ve developed from having a small number of members and a modest profile to fully developing a sustainable business plan. Initially created and funded by Dreamer London, a real estate investment trust (REIT), they now have enough members to become independent of Dreamer.
Greaves is keen to stress that they are not parting company with Dreamer. “Dreamer will always be with us and they will continue to guide and give us support. But for The Pandemonium to flourish we need to be seen to be standing on our own and be self-financing.”
Greaves believes that any BID must have good environmental credentials. “You can’t get anyone to take you seriously these days unless you can produce an environmental statement that is robust and workable.”
Businesses and environmental groups need each other. That’s how successful partnerships are made.
“We have been working very closely with two environmental groups in Fitzrovia. The first is The Green Wash who are an initiative set up on the Camden side of Fitzrovia to encourage more walking, cycling and draw people from Tottenham Court Road into Fitzrovia’s quieter streets. The Green Wash have taken a successful American model and brought it to Fitzrovia.” said Greaves.
“We have also completing negotiations with the Enlightened Forest People. The Forest People want to increase greenery and illuminate buildings in Fitzrovia. While illuminating buildings to attract greater footfall into the area would increase carbon emissions, the planting of trees would more than off-set the increase. Everybody wins,” says Greaves with a smile.”We can even have lights in the trees.”
And don’t think for one moment that the Forest People are a bunch of tree-hugging, utopian eco-warriors. “They are nothing of the kind,” says Greaves. “They have a very hard-nosed business model. I can tell you, I was pretty impressed. They do business a lot better than many businesses do. We can learn a lot from them,” says Greaves with a nod.
And because the Forest People are a Westminster-based group, this opens up the opportunity to build a cross-borough business district. “The Localism Act now allows us to have an Area Forum that doesn’t stop where the local authority line does,” says Greaves. “Historically, Westminster had been much more business friendly and we hope we can capitalise on that.”
Consultation on a business improvement district in Fitzrovia begins on 1 April 2012.