The writer and actor Griff Rhys Jones a resident of Fitzrovia has said he does not support the business improvement district (BID), but he has also criticised some of the actions taken to oppose it.In an article published today he criticises the BID for being undemocratic and questions why the area needs improving by a business group.
In an email to Fitzrovia News he writes:
“I am not in favour of the business improvement bid, but I am even less in favour of a badly pitched campaign to fight it. I don’t know who has initiated this, but a series of yellow spray paint stencils have been appearing on bins in the area saying ‘fight the Bid’ (sic).
“The spread of graffiti, of whatever kind, is universally seen as a measure of urban decay. It is precisely this sort of ‘decay’ that the BID is seeking to prove exists in this district. It does not help anybody. It adds ammunition to the BID and would seem to prove that there is some form of inner city slump in the area that needs correcting by ‘business interests’,” he writes.
In the weeks after the BID proposal was announced in June graffiti saying “No BID in Fitzrovia” appeared on pavements and on some buildings owned by Derwent London as well as refuse bins. Stickers were placed on street furniture saying “Keep Fitzrovia Special”.
A spokesperson for The Fitzrovia Partnership, the company behind the BID, condemned the graffiti as “criminal damage”.
But other people told Fitzrovia News that the graffiti highlighted an issue that neither the BID company nor Camden Council were prepared to discuss in public. One person who wished to remain anonymous said the “No BID in Fitzrovia” graffiti was not a sign of urban decay or threatening but “a sympton of an active community resisting corporate power”.
Graffiti has also appeared in the past when Camden Council threatened to sell off the Fitzrovia Play Centre in Whitfield Street, and property owned by UCLH NHS Trust has also had graffiti painted on it calling for more affordable housing in the neighbourhood and condemining the destruction of the Middlesex Hospital. The artist Banksy painted his “If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal” mural on a wall in Fitzrovia.
The BID proposals raised the anger of many residents some of whom wrote an open letter to the Sarah Hayward the leader of Camden Council to complain why there was no public consultation about the proposal to create a new business district in the heart of the neighbourhood.
The BID proposal received approval this week when 72 businesses voted in favour of it.