From Croydon BID website
The private sector Croydon Business Improvement District is kicking its Visitor Centre at East Croydon Station into the bin just as the need for it becomes greater in promoting Croydon especially with the forthcoming Heritage and Ambition Festivals.
With falling income the BID is shutting the Centre on Friday 1 May. All the staff are becoming redundant. So far there appears to have been no public comment from the Council’s Labour administration on the potential adverse effect.
The BID has 583 voting business members. On a turnout of 40.82%, over 70% of those voting agreed to support the BID continuing until 31 March 2017.
‘Our Visitor Centre continued to reinforce its position as a prime travel hub selling rail and coach tickets and Oyster card top ups and providing advice and assistance to those wanting help getting around. Increasingly over the year , it has received commendations for its customer service on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest online travel site.’ It ‘has made significant strides towards positioning Croydon firmly as a destination of choice among conference and events’ organisers looking for a low-cost alternative to central London.’ (Annual Report 2013/14).
There is always a steady stream of people using the Centre: 150,000 people in 2013/14.
How does the BID justify the closure given it claims ‘to support the common interests and ambitions of Croydon Town Centre to make it one of the best places in south London in which to work, live and do business’.
The leaflet announcing the closure states that the BID keeps its projects and services under review and has decided to restructure. In states: ‘Improving accessibility to and way-finding around the Town Centre continues to be one of Croydon BID’s main priorities. In that regard, our future focus will be upon maintaining and developing effective tools, services and relationships to help further attract existing and potential visitors and investors and support the town’s growth.’
The BID would have had to move the Centre when the Ruskin Square developer wants the premises back, but with so many big firms and property interests represented on the BID Board it should not have been too much of a problem to identify alternative premises as people walk from East Croydon Station into the Town Centre.
When the closure of the Centre was reported at the Croydon Communities Consortium meeting on Wednesday 25 February, it was described as ‘madness’.
The members of the BID Board which approved the closure are:
- Andrew Bauer, Centre Director, The Whitgift Centre (Chairman)
- David Ordman, Croydon BID Vice Chairman, General Manager, Centrale Shopping Centre
- Max Menon, Chief Executive Officer, Croydon Cathay Development Limited
- Carolyn Spencer, Head of Property, UK Border Agency
- Martin Corney, Chief Executive Officer, The Whitgift Foundation
- Paul Reeve, General Manager, Marks & Spencer Croydon
- Steve Yewman, Development Director, Westfield
- Jeremy Gray, Chief Executive, South London YMCA
- Anthony Middleton, AIG Director of Property & Facilities EMEA
- Carron Schusler, Superintendent, Croydon Metropolitan Police Service
- Frances Wadsworth, Chief Executive Officer & Principal, Croydon College
- Janet Borrow, Company Secretary, Croydon BID; Partner, Commercial Law, Ormerods Solicitors
- Nick Baker, Head of Operations and Contracts, Transport for London (TfL)
- Stephen Coker, Divisional Director, Mott MacDonald
- Simon Thomsett, Chief Executive Officer, Fairfield Halls
- Cllr Steve O’Connell, GLA Member for Croydon and Sutton
- Nigel Evans, Partner, Stiles Harold Williams
- Don Niven, Relationship Director, NatWest
- Brian Hart, Commercial Insurance Director, Lark Insurance Group
- Trevor Morgan, Marlowe Investments
- Graham Reeves, Partner, House of Reeves
The Visitor Centre was opened towards the end of 2008 mainly to serve business interests. With closure a few months later of the Council’s Tourist Information Office at the Clocktower, it developed its role as adviser to tourists. In the first 2-3 months of its opening Brian Stapleton, the CEO of Croydon Business which ran the BID, said the Centre had welcomed around 10,000 visitors through its doors. (The Telegraph, 19 February 2009) Stapleton is now Vice Chair of Croydon CVA, a founder of Croydon Healthwatch, and a member of the Opportunity and Fairness Commission. Another member of the Commission is Steve Yeoman of Westfields, a BID Board member.