Monday, 8 November 2010

Council backs home business

Our Council has just created jobs. How many, and to what extent, remains to be seen but their announcement that rules barring people from running businesses from home addresses are to be relaxed in our borough is, in my humble opinion, an excellent move.

Announcing the move to allow the 17,000 people who rent from the Council to register and run a business from their home, Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh said:

"I started my own business and know how hard you have to work to get it off the ground and keep it viable. We want to sweep away the barmy rules that hinder council tenants.

"Our proposals will set every entrepreneur, from the teenage computer whizz to the grandparent who makes exquisite crafts, free to plot a path to business success from the comfort of their own living room. We could have the next James Dyson or Alan Sugar in our borough but the tiresome red-tape of the past stops many people from ever getting their ideas off the ground."

For a while now we've seen sights like this as businesses, including some very longstanding ones, draw down the shutters in the face of the cold wind of recession. There are still derelict buildings standing on Askew Road for example, where there used to be people working - a microcosm of the country.

But we've also seen one example on the Askew Road of a man, who'd lost his job and home because he lived above the shop, decide to set up his own business on the site of the old which now looks like a strong feature of the Bush with a loyal customer base. And our Council making it easier for people to do that is something they should be congratulated for. And its presumably why the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing Sarah Webb said that:

"CIH has produced new guidance on how social landlords can actively promote opportunities for tenants to run a business from home, and it is great to see Hammersmith and Fulham doing just that.

"This is a positive step that could offer employment opportunities to a significant number of people looking for work, particularly tenants who are looking after their family or have a long-term sickness or disability."

That last point is an interesting one and to me sums up the confusing thing about our Council. With a good idea, willingness to annoy some beaurocrats and the stroke of a pen they've just openned up a world of possibilities to people in our neck of the woods from all social backgrounds and in doing so made a contribution to the regeneration of the borough - and rightly won plaudits for doing so. This is undoubtedly the Council playing to their strengths - good policy making and clever politics.

What confuses me is why an administration capable of doing this - and they seem to be leading the field here - seems to be politically tone-deaf and clumsy when it comes to things like planning and residents groups - clearly their weakness. What happens is they lose the credit for the clever stuff because its overshadowed by the dumb stuff - lets hope we see more of the clever stuff like this in future - well done Council.

1 comment:

  1. Chris, with apologies you have fallen hook line and sinker into yet another press release without thinking it through or doing some research! LBHF Homes are modernising their tenancy conditions to remove a blanket ban on working from home. Most social landlords in London did this some time ago. It was a common clause and sometimes with good reason. You did not want an industrial sewing machine working 24.7 in the flat above, or scrap vehicle dealing in your neighbours garden. Their new clause will exclude nuisance activity. This is not a major initiative to develop jobs as LBHF spin, just good Housing Management.