Looking good! Twickenham town centre in the rain
Richmond Council have kicked off their All-in-One survey for businesses across the Borough. Back in 2010, in the “time before the great snow” the people at LBRuT (pron: “el Brute”) ran a residents All-in-One. You remember? Good. Well, this generated a very strong response and was an effective and (relatively) cheap way of getting feedback from borough residents on the services provided by the Council and on people’s priorities and concerns. The risk of any consultation is that only the vocal brigade led by Colonel Arthur J. Twickenham (retired) respond and those hard to reach people, many of whom rely on Council services more than the Arthurs of this world, are the ones whose voices don’t get heard. But with paper and online submission possible 14,500 questionnaires were returned. An impressive response and more than enough to get a decent understanding of the views of “the people”. The findings are still being worked through.

So now it’s the turn of businesses across the Borough to have their say. Sometimes its easy to forget that residents make up only one part of the picture, and provide only one part of the Council’s income. A vibrant business community is crucial to a successful borough. There’s sure to be cross-over on issues raised by businesses and residents. Parking is likely to feature. Locals often complain about the local parking enforcement but if this stops them visiting the shops or their friendly neighbourhood timber yard, web designer or accountant then that’s bad for business as well as inconvenient for residents. And what about licensing, planning, business rates, transport links and the general street scene? These all make appearances in the local press and on Twitter rants as issues that need some attention. In fact, who the hell would want to run a local authority and grapple with these things especially in times of financial belt tightening? Well someone’s got to and listening to the voice of local business might not only help shape service delivery going forward but give ideas for improvement and efficiencies too. Taking information on board rather than just putting it out represents a good initiative from the Council and we look forward to the results being published of both the residents and business surveys over the next few months.

Deadline for completion of the business All-in-One is 28 February. Details here.

In the meantime, if you run a business, why not breach your confidentiality to yourself and share your thoughts here. Although we’re in a “difficult times”, you can hardly fire yourself for doing that can you?