Be First – council accelerates plans for growth

Councillors last night (15 November) agreed to set up a company dedicated to accelerating economic growth in the borough.

Be First – as the company is known – will harness the opportunities presented by burgeoning growth in east London and in Barking and Dagenham in particular. The council aims to use the company to increase opportunities for local people and to ensure that residents benefit from new development.  The move follows the recent investigation by an independent Growth Commission into the prospects for the borough, which recommended the establishment of a borough-wide regeneration company.

Be First will have to meet ambitious targets for new homes, better infrastructure and jobs.  It’s expected to attract new investment and funding to the borough as well as to invest land and cash directly to generate income and to shape development for local people.  Though the company will be commercially driven, it will be wholly owned by the public sector and managed by a board of regeneration experts from the private and public sector.  The company expects to make £16m for the authority over the next 10 years.  Though the council will continue to make final decisions on planning applications and to approve strategic plans and policies, the company will offer a range of strategic services, pre-planning services and project delivery as well as setting up joint ventures and other special purpose companies to deliver regeneration.

Councillor Dominic Twomey, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance, Growth & Investment, said: “Barking and Dagenham is already recognised as one of London’s growth hotspots but we are determined to ensure that investors understand that it is not just the best place in the capital, but also one of the easiest to do business with.

“Be First will be a major force in driving down unemployment, building housing and improving education and skills in the borough.”

Appointments to the Board of Be First are expected to be made by the spring of 2017 and recruitment – which includes transfer of existing staff under the Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment regulations, commonly known as TUPE, during the summer.  The company is expected to start trading in October 2017.