Almost three months after hundreds of looters ransacked Clapham Junction, raiding shops and setting fires, a plan to plough £595,000 into the area as a pre-Christmas gift to the community has been unveiled. The idea is to create a magical festive atmosphere. The message is: “The place is safe, the place is attractive and it’s where you should be shopping.”
Wandsworth Council has reduced car parking charges from the normal £2.50-an-hour across the area to just £1. This will cost an estimated £250,000.
There will also be an £85,000 programme of “mystery” events over Christmas to attract people to the area, supported by an “extensive public relations and communications” exercise. Ironically, news of the events will be spread using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The council has already spent around £60,000 on clean-up costs, staff overtime and a series of small loans to struggling local companies. Another £30,000 will be spent on Christmas lights, particularly in Lavender Hill, one of the worst hotspots for violence during the riots.
“This is an ambitious programme which aims to provide a profile and visible boost to business in the whole of Clapham Junction in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year,” explained a report on the project by Wandsworth Council officers.
The council also plans a £20,000 marketing campaign for the area, and will spend £18,000 on dressing empty shops with artwork. A Clapham Junction website (£35,000) and new signs and banners for the area (£40,000) are also proposed.
The project is being funded by a £20 million government high street support scheme.