Politicians debate Stratford’s post-Games future with traders

City Hall politicians visited Stratford on Friday to get to the bottom of a worrying rise in empty shop units.

Members of the London Assembly’s economy committee chatted to business owners and stall holders in Broadway to find out how the Olympics affected trade.

There were fears they would be forgotten by Games organisers quick to ferry visitors to venues via Westfield Stratford City.

Committee chairman Andrew Dismore AM said those who took part said they could have done with some help during the Games.

He said: “I think Stratford seems to have survived the period quite well but there were concerns that there was insufficient publicity being given to their existence.

“But they seemed to have come through it well.”

The group visited the area after a suggestion by Labour’s John Biggs, AM for City and London East.

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It was prompted by statistics from the Local Data Company showing an increase in the number of businesses which have been forced by the recession to leave the high street.

Similar visits were paid to workers in Hackney and Haringey. The findings will be debated at two formal public evidence hearings at City Hall.

Mr Dismore added: “It is very important for politicians to get out and about and discuss things with people.

“I think the real challenge for Stratford now is to make sure that (the business owners) benefit from the regeneration.”

A Newham Council spokesman said it has been working with businesses in the area to ensure they will benefit from any extra visitors in the wake of the Games.

He said: “We have a dedicated town centre manager based in Stratford and an area business manager to support the local business base looking at ways to increase their revenue and also help them to benefit from the Olympics and regeneration.

“Engagement sessions have been held to help businesses understand how they can maximise all opportunities from the Games and regeneration.

“Investors Catalyst Capital have also demonstrated their confidence in the area by recently purchasing Stratford mall for �91.5million.

“We will continue to work closely with them and other partners to ensure Stratford is a world-leading residential, business, leisure and tourist destination.”