Camden Collective hailed as a ‘leading example’ as Labour sets out economic plan

Rachel Reeves MP at the Camden Collective in Camden Town on Friday. Picture: Polly Hancock

Rachel Reeves MP at the Camden Collective in Camden Town on Friday. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

An award-winning regeneration project aiming to make Camden Town one of the nation’s major creative centres has been praised as the UK’s “leading example of how we can help small businesses grow and create jobs”.

The Camden Collective, which provides cheap space to creative start-up businesses, was chosen as the launch site for the Labour Party’s economic plan for London last Friday.

The unique project is part-funded by Camden Council, business group Camden Town Unlimited and the Mayor of London’s regeneration fund, which was set up following the 2011 riots in London.

It provides cheap space to creative start-ups, installs pop-up shops in vacant high street units and works with local businesses to provide young entrepreneurs with support and training. It currently runs three hubs and three shops in Camden.

Speaking at one of its hubs, off Camden High Street, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves MP, said: “There’s loads of great stuff happening here in Camden.

“Learning the lessons of places like this could really transform business, especially small business, across the country.

“I don’t think any Whitehall civil servant could’ve devised the Camden Collective – it had to be devised locally. It’s a good example of why we need to devolve more powers to local economies.”

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The event saw the Labour Party announce a number of election pledges, including cuts to business rates for 242,000 firms in London, raising the minimum wage to £8-per-hour and giving tax rebates to living wage employers.

It also said it would devolve more economic powers and funding to local communities like Camden, to the tune of £30billion.

It comes after a setback for the Camden Collective, which saw foreign landlords trump the efforts of the local authority and community.

Just months after Mrs Reeves visited the group’s flagship C/159 marketplace in Camden High Street in August, the building was bought by Saudi businessmen for £9.9million and the group of entrepreneurs were told to pack up their things and leave.

Simon Pitkeathley, chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited, described the affair as “unfortunate” adding: “We could have been treated better – they didn’t give us much notice.

“Some landlords treat us really well, and others are more difficult. But we’ve recovered and are going strong.”

Mrs Reeves added: “Government can’t stop foreign owners buying shops in Camden High Street.

“But we can do more by devolving more power to local groups and authorities.

“London has got be open to money and investment from all round the world – it’s one of the reasons why it is such a successful city.”