Transcript of Item 5 – Scrutiny Of The Opportunities Arising From The London 2012 Olympics For Small And Medium Sized London Businesses




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Appendix 1


Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee


29 November 2005


Transcript of Item 5 – Scrutiny Of The Opportunities Arising From The London 2012 Olympics For Small And Medium Sized London Businesses


Dee Doocey (Chair): I want to thank our witnesses and thank you for coming today. It is very kind of them to give up there time. I will introduce them: Marc Stephens, Executive Director, Business & Skills, London Development Agency (LDA); Richard Brown, Head of Stakeholder and Strategic Relations, Interim Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA); Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce; Graham Watts, Chief Executive, Construction Industry Council; Howard Dawber, Strategic Advisor, Canary Wharf; Gay Harrington, Local Business Liaison Manager, Canary Wharf; and Trevor Dorling, London Borough of Greenwich. Trevor (Dorling) is here not just on behalf of the London Borough of Greenwich, but on behalf of all of the five London Boroughs, which are Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. We also have Mick Connolly, Regional Secretary, Southern and Eastern Region, Trades Union Congress; and last but not least, Neil Jameson, Lead Organiser, London Citizens. Thank you all for coming.


Before we start I am proposing to ask Howard (Dawber) and Gay (Harrington) to do a short presentation. I will just explain the thinking behind that. The development at Canary Wharf that they were very much involved in right from the beginning has been extremely successful in involving small and medium-sized businesses. It happened because, in the earlier stages, they were particularly proactive and they set up a dedicated Local Business Liaison Office (LBLO), specifically designed to involve small businesses. They did two key things. First of all, they identified who the small businesses were. Secondly, they went to the people who were dishing out the contracts and made sure they were aware of who the small business were and tried to marry both up. It has really worked extremely well and as a direct result of their efforts they have identified £395 million worth of business contracts placed at local businesses, of which 86% are for contracts of £10,000 or less. It is therefore very relevant to what we are talking about today. There is a suggestion that this is one of the models that should be looked at for Olympics, and indeed, having seen how it works, I certainly think that there is an awful lot of interest in this. I thought it would be useful for Members to have a short presentation from Gay (Harrington). Immediately after that I will move onto questions to the Committee.


Howard Dawber (Strategic Advisor, Canary Wharf): I would just like to introduce ourselves. I am Howard Dawber of Canary Wharf, and I am really here to answer any corporate questions or questions about our wider involvement in the Olympics. Gay (Harrington) has been responsible for our LBLO since its conception, and will talk you through how it works.


Gay Harrington (Local Business Liaison Manager, Canary Wharf): Good morning, everyone. I think Dee (Doocey) has done a wonderful job, so I do not think I need to speak really but I will just re-cap on that. Canary Wharf, as you probably gathered, contributes to the development of the local economy through its support of local businesses. It recognises that business growth leads to a richer economy and, of course, increased employment for local residents. I manage the LBLO, but I will tell you more about that in a moment.


First, I will give you some background and take you back to when the concept began. In 1989, during phase one of these developments, we had portakabins at the edge of our construction site to promote the use of local companies, sublets and local people for construction labour. This was groundbreaking stuff in those days, when it was usual for trade contractors to bring their own tried and tested companies along with them for sublets, so it was quite a challenge. We also set up our own Construction Training Centre at the old Poplar Baths, as the nearest Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Certification Centre was at Erith in Kent. All of our courses carried CITB Certification and we put over 450 people through courses in various construction trades, and all successful candidates were offered employment on site. Considering the challenge involved in bringing construction trade contractors round to using local companies and labourers they had no prior experience of, the results of the first phase were very good. Around £48 million worth of business was placed with local companies, £18 million of which was with Tower Hamlets companies and over 500 Tower Hamlets residents gained employment on site. Such was the impact of this initiative on Bovis, the main contractor, that when as Bovis Lend – – – – – Lease they won the contract to build the huge Bluewater shopping development in Kent, they continued the concept very successfully there. It is used to varying degrees by many large developments these days.


Let me bring you back to today, to the Canary Wharf Group LBLO of today. It was a natural progression therefore, that in March 1997 as Canary Wharf phase two was coming out of the ground, we set up the LBLO alongside the Docklands Recruitment Centre (DRC), which was run in partnership with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the London Borough of Newham and the Employment Service, as it was in those days. The LBLO was set up to provide a free service to and for the local business community. Its primary aim is still to maximise opportunities for local construction companies, to compete for business on Canary Wharf developments and others in the area. However, as the project has progressed, we have widened the scope of the LBLO to cover the full spectrum of allnon-construction companies and has sort to foster business opportunities for them within the wider business community.


Our support, which has been given to hundreds of companies since 1997, takes many forms. We prepare a profile of each company, giving more information than would be available in business directories or the Yellow Pages. We make direct recommendations to contract and procurement managers. We constantly seek opportunities, for example through regular attendance at presentations at business networking events and during meetings or conversations with our business contacts. We regularly distribute our brochures to potential buyers of the goods and services of local companies. We encourage networking between the 350 or so that are on the database, for example through editorials in our quarterly update bulletin, which is distributed to around 700 companies.


How successful have we been this time round? Dee (Doocey) will have told you. Another way of maintaining the profile of our work and the services available within the community is our continual tracking exercise, through which we monitor the extent to which business has been placed locally. I am pleased to report that since March 1997 over £395 million worth of business has been placed locally on projects we have been involved with. I am sure you will agree that this is testament to the ability of businesses in East London to be able to pitch for and win contracts of all sizes, in fair and open competition. As Dee (Doocey) told you, that £395 million represents over 6,000 contracts or purchase orders and 86% of those are for contracts up to the value of £10,000. Therefore, it is not all about massive contracts making up that £395 million.


It is good to see companies winning repeat business and growing through this initiative. They in their turn have contributed to the regeneration of the area through further sublets and the employment and training of local residents. In terms of recognition, it was pleasing to have the initiative entered in the Rowntree Foundation’s report, Using Local Labour in Construction: A Good Practice Resource Book in 2000. I was also proud to have been invited to speak at the National Local Labour and Construction Conference in Bristol in 2001. I have since advised several other organisations in setting up similar initiatives. These include the Corporation of London, Sunderland Enterprising Futures and Building East.


What of the future? The LBLO is developing beyond construction and I am heartened by the increasing use of our services by office tenants, both at Canary Wharf and elsewhere. This bodes well for the long-term future of the local economy and we will continue to expand in this way. We have also sought to add more value by the provision of workshops, seminars and networking opportunities for small to medium companies, to help them to build their competitive edge and to network with potential buyers.


In conclusion, I would say that if I were asked to advise on a system for 2012, I would stress that it is kept simple and straightforward. There is always a temptation to over-complicate things, but the more complicated the harder and more costly it is to administer and the more difficult it is to encourage compliance or cooperation from the contractors, plus it can make it more daunting for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to apply to tender for works. That is it really.


I have a selection of LBLO materials available that Simon (Taylor) has, if anyone would like to pick them up later. The two look very similar, but one goes to companies inviting them to join the database and the other one goes to companies or buyers who might be using their services. There is a little bit about what I have just told you, and a pro forma which I use actually to register companies onto the database. I have also put in something that is just about to be updated, but I have given you the current one rather than the updated one. It is extracts from our social provisions in our trade contracts and procedures. Finally, there are a couple of bulletins.


Dee Doocey (Chair): Thank you very much indeed. We will now move on to the questions from the panel and there will be an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions at the end. Perhaps I could start with the first question to the whole panel, but maybe Colin (Stanbridge) would start us off. Are you happy with the information that is currently available to businesses? What information do businesses need and when do they need it?


Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce): Well, I think as you know, we did a report a couple of weeks ago where we talked to a number of local companies. Perhaps I should just give a quick outline of what the Chamber of Commerce is in terms in the size of member. We are really the organisation of the SME; we are the largest business organisation for the capital. The majority, something like 82-86% of our members employ less than 10 people, which I think – Marc (Stephens) will put me right if I am wrong about this – is about the business profile of London as a whole, so we are that SME sector and the small SME sector.


These people are not likely to be bidding for the major contracts in the Olympics; they will be looking for the huge spin-offs that we believe will be delivered by the Olympics. There is huge enthusiasm: 9 out of 10 of our members believe they will benefit directly or indirectly from the Olympics. What we found in our survey was a desire for knowledge now and for information now. I think they feel that the way they are going to benefit is, to a certain amount, with skilling, in terms of the way they are going to bid and deal with the bureaucracy that may surround any of the contracts they may go for. However, what they are actually looking for is knowledge now so that they can use their own business skills to exploit the advantages and the opportunities that are arising now.


We put out this report, and as people know, the LDA’s role in terms of the delivery of contracts is really short term whilst the ODA is being created. I am glad to say that the LDA has responded very well to this and is pleased for more information. We had a meeting just last night, which was sold out in our terms at the Chamber, where Marc (Stephens) and the ODA came and gave the information. It is that progress that we are looking for; we want to see the sort of printed materials that I think Marc (Stephens) has with him here being updated, giving basic information to people about what is happening now.


We would like to see the creation of a website which would have something like ‘How to do Business with the Olympics’ as its title – if we do not get sued for that by the Olympics – where we can have that sort of information, the sort of information that small businesses need to be able to grasp those opportunities. We are very pleased that the LDA have started this process; what we hope is that in the future, when the ODA comes into being, they will continue and hopefully enlarge that as the opportunities get greater and involve all the organisations. What we fear is that they will try to develop new ways to the SMEs, when they are not needed because all the business organisations have those advantages and I think business organisations will work together to spread that information. The short answer is that we believe information is needed. We have been disappointed in the last couple of months that it has not come out, but we are very pleased that the LDA has grasped this even though it is not necessarily its remit to do so at the start of the process. We just hope that process will continue.


Dee Doocey (Chair): Okay, does anyone want to add anything to that or put a contrary view?


Mick Connolly (Regional Secretary, Southern and Eastern Region, Trades Union Congress): Not a contrary view, just to add to it, I mean I would not disagree with much of what has been said. The important thing surely must be for SMEs in particular, and for many of the businesses in the area, to build their capacity actually to compete for tenders, understanding the timetables and understanding the tendering process. There will be many local companies that would like to tender, but frankly would not have a clue as to how one starts the process. We think it is very important at the early stages to address that issue, to build the capacity of local companies to engage in the process.


Neil Jameson (Lead Organiser, London Citizens): Chair, I just want to start a theme that I will stay with throughout this meeting, if I may. I am not sure if local businesses know that they have to pay a living wage as determined by the Mayor’s Living Wage Unit, as built into the procurement process. We have not seen that advertised anywhere, but it is very important to local people that that is honoured. Colin (Stanbridge), do people know that they have to pay a living wage of £6.70 an hour, whoever bids for a contract?


Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce): Some people will know and other people will not, but you are right.


Neil Jameson (Lead Organiser, London Citizens): It needs to be in the literature, so that there are no mistakes.


Richard Brown (Head of Stakeholders and Strategic Relations, Interim Olympic Delivery Authority): If I could just add, I think there are now three primary categories, although I may be contradicted on this, of information. One is the timetable, when the various procurement exercises are taking place and what they are going to be for. That is being worked up. The second is what hoops people are going to have to jump through, and what policies and procedures they need to have in place to be able to qualify. Anyone who has dealt with it knows that the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) European Contracting Regime can be a little opaque, to put it politely. The third is where they can get support to help them get into a position where they can compete, and that is going to be from organisations like the LDA, Small Business Service (SBS), etc.


In terms of the literature on living wage, my colleagues are currently preparing a procurement strategy within the interim ODA, which is under consideration from our incoming Chief Executive (David Higgins) and Chair (Jack Lemley). We hope to put it out early next year. That is looking at the whole gamut of social provisions including living wage, what can be done to diversify supply chains and what can be done to maximise the chance of local people having the opportunity of competing for jobs. Those issues will be addressed in that period over the next year. In the meantime, even in the current system, we have received the reasonably good news that Murphy, which has been contracted to bury the power lines to run up and down the Lea Valley, have undertaken to pay the Living wage and we are pursuing that through the contract negotiations with them.


Dee Doocey (Chair): Do you have any idea when that is going to be available and are you consulting with businesses on that or is it going to be a fait accompli?


Richard Brown (Head of Stakeholders and Strategic Relations, Interim Olympic Delivery Authority): It will certainly be available for consultation, whether that is an entirely open consultation in the first instance or whether we go to some key organisation such as LCC first. I hope for it to be available early in the new year; that is our target. I think we do need to make sure we get our new Chair and Chief Executive properly engaged and they are happy with it before we put it out. We do not want to try making commitments that are going to worry them in advance of their actually starting work full time.


Dee Doocey (Chair): I think one of the difficulties is that the country was so excited in the run up to the bid, everything was happening, and then suddenly it appears that everything has stopped. There was so much momentum and everyone wants know, wants a piece of the action, and saying that it is all going to happen in 2008 is not really addressing it. What people want to do is not necessarily get a piece of the action now, but have a very clear understanding of what is going to happen and when. That brings me on to the second question, which is to you, Marc (Stephens). There is talk of a Business Intelligence Unit and a Business Club, and what I think it would be useful to hear is what exactly you are going to do to make sure that firms are aware of the business opportunities, particularly down on the levels, like level five and level six. How are you going to work with existing support groups to share information?


Marc Stephens (Executive Director, Business and Skills, LDA): The National Business Club and the Business Intelligence Unit are part of a whole series of initiatives that are aimed at disseminating information and helping SMEs to respond to that information by combining either horizontally together into consortia or vertically into supply chains. The National Business Club is a national concept – businesses across the United Kingdom (UK). The Business Intelligence Unit is going to be based in London and is going to take the information disseminated by the main procurers, ODA and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG), and disseminate it into finer grained form for local businesses in London.


Those are just two initiatives of a whole range of initiatives that are needed. Colin (Stanbridge) and others have referred to meetings that have already started. We have had one with the Chambers and a couple of weeks ago London First organised a meeting with about 20 of its members, hosted by Ernst & Young, which was quite successful. I am going to be talking to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in about six weeks’ time and the London Business Board (LBB), which represents all of those who have been involved. There are other organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses that we need to include as well. There are the sub-regional business partners who we fund in each of the five sub-regions, who are in contact with about 10,000 businesses each, all of which need to be involved.


The list really does go on and it is really a case of, if you like, shaping a lot of the existing information channels that we have already, including the newsletters that go out form our sector support teams within the LDA. We have one within our innovation team that goes out to over 100,000 businesses quarterly, and that needs to contain information. Colin (Stanbridge) referred to what we launched yesterday; it is an update for businesses on some of the things we have talked about, who is doing what, what the timeline is, and how it is going to work. We are going to be producing updates of that regularly.


I have just come back from Beijing and when I was there I went to talk to the Olympic people and met some businesses who have produced a magazine called Host City, published in English and Chinese that basically talks about opportunities arising out of infrastructure and construction, not just in the Olympics but of infrastructure projects more generally. If you want to know the latest on what makes for a non-slip springy basketball court, you can find it in here, but because there is the opportunity to advertise it is a fantastic medium for businesses to get hold of the information and circulate it. There are all sorts of things like that that will come out as time goes on.


Dee Doocey (Chair): Okay, we have 45 pieces of written evidence and one of the things that comes through very, very clearly from all of that is the desire for a ‘one-stop shop’ – a website where people could get all of the information. Are you going to be providing a website like that? Could you also tell us when the Business Intelligence Unit and the Business Club are likely to be up and running?


Marc Stephens (Executive Director, Business and Skills, LDA): The key source of information on procurement opportunities will be LOCOG and the ODA, and of course the LDA in the early stages. That is from the horse’s mouth if you like, so any information that goes onto any single forum has to come from those three bodies. One does not want to be updating a dozen different websites and complicating things. That is the source of information, and what we need to do is make sure that that information is transmitted through to different audiences as quickly as possible. We are working with the Chambers, for example, to take that original information and make it available, through a website, to their members. In terms of the timing of the Business Club and the Business Intelligence Unit, both of those concepts – particularly the Intelligence Unit – are contained within the local employment and training framework which has been agreed with the five local boroughs. The timeline for that will be about another three or four months before that is closed down. Once that is closed down, the funding has already been approved by the LDA, and I hope we will start rolling that out early next year.


Dee Doocey (Chair): Okay, so the answer to the ‘one-stop shop’ website, was that a yes, there is going to be one or a no there is not?


Marc Stephens (Executive Director, Business and Skills, LDA): That is a yes, but it is not just a ‘one-stop shop’.


Dee Doocey (Chair): There is going to be a ‘one-stop shop’, and in addition there will be others?


Marc Stephens (Executive Director, Business and Skills, LDA): I think that is right, yes.


Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce): We have a meeting – Marc has been away in Beijing and so may not know – but next week we have a meeting to discuss just this website. I think we are very clear that this has to be an interim website, and that whilst the ODA is being formed and people are being employed and we find out what the ODA is really, one does not want to limit them in any way. I can see the politics – with a small ‘p’ – of all this looming very large. It is interesting that through the Olympic Business Forum, which brought together all the business organisations in London, or virtually all the business organisations in London, we have agreed amongst ourselves that this will not be, as I would probably like it and I am sure other business organisations would like it, to be the LCC website. However it will be a website with all our names on it, from the Institute of Directors (IOD) to the North London Chambers or whatever it is, which will have some catchy titles that will guide people to the basic information that is in that booklet.


It is interesting that that booklet, I am glad to say, is a great example of how the thing should operate. We as the business organisations have made suggestions and the LDA have responded by creating this booklet and I am sure that people will want to have other things in it. We have managed to act in concert – even though I suspect we are all competing for members on this subject – because we know that actually, the greatest thing is for us to have this website and for all of us to be able to direct our members to it and say, ‘Look, it is going to give you the basic information, it is going to be updated, it will tell you what you need to know’. It will be a great example, I hope, for the ODA, to say, ‘Look, we have piloted this already, here it is, now you make it much better and put more money into it’.


Dee Doocey (Chair): What we are hearing all the time, from everyone, is that although they understand that the process has to be put in place and executives have to be appointed, what they want is something now that then can become better and more refined as it goes on.


Peter Hulme Cross (AM): I wanted just to approach from a letter that I received from a business in Waltham Forest which employs about 65 people and has a turnover of £4-5 million a year. It produces a product that would certainly be very useful in the Olympics. I am only going to quote a small part of this letter, but he says:


‘We can only realistically compete at the subcontractor level. These main contractors are often then free to source the products from wherever in the UK or the world, which does not assist local manufacturing jobs one jot, nor keep transport to a minimum. There are endless good intentions to source work locally and policies are being written to state these intentions, but they are all just good intentions. Unless there is a well-prepared plan to translate these soundbite utterances into actuality, SMEs like us will loose out. The fit-out stage is what concerns us – once the contractors are appointed, the subcontractor choice is down to them.’


Marc Stephens (Executive Director, Business and Skills, LDA): My take on this is that, essentially, we are in the business of equipping our local businesses to be as fit as possible so that they can compete and win on what will essentially be a level playing field, on what has to be essentially a level playing field under the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules on which both foreign firms and local firms can compete. What we can do is really push the boat out in terms of what we have talked about: dissemination of information first, second and third; assisting businesses through technical assistance – be it finance, explaining the procurement rules, whatever – so that they actually end up being the fittest and most able to compete and win the contracts. That is where we are going to make a difference and help that business, for example, to win a contract in competition with competitors from Germany.


Jeannette Arnold (AM): Can I just say that I represent North-East London and two of the Olympic boroughs are within that, Waltham Forest that Peter (Hulme Cross) just talked about, and Hackney. The question that comes out of what Colin (Stanbridge) has said today, you have talked – and what I have heard – in the generalities. Can I just understand what your membership profile is like? When you talk about the small businesses that you have met up with, are you monitoring? For instance, are you in a position to say that you are actually engaged with the five boroughs and then a wider London, or what? I think that is so important because we could be left thinking that you are actually talking about the local people that I would call the five boroughs, when in fact your majority membership comes from West London and Central London, and that is a different take on the issue.


Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce): Our membership is across London. We are a pan-London organisation. I mean it obviously varies in different boroughs, but as Chief Executive I am well aware that there will be members who will be banging on my door and saying, ‘Listen, it is not just about a certain number of boroughs, it is about the whole of London’. Therefore, what I am talking about is the opportunities for companies across the whole of London to benefit from the Olympics.


Jeannette Arnold (AM): Can I just come back and say, specifically then, can you say if there is any support that is going to come from your organisation to those bodies that you are affiliated with – within the five boroughs – that hardly represent the current business profile in those boroughs? What support are you planning to give to the specific business chambers within the five boroughs, if any?


Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce): We are not a support organisation; we are a membership organisation that represents the views and interests of our members. I am very keen to talk to local chambers who are not part of us, in those boroughs, and see whether we can help represent their actions. However, I suspect that those local chambers themselves would rather fiercely guard their independence and would not want to be seen as, somehow, agents or ‘under the umbrella’ of the LCC. I think that might get up their noses, frankly. However, we would like to talk to them to see how we could act in concert, as we have acted in concert with other business organisations.


Richard Brown (Head of Stakeholders and Strategic Relations, Interim Olympic Delivery Authority): I just want to pick up on Mr Hulme Cross’s remark, Marc (Stephens) has talked about one side of the story and the other side of the story is what signals we send out though the procurement process. I am going to try to be careful with what I say because there are umpteen legal opinions floating around on some of these issues, but one can go a certain way to express a desire that companies do diversify their supply chain and look at sourcing subcontracts through local suppliers. One can also require in contracts that they, if they are advertising them, advertise them and notify them to teams like the LDA is setting up in terms of the supply-chain teams. Therefore, there is a certain amount that one can do without requiring contracts for local businesses to encourage and signal through the process that you do want local business to be given the chance to subcontract.


If you look at contracts and projects like Terminal 5, the British Airports Authority (BAA) is being held up far and wide as being an exemplary piece of procurement. They did a lot of work with a private sector organisation to promote local employment and local contracting, because they see it makes good business sense; it was not a matter of charity or anything like that for them. It seemed good business sense to do business with local suppliers, and as you point out, there is the additional issue of travel distances for good. Therefore, one can push it without actually requiring it.

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