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Camden News - By DAN CARRIER
Published: 24 September 2009
Councillor Moffitt on the Love Camden campaign trail with Giles Coren
Councillor Moffitt on the Love Camden campaign trail with Giles Coren
Confusion over council’s Love affair with Camden

Brochure promoting local shopping slammed for areas left out

A BOOKLET singing the praises of Camden’s small shops has been pushed through the doors of every household in the borough as part of the Town Hall’s recession-busting plan.
The glossy Love Camden brochure – which cost the council around 50p for every copy it has printed – covers what the Town Hall has described as Camden’s main shopping areas.
But, almost as soon as it was released, the booklet attracted flak over the areas it has left out and confusion as to who the guide is actually aimed at.
Areas such as Queen’s Crescent, a major retail centre for Gospel Oak and championed by former Lib Dem mayor Jill Fraser, was excluded, much to the disappointment of traders in the market there. Highgate High Street was also left out completely.
The lucky shopping areas who made the cut are Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury, Camden Town, Kilburn High Road, Hampstead, Kentish Town, West Hampstead and Finchley Road.
John Plews of the Highgate Business Circle said: “This is the first I have heard about it. They have not contacted us about whether we would have liked to have been included, or about any help at all to get through the recession.”
Restaurateur Pavez Ahmed, who runs Shamrat Tandoori in Kilburn – an area that the guide does cover – said he felt it was too small to be of any use.
Mr Ahmed, who is involved with the Kilburn Business Partnership, said: “This guide is in no way comprehensive and does not give any sort of overview of the diverse businesses and places to eat in Kilburn. They have left so much out.”
Lib Dem council leader Councillor Keith Moffitt and his deputy, the Conservative councillor Andrew Marshall, launched the booklet last week with a party at the Wellcome Institute in Euston Road to publicise the work they said the Town Hall was doing to help businesses keep afloat during the recession.
They defended the guide and, while admitting it was not comprehensive, they said they were limited by the space they had.
Cllr Moffitt said: “We chose places that are officially classified as high streets. We wanted to sign post them.”
Cllr Marshall said the guide was not essentially aimed at the Camden tax payer, even though they would be footing the bill and getting a copy through the door whether they wanted one or not. He said: “It is really aimed at Camden visitors – people staying with friends or relatives who live here.”
It would also be handed out at hotels, he added. “Stay-cation is the phrase of the moment, and this guide is a way of saying: These streets have more to offer than you realise,” he said.

Only a Twit would turn this down

IT is meant to be all about how to cope in a recession but the New Journal has found that the Love Camden brochure – delivered to your home whether you want it or not – cost the Town Hall just under £100,000 to print and distribute.
On top of that, the council spent extra cash to hire Giles Coren, the sharp-tongued restaurant critic, and Alexei Sayle to talk about what a great idea the booklet is.
Further cash was
spent on a launch event at the Wellcome Institute in Euston, which critics said was poorly attended and stocked with far too many refreshments for the
number of guests.
The hint of extra costs came when Mr Coren – who has often made scathing attacks about Camden Council in his columns – said on his Twitter site that he had been paid for spending Thursday morning posing for pictures with council leader Keith Moffitt and talking about the best shops in Kentish Town. “Off to film a promo for Camden Council in Kentish Town. Quite well paid – should just cover the parking fines I’ve paid them over the years,” he said. When quizzed by the New Journal, he added that he felt the campaign offered good value for money and was an important way to boost local businesses.
A Town Hall spokeswoman defended the cost of the project.
She said: “It represents an important investment in supporting local businesses through the recession and longer term, as visitors spend £1.2 billion a year in Camden with a third of visitors staying with family and friends. Local businesses have told us they want help with marketing. Where celebrities are involved in helping us promote local businesses and important council services, such as the Love Camden guide, they are paid for their time.”

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