Here’s an odd one. Greenwich Council’s website is being used to advertise Ikea over the Christmas season.
At first I thought it must be due to some sort of public service element – such as recycling or related to charity – but having clicked through it appears not. Click here to see it in full. Here’s a screengrab of part of the page:
It’s basically an advert – and one featured on the homepage. The authority also know outlets like the News Shopper often simply reprint this stuff word for word, getting the advert even further exposure for Ikea.
One obvious question is are the authority getting advertising revenue for this? If not why are they promoting them?
In an age of pressed funding, adverts on council websites have been adopted in other parts of London – though this is put up as a local event story.
The council have been staunch supporters of an Ikea for years. The company opened earlier this year in Greenwich and has long been controversial for a bunch of reasons. It’s not that many people didn’t want a new shiny shop, but the use of a giant retail shed located in inner London during a severe housing crises was very odd planning in the 2010s.
Greenwich have missed housing targets for years – and failing to adopt mixed-use development at large out-of-town style retail sites increases the likelihood of subsequent building on parks and other areas against local wishes.
There’s two appeals ongoing right now for developments elsewhere in the borough where complaints of over-development are made from many local people. Those appeals, and others down the line, are more likely to succeed due to the council not adopting sites like Ikea for mixed-use housing and retail.
Another controversy was induced traffic. A number of “sustainable” initiatives were adopted. Some were dropped within months such as usage of pedal cycles for deliveries.
Some have stated that traffic is no worse now than before Ikea opening. Well, much of Greenwich is clogged each day. To be fair it was hardly great before, but it’s a cumulative impact. Things didn’t fall apart overnight.
If you have a local road network with little resilience, such as Greenwich, a large new shop inducing traffic – and with very poor public realm for those on foot – is going to bring many cars to the area. It may be fine some of the time, but when something goes wrong the impact is heightened.
It’s a drip, drip, drip effect as various buildings, homes and shops open with no real plan. Silvertown isn’t it as that is due to bring 30 per cent more traffic.
Ikea sponsored the Greenwich Council’s Business Awards in 2019 which offered a meal overlooking the Thames at the Intercontinental hotel in Greenwich.
The list of sponsors is interesting. The potential conflict of interest is obvious. Many sponsors are large developers with interests in the borough. The leading sponsor – not pictured – is U+I. They are developers behind Morden Wharf (having sat on the site for at least six years in a housing crises) and plan developments at other sites such as Charlton.
And why the council’s struggling GLL leisure centre operator is a sponsor is unknown. Since taking over Bromley libraries, strikes are ongoing due to pay and conditions being cut.
But back to the original point, just why is a local authority putting up an advert for a multi-national company on its homepage? Why not a local business?
UPDATE: I’ve received a few comments to say Ikea have been gaining free advertising in other ways including in the council’s Greenwich Info paper. I had a look and saw this: