London retailers kept in the dark over 2012 Olympics?

UPDATE: Transport for London responds to BRC concerns over lack of transport information for shops ahead of the sports event
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Retailers have told London Mayor Boris Johnson that he needs be more open about the information for retailers during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Shops are expressing concern over how shops will be able to operate during the games in terms of restocking shelves overnight, particularly as transport restrictons look set to affect sections of London during next summer. 

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has penned the letter, expressing concern over the quality and quantity of information available to retailers over how transport will affect their business during the games.

“Time to plan and prepare is a crucial part of making sure businesses enjoy a successful Olympics and are able to provide a top-quality service to consumers,” commented BRC director Stephen Robertson. “Retailers are being encouraged to put plans in place for next summer but that's difficult to do without a full picture of what the situation is going to be.

"The retail sector is always dependent on a good delivery network and that is even more true at times of increased demand. Retailers will have to make deliveries overnight during the Games in order to satisfy customer demand. We need to know the necessary steps are being taken to lift local restrictions, and to inform the public about what will be going on and why. Test events have also highlighted the need for a single source of information for businesses.

"The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a great opportunity for London and the rest of the UK. Retailers want to play their part in making the Games a success. All we're asking for is the information we need to help make that happen."

[UPDATE] Transport for London has this morning told BikeBiz that it is already working with the BRC on keeping retailers informed of how the London 2012 Games will affect their areas. MD of Surface Transport at TfL Leon Daniels said: "The Mayor and TfL are committed to working with our partners, including LOCOG and the British Retail Consortium, to provide businesses with the information they need to prepare for, and make the most of, the London 2012 Games. We are keen to provide as much information and detail as we can to help businesses and will continue to update companies on how they can help to make the Games a success. We have been working closely with the BRC on these matters already, however I will be speaking with Stephen Robertson personally to address his concerns further."

The BRC's letter made the following points:

1. Olympic Route Network (ORN) and Paralympic Route Network (PRN) - we are concerned that providing detailed plans in December will be too late and would urge you to ensure this information is published no later than the end of October to ensure business has the time it needs to prepare. It is also unclear whether restrictions will be relaxed between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

2. Night-time deliveries – the success of the ORN and PRN will depend on the removal of local authority delivery restrictions so that retailers are able to deliver through the night. It is important that these changes are agreed and then communicated to retailers as soon as is possible.

3. Lack of a central point for information - the BRC is concerned that there is currently no central point to obtain information regarding road closure times and restrictions. For example, for the London/Surrey rehearsal cycle race, it was necessary for the businesses concerned to check both the Transport for London and Surrey Borough Council's websites to acquire information on road closure times and restrictions. Providing business with one place to check all the information they require will ensure problems are avoided.

4. Driver and vehicle recognition – our members would also like to know whether it will be possible to have a driver and vehicle recognition process in place to help ease the impacts on deliveries.

Transport for London has provided additional information on the topic:

1. Restrictions on the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and the Paralympic Route Network (PRN) will be lifted between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

2. The majority of the information on the ORN has now been published and is subject to a statutory timetable but it is available through the consultation process.

3. Detailed information on the planned Olympic Route Networks and the postcodes it affects is already available on www.tfl.gov.uk, and the London 2012 website provides businesses with online advice and the opportunity to sign up for free travel advice to business workshops. Later this month we’ll issue a timetable laying out what additional information will become available, along with timescales for its release, and launching a ‘one-stop’ website that the business and freight industries will be able to use to plan for the 2012 Games.

4. Overnight deliveries are one of a number of options being considered to help spread and reduce demand on London’s road network, and we are currently funding a number of trials. This is why we are talking to London Councils, freight operators, major distributors and other partners about the possibility of changing the management of the controls on overnight freight deliveries in central London during the summer of 2012. However, this would only be possible if freight operators and distributors responded by taking innovative steps to minimise noise levels and other impacts on residents and businesses in those areas.

5. Last week TfL released data that allows freight companies to check whether individual postcodes in the capital will be affected by the Olympic Route Network (ORN), Central London Zone (CLZ) or road events. By entering the data into their routing software companies are able to highlight the postcodes that contain both the ORN, for example, and one or more of their delivery locations. That will allow them to produce a list of both clients and locations that will be impacted during Games-time, and will be a timesaving tool when planning deliveries. The information, which TfL has produced in conjunction with Royal Mail, is now available online at www.tfl.gov.uk/developers.

6. The postcode data is one of the first parts of a series of detailed information that will be provided to the freight industry to help companies plan for Games-time. A timetable detailing what additional information will become available, along with timescales for their release, will be published later this month, alongside an improved and updated freight web portal for the industry to use. In addition, TfL is working on the development of a freight journey planning tool.

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