Lewisham is planning to launch a yearly count of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic owned and independent businesses.

In his speech to the council’s AGM on Wednesday (July 15), Mayor Damien Egan set out plans for the annual survey, expected to run for 20 years.

The move aims to protect Lewisham’s independent businesses “from the increase of chain businesses coming into the borough” and the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.  

The council hopes the survey will give “a valuable insight into the diversity of business owners”. 

Mayor Egan told the AGM: “I am proud that we’re a Pret-free borough. I’m so thankful that so many of those bland and sterile high street chains, that make up too much of the capital, have largely passed us by. 

“Instead in Lewisham we’ve got shops and family-run businesses, and restaurants with products and food from all around the world that reflect Lewisham’s history of migration.  

“Independent businesses with both local and global roots, they don’t just make Lewisham a more vibrant and fun place to live, they’re good for the local economy too.  

“But competition is fierce, and we’ve got to do all we can to support our small businesses, especially as they face a recession.  

“All too quickly and all too quietly we could start to lose these businesses and before we all know it our high streets will start to look and feel very different.” 

He said officers will now undertake an annual survey of Lewisham high streets, going out every year to count and publish the number of independent retailers as well as the number of Black, Asian, and ethnic minority owned businesses. 

The mayor set out his key priorities for the year ahead at the meeting. 

See more: Lewisham mayor sets out key priorities at council AGM

They include a focus on drug reform, making Lewisham a better choice for education, making the borough greener, tackling racial inequalities, and preparing for the Borough of Culture year in 2022.