Shall we call the strip of London opposite the South Bank the Northbank? Let's not. But that's the plan of the Business Improvement District of the same name, paid for by companies who trade in a zone stretching roughly from Trafalgar Square to Aldwych. They're trying to enhance the reputation of the district by improving public realm and promoting corporate social responsibility, as well as encouraging you and me to visit and spend money. To this end they're holding a Thames SENSEation this weekend in Victoria Embankment Gardens, and everyone's invited. Not many people have noticed, not unless they've walked up Villiers Street and taken heed of the banner outside or stumbled into the gardens for some other reason.
In the first tent a keen young lady told me all about the Northbank BID team, and attempted to hint that they've cut crime in the district single-handedly since their formation last October. I smiled, and resisted picking up a free Northbank branded Oyster card holder before wandering off. The adjacent tent promised a Modern Thames Exhibition, but in fact held only some information about the proposed Garden Bridge and several creations from a 3D printing company. As for the (cough) Aromatic Time Tunnel, this turned out to be three linked tents each with their own scent, with 1950s London inexplicably represented by the smell of mango. A chap in a Northbank bowler hat stood around by the historical enactors, which must have been a pleasant change from his usual lonely perch overlooking Embankment station. Meanwhile over at the bandstand was the Sensory Hub, where local chefs and tea merchants performed culinary presentations to a half-empty sea of deckchairs. And the whole thing was fine for a 10 minute lookaround, but somehow had the feel of an event knocked up by a small team on a low budget to tick a community engagement box. And shall we call the strip of London opposite the South Bank the Northbank? Let's not.