East End Trades Guild calls for fairer commercial rents to avoid going bust

Tory candidate Chris Wilford (far left), with Rahman's deputy Micky Ambrose and Labour's John Biggs

Tory candidate Chris Wilford (far left), with Rahman's deputy Micky Ambrose and Labour's John Biggs at East End Trades Guild hustings. Photo: David Mirzoeff - Credit: Archant

Small businesses in London’s East End have called for an affordable commercial rent strategy to be presented to the government to stop many going bust.

The call emerged at last night’s East End Trades Guild’s general meeting when three front-running candidates for Mayor of Tower Hamlets were invited to listen to their concerns.

Its members met Labour’s John Biggs and Conservative Chris Wilford to discuss priority issues affecting small businesses, while mayor Lutfur Rahman sent his deputy Mickey Ambrose to respond.

Top priority issues were commercial rents—which they fear are pushing them out of business—as well as council business rates and tough planning regulations.

Their message to the politicians vying to control Tower Hamlets’ £1.2 billion budget after the May 22 election was: “We are the beating heart of the East End.”

The candidates agreed to work for an affordable commercial rent strategy, using the Sustainable Communities Act which includes adopting the leasing code, and presenting it to the government.

Mayor Rahman’s written statement said it was “important that small businesses are protected from rent hikes.”

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The traders also want discretionary business rate relief in the manufacturing sector.

John Biggs was keen on local discretion to reduce business rates, secure affordable rents and using the planning system to encourage it.

He added: “The planning system should provide a wider range of businesses to stop Tesco Metro colonising the East End and sweeping away grocers and artisan traders.”

Tory Chris Wilford wanted to “lay down gauntlet to the government as a model for what you can do in an inner London borough by working with the traders.”

The meeting at Whitechapel’s Toynbee Hall was packed by a broad range of businesses including Truman’s Brewery, Genesis Cinema, Leila’s shop, Gardners bags, Luke Jacob hair salon, Bina shoes, M&G ironmongery and Wood n’ Things craft shop.