New East End Trades Guild takes on Crossrail over lost business

PUBLISHED: 11:25 20 November 2012

Shopkeepers and traders at the Guild's launch

Shopkeepers and traders at the Guild's launch

Martin Usborne//promo

Traders have set up a new guild to fight for their rights in London’s East End with the first issue to tackle Crossrail over their lost trade.

Construction work has closed the beginning of Cambridge Heath Road in Whitechapel for several weeks with buses and all traffic diverted up to half-a-mile away.

The shopkeepers are losing business, they told last night’s launch of the East End Trades Guild.

“I will seek a meeting with Crossrail,” the new guild’s organiser Krissie Nicolson told the Advertiser.

“The traders have lost business caused by the roadworks that have lasted far longer than we expected.”

Saarfraz Loonat, who runs a hardware and ironmongery business that’s been in Cambridge Heath Road 120 years, estimates losing 65 per cent of business.

“It’s all bit of a nightmare,” he said. “There was no consultation, no warning—our daily loss is around £250 without the passing trade and our suppliers can’t make deliveries.”

He is one of 200 founding members of the new trades guild set up to give shopkeepers across the East End a voice to take on the corporate giants.

Next door trader Moosa Loonat, who runs a textile trimmings business, said: “Crossrail turned up without any notice—we’ve had no concessions on our rates.”

Even the fruit and veg seller on a stall outside the White Hart pub on the corner of Mile End Road, Muhibar Rahman, is out of business. He said: “I’ve got no money and can’t earn a living or pay my rent. I’ve got debt collectors and bailiffs on my case.”

The guild launched at a packed reception at Spitalfields Church is being organised on a street-by-street basis, with collective bargaining.

Crossrail, meanwhile, said it was “keen to meet the traders.” It had been monitoring the construction, but was “not obligated to compensate for loss of income,” a spokeswoman explained.

However, the company says it is seeking meetings with representative groups.

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