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Rail bosses trying to close taxi garage are stopped in their tracks

PUBLISHED: 21:54 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:58 05 October 2010

Lofty and his mechanics who took on rail chiefs

Lofty and his mechanics who took on rail chiefs

RAIL bosses have been stopped in their tracks in their bid to buy out a small garage under the railway arches in London’s East End. Their plans to end a taxi motor-repair workshop lease and put up a luxury block of flats have hit the buffers after their planning application was turned down by the Town Hall

By Ollie Eckersley

RAIL bosses have been stopped in their tracks in their bid to buy out a small taxi garage under the railway arches in London’s East End.

Their plans to end a taxi motor-repair workshop lease and put up a luxury block of flats have hit the buffers after their planning application was turned down by Tower Hamlets council.

The David and Goliath’ battle has ended with garage owner Fikret Lofty’ Hassan winning the day after organising a petition with 200 signatures to stop Network Rail replacing his business at Three Colts Lane in Bethnal Green.

“My mechanics are relieved to have their jobs,” he told the East London Advertiser today.

“There are not only a lot of jobs on the line, but also many customers would have been hit.”

His A1 repair business got into first gear 25 years ago under another railway arch in Malcolm Place nearby, before it was shunted on to a second railway arch, then finally in 2000 to Three Colts Lane.

“We lose out every time,” the 54-year-old entrepreneur recalled. “Each time I have to keep re-establishing the business.”

Lofty looks after a fleet of 16 taxis as well as doing car repairs and has customers from all over London.

He meets Network Rail officials on Thursday to confirm his lease on the railway arch he rents, which is due to be renewed in the summer.

He received a letter from Tower Hamlets this week informing him Network Rail’s application had been booted out. He has managed to put a break on plans for yet another apartment block in the neighbourhood which is threatening London’s cab repair trade in Bethnal Green.

The planning application was refused due to “loss of existing employment” and overall detriment to the local economy, said the Town Hall. The proposed block was also unsuitable for the area and was not providing a varied enough mix of accommodation.


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