Spitalfields traders lobby Tower Hamlets mayor to stop rent and rates rises
PUBLISHED: 14:26 22 February 2013 | UPDATED: 08:17 25 February 2013
Jeremy Freedman 07956-248662, email@example.com, www.jeremyfreedman.com
Shopkeepers and other small traders fighting rocketing commercial rents and steep Business Rates in London's East End have lobbied the Mayor of Tower Hamlets on his 'walkabout' fact-finding tour.
Members of the newly-formed East End Trades Guild urged Lutfur Rahman to help stop rising costs which threaten their livelihood.
They invited him to tour Shoreditch and Spitalfields yesterday to see the crisis they’re facing at first-hand where they are up against big businesses moving into the ‘City Fringe’ neighbourhoods and being pushed out.
“Independent shops are facing the squeeze by big businesses encroaching all round,” said Trades Guild organiser Krissie Nicolson.
“Commercial landlords are squeezing as much rent as they can from small traders.
“Times have changed and the Recession doesn’t help—but landlords are threatening livelihoods.”
Some traders the Mayor met at Spitalfields Market have been slapped with eviction notices by Ballymore Properties who are reported to be selling the complex.
Les Bobroe has been fighting his notice-to-quit his Wood n’ Things toys and fancy dress business since last August.
The former cabinet maker revealed: “I’m having to pay rent rises up from £55,000 a year to £99,000, on top of huge market service charges and high Business Rates.
“It’s crippling businesses—a massive chunk of my profits are going to these people who just want small traders out and to get the big chain stores in.”
He employs seven staff, all living in the East End, who would lose their jobs if he has to go.
The Mayor began his fact-finding tour at Leila’s café in Calvert Avenue, behind Shoreditch Church, then headed to a curry house in nearby Redchurch Street.
He arrived in Spitalfields to meet fourth-generation trader Paul Gardner, whose small bag shop in Commercial Street almost went to the wall when his commercial rent began rocketing two years ago—but he won a fight to stop the rise.
The Trades Guild is now lobbying the Mayor to peg Commercial Business Rates which it says is pushing small traders out.
[pictures: Jeremy Freeedman]