Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Traders Protest at Council's [Pounds Sterling]70m Sale of Shops to Developer; EVENING STANDARD SAVE OUR SMALL SHOPS CAMPAIGN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Traders Protest at Council's [Pounds Sterling]70m Sale of Shops to Developer; EVENING STANDARD SAVE OUR SMALL SHOPS CAMPAIGN

Article excerpt

HUNDREDS of independent London shops fear closure after a council agreed to sell them to one of Britain's wealthiest property developers.

The [pounds sterling]70 million deal is being seen as one of the biggest single setbacks to the capital's small trader community since the Standard launched its Save Our Small Shops campaign last year.

Details emerged last night after Islington council's executive ratified the sale of 222 mainly retail businesses in the Amwell Street, Essex Road and Upper Street areas to pay for work on schools and roads.

The buyer is an Islington-based property company, Structadene, founded by developer David Pearl, 61, who was estimated to be worth [pounds sterling]178 million in this year's Rich List.

After the meeting traders told the Standard of their fears that their new landlords will simply push up rents and seek to replace them with chain stores.

Dale Barter, 48, who runs Amwell Veterinary Surgery, said: "What power do we have, as independent, small businesses against someone that rich and powerful?

"Why should one of the richest men in Britain be coming in to effectively fund the area's schools? The council shouldn't need to fund its schools by forcing small businesses into the sale of their business. It should have its own money." Businesses affected include a delicatessen, an antiques shop and a florist. One, W&C K King Chemist, has been at its site in Amwell Street since 1839.

The traders have been given the chance tobid for their own premises but few believe they will able to match the offer from Structadene.

Simon Hancock, 37, who owns Simon's Autos in Percy Circus, said he will have to sell his home to try to buy his lease.

He said: "There's no way I can lose my business. Fixing cars is the only thing I'm good at. If I lose my business I lose everything. I will have to sell my house, but I've got three young children so things are going to be very difficult

but the council has left me with no other option." Opposition Labour councillor Richard Greening said: "The Liberal Democrat council is ploughing ahead with this sell-off despite widespread opposition from thousands of residents, traders and local voluntary groups. …

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