Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Were Trashed in London Riots. Six Months Later We're Back on Our Feet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Were Trashed in London Riots. Six Months Later We're Back on Our Feet

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant

AT FIRST it was with curiosity that Margaret Asare looked out of the window of her optician's shop as a small group of youths began to cause trouble.

Like many other traders in Hackney town centre, she thought it would only be a short time before police intervened and the troublemakers were arrested and dispersed.

But her feelings soon turned to horror and disbelief as she saw thugs wielding rocks and machetes running down Mare Street unchallenged. The London riots were under way, and Miss Asare had no option but to abandon the business she had spent four years lovingly building up.

Recounting the events of August last year, she said: "There were elderly people on the street, people shopping in Tesco. Things started off here at 2pm or 3pm.

"They were coming down the street with rocks and machetes, people were fleeing their shops for their lives, and that's what we did. I saw people jumping in and out of my shop window. People on the bus were having rocks thrown at their windows." She returned to find her store, Eye London opticians, wrecked with damage valued at about [pounds sterling]20,000. But less than six months later it is back in business. Evidence of the riot is still there. Miss Asare points to the looters' fingerprints on the wall and a beam missing from the window.

With the help of a grant from charity Retail Trust and her insurance -- which was capped at [pounds sterling]8,000 -- she has gone some way to rebuilding the firm. But she says she has no idea when her [pounds sterling]5,000 settlement from the Metropolitan Police Authority -- now replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime -- will come through. The amount will still leave her out of pocket.

The Walthamstow businesswoman paid tribute to customers: "Even when we were boarded up they were coming. Some people go out of their way to come here from across town to buy glasses, it's very nice."

But Miss Asare, 43, said she had lost faith in the police: "People are disappointed that they were not afforded more protection by the authorities. It shouldn't have been allowed to happen in our community. …

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