‘Consultation? All the council did was to ask a few yuppies how they feel’ say Hackney traders

Maya Price, a staff member at Lookers, Ayub Shaikh, proprietor at Lookers and Pawan Chawla, of Desi

Maya Price, a staff member at Lookers, Ayub Shaikh, proprietor at Lookers and Pawan Chawla, of Designer Baby are opposed to pedestrianisation of the Narrow Way - Credit: Archant

Traders on one of Hackney’s main thoroughfares were left shell-shocked after a trial pedestrianisation scheme – which they claim is killing business – was made permanent.

The Narrow Way before pedestrianisation

The Narrow Way before pedestrianisation - Credit: Archant

Shopkeepers at the top end of Mare Street -– popularly referred to as the Narrow Way – were horrified to learn from the Gazette that town hall bosses have decided to close the road to buses for good following a trial which started last June.

They say they were not consulted or notified about the scheme which they say has hit business hard.

Ayub Shaikh, proprietor of ladies fashionwear shop Lookers, said: “This is the first I’ve heard of it. We are very shocked. We were supposed to have a meeting on February 21 where we were told we would hear the results of the trial, but it was cancelled 24 hours before it was due to take place and postponed until March 13.

“They have not consulted us. Their consultation means asking a few yuppies how they feel.

“Our business is dead. Some days we are just getting by. When they had to redirect buses down the street temporarily after they closed Amhurst Road, business was up by 50 per cent. It’s our livelihood but the council don’t care.”

Pawan Chawla, proprietor of Designer Baby, said: “The council have not kept us informed at all. The main issue I have is that they keep repeating traders are in favour but they have been supplied with a petition with 90 per cent of Narrow businesses saying they are against it. I’m very disappointed as we are already struggling with our businesses. This is taking away the footfall away from us and transferring it to the fashion hub at our expense. Things picked up when the building collapsed on Amhurst Road but that’s not likely to happen again. It’s our livelihood and we are suffering.”

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Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The trial has demonstrated how pedestrianisation can improve the Narrow Way environment for traders, shoppers, residents and visitors.

“This is a major transformative scheme for Hackney Central to nurture a unique and vibrant town centre for years to come. We are committed to supporting local businesses through this transformation and engaging with all interested parties about the future of the town centre.”

A council spokesman said: “During a survey conducted for the council, independent specialists spoke to 48 businesses and a total of 960 residents, shoppers and visitors. In addition, Hackney Council received separately comments from more than 310 residents, visitors and traders during community events, from online comments, emails and phone calls.”

David Rowe, Head of Borough Projects and Programmes at Transport for London, which has worked with the council on the scheme, said: “We look forward to receiving a revised bid from the London Borough of Hackney for their Narrow Way proposals following our work with them on this successful trial.”