London Fields traders heading to Parliament in fight to stop Network Rail selling off arches

Traders from Chu's Garage, E5 Bakery, Maxwell & Pinborough, and Sulamen Ozer. Picture: Polly Hancock

Traders from Chu's Garage, E5 Bakery, Maxwell & Pinborough, and Sulamen Ozer. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Arches traders from London Fields will lead a group of businesses from across the country at a meeting in Parliament tonight to stop Network Rail selling off their businesses.

The Guardians of the Arches campaign group was formed by London Fields business owners early last year to fight 300 per cent rent hikes, which were first revealed by the Gazette.

Earlier this year a group of the traders were finally forced out after being given a deadline to agree to new contracts.

The businesses have accused Network Rail of trying to drive up market value ahead of its mass sale of property, which it is aiming to have completed by August, for up to £1.2billion.

Now their campaign has gone national and gained cross-party support from politicians, councils and trade bodies. MP Meg Hillier and Hackney’s business chief Cllr Guy Nicholson are expected to attend the meeting, having both supported the traders since their campaign began. So too are traders from all over the country.

Will Brett, of the New Economics Foundation, which is supporting the traders, told the Gazette: “This evening the tenants of the railway arches are coming together to make themselves heard.

“Many of them have already faced massive and unsustainable rent hikes. Now they’re looking at the global investment firms lining up bids for the railway arches and wondering whether they have a future under the arches.

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“Tonight businesses from all over the country are taking their case to politicians from across the spectrum, who often claim to be on the side of small businesses.

“Now is the time when they can put words into action and join the Guardians of the Arches in their fight to pause this massive sell-off of a public asset.”

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