MP Meg Hillier to host House of Commons discussion over London Fields rent hikes

Traders from London Fields. Picture: Polly Hancock

Traders from London Fields. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Meg Hillier will quiz the top brass of Network Rail over crippling rent hikes at a House of Commons meeting, the Gazette can reveal.

The arches in London Fields. Picture: Polly Hancock

The arches in London Fields. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Traders in London Fields have formed The Guardians of the Arches campaign group to fight 200 per cent increases from the transport company.

Some firms have already been forced out by the demands, both in London Fields and elsewhere in the borough.

And at the group’s first gathering inside London Fields Brewery on Tuesday morning, Hackney’s finance boss Cllr Guy Nicholson revealed a meeting he had requested last year was finally in the diary for this week.

“Instead of having the meeting in Hackney, we have asked Meg Hillier to host it in the House of Commons,” he said, adding that the MP was speaking with Network Rail CEO Mark Carne that day.

The Hackney South and Shoreditch MP later told the Gazette: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. But they’re facing a double whammy of increased rents and a business rates hike.

“I have raised it with the secretary of state and am meeting with Network Rail to discuss how they can support Hackney’s businesses.”

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Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville will also be at the Commons meeting, having written to Mr Carne in November telling him to stop charging “Shoreditch rents” across the borough.

The traders believe Network Rail is looking to turn the industrial businesses that have been in the area for years into cafes and restaurants that can afford to pay higher rent.

One trader, who didn’t want to be named, suggested to Cllr Nicholson that he tells Network Rail the town hall would not accept planning uses for cafes and restaurants in place of light industrial uses, as a deterrent.

“If the council wants to preserve the industrial businesses it should be more sensitive to the fact that Network Rail is doing this,” he said. “You are going to lose these guys. You should tell the CEO we are not going to allow it. It’s something concrete you can go and say to them.”

Nhi Vinh Chu of Chu’s Garage also revealed she had received requests to join their group from traders outside of Hackney who are in the same situation.