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Ridley Road Shopping Village: Traders thank community for support at packed protest following reprieve

PUBLISHED: 16:53 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:26 23 November 2018

Protesters gather outside Ridley Road Shopping Village. Picture: Polly Hancock

Protesters gather outside Ridley Road Shopping Village. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Traders at Ridley Road Shopping Village thanked the community for their support as more than 100 people turned out for a protest on Saturday.

Cllr Peter Snell speaks at the Ridley Road Shopping Village protest. Picture: Polly HancockCllr Peter Snell speaks at the Ridley Road Shopping Village protest. Picture: Polly Hancock

The indoor market was due to close on Friday after businesses were slapped with a two-week eviction notice by management – but a huge backlash saw it saved at the 11th hour by the building owners.

Traders have now been told they can stay for another six months, but they will then likely be turfed out. Plans have been submitted to turn the building into luxury flats and new retail units, though they have not been approved by Hackney Council.

Since the Gazette broke the news of the eviction two weeks ago the community, the council and campaigners have rallied in support.

In a letter breaking the news, managers said police had hit them with a notice leaving them no choice but to close. They had already told traders and the 60 artists in the studios upstairs to leave by December 29.

Trader Errol Beckford inside Lions Paw Records. Picture: Polly HancockTrader Errol Beckford inside Lions Paw Records. Picture: Polly Hancock

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville then claimed the managers had “betrayed” traders by using the Community Protection Notice (CPN) as an excuse to close. The notice was served after a raid as a way to solve ongoing anti-social behaviour issues, but only required increased security.

And on Saturday the traders also hit out at the management. Errol Beckford, who runs Lions Paw Records in the market, said: “I have suffered a lot through this and I’m feeling very emotional about the whole thing.

“I don’t really like what’s going on, and I’m blaming the manager. What he did was he tried to go around us by not telling us what was going on.

“I’ve got storage downstairs and stock coming from Africa, I’ve not got much money and I’m depending on what’s to come to do our thing. Only yesterday I started to sleep well, when we had a little good news.”

The protest came after traders were given a six-month reprieve. Picture: Polly HancockThe protest came after traders were given a six-month reprieve. Picture: Polly Hancock

Manager George Albert and owners Rainbow Properties were silent on the matter until Friday, which was also the deadline given by police to install the security measures.

Mr Albert told traders his firm couldn’t afford the measures and would be transferring the lease to Rainbow, allowing it to stay open on a four-week rolling lease.

Rainbow Properties’ staff also visited the market for the first time on Friday, explaining the situation.

Director Guy Ziser told the Gazette: “This is a priority for us. We know it is a gem of a market, and we understand the hardship of local traders forced to close early.”

CCTV was to be installed on Monday and 24/7 security has been agreed.

Traders had already bought stock for the busy Christmas period when they were told about the eviction, and the turnaround has come too late for some who had already left.

Mohamed Barry who has run a stall at the market for nine years, said: “It’s been hassle for us since we received the notice.

“I remember last week waking up around 12.30am and my kids weren’t sleeping and were looking at my asking: ‘What’s going on?’.

“I said: ‘They want to close the market’. My little one was telling me: ‘Daddy don’t worry when I go to university and finish my studies then I will buy a shop for you’. I was very sad and I started to cry.

“Today is happy for us to see everybody in this community supporting us, these small business people here.

“Let them stop buying our places because they are rich. They have money and they want to take everything from us. This is the place we have to come and meet as a family and make little money for a living.”

On Friday Diane Abbott told the Gazette: “This is deeply worrying for the livelihoods of those traders and the community which use the shopping centre. Hopefully this can be resolved quickly.”

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville has hailed the u-turn as a “significant result” and said he would meet owners this week. He said: “These local businesses are part of the beating heart of Dalston, and I back them and local campaigners fully.

“I will also be seeking assurances from the owners that there will be suitable space for similar businesses in their new development, which has yet to receive planning permission.”

The closure would also affect traders on the outdoor market, who use the ground floor and basement of the building for storage. Ridley Road Market traders’ association chair Larry Julian claims there’s “only a couple” of his members who use the building, but others estimate there are dozens in total.

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