Labour secure pledge that regeneration will not prompt a chain store takeover of Whitechapel
Lutfur Rahman under fire for broken promises to protect traders
Traders in Whitechapel are on tenterhooks today after Transport for London issued eviction orders for a number of TFL owned shops operating in the area. The leases were terminated following regeneration plans put forward by Lutfur Rahman, the current Mayor of Tower Hamlets, which did little to consider the impact the scheme would have on the small traders who form the backbone of Whitechapel’s traditional retail offerings.
The move to evict comes after months of concern from local residents and traders. In an attempt to win support a number of the traders met with Lutfur Rahman last summer and were assured that steps would be taken to protect their livelihoods, however no action was taken until the eviction notices were served.
There are concerns that the combination of the Royal London Hospital and a new Crossrail station together with the redevelopment planned as part of the Whitechapel Vision will force local traders out to make way for new developers. Labour have accused Rahman of failing the traders when it really mattered and said that his Whitechapel Vision plan fails to protect the local heritage and culture of the area. They also argue that the closure of small businesses will have a devastating impact on the future of the busy and popular Whitechapel street market.
In response to the concerns, London Assembly Member John Biggs secured a pledge from TLF, which owns many of the properties in the area, that the controversial Whitechapel redevelopment will not seek an influx of high street brands in the area and would retain “local, independent traders”.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:
“It’s clear that Lutfur Rahman has failed to stand up for traders in Whitechapel. Why didn’t the mayor act after he met concerned traders last summer and promised them things would be resolved?
"Once again we see that whilst Lutfur Rahman may promise the world, he just isn’t up to delivering. Whitechapel traders will feel entirely let down by Rahman’s utterly shambolic failure to act which could now end up costing people their livelihoods.”
London Assembly Member and Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
“What the Mayor doesn’t get is that his actions have consequences. The redevelopment of Whitechapel is without doubt a positive step but it cannot be done by trampling over the small local traders who contribute so much to the unique character and culture of the area.”
“TFL have pledged to me that we will not see a chain store takeover of Whitechapel which is encouraging but we need action to protect those traders already in place. A competent mayor would have been on top of this from the start, not waiting until the eviction notices have been served before acting.”