Jeremy Corbyn demands meeting with Network Rail chiefs to discuss Holloway Road railway arches sell off

PUBLISHED: 11:20 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:19 17 September 2018

Jeremy Corbyn visits Scotland. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn visits Scotland. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn has written to Network Rail bosses expressing his concern about the company selling off its railway arches in the Holloway Road and throughout the country.

Arches traders outside Parliament. Pic: GUARDIANS OF THE ARCHESArches traders outside Parliament. Pic: GUARDIANS OF THE ARCHES

In his latest intervention, the Labour leader has requested a meeting with Network Rail’s chair Sir Peter Hendy and its chief exec Andrew Haines – where Mr Corbyn hopes to discuss the Guardians of the Arches campaign’s 13 demands with the transport chiefs.

The Gazette was at the meeting when the Guardians of the Arches was formed in London Fields last year to oppose crippling rent hikes.

The campaign has since gone national, with hundreds of members across the country, and it now opposes the arches being sold off.

The Islington North MP, who backed the campaign when it formed last year, wrote: “I know from visiting traders in the Holloway Road arches how much pride they take in the services they provide and how concerned they are about the future.

“Many were already feeling the strain of excessive rent increases and now they feel their livelihoods are under serious threat.”

The Guardians’ 13 demands include formal recognition as tenants, a rent audit and restrictions, more secure tenancies, and better consultation.

Research by the New Economics Foundation found these under-arch businesses contribute £725million annually to the UK economy.

Scott Tudge has been running CrossFit Evolving, under a Holloway Road railway arch, for the past seven years.

He told the Gazette: “We had quite a big rent increase about 18 months ago which was at the time way above what we thought was market value.

“I’m not too worried about the future of this property but I do fear for other companies out of solidarity between small businesses.”

He said two of the neighbouring units have only just been rented, despite being on the market for two years.

But Scott added: “I hope nobody gets negatively affected but I’m sure there will be some horror stories over the next few months.”

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