Cameras & pedestrianisation 'killing our businesses', claim Chapel Market store owners
PUBLISHED: 15:22 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:22 10 July 2019
Chapel Market traders claim road restrictions and newly installed traffic cameras are "killing their businesses" - with takings allegedly plunging by as much as 25 per cent in a week.
Islington Council has banned cars and delivery vans from driving down Chapel Market between 9.45pm to 4pm on Tuesday to Saturday, which traders claim is a key delivery slot.
The street has also been pedestrianised from 8.30am to 11am on Mondays and between 9.45am and 2pm on Sundays.
Islington Council introduced speed cameras to enforce its new rules on July 28. That's when it kicked off.
Dins Gill, who runs Chapel DIY and Angel Floors, said: "It's killed trade around here. Just in a week I'm down 25 per cent in takings - and disabled people can't get in. If I can't get goods in, what am I supposed to sell?
"I got a wood delivery today - pallets of wood. How am I going to get that in? It's impossible. Stupid,
"I have a carpet shop down the road. How am I supposed to lug big massive roles of carpet?"
He gets 20 deliveries a week to his stores, and claims drivers are presently struggling to drop off goods during permitted time slots.
"It's a cash cow," he added, "that's all it is. Every time someone turns around the corner [into Chapel Market] they make £65." In the space of an hour the Gazette witnessed more than 10 delivery vans mistakenly driving into the pedestrianised road.
Business folk at the end of the market closest to the junction with Penton Street feel they're being unfairly impacted by the rules, given that there aren't stalls outside their shops.
But the council and Chapel Market Traders' Association say they can't organise new activities, like a "foodie Friday" of street eat stalls or jumble sales, to fill the space until it's safely free of lorries. David Twydell, chair of Chapel Market Traders' Association, who has a fruit stall in the market, said: "It's a nightmare when you're busy and you've got cars and big vans pulling up. I'm trying to make a living here. We have all got to try and work together but it's a market and people walk around markets - it's a health and safety thing. It's only going to work if [the currently empty section] is used as a market, otherwise it's just going to be a cash cow for the council. It's a third of the market it used to be and we're trying to revitalise it. Unfortunately, there is always going to be somebody upset. But it would be better for [the businesses complaining] if more people came to the market in the long term. It's more footfall.
But he added: "It's a temporary thing and if it doesn't work we'll oppose it and be on their side."
Ali Hussain, 33, has been running N1 Grill for the past 16 years. He says it's been so quiet in the past few weeks he fears for the business's future.
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"This is affecting my business big time," he said. "I get a lot of passing customers and people with cars. I've been telling people: 'Look out - you're going to get a ticket.' Since I've told people, no one has come in. I swear to god every day I'm losing £60 to £70."
Ali also complained that he opens his store at 11.30am, and has no way of driving to work or collecting deliveries once he's opened. There's also a car park used by businesspeople in Grant Street, just off Chapel Market, but Ali - and many other traders - claim they're paying £85 a month for the facility they can now only drive into at allocated times.
Nav Johal, 42, who's run Tech Exchange in Chapel Market for the past 12 years, told the Gazette: "It's a joke - I don't know why they have done it. [Islington Council] said it was to create more space to walk through the market and more stalls. I don't understand why they have done it.
"They have pavements to walk on. It's affecting our business: it's dead because people can't drive down here and take stuff in and out their cars."
He added: "It's hard to get a delivery and say to a company: 'Can you come between 4 and 6 in the evening?' How can you? They're not bothered.
"We're the ones who contribute the most to the market and contribute the business rates.
"If they're going to kill our businesses by doing this we are going to leave the market."
Erkan Aydin, of Chapel Market Fruit and Veg, said: "We have to go a long way to get stuff and bring it by trolley. It takes a long time and makes the costs high. We carry three pallets of vegetables from the market every day. The cameras don't bring any benefit to local people. They are putting restrictions on businesses. It's unacceptable. We should do something.
"If you keep silent they will keep coming after you."
Islington's business chief Cllr Asima Shaikh said: "Chapel Market is one of Islington's key shopping destinations and we have been working hard with all of the businesses there on ways to keep it thriving. "The new traffic management arrangements are designed to make the area safer, more accessible and more inviting for pedestrians who are shopping in the area, as well as offering the possibility to put on activities and events to help build a vibrant, thriving town centre with lots to see and do. However, the scheme is still in its trial phase - feedback from everyone is welcome and will be taken on board."
The town hall notes firms can still take deliveries outside of core market hours of 9.45 to 4pm.
The argument is this scheme will make the road safer and lead to an increased footfall over time, which will benefit all businesses.
Islington Council also refutes any suggestion businesses weren't consulted.
But it adds that the scheme is still in its trial phase, and as such, any additional feedback is welcome,
Islington Council will also be approaching all firms with vacant pitches outside their shops to see if they want to open a stall to generate extra trade.