Gazette letters: Chapel Market, Manze’s and Highbury plan

Manze in Chapel Market, Islington. Picture: ABBAS PANJWANI

Manze in Chapel Market, Islington. Picture: ABBAS PANJWANI - Credit: Archant

We recognise the importance and value of our street markets, which have been the lifeblood of Islington for hundreds of years, writes Cllr Asima Shaikh, cabinet member for business, Islington Council.

We understand the concerns of traders in Chapel Market and hold regular meetings with the traders’ association to brainstorm and develop initiatives that will increase visitor numbers, including better signage and improving the market’s look and feel.

We will soon be bringing new traders to Chapel Market on Thursdays to Saturdays to create an even more diverse and vibrant market while retaining its traditional character. We also joined the national Love Your Market campaign this year with an event in Chapel Market and launched our Market Trader of the Year competition there, encouraging customers to vote for their favourite stall.

The government’s local rate relief scheme was introduced with no advance warning, and this has delayed the speed we can administer it, but we will do all we can to help.

The news that the institution that is Manze’s pie and mash shop on Chapel Market is set to close its doors is devastating for us all, writes Hak Huseyin, vice-chairman, Islington Chamber of Commerce.

Traditional family-run businesses like Manze’s are part of what makes Islington such a diverse and great place to live and visit.

The sad fact is that the government’s business rates increase is having a massive impact in Islington – just as local businesses, Islington Chamber of Commerce, Angel Business Improvement District and Islington Council said it would.

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The total bill for business rates in Islington is rising by almost £100million. It’s simply not doable.

Despite working with the council to organise a 14,250-signature petition against the government’s rate rise, which we personally handed in together at the treasury, the government has ploughed on with its devastating tax hike for local firms.

We need the government to see sense and bring forward much more generous rate reliefs to support local businesses. Despite a Conservative manifesto promise to look at the rates systems, we haven’t heard a thing.

Meanwhile businesses in the borough simply cannot cope and we fear this is only the beginning of the end for some of our businesses. Once the rates kick in, businesses will be kicked out!

We will continue to do all we can to support local small businesses, including working with the council to keep making the case for local small businesses to government.

Manze’s pie and mash shop is a family-run institution that has been there over 100 years and is an important thread of the fabric that makes the Angel unique, writes Christine Lovett, chief executive, Angel.London.

Angel.London is painfully aware of the massive effect of the government’s business rate rises on all businesses, big and small. We represent them; we speak to them every day; we do our utmost to support them.

That’s why, earlier this year, we joined forces with Islington Council and Islington Chamber of Commerce to organise a petition protesting against the rises (see above).

We receive calls daily from businesses at Angel struggling to keep afloat, having been hit by massive rate rises. Islington has the third highest increases in the country, the average set to hit 45 per cent. We’re offering bespoke advice to each business regarding whether and how to challenge their rates. We did help Manze’s appeal against theirs, but the government turned it down.

Sadly, it’s too late for Manze’s, but we’re still doing our utmost working with Islington Council to make Chapel Market a busy, thriving place to support all the businesses there. We need every single one of them to stay open to give Angel the distinct and interesting flavour for which it is known.

I was pleased to see TfL is having a look at reopening the old Highbury station as part of an expansion of the existing Highbury and Islington station on the other side of the road, writes Jonathan Wright, Islington Green Party.

This would be especially welcome if it creates step-free access to the station from street level. We in the Green Party believe investment in public transport and facilities that are accessible for people with disabilities is a vital component in the better, greener city we would like to see.

It is also encouraging that the transport decision-makers seem to be listening to residents who want the old station restored to use and to see new homes built on the site.

It would, however, be unfortunate if the changes included the demolition of the music venue now on the site.

Live music venues are an important part of the service-based and community-focused economies that we hope will play a more prominent part in the future.