Islington businesses under threat, warns Chamber of Commerce

BUINESSES in Islington are under severe threat - that is the message from the Islington Chamber of Commerce.

In an open letter, Ronke Lawal, the Chamber’s chief executive, says all local businesses are facing “more than their fair share of head aches”, and traders in Essex Road especially are reeling from new parking restrictions,

Ms Lawal said businesses were facing “more than their fair share of headaches” since the New Year, adding: “Local business owners have recently raised their concerns with the local authority to no avail.

“Without a healthy infrastructure for our local shops our borough will be left with nothing in the wake of this age called austerity.

“Lest we forget that in times of recession and hardship only the strongest survive, but that is not to say that we should not protect our weakest too.”

Councillor Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “The exact location and operational hours of some of the parking has changed as we have had to consider the needs of the Mayor’s priority bus route.

“Recent changes to parking rules and pricing are intended to help Islington businesses and shoppers as they free up parking for short stay visits.”

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George Nicolaou, manager of Jimmy’s Shoes in Essex Road, said: “If parking restrictions continue like this you will see the heart of Islington ripped out.”

Since the bus lane was added in January, he said his store has seen a fall in trading of up to 50 per cent some days. He added: “I’m seriously worried about the shop’s future.”

At least five businesses along the Essex Road have closed or moved over the past year.

Saro Castagno, owner of Amadeus hairdressing salon and former chairman of Essex Road Trading Association, said: “I’m surprised it’s only five. We have seen several businesses go.

“I can’t say it’s hand on heart to do with parking, but it doesn’t help. The cost is unjustified. What is the council doing to support the small businesses?”