Stricken boss claims Arsenal is to blame for company’s fall

A woman who has run a car hire company for the past 23 years claims Arsenal Football Club has forced her out of business.

The club hired bailiffs to lock Joanna Carolan, 47, out of her premises in Hornsey Road, Holloway, two weeks ago.

It follows a long-running dispute over the site, which adjoins Emirates Stadium.

Ms Carolan, who established CCS Rent a Car at the age of 23, said that when Arsenal moved into Ashburton Grove in 2006 – and became her landlord – trade was crippled on match days as access became impossible.

To compensate for the huge losses, Ms Carolan started a car washing and parking business.

Meanwhile, pleas to the club for an alternative access road were ignored and she suspects Arsenal wanted to force her out to develop the land.

In the last 18 months she has been taking Arsenal to task over what she claims is a breach of contract. During this time she has not paid her rent but said it was largely because she was not issued with invoices.

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Ms Carolan, who is recovering from breast cancer, has recently been forced to close the car rental arm of the business to avoid bankruptcy and has been left with no access to her once thriving business, no job and no income.

She said: “I’ve contributed so much to businesses and employment in Islington over the years, but from the date the stadium was under construction until today we have had our right to access and egress denied.

“They could have at any time placed an alternative access route into Holloway Road, compensated our loss of business on event days or could have even relocated us.

She added: “It just seems that everyone else in the area doesn’t matter and it’s obvious they hoped we would eventually lose so much trade we would just leave – but I was not going to let that happen.”

A spokesman for Arsenal said: “We understand the impact this will have and this was a difficult decision to make. This issue goes back over three years and we have been in on-going negotiations with CCS over rent arrears for many months.”

He said that after taking legal advice about CCS dissolving, they were left with no other course of action but to reclaim the site.