Struggling Fonthill Road traders hit out over £1,000 licences for street furniture
PUBLISHED: 10:10 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 11 December 2019
Struggling traders in Fonthill Road are furious after being hit with unexpected bills for having tables, chairs and clothes rails on the pavement.
The famous shopping street in Finsbury Park has seen a decline in footfall over recent years and the cafe and shop owners say the fee of almost £1,000 is simply too much for them.
The council says it is making sure all businesses are licensed to have street furniture, which can cause obstruction to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
But Ayhan Numan of Happy Days Grill said: "I don't understand. We've never had to pay this before. We already pay £9,000 in business rates, and that's with a 33 per cent relief.
"It's really quiet around here. I'm here seven days a week until 11pm to try and make it work.
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"People like to sit outside, particularly in the summer. The cafe isn't big. We have 30 seats inside so if we lose the extra eight people outside it will affect us."
Flory Batantu says not being able to have a clothes rail outside his shop Bien Avenue takes away trade. "It's advertising for us, " he said. "I've had to take it inside now. Of course it will reduce business."
Traders also argue their neighbours in Stroud Green Road and Blackstock Road, which have far more footfall, pay less in business rates.
"They must think we are making big money," added Ayhan. "Yes, 20 years ago people were, but they have gone. They have big houses and nice cars but we've got nothing. When they were here trading business rates were cheap and it was free to park. Now we have no business and they are charging us more!"
Nurgil Tarim emphasised the problems with charging £6 an hour to park in the street, something that was introduced in recent years. She said: "They don't want to come. If they come to buy a bridal dress they have to spend all day here. That will cost £50."
Islington Council did not comment on the issue.