Traders fear for future of Chapel Market as Manze’s announces closure after 106 years
- Credit: Archant
Chapel Market traders were today fearful for the future of the Islington institution following the announced closure of its century-old pie and mash shop Manze’s.
Owner Tim Nicholls told the Gazette yesterday the closure is down to business rate rises.
David Twydell, chairman of the Chapel Market Traders Association and market greengrocer, said: “It’s an icon. It’s been there for over a hundred years. I think it’s a tragedy.”
He explained the closure of the shops would have a knock-on effect on the dwindling market, by reducing footfall.
“I think we’ll be the last generation in the market, to be honest with you,” he said.
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“It may turn into something like the Broadway Market which is all very well, but I wouldn’t want to see it like a coffee market.”
Other traders echoed Mr Nicholls’ criticism of soaring business rates – and accused the council of a lack of support.
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Fishmonger Gary Curtis, 63, said: “The rates are crippling. If you have a look along the market here the council are letting out these takeaway food stalls.
“When you’ve got these parked outside a shop paying great big business rates when they’re paying nothing, how can they compete?”
He trades from a stall rather than a permanent shop, but criticised other traders for packing their tents tightly together, restricting access to and sight of the shops.
Butcher Raymond Roe, 57, who runs a shop in the street, said: “The council run this market but they don’t run it with a business sense.
“If they were to get a big corporation to sponsor it, say the Emirates market, money could be put in the market to improve it and make it nice.
“At the moment it’s not being attractive to the customer. So it needs an investment.”
He also criticised the council for not letting customers park on the street on Mondays when there are no stalls present, and said parking tickets have driven away his customers.
But he said the town hall was not receptive to proposals for change.
“They’re all frightened to make a decision,” he said. “They’re not organised.”
Islington’s business chief Cllr Asima Shaikh countered: “Chapel Market is an Islington institution, with fantastic traders and loyal customers.
“We’re committed to working with traders to support and improve the market. We launched our Market Trader of the Year competition at Chapel Market this spring, and we have more plans in the pipeline to promote and celebrate the market.”
And she pointed out: “The decision to hike business rates for many businesses in Islington was taken by the government. Islington Council campaigned against it and highlighted the impact we feared it would have on local business.”
But greengrocer David Jackson, 64, whose family have been running a stall for generations, said: “We’re getting together with the council and councillors are trying to build the market up again.
“They’re coming round to our sort of thinking. But all markets are on the decline.
“My family’s been down here on this exact pitch for over 100 years. It’s sad. There used to be four pie shops down here.
“The business rates are what’s going to kill all the businesses round here. The shop behind me has changed hands three times in the last six years. The business rates go up and then the landlords put their rents up.”
Of Manze’s, he said: “I eat there once a week. Double pie and mash.”