We unpick the issues that have got Londoners all riled up. This week, it's the plans to evict traders from the Brixton arches.
What's all this, then?
Back in February last year, traders in the Brixton railway arches were told by their landlord, Network Rail, that there were plans to refurbish the area – which might sound like a good thing, but we’re not just talking about a lick of paint here. The ‘improvements’ involve hiking up rents by more than 350 percent over the next six years, and after a year of um-ing and ah-ing, Network Rail has served eviction notices to 21 traders, giving them just six months to leave.
Is anyone doing anything to help them?
Nearly 30,000 people have signed a Change. org petition calling on Network Rail to stop the evictions and, at the time of writing, the planning application had received 786 objections. Ray Murphy, owner of Budget Carpets, and a man who clearly knows the value of a bargain, said: ‘It’s all about the money.’ And he’s not wrong. The only two businesses that look like they won’t be leaving are HT Pawnbrokers and betting shop William Hill. Which is useful, because you can go into one and then come out with something to spend in the other one. It’s the perfect business model, really.
What does Network Rail have to say?
Network Rail seems mostly concerned about making sure it’s getting a decent return on its property. A spokesperson said that the proposed ‘stepped rental programme’ will bring the rates back up to ‘open market values’. But it isn’t all about cold, hard cash; Network Rail also recognises the traders’ ‘contribution to the local community’. Just not enough to not evict them.
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