Advertisement

Stratford Market Village saved from closure after council steps in

Traders and local councillors outside the entrance of Stratford Market Village (Facundo Arrizabalaga)
Traders and local councillors outside the entrance of Stratford Market Village (Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Newham Council is to take on the lease of Stratford Market Village after traders were forced to leave their units in January after the company running the site went into administration.

Over 60 local businesses and more than 100 workers were affected by the sudden closure of the market on January 10, which has been serving local customers in the Stratford Centre since 1974.

Unex Group Holdings Limited is the landlord, but Stratford Market Properties Limited (SMPL) was the company which had the the lease until it went into administration at the start of this year.

A petition was launched a few days later by Samantha Scott of GT Spice Caribbean Takeaway which called for Unex to reopen Market Village.

The petition read: “The abrupt closure of Market Village not only affects the livelihoods of these traders but also disrupts a piece of our local history and culture that we hold dear.

“The impact is far-reaching with numerous viable businesses now left in limbo.”

Following cabinet approval on Tuesday morning, the council is to take on the lease of Market Village, which will reopen with a one-year trial period.

Reacting to today’s news, Muhammad Awais Amjad whose tech business has been in the market for the past 21 years, said he was feeling a wave of different emotions.

He said: “Once you get your only source of income taken away from you abruptly, I cannot begin to explain how it feels really, it was probably one of the toughest times I’ve [experienced].

“I’m 36 years old, I’m relatively young but it’s been the toughest thing I’ve faced in my life so far.”

He added: “It’s been a real, real struggle. There were times I didn’t want to leave my house, you go into some form of depression.

“But going through this as a group [of traders], it’s bought all of us together and we’ve become a family now, it’s like one unit.”

Ms Scott said: “I have no words to explain how overwhelmed and relieved I am that someone took us seriously and we can hopefully reopen soon. We are so glad to be back.”

Angie and Ali Akbas, owners of Centre Café said: “It means so much to regain our business of over 20 years back and be able to connect with our customers, who we have missed over the past three stressful months.”

A total of £700,000 in funding has been identified through the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Good Grown Fund and will be secured through a deed of variation.

The money will be used to support the operating costs of Market Village and the council during the one-year trial period.

The council has the option to terminate the contract, which is a 15-year lease with a one-year break clause, should the market not make enough money and traders can’t afford to pay rent.

Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz thanked the traders, who were sitting in the public gallery during this morning’s cabinet meeting, for their ‘tenacity and ongoing focus’.

Ms Fiaz said: “It has been both a pleasure and a privilege campaigning alongside them and I also need to convey my thanks and appreciation to Cllr Sabia Kamali, who from the outset has been an ally and champion of the Stratford Market Village traders.

“[She has been] resolute in her support for the market traders and bringing the plight of the market traders to the attention of myself and the wider cabinet and the council.”

Ms Fiaz added: “I am pleased that today we have been able to arrive at a resolution, it’s not been easy, it’s been particularly challenging and I’m sure officers and colleagues involved will be able to attest to that.”

Cllr Kamali thanked the traders and council officers for their help, and added: “By opening up the market, we will be supporting hundreds of employees that have been working in the market and will make a difference in the lives of many in our community.

“It will contribute to revitalising our local economy and preserving the unique character of Stratford.”

Cabinet then moved onto the vote and approved the report, which will see the council enter a 15-year lease with a one-year break clause with Unex.

Traders have been told the market is due to reopen later this month.