High street shops hit by rail closures

BUSINESSES have accused Transport for London bosses of decimating their high street after persistent Jubilee line closures has led to plummeting sales. Some stores say footfall has shrunk to such an extent their takings have fallen by more than a quart

BUSINESSES have accused Transport for London bosses of 'decimating' their high street after persistent Jubilee line closures has led to plummeting sales.

Some stores say footfall has shrunk to such an extent their takings have fallen by more than a quarter since the line began closing at weekends in April 2007.

TfL initially announced the Jubilee line would close on weekends until December 2009, but the line is due to shut for a further 40 weekends.

Shopkeepers along Kilburn High Road, say they have been forced to scale back staff numbers and work longer hours to claw back profits.


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Zulfi Amade, owner of Zulfi's barbers in Belsize Avenue, Kilburn, said: "It is desperate. We are seeing the decimation of the high road. My takings have fallen by at least a quarter because of the closures. It is a killer."

Tube lines, the private contractor charged with upgrading the Jubilee line under the Public Private Partnership initiative, is fined �4 million for each month the project is delayed, meaning that TfL will have pocketed �16m by May - when Tube lines expect to have finished work.

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But residents and businesses impacted by the closures say they have not seen a penny, and are calling for the money to be invested in the community.

Independent shops said the fall in trade along with higher rents and business rates was leaving them more vulnerable to being 'swallowed up' by the supermarkets.

Kash Pinning, manager at cash Xchange, which sells music equipment, said: "February was probably the worst month I've ever seen for business and I've worked here for more than 13 years.

"The closure of the Jubilee line has affected Saturday trade considerably, and it has been made worse by the recent road works."

Ed Fordham, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, accused Mayor of London Boris Johnson of purposely neglecting the area.

He said: "The closure is sucking the life blood out of our local community. To order these closures when a recession is on without thinking through the effect on people living and working here is a public disgrace."

Tube lines said that delays to work were caused by TfL's refusal to allow them to close the line on all the days originally suggested. They added that the weekend closures were necessary because there was not enough time at night to carry out the works.

A Tube lines spokesman said: "Closures are unavoidable but we are working to a clear programme to complete the project in May this year."

A TfL spokeswoman said: "We share the frustration of customers and businesses who have suffered more disruption than needed and urge Tube Lines to complete the work as soon as possible - the upgrade is now expected to be finished in October 2010.

"Tube Lines is fined �4m every four-week period the upgrade is delayed.

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