Independent traders fight to save their businesses in Alperton
- Credit: Archant
Small shop owners in Alperton face a bleak Christmas as transport bosses prepare to evict them to enlarge their units.
Alperton Sandwich Bar, Superclean dry cleaners and newsagent Colombo Mini Market on Ealing Road will see their livelihoods disappear after Transport for London (TfL) gave them their marching orders to be out by next Friday.
MP Barry Gardiner, Assembly Member Navin Shah and councillor Mili Patel joined their protest outside the tube station at the weekend, on Small Business Saturday, a national day put aside to support independent traders.
Ravi Raveendren, who manages Columbo Mini Market said: “Everything that I’ve built up for 20 years, all the people that I’ve served, all kinds of things will be lost forever.”
He said a loophole in the tenancies laws meant that he and his fellow traders, can easily be evicted with leases that carry a six month break clause.
“We want to safeguard our interest but everything is happening quickly and nobody is able to help us because the law is always on the big businesses side.”
Tfl plans to regenerate the area and turn the units into larger units which businesses can bid for in the New Year.
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Navin Shah, the London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said TFL under best practice and best price, should take into account what is best for the local community
“They’re shutting down ticket offices and these people are like customers by extension to TfL so that should be part of their business plans and best practice,’’ he said. “It’s very significant celebrating Small Business Saturday and here is a major London wide public body that wants to shut down small businesses which have provided loyal service for decades.
“They’ve been chucked out and don’t stand a chance against big businesses, the so-called brand operators.
‘‘They (TfL) really need to revue their position and withdraw the deadline to shut down the businesses on December 19.”
He added: “TfL has huge amount of properties. Small businesses need to not only survive but be encouraged to grow without being totally destroyed.”
Mr Shah said he was taking the case up with the London Assembly and the Transport Committee to try to force a policy revue with Tfl as actions such as these “could have a devastating effect” on small businesses everywhere.”
TfL said the refurbishment of Alperton station has been designed to restore the heritage shop fronts and reconfigure the retail space within the station.
A spokesman said: “To enable the refurbishment to take place, we unfortunately have to terminate the existing leases of some of our tenants.
“Once the works have been completed we will welcome all those who are interested in occupying a retail unit to submit bids. The project also includes the creation of a community focussed public piazza in front of the station in partnership with Brent Council and other proposed improvements by the council which will transform the area around Alperton Community School.”