"Walk out of Upton Park tube station and turn left: Queen's Market sprawls out to your right. This is arguably the most 'London' of London's markets, a heady collision of different immigrant communities - Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Bangladeshi, south-east Asian - under one roof. The fruit and vegetables are some of the best and cheapest you'll find in the capital: pick up whole chickens (never mind pleading for giblets, here you get the whole bird save its feathers), a kilo of beetroot for a quid, or nearly-flapping fish from one of the half dozen fishmongers. But it's the added extras you get here that keep us coming back. Enthusiastic home chefs will love the kitchenware..."
On 10th September FoQM attended mayor's Questions at City Hall withquestions being raised by long time supporter Jenny Jones. Jenny Jones asked Boris Johnson at the London Assembly's Question Timeon 10 September 2008: "Would you be prepared to commission apiece of work which looks at…………into existing planning policies and whether ornot they do support streetmarket retail outlet." Boris Johnson: "Yes I will certainly dothat, I am determined tosupport street market, wonderful part of London lifeand can bring greatbenefits to local communities and on low pay and interested in that" Jenny Jones: "When this piece of work isdone will it go into theLondon Plan" Boris Johnson: "I am certainly interested inthat argument and I ampersuadable upon that." The mayorpromised to make an incoginto visit to the market very soon.
WATCH OUT - St. Modwens, coming to a town near you!
Walthamstow, Welwyn Hatfield, Edmonton Green Market, Bognor Regis, Brighton's West Pier, Farnborough, Upton Park.... why are local people up in arms against St Modwen?
MARKET'S DEVELOPER RETALIATES
By LARRY FERGUSON
NEWHAM Council’s chosen developer for the proposed redevelopment of Queens Market has challenged claims that the scheme will adversely affect ethnic minorities and the poor. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends of Queens Market (FoQM) argued the Town Hall’s equality impact assessment showed that the recould be a gap in food provision for these groups, as reported by the Recorder on January 2. But St Modwen, which will carry out any redevelopment, including the construction of apartments, shops and a new-look market at the Green Street, Upton Park, site, has echoed the views of the council over the claims. The company said FoQM’s criticism was based on a report carried out by the Town Hall 18 months ago, when it was a supermarket-based scheme, and the proposals are now fundamentally different. St Modwen added that a full equality impact assessment is being undertaken jointly with Newham Council, which will formpart of its planning application, and this will address the affordable food issue. A statement released by the developer states: “From a review of recent draft studies and reports into Queens Market taken as part of the assessment, St Modwen is confident that there will be an increase in quality and range of affordable food offered at the new Queens Market rather than a decrease inq uality.” A series of discussions and workshops are now taking place with ethnic and other minority groups to ensure they are fully aware of the proposals, and every opportunity is being provided to allow these groups to have input and help to form the scheme, according to the company. “St Modwen, Newham Council, the Queens Market Traders Association and the Queens Market branch of the National Market Traders’ Federation are all keen to reassure customers that the plans for the new Queens Market will deliver a bigger and better market, which will be designed to preserve its vibrant and international feel.” But a spokeswoman for FoQM, which believes that only refurbishment is necessary and wants the market to stay in public hands, said the site will become a “business interest” in the hands of St Modwen. Of course they will increase the traders’ rents and add service charges.” she added. “And of course this will increase the cost of food. .......................................................................................
Local newspapers/ publications/ radio channels featuring our story so far:
In the last few years the Save Queen's Market campaign has been catapulted into the national news as all over the country weak councils cave in to the demands of big businesses like Asda/WalMart and developers who put profit beforepeople. Journalists recognise that this story has national ramifications.
The following article appeared in the Evening Standard (24/3/2006)
The developer accused of strangling market's traders
by Jonathan Prynne, Consumer Affairs Editor
A property developer was accused today of threatening two London markets and a shopping centre. St Modwen Properties is said to have imposed huge rent and service charge increases ons truggling retailers. It has already taken over and "modernised" a market in Edmonton, which traders claim has been followed by a catastrophic decline in business. Last week, the Birmingham firm signed a deal for the £75 million relocation of Queen's Market, Upton Park. St Modwen is also landlord of Elephant & Castle shopping centre andone of three firms shortlisted for its redevelopment. Another development at Archway has been put on hold amid concern among traders.The company which made a pre-tax profit of £46.3 million last year; has become the focus of campaigners backing the Evening Standard's drive to save London's small shops. Its schemes have been opposed by local traders, who allege it is only interested in "yuppie" housing on sites it takes over. St Modwen developments are typically "anchored" by huge Asda supermarkets. Local traders, many of whom serve communities with low-income mainly black, Middle Eastern and asian families, say this is unfair competition for them. Mark Jones of Friends of Queen's Market said its character will be lost by moving from West Ham. "It is redolent of the markets of Karachi and Kingston, Jamaica. We do not want it replaced by characterless marble floors, searing lighting and burly security guards." Campaigners claim the new development will not be able to accommodate all the traders and that those who transfer will face huge service charges, though St Modwen has agreed to freeze rents initially. They point to the experience of traders in Edmonton, where Enfield council sold the market to St Modwen six years ago. Louis Bullen, who runs Moore Fruit there, said the firm "sucked the life" out. "I used to sell 1,000 boxes of bananas a week. Now I doubt if it's even 50," he said."If people see empty units and empty shops they just don't want to go." He said he has paid £80,000 in service charges and that a rent freeze since the takeover will end in November. Elephant& Castle shopkeeper Shamin Uddin said: "I have seen my rent rise 100 per cent in the past decade and St Modwen wants to increase it a further 300per cent. [It] intends to remove as many small traders as possible prior to redevelopment."St Modwen denied it was anti-markets. Chairman Anthony Glossop, who earned £533,000 last year; said: "A number of our schemes nationally have been developed round improved market facilities."
Conservareil Mercato della ReginaAmiamo ilMercato della Regina
Market forces by Daisy Greenwell,
What's On In London,16/3/2006
Of all the markets in London, Queen's Market is the most diverse, for its food, traders and shoppers. Sadly, it's also the most threatened, with an Asda superstore waiting to pounce. It's a biting cold day and I'm heading for Queen's Market in Upton Park, where the bellowing calls of the market traders can be heard from the Tube station. This market has been providing East Enders with cheap fruit and veg, fish, pots, pans, bolts of material and pretty much anything else you can imagine (and lots you can't) for about 200 years. Prices in Green Street are fantastically low. You can get juicy tomatoes for 10p a pound, suitcases for a tenner and eye brow threading for £2. Most of the market pitches have been passed down from father to son for generations, and the market has provided the setting where many immigrant families made their first few pounds in Britian. Mainly Jewish in the 50s and Caribbean in the 60s, it now has a strong Asian influence. The 160 stalls are surrounded by 70 small shops selling piles of things rarely found in the UK: pickled mangoes, gleaming sari material, palm oil and sacks of spices. Despite being a rainy Tuesday morning, the market is bustling, the traders are trading jokes, and lots of them focus on a huge banner stretched across the market entrance. It reads: 'We are building a better Queen's Market for Greeen Street' and arrived just yesterday, to the dismay of the stallholders. For this 'better' Queen's Market is highly debatable, and a bitter fight is currently being held between those who love the market as it is, and the New Labour Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales. Sir Robin, known in the market as Sir Robbin', has drawn up plans with St Modwens, a property developer whose history of 'redevelopment' I'm told includes the ruination of Farnborough town centre and the strangling of Edmonton Green market. The council aims to sell the Queen's Market site to St Modwen on150-year lease. A 47,000 square foot Asda superstore will be built where the market currently sits, along with a block of flats costing around £200,000 each, far above the usual property price for this area. The market and the surrounding shops will be relocated and will become a market in a mall. Accordingto local resident and campaigner Mark Jones, the Mayor has used "sophistry and semantics" to dupe people into believing the Asda will bring only good, in the form of 300 new jobs. The publicly funded magazine the council sends to every household, littered with pictures of Sir Robin (18 in the issue before last), regularly extols the 'improvement' of the market. He has stated many times that if the public turn down his plans after they have been put to a final consultation they will not go ahead, so to the stallholders the new sign above the market reveals a certain presumptuousness, or perhaps lying. Maybe the area is in need of a supermarket? A search for 'Newham' and 'supermarkets' on yell.com, gives 47 search results. Many are small family owned shops, and there's an Iceland five minutes walk away, a Tesco around the corner, and three Asda within two miles. A recent report by Corporate Watch bodes badly for the market, revealing that: "Supermarket development compromises the economic viability of small independent retailers and destroys the social role that small shops provide in bringing together communities." In effect, supermarkets are neutron bombs whose effect is felt many miles from the epicentre. And whilst there certainly will be jobs created by its arrival, they will be part time, for female second wage earners, and those lost will be to the male heads of household - the stallholders and small shop owners. Only 45 of the 70 shops around the market have been given a place in the redevelopment,which for many here raises the question: what happens to those 25 families whose businesses will be taken from them? There has been no mention ofcompensation. But even those allowed to remain won't fare much better, crippled by the commercial rents they will have to pay and the new service charge being introduced for both shops and market stalls. Overall costs could rise by over 50 per cent, as those in Edmonton market did. Campaigners are also concerned because cash spent in the market filters back into the community, whilst money spent at Asda will go into the pockets of the shareholders of this Texas-owned company. Wandering around the market I ask people what they think, as the council's MORI poll concluded that "51 per cent of local residents were in favour of redeveloping Queen's Market." I speak to 15 different people, all of whom turn out to be against Asda. Typically, Elizabeth Naltey, a shopper, tells me: "Asda is a bit expensive for us, and the local people aren't happy about it. I'm from Ghana and I can buy things like plantain, okra and yams here that you can't buy anywhere else. We can't let this happen."On a closer look the market certainly needs a re-vamp: peeling paint, bad water drainage, poor lighting and piles of rubbish reveal years of neglect. It's also completely unmarketed. There are no signs directing people to it, or even on the market itself, and many of the traders believe this has been done on purpose to give the council a reason for its "regeneration". Hope is offered in the form of Friends of Queen's Market, a motley crew of passionately horrified traders and locals of all colours and creeds, who have been campaigning ceaselessly, collecting 12,000 signatures from people who all reject the council's plans. They have presented the Mayor with a comprehensive 30-page alternative that sees the market run by a Trust, including the council, traders, residents and customers. The plans are comprehensive,include investment strategies and business plans, and make perfect sense. The Mayor ridiculed them as "bog-eyed". And so the 'Robinocracy of Newham' as it has become known in the area, lives on. Even an independent enquiry conducted by The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO) seems to have gone largely ignored. They consulted 5,000 people from diverse community groups, and concluded that: "The views we have heard utterly mis-trust the proposed plan, and we have to share the views of our communities."The local paper, the Newham Recorder, has also been silent on the enquiry, omitting to report anything on the subject. Market campaigners say letters from Friends of Queen's Market published in the paper have had mention of TELCO airbrushed out - not a subject the paper's editor felt at liberty to discuss with me. Along with the official gagging of his 59 New Labour councillors on the subject of the market, to many the Mayor seems intent on stifling any sort of democratic debate, and the questions I tried to put to him were rebuffed with a robotic regurgitation of the MORI poll results. Meanwhile,the Friends of Queen's Market are gathering strength, and the commissioning of a survey by the New Economics Foundation, who have written extensively on the 'clone town' phenomenon, brings fresh hope. Is this just a clear issue of 'goodies' and 'baddies'? If so, Sir Robin plays the role of a grossly inverted Robin Hood, transformed by power, money and a title into an anti-hero commendably. If not, Sir Robin has some explaining to do. I'll give the last word to Neil, a trader in the market for 26 years: "To be honest with you, I can't think about defeat, it's too painful. As big as these bullies are, we're going to stand up to them and fight them. I'm a barrow boy - it's in my blood. This is my life."
Experts from around the country clearly understand the value of the variety of food available at "London's most ethnically diverse" market
Why did the Newham Recorder appear to suppress news of the Telco Commission of Enquiry into Queen's Market? Call Colin 'Nipper' Grainger (the Editor) and see if you can find out why he refused to report the work of Telco until an article in What's On In London (16/3/2006) exposed this issue.
Tel:- 0208 472 1421.
The Newham Recorder does publish letters about the market issue, but seems reluctant to delve. It is also worth noting that Tom Duncan of the Newham Recorder felt that it was perfectly acceptable to claim that Queen's Market is worse than the Black Hole of Calcutta. Then again, this was relatively mild compared to his article of 28/2/2007 that caused such a wealth of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. (See Private Eye 16/3/2007)
Be warned though, this is a very touchy subject! Any enquiries you make may not be welcomed. Well worth a little digging, nonetheless.