East End street markets set to be latest casualty of Covid-19

Tower Hamlet’s historic East End street markets are set to be the latest casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Street markets at Bethnal Green, Roman Rd, Petticoat Lane, Whitechapel, Petticoat Lane, Roman Rd and Chrisp Street are all at risk of closure.

£360 assistance v £2,600?

Market traders state that Tower Hamlets council has offered them only £360 to compensate for loss of income during the lockdown.

In comparison Kensington and Chelsea has given out grants totalling £185,000 to 71 market traders – £2,600 each. This amount is inline with reports of the amounts given to market traders by other local authorities.

In a statement to EEE a spokesperson for Kensington and Chelsea Council said that although their initial fund has closed market traders can now apply to the Local Authority Discretionary Fund up to a maximum of £2,500.

Tower Hamlets market traders representatives have asked Mayor Biggs for help to keep their businesses going but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Fruit on stall Chrisp Street market

“When we haven’t had any income since January, put our mortgages on hold for 6 months (payment holidays), rent in arrears, forced to go on Universal Credit, pay our van insurance + permits on credit cards. How can we restart our businesses on £360 grant?,” asks Tower Hamlets market representative Altaf Hussein.

Altaf went on to say that ‘in the time of our most need we as working class people have been let down’.

On 9th April Mayor Biggs announced a new service investment fund (SIF) as part of its response to coronavirus stating that this fund would ‘focus on supporting vulnerable residents and those badly affected by a sudden loss in income.’

LBTH said this was broken down as:

  • Adult Social Care £8.0m (£7,948,682)
  • Place Directorate, including Homelessness £1.0m
  • Children’s Services £0.5m
  • Other Services £1.0mTotal £10.5m (£10,448,682)

Where’s the Covid-19 money gone, John?

To alleviate the effects of the coronavirus lockdown central government provided local authorities with emergency funding of £19,448,484.

At the same time that the market traders have been abandoned it seems that third sector organisations have not been given any financial help. Sister Christine Frost MBE recently stated that Neighbours in Poplar had not received any financial help during the pandemic, despite providing an essential hot meals service to elderly residents.

Petticoat Lane

If the market traders have got hardly anything and the third sector charities and voluntary organisations have got nothing the question is – where has the central government Covid-19 relief money gone?

Tower Hamlets initial government Covid-19 Funding

LBTH received one of the highest payment for a London local authority from the government Coronavirus (COVID-19): emergency funding as below.

First Tranche £10,448,682
Second Tranche £8,999,802
Total funding £19,448,484

LBTH has been asked to provide EEE with a detailed breakdown of the way in which the government Covid-19 Funding had been spent but was not able to reply. We have submitted a Freedom of Information request asking the same questions.

Tower Hamlets Third Sector

If you run a third sector charity or voluntary organisation in Tower Hamlets please get in touch with EEE hello@eastendenquirer.org telling us about your experience of council funding from LBTH. Residents need to know!

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