By Nick Ferris
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed proposals for a new market for Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre traders that have not been offered new premises.
The 55-year-old mall closed yesterday with several shop owners still looking for new premises to sustain their livelihoods.
Mayor Khan said he “would welcome any solution” that would provide the space traders need.
But he stopped short of vouching for the specific relocation plans on the Elephant and Castle roundabout that were presented to him.
Up to 40 traders from in and around the building have been granted new temporary stalls as the area is redeveloped.
But local charity Latin Elephant said around a further 40 traders, many of whom have worked in the area for decades, have been left with nowhere to go.
On Friday, September 18 – a week before the closure of the centre – a group of traders presented plans to the Greater London Authority (GLA) for a new market place next to the Faraday Memorial, recognisable as the huge silver box in the middle of The Elephant and Castle roundabout.
These plans were received by Vauxhall MP Florence Ashalomi, who is also the London Assembly member for Southwark.
They are also supported by Southwark councillor Maria Lingforth Hall and Sian Berry, the London Assembly member and co-head of the Green Party.
Sadiq Khan backed the plans on Wednesday in a statement which said: “I have always been clear that the small traders in the shopping centre should get a fair deal.
“It is disappointing that a number of small businesses still don’t have the certainty they need.
“In general I would welcome any workable solution that would provide these businesses with the space they need to trade.”
Nevertheless, the mayor cautioned that the traders’ proposal “would be subject to various planning and licensing consents,” making it “not appropriate” to comment on the specific plans being presented.
Latin Elephant, which helped devise the plans, said: “Our proposal delivers the very essence of our work: a community-led regeneration for the benefit of the local population.”
Jerry Flynn, from housing pressure group the 35% Campaign, told The South London Press: ‘What we are asking for is more support for traders who have nowhere to go. And we want it today.
“What we want first and foremost is commitment – once we have got that we can overcome the obstacles.
“We’re not asking for a hand out – but an investment in the area.”
Those traders who currently have no premises include clothes shop owner Shapoor Amini, who said: “I’ve worked at this market since 2001.
“These people promised us so many things – they said “we’ll give you a space, we’ll look after you guys”, but they’ve done nothing for us.
“I applied so many times – I’ve made calls, been to Southwark council, been to the office, done lots of paperwork, been to countless meetings, and still nothing.”
Jewellery trader Mohammad Jamal said: “I’m in a very bad situation, because I haven’t found a relocation.
“I’ve got four children, and I’ve got no choice (but to work at the market) because I’m more than 55 now, and can’t find any other suitable job, and I’ve also got an illness I take medicine for.”
Pictured top: Protesters make their point as the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre closed its doors after half a century of trading yesterday
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.