London is not just my home. It is a place that I feel a deep connection to, a history that stretches back all the way to when my great-grandparents arrived here, fleeing persecution, at the turn of the 20th century.
Throughout that time, each generation of our family has worked hard to run their own small businesses. My great-grandparents started a sweet shop on Hanbury Street, in East London, and my grandfather ran a small tailor’s studio a stone's throw away from there. My father established his own accountancy practice. And now, a hundred years after my grandparents arrived in this amazing city, I have spent the last few years running my own small food business, What The Dickens, and I’m about to set up Bernstein’s, selling the amazing Jewish food I grew up with.
The government tells us that it’s pro-business, however, increasingly both the political and market conditions are being set up to favour big retail and large high street chains over creative, independent enterprises. With ever increasing rents, premiums and rates, and almost no regulations on either the rents charged by landlords or the lease conditions they insist upon, small businesses are progressively being priced out of the market with the obvious homogenisation of our high streets clear evidence of this trend in a city usually famed for its diversity and creativity.
Seeing the vibrant heart of the city I love being ripped out in favour of identikit high streets, from Shoreditch to Chinatown, and Soho to Brixton, is demoralising as a small retailer and heartbreaking as a Londoner.
That’s why I'm calling for a new position to be created at City Hall by our Mayor: an Independent Retail Tsar whose remit would be to represent the interests of independent retail, identify the barriers to the increased success of such small businesses and to celebrate the vital role these enterprises play in creating the unique place that is London.
Please join me in taking a stand against the giants and call on the next London Mayor to protect what makes this city so special.
(Photo credit: Chatsworth Road Market by Kriss Lee)
- Zac Goldsmith
- MP for Richmond Park
Zac Goldsmith MP (MP for Richmond Park)
- Mayor of London
Protect London's independent shops
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