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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calls for help for Finsbury Park ‘fashion village’

It’s an important place for the community, says MP Corbyn, during visit to area hit by disruption caused by nearby homes development

09 February, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Clothes encounters: Traders, including Stefano Anfussi, Talal Karim, Vickie Christenson and Andrew Paschalis with Cllr Asima Shaikh, right, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Fontill Road on Friday

LABOUR Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is seeking a reduction in the business rates for traders in Finsbury Park’s “fashion village” after hearing they are struggling to stay open because of disruption caused by a new development.

Clothing traders in Fonthill Road told the Islington North MP that disruptions from the new City North development, higher parking charges along with the closure of the tube entrance in Wells Terrace have dramatically reduced footfall on the road, leading to fewer customers.

Mr Corbyn told the Tribune during a tour of the 30 or so fashion shops on Friday: “My worry is that it’s just going to disappear. This is a fantastic road for the community and I’m here to support them during the building work and try to get some rate relief and also get them an advertising campaign to get people into the shops.”

All businesses have to pay a tax called a business rate dependant on location and the type of business but councils can offer a discount to some shops.

The City North development worth £220million was first announced in 2014 and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020. The development by Telford Homes will bring 355 homes with 47 at “affordable” prices as well as a gym, cinema and supermarket.

“The dirt and the dust and fumes from the lorries going to the building site is affecting our business. It’s such a huge project in such a small area – it’s frightful,” said Vickie Christenson, manager of the London Fashion Centre on the road.

She said a successful meeting between the shop owners, Telford Homes and the Labour North MP to request money for an advertising campaign to publicise the road took place two day’s before Mr Corbyn’s tour.

“They’re going to come back to us about what they can give us. The situation is a lot better than it was a week ago, let’s put it that way,” she said.

After speaking to the traders, Mr Corbyn also stressed how the shops had to be protected given their long history in the area.

He said: “I came to live in this area, Wilberforce Road, in 1970 paying over £3 a week in rent. In those days there were a lot of Cypriot companies here, and it was a very vibrant clothing manufacturing place. It’s changed but essentially it has always been an area of clothing of some sort.”

He added: “This is a place where every community feels welcome.”

Councillor Asima Shaikh, who represents Finsbury Park and joined Mr Corbyn on the tour, said: “We’ve managed to secure a commitment from City North to pay for advertising. We’ve made funds available to the Fonthill Road traders’ association as well.”

A spokesman for Telford Homes said: “Regarding shops in the immediate vicinity of City North, the joint venture partners which includes Telford Homes and the Business Design Centre, are already in discussions with local traders and other stakeholders in the community, and are working with them and the London Borough of Islington regarding their concerns.”

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