Restaurant owner says fears over 60 job losses if Haverstock Hill cycle scheme goes ahead ‘ignored’
PUBLISHED: 10:27 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:42 15 October 2020
The owner of a Belsize Park restaurant who warned 60 jobs could be lost if a cycle route in Haverstock Hill goes ahead said he felt his concerns were ignored by Camden Council on Monday night.
The owner of a Belsize Park restaurant who warned 60 jobs could be lost if a cycle route in Haverstock Hill goes ahead, said he felt his concerns were ignored by Camden Council on Monday night.
In an impassioned plea to Camden’s full council meeting, David Levin, who owns Tish said the proposed changes between Pond Street and Prince of Wales Road provide an “existential threat” to his business.
Speaking alongside Steele’s Village hairdresser Lisa Hauck and dentist Mervyn Drurian, whose concerns this newspaper reported in September, he told the virtual meeting: “If [the parking] is removed, the four of us will likely lose enough customers that we will be forced to close and we employ sixty people.
“Other shop closures will likely add many more job losses and this is just the last straw to us after the damage done by Covid.”
READ MORE: Haverstock Hill cycle lane ‘secrecy’ slammed by councillors
Speaking to the Ham&High afterwards, he said the response from the borough’s transport chief Cllr Adam Harrison left him in disbelief.
“[He] did not respond to any of our points. We were ignored,” he said.
Mr Levin’s speech came alongside a petition objecting to the move signed by 48 shops, salons and eateries in the area. “We are very sad that Camden has not consulted us at all about the effect on our businesses,” he told the meeting.
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He added: “My restaurant is my life. Please don’t destroy us. Please don’t do this thing to us.”
Mr Levin was also scornful of a reply by Labour councillor Nayra Bello O’Shanahan, who said that cycle routes could create more trade for shops in the area.
He said: “We know our businesses. It’s frankly rather annoying for an outsider to say ‘you’ll be fine or even better if there’s cycling’. We know that’s not true.”
The scheme has been backed by the Royal Free Hospital, with the trust’s chief executive Caroline Clarke saying it could bring health benefits and make “active travel” safer for staff.
According to the town hall, the London Ambulance Service has not objected on the two occasions it has been asked, and neither has the NHS’ blood transportation service.
A decision on the scheme’s future has been expected for the last few weeks. Mr Levin asked the meeting to halt it so Camden’s transport chief, Cllr Adam Harrison can sit down with businesses and produce a compromise. However Cllr Harrison only said the plans would be reviewed “as we go along”.
Despite Mr Levin’s pleas, Camden Council appears to be unmoved. In response to the restaurateur, Cllr Harrison said: “This is an important pedestrian scheme as well as the cycle lanes. It is very much about walking as well. There are four new zebra crossings being added, and there is one push button crossing being added as well.
“It’s an important principle that everyone will be able to drive if they need to. In the current plans there is an extra disabled space too.
“We need to create space for people who are slower and less confident. Once you start to create space for people, you start to bring different people into cycling.”
Speaking afterwards, Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper said: “It was astonishing to see Labour councillors try to lecture the petitioners on what was good for their own customers and businesses. Camden must listen to them before it’s too late.”
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