Camden food market traders distraught after learning their businesses will be shut
PUBLISHED: 08:30 16 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:47 17 June 2016
Around 50 stallholders have been given one month's notice to move or apply for a limited number of spots under new management.
Street food specialists Kerb will be taking over the day-to-day management of the West Yard in a partnership with Camden Market. They say they are investing in improvements for both traders and visitors.
But, as traders face the threat of closure, more than 1,300 customers have signed a petition to “save” them.
Kimberley Duke, who owns a Greek food stall and started the petition, will leave the market to stay independent.
The 23-year-old told the Ham&High: “It’s like knocking down a historical building. Camden market has been there for years and years – it’s an important part of the community.”
She wrote in her petition: “This is a tragedy. For years and years, the traders of Camden Market have fed and provided joy to the millions of tourists and locals that have passed through. It is a beautiful example of the entrepreneurial spirit of London.”
Colombian street food trader Ruth Christianson, 30, will apply for a new spot for her business, Maize Blaze. She wrote on Maize Blaze’s Facebook page that the changes will bring “much-needed refurbishments” and “revitalise The Lock”.
But she added: “I can’t say that a part of me isn’t sad to see the old shabby, rough around the edges market go – it is, after all, where I started out.”
Martin Besserman, who runs the Monkey Business comedy club in Camden, said he saw several traders crying when the news was announced last week.
In February Camden Council backed a major redevelopment of Camden Lock by owners Market Tech Holdings, who purchased the market in 2014 for around £2.3billion.
In a joint statement, Kerb and Camden Market say: “The vast majority of West Yard food traders have expressed an interest in becoming part of Kerb Camden Market. We are investing a significant amount in improving the conditions in the West Yard for traders and visitors alike.
“As a result, the West Yard will be closed for a fortnight in July and we will be reducing the overall number of traders to create an improved offer and environment.
“Every application will be given careful consideration and we will be speaking to traders about the outcome. There will be opportunities elsewhere in Camden Market for those who either don’t wish to, or are unsuccessful”
The food market will be closed for two weeks from July 10.