Socialist Worker

Grassroots fight has stopped greedy developers at Queens Market

Issue No. 2095

Lindsey German and Michael Gavan at Queen

Lindsey German and Michael Gavan at Queen's Market

Neil Stockwell has worked as a fruit and veg trader at Queens Market in Newham for 30 years – and he is furious at Sir Robin Wales, the borough’s New Labour mayor.

“There’s nothing wrong with this market – the problem is that Sir Robin Wales wants to run it into the ground,” he told Socialist Worker.

“We bring in £1.5 million of revenues each year, but there’s no investment, no maintenance and the cleaning is being run down.”

Lindsey German first pledged support for the campaign to save Queens Market when she ran for London mayor four years ago.

She was invited back there last Saturday to see how the campaign against the developers was getting along.

Pauline Rowe, secretary of Friends of Queens Market, says the vibrant grassroots campaign scored a victory in 2006 when it managed to scare off the Asda supermarket group that was eyeing up the site.

But St Modwens, the private developers that bought the market from the council, still plans on redeveloping the site and building luxury flats there.

The two sides have been locked in an awkward stalemate since then.

Some of the stall holders have since become demoralised and are now trying to cut a deal with St Modwens.

But others are holding firm against plans to turn a popular and multicultural community facility over to the development sharks.

Meanwhile the market has continued to trade – and although it is visibly tattier than four years ago, the sense of community pride and determination to fight are still there.

“It’s obvious that people are struggling and that this Labour council isn’t doing anything to help them,” Lindsey told Socialist Worker.

“We’ve got a Labour council, a Labour mayor and a Labour government – yet still they cannot do anything for some of the poorest people in London.”

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