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"I've had to shut my shop because of Mini Holland"

Shopkeeper says sales have plummeted since restrictions on driving in East London borough

The owner of a longstanding business says he has been forced to shut shop because of the effects of creating a Mini Holland.

Asghar Jilow has run Eastman Army Camp in Walthamstow High Street for the past 19 years, but says he will close his doors as his profits have been cut by 45 per cent since the cycling measures were put in place in the East London borough.

He told the East London Guardian: “Since Mini Holland was introduced I have not had many customers.

“They tell me it takes them too long to come here. After Mini Holland closed the secondary roads all the traffic has to use the main roads and it has caused gridlock.

“Lots of customers from Chingford and Leytonstone have stopped coming. When customers do come in they are unhappy with the situation. A journey that used to take 10 minutes now takes 40 minutes.

“I feel like I’m going to lose something big and it’s very upsetting.”

He said: “I have asked councillors to help but nobody is looking after the businesses in the high street.

“I have to close the shop. What else can I do? I can’t afford to open the same shop somewhere else.

“My wife says there’s no point in doing it when the money isn’t coming in.

“This shop is half of my life - it’s my livelihood. If I can’t come to work every day I will miss it.”

A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said: “We understand that some businesses and traders feel that the Mini Holland programme has had a detrimental effect on their takings, however there are many factors which influence where people choose to shop.

“Recent research conducted to help us develop the High Street Strategy found that trips by car only account for 13 per cent of visitors to the high street.

“We would also like to stress that there is extensive consultation with local residents and businesses before any changes to road layouts are made as part of the Mini-Holland programme.”

Mr Jilow disputed this, saying: “Most of my customers come by car because how could you bring heavy and bulky equipment like tents on the bus? There’s only one or two other shops like this in east London.

“I work here up to 12 hours a day and I was never consulted by the council. I am very disappointed with them.”

In November we reported how initial figures suggest that the overall volume of traffic in the Walthamstow Village area has been cut by about half since work was completed on the Mini Holland cycling scheme. While traffic has risen on nearby main roads, it is nevertheless estimated that even with these included the wider area has seen a 16 per cent drop.

Initial traffic data show a 56 per cent drop in the number of vehicles on 12 key roads within the area.



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