"Before the application we hadn't seen local councillors for 2-3 years"
Diverse small traders facing displacement in Elephant & Castle regeneration are already having their livelihoods damaged by Southwark Council indifference. The Latin American community hub remains particularly at risk without proper guarantees.
Elephant Artworks boxpark will be closing down by the end of this year to make way for new flats. Developers Delancey are offering a 'new' boxpark as replacement temporary accommodation for displaced Shopping Centre businesses. Yet Elephant-based lawyer Adriana Hoyos Rojas, Latin community rep in the Elephant traders' deputation, said: "We first heard about this on social media. We've not been told the cost, quantity or duration of units in the 'new' boxpark. Traders have no information about notice to vacate. Legal advice offered to traders is not independent.
"I've spoken to some traders who have been turned down for business loans because of the huge uncertainty about future premises." With short-term leases and declining footfall, some businesses are being forced towards leaving the area now. Southwark Council has offered no concessions to business rates of affected traders.
Adriana added: "Southwark Council's job is to look after the needs of local residents and businesses. It needs to take a much stronger approach to negotiations with the profit-seeking developers. Delancey have been reluctant to make space for either the Latin American community or bingo. It seems agents selling penthouses don't want the diverse faces of our local community.
"Local Labour and Lib Dem councillors are claiming credit for vague small improvements to Delancey's offer. But before the planning application we hadn't seen them for two or three years. In the local elections on May 3rd we need to change our local councillors and elect people who will actually listen to the needs of Elephant traders and shoppers."