Stephen Timms MP answers your questions

I met up with MP for East Ham Stephen Timms and put some of your questions to him.

We spoke about some of the most common and pressing concerns that businesses in Newham have with regard to the Olympics – having to change delivery times, transport problems, lack of communication from the council, and a relaxation of Sunday Trading laws for example.

He told me that he’s pushing parliament to allow businesses located near the Olympic Park who have incurred costs to be able to claim compensation.

Click below to find out how and to watch our discussion…..

‘If the ground goes, we go’ – the family business that wont survive without West Ham

Nathan’s Pie and Eels Shop is a family run business that’s been in East Ham for over 75 years. And it’s been at it’s current location on Barking Road with the Boleyn Ground just behind it since 1974.

Photo: Rosebud 23/flickr

The shop does most of its trade on football days when West Ham United play at home. And hungry fans queuing for an hour to sit down to traditional pie and mash or jellied eels is a sight to behold.

Upton Park Stadium, as it is otherwise known, has a total capacity of over 35,000. That’s a lot of hungry customers!

Photo: Not Forgotten/flickr

But West Ham might be leaving the grounds they’ve been in since 1904.

Owner Richard Nathan

They are among 4 bidders seeking to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after the Games are over. The club had looked set to seal the deal last year, but this fell through after talks with prospective partners Newham Council collapsed in October, following complaints from Tottenham, Orient and another anonymous bidder. This time OPLC, the Olympic Park Legacy Company has offered the stadium on a 99 year lease basis rather than a permanent one.

Owner Richard Nathan told me that if West Ham goes, Nathan’s is going too. He said that the area has changed dramatically over the last few years. And with most of his regular customers moving away, it’s the match days (20 in a year if West Ham is doing well) that provide the bulk of his trade.

He has other sites in mind – but they’re definitely not in Newham.

When I asked him how the Olympic Games will affect his business, Richard told me that he thinks that despite serving up quintessentially East London fare, he’s too far away from the Olympic Stadium to benefit from increased footfall.

But for Richard and other businesses on Barking Road, the West Ham move is a much bigger concern, and they’re watching the progress of the bid with baited breath.

Will council plans win favour at Queens Market?

Newham Council have finalised their development strategy for the borough which highlights plans for Queens Market on Green Street.

A market has stood on the site for 111 years and has deteriorated in the last decade with two failed attempts at renovation.

Firstly, Asda’s big plans failed in 2006. Then property developer St. Modwen had their follow-up designs rejected in 2009 due to it’s inappropriate 31-storey tower block.

The council lost patience with St. Modwen and assumed control and running of the market. A new roof costing £140,000 has done little to stop water leaking through and stall-holders tell me customers are still on the decline.

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Newham Council have declared Green Street one of their strategic sites for development and want to add larger retail units but keep providing for small independents.

“Green Street town centre will maintain its specialist ethnic retail identity with a local to international draw, popular market place and independent shops and quality evening offer that continues to evolve……Queen’s Market will be an important meeting place for the local community as at present, reinforced through co-location of other community uses”.

Despite use of vague council language it does suggest that they are looking to retain the market but build both housing and more retail space on this site and the surrounding are.

This is where we reach the important stumbling block. It seems that the council insists that the current market can’t be maintained or updated and needs to be rebuilt if it is to stay. Stallholders and shoppers meanwhile are worried about a temporary location during building work as well as increased rents when a new market is completed.

Locals are in agreement that the Olympics are great for Stratford and some are looking forward to increased footfall in Green Street this summer. Currently the best days for the market are when West Ham United play at home. This is where the second problem for the market lies.

The council are still keen for the football team to be moved to the Olympic stadium. The Boleyn Ground would then give an “opportunity to create an exemplar urban village development, incorporating high quality housing, community uses, and community green space.”

Stall-holders I spoke to are worried this loss of custom could be more damaging than any supermarket’s ideas.

Initial signs show that these new plans for the market aren’t welcome. The council need to win favour with the community. West Ham’s potential move makes this process even harder.