Protest in favour of fair rents in Herne Hill
Herne Hill came to a standstill on Saturday 30th January 2016 as a crowd of over 700 local residents gathered outside Herne Hill station to protest in favour of reasonable rent rises for local traders on Half Moon Lane and the reinstatement of the Half Moon Pub as a music venue.
The march was led by children waving banners reading “Save Our Shops” and “Dulwich Estates Toy Snatchers”. Local celebrities also joined the march. Jay Rayner, tweeted a video - “Noise and fury being vented against The Dulwich Estate greedily raising shop rents”. Actress Trudie Goodwin said “We’re here to show our support - we’ve lived in the area for 30 years and it’s so good now - what’s happening with these rent increases is awful.” Actor James Nesbitt, also a local resident said, “The fact that Dulwich Estate, a wealthy landowner, is hiking up rates, which only benefits fee-paying schools, while depriving the community of all these individual shops, is beyond me. It just seems crazy that Dulwich Estates wants to do this to its own community.”
The Save Our Shops march progressed from Herne Hill station to Just Williams toy shop on Half Moon Lane, stopping first outside the boarded-up fronts of Walters Butchers, Cape Clear Fishmongers and Bleu Furniture (that have been moved by Network Rail while they refit the units) before moving on to stop outside the boarded-up Half Moon pub, also owned by Dulwich Estate, chanting “Save Live Music, Save Our Pub.” Peter Blair, spokesman for “Save the Half Moon” campaign group said, “It’s great that the pub is due to re-open, however the plans submitted by Fullers, to Southwark Council show the live music area is set to be replaced with kitchen and restaurant areas, which would be a tragic loss, especially as the live music venue has been awarded Asset Of Community Value status by Southwark Council.”
The crowd moved to the pavement area outside the now shuttered premises of Just Williams chanting “Save Our Shops, Save Herne Hill.” Vicky Brown, owner of Just Williams, said, “We’ve kept all our fixtures and fitting and are just hoping that we can stay in Herne Hill, but we are also looking further afield. It’s heartbreaking as Just Williams was a place of congregation for children and families.”
After the march local MP Helen Hayes met with concerned residents at the Blackbird Bakery and tweeted her support with the message "Well done to all who marched in #hernehill today against unfair rent increases & to protect our local independent shops".
Traders say that The Dulwich Estate, a charity that funds some of London’s top private schools, has threatened the survival of independent shops by pushing up rents by as much as 70% since they were last set five years ago.
Jaana, 8, said: "Dulwich Estates are just being greedy - they shouldn't put the rent up by that much because Just Williams can't afford it and I don't know any other toy shops in Herne Hill."
Words and Photographs by Sebastian Morrison @Bastie007.
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