Ian Rathbone on Mar 31st 2011

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Press release
16 March 2012

Trader gets his pitch back

Well Street Traders and Residents Association (WESTRA) has been holding meetings with Hackney Council concerning parking problems in the street.

This week the Council agreed to put up a temporary parking restriction sign so that Mr Yaqoob (pictured below) can trade in the pitch he has used for several years at the top of the street. He’s got his latest Spring fashions for those interested!

He had been having trouble once again with cars parking in his pitch, preventing him putting out his stall on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Mr Yaqoob is our main market trader in the street and we are pleased that once again he can continue to trade. We have also been talking with the Council about introducing parking restrictions in Well Street which will allow other stalls to pitch,” said Ian Rathbone, WESTRA Secretary.

“If anyone is interested in running a stall, please contact us as we are keen to get the market growing again.” WESTRA can be contacted on 07890 654 068 or at

Mr Yaqoob next to the sign:
Mr Yaqoob

The sign details:
Parking Bays Suspended sign



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Press release
31 March 2011

Well Street 5000 signature petition handed in

A petition supporting Well Street shopkeepers in their struggle against a massive rent hike has been handed in to their landlord.

The ‘Save Well Street’ petition has been signed by around 5,000 local residents concerned about the effect such high rent rises from £6000 to £18000 a year charged by the landlord St John Hackney Joint Charities Trust is having on the market street. with shops closing down.

“The petition shows the strength of feeling of local people, as they see shops owned by this landlord closing down, and the threat to the survival of the remaining shops. It also shows just how many customers there could be for the street if we had a full market in operation,” said Ian Rathbone, Secretary of Well Street Traders and Residents Association (WESTRA).

“I hope the strength of feeling expressed through the petition will persuade the Charity of the need to meet with the shopkeepers to discuss the problems and huge rent hike, and see in what way we can fill the shops already left empty by the Charity – and help keep the remaining shops.”


For further information, please contact Ian Rathbone on 07890 654 068 or


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Press Release
No embargo
5 March 2011

Landlord owning half of shops in Well Street market E9 criticised for too high rents

Hackney’s MP, the Bishop of London and more than 5,000 Hackney residents are objecting to the treatment of 25 independent shopkeepers in the borough, whose livelihoods are being destroyed by their money-grabbing landlords, a charity set up nearly 400 years ago to protect the poor and needy in East London.

Independent shopkeepers on Well Street, Homerton E9, famous locally as being the London market street where Tesco founder Jack Cohen set up his first stall, feel they have no choice but to close in the face of 200% rental increases and repair bills of £40,000 being demanded by their landlord, the St John Hackney Joint Estates Charity.

Near the London Olympic site, the residents and shoppers of Well Street are not part of Hackney’s “gentrified” regeneration. Many shoppers walk to the street, and are elderly or unable to afford a car. Therefore, losing essential local services like the Post Office, which says it will close in face of the rent levy, will prove disastrous for local quality of life.

Three shopkeepers have already shut up shop for good, including discount shop This n’ That, ethnic greengrocer Beemen’s and local newsagent and sweet shop Prayosha News. With others which have been empty for years, the street is feeling the effects of blight from derelict and empty shops belonging to the charity.

Cllr Ian Rathbone, Secretary of WESTRA, said: “It is a shame that a charity which has given money ‘to the poor of Hackney’ in the past, has become so unforgiving when it comes to the treatment of its own poor tenants, forcing them to pay over the top rents to cover up their own mistakes as a landlord.

“Even more of a shame is that St John Hackney Trust has resolutely refused to speak to community representatives like myself about the matter, to enter mediation, to respond to letters sent to them concerning the anxieties of the shopkeepers, or to have any kind of decent and kind discussion about the future of one of London’s historic shopping streets and markets whose survival has been put under severe duress by their behaviour.

“This arrogant attitude contradicts the whole historic purpose of the various charities down the centuries which make up the current trust and I would urge the current trustees to review their position as trustees in the light of this. Their action in Well Street has been roundly condemned by more than 5,000 local people in a petition. They are holding back the development of the street and market.

“I am sorry we have reached such a pitch. I can only hope the intervention of the church will bring the Trust to their senses and a new way found to keep these shops alive in our market street, end the blight of the Trust’s many empty shops, and start a dialogue going with the local community which will be to the benefit of all.”

Meg Hillier, Hackney South & Shoreditch MP, who has become concerned at the situation, said today (5 March): “The charity has acknowledged some of the past problems with management. I hope it will consider phasing rent increases as a result.

“Well St needs investment to become a thriving local shopping street. I hope that we will see a new chapter in this birthplace of one of Britain’s retail success stories.”

Local residents, involved with the Church of England, recently complained to the Bishop of London about the charity’s poor attitude to its shopkeeper tenants. The Bishop has responded by setting up an investigation into the matter. Some local church people are Trustees, as have been some local clergy. However, both the Vicar of St John at Hackney and the Rector of St John of Jerusalem have both shown considerable concern about the plight of the shopkeepers and the effect on a local shopping street.


For further information, please contact Ian Rathbone 07890 654 068 or

Notes to Editors:

1. More about Well Street can be found on the ‘Save Well Street’ Facebook site at!/group.php?gid=154755691213214

There is a picture gallery on the FB page and photos are free to use.

2. WESTRA has just launched its new website at

3. WESTRA was set up last November, partly to give support to the shopkeepers in their struggle to survive as businesses, and partly to bring back Well Street market, more than 160 years old, and the market Tesco founder Jack Cohen started from. He lived nearby to the market in his younger days. He personally came to open the current Tesco store in 1985, selling goods off a specially created market stall.

4. Some interesting stats of Well Street market to give an idea of how big it used to be: in 1928 there were 96 pitches, with another 26 in side streets, every weekday except Thursday afternoons. In 1975 there were 94 pitches on weekdays and 166 on Saturdays. In 1983 there were 80 pitches.

Well Street market is still designated a market from Monday to Saturday and is open to anyone who wishes to trade and has all the appropriate documents. You can call 020 8356 500 and ask to speak to the Markets Dept.

5. Details about St John Hackney Joint Estate Charity can be found here –
and some history here –
It is an amalgamation of several older charities devoted to providing relief to the poor and has three subsidiary charities which give out money for charitable causes in Hackney: Hackney, South Hackney, and West Hackney Parochial charities. From amongst the Parochial charities trustees are appointed the Trustees to St John Hackney Trust.
Their address is 20 Primrose Street London EC2A 2RS, phone 0203 116 3624.

6. Well Street Market shops under threat of unreasonable rent rises include:
Adam’s Kebab

– Anthony’s Drycleaners

Bob’s News

– Candy Shop

– David Elliott Opticians

Hackney Quest

– James Hawes & Goodchild funeral directors (this business has recently been sold)

– John’s Cardshop

– Launderette

– The Post Office

– Prayosha Newsagent (Update 3rd March: Prayosha Newsagent has now closed)

Rajshree News

– The Scout Shop second hand store

– Step N Toe shoe repairs

TJ’s Salon

– Trust Shoes

Unideal Domestic Appliances

Well Street Dental Centre

The Wholemeal Shop – Health & Body Care


Well Street Market location:

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