The public inquiry being held into the compulsory purchase orders issued by our Council to force the owners of the Goldhawk Road shop traders to leave revealed the human cost of fighting the scheme last week.
Aniza Meghani recalled how she had arrived in the UK as a child refugee from Uganda. The family had been stripped of everything they had owned in Uganda by Idi Amin's racist purges; arriving as refugees her father had worked from nothing to build a successful and thriving business, Classic Textiles, which she had now inherited and built on. The cost of fighting to protect that inheritance, so hard won, had torn her family apart, she said. This is the same woman Richard Olsen, of Orion the property developers, had seen fit to sneer and carp at during a public meeting - greed turns people very ugly sometimes.
Audrey Boughton of Cooke's Pie & Mash said she was simply fighting to keep the freehold of a business that she would be able to hand to her children. In all cases the Council wants to force the shopkeepers to lose their freeholds and become leaseholders of Orion the property developers.
This is of course the same Council who publicly promised that they would not force the shopkeepers out in this way in a public meeting they themselves had organised. It was clear throughout the hearings that there was now zero trust between the traders and they very people they should have been able to rely on to protect their interests. They have, of course, already been found to have acted illegally in the High Court, in their desperation to assist Orion .
This is last chance saloon for them and for the traders of the Market themselves who also oppose the Council's plans in the main. I have rarely met people with more determination and grit than the likes of Aniza and Audrey; I suppose when you have faced the likes of Idi Amin as a child, then you know how to recognise a bully when you see one. In the video above you can see her standing up to chief Bully Boris Johnson. For their sakes, the market traders and the people who live around this area who have their own objections I can only hope that the Court sees sense and rejects this scheme.