|A Future For Portobello Road - The Start of a debate
There has been a lot of recent discussion and press reporting about the future of The Portobello Road Market and my role in its apparent demise. A small section of this reporting has been based on truthful events and on people?s opinions, which I absolutely respect. However, far too much of it has been inaccurate, politically based nonsense aimed at the royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the forthcoming local elections in May. The remaining parts, including several damaging newspaper articles, contain serious misinformation about the recent letting of 282/292 Westbourne Grove to the retailer All Saints and many personal attacks directed at me.
The overall suggestion is that Portobello Market is under threat from property developers such as me, and unless the Council brings in legislation to protect it, the market will die. This fact in itself, is quite simply not the case. Portobello Market is not under threat from anyone as far as I am aware.
The Council own, regulate and run the market and it is entirely their decision as to what to do with it. Primarily I believe they need to accept this responsibility and instead of bringing in new legislation, they should focus on the fact that it could be drastically improved. Likewise the shops on Portobello road are not being developed into a ?High Street clone?. However, the shops and antiques arcades in a small part of the road are facing mounting financial problems and I would like to discuss a solution to these problems that is not based on archaic protectionism and retrenchment to a bygone era.
Many of the recent protesters? assertions about the redevelopment of 282/292 Westbourne Grove are either simply untrue or deliberate distortions of actual events. Similarly, the attempts to suggest that my company (The Portobello Group) has sinister plans for redeveloping our arcades on the Portobello Road into mass retail outlets are totally unfounded. We, like other shop, business and arcade owners in the antiques section, face many different problems. We need support and assistance from people who understand the issues and want to address those problems.
Commercial redevelopment around the market is a consequence of these problems, not their cause. The varying factors putting pressure on the market are complex; they reflect the way the area has changed and the way this has impacted on the antique dealers who use the market. Those issues can?t be summarised in a press slogan or solved by a wave of the legislators? wand.
I want this document to bring anyone who has an interest in The Portobello Road Market together to start a proper debate. This would be a non partisan discussion about the factors which are causing the decline in the market and what can be done to reverse that trend. I want us to address the real issues and share our aspirations for the future, not just try to protect the past. This document is an effort to get the ball rolling by attempting to put forward my view of the problems and what I think is required to allow the street to evolve with the times and the market to prosper and thrive.
We all have a lot to lose. If the current trends continue without anything changing, the antiques section of Portobello road will go on contracting and, bit by bit, it will eventually die. This very real prospect may eventually stop people coming to Portobello road altogether and that would be catastrophic for us all.
To read the full statement, please click here