CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Barber stages sit-in at Stables Market in fight against eviction

Hairdresser told he must leave after nearly 25 years at famous market site

22 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Carlos Gomez is refusing to leave his salon

A HAIRDRESSER is staging a sleep-in protest against an eviction notice issued at is Stables Market shop to stop bailiffs kicking him out.

Carlos Gomez, who has run Pepi’s hairdressers in the market for almost 25 years, was told he had to leave his business a fortnight ago. But the critic of an overhaul of the famous market site in Camden Town is resisting – and is now holding a 24-hour-a-day occupation in a bid to stop land owners Lab Tech from taking his salon.

On Tuesday, the battle for the unit was stepped up as security guards stood outside his shop and put up barriers so that no customers or well-wishers could get in. Workmen, meanwhile, started demolishing the interior of a shop directly next door.

Mr Gomez claims Lab Tech says too many independent traders have been moved out of the Stables Market and it is time to make a stand. Lab Tech served a final notice on Saturday, leaving a letter calling on him to leave immediately.

The shop has been decorated over many years with a punk style in keeping with Camden Market’s counterculture history. Mr Gomez said: “They said I was trespassing – but I have never been behind with my rent and they can’t just kick me out. I have the law on my side and I am staying put.” He added he felt he had the “moral duty” to continue to trade – as he represented the spirit that had made Camden Market the internationally renowned destination in the first place.

Recently, Lab Tech have given notice to the Proud nightclub and gallery – above Mr Gomez’s shop – while destination bar Gilgamesh shut in January. As the New Journal reported last week, the long-term traders say the market is moving in a new direction that will rob it of its famous bohemian character.

“They just want a new Camden,” said Mr Gomez. “If they understood what it means, they would have come and spoken to me and negotiated. They simply want someone to come in and pay much higher rents, a bigger company. Our Camden, the real Camden, just does not fit in with their plans.”

Mr Gomez said he has widespread support for his stand from other traders and customers, who have been bringing him messages of goodwill – and plenty of food and drink. He believes if he leaves the shop security guards will swoop in and change the locks.

He added: “If they want to negotiate they know where they can find me.” He added the owners had originally offered to find him another shop – but the only unit they said they had available was not suitable for a hairdressers.

Carlos Gomez

A spokesman for Lab Tech said: “We have met with the trader and explained to him the terms of his agreement and that it can be terminated by either party at any time. The reason that we decided not to renew his lease is so that we can carry out some refurbishment works to the Horse Hospital to restore it to its original condition.”

He added: “We are keeping an open dialogue and have offered the trader three alternative spaces to move to in the market, which would also include the installation of the services he needs to run his business at our expense. We are currently yet to hear back from him on the offer.”

The company told the New Journal last week that they were looking at what the markets offered as they sought to improve the customer experience, move away from stalls catering mainly for tourists, and offer more options for people living nearby.

Director Chen Moravsky said they wanted to move away from a market that primarily caters to tourists and encourage small artisanal businesses to open.

A spokesman said: “We understand that many traders are fearful of change but we believe that we are making improvements that will benefit all and protect what makes them so special.”

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