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Sir Keir Starmer urges government to ‘help struggling businesses’ during market visit

The Labour leader comes face-to-face with Camden's market traders

02 October, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Sir Keir Starmer and Miguel owner of Miguel’s Pizza

LABOUR Party leader has met with business owners in Camden Town’s recently reopened Buck Street Market to discuss the uncertainty struggling shops and restaurants face under the tightening Covid-19 restrictions.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer visited the arrangement of  recycled shipping containers in Camden High Street today (Friday) with Labour councillor Abdul Hai and market owners Lab Tech’s CEO Yaron Shahar, hearing directly from the independent traders working there.

The market, which features 80 food outlets and shops, opened its doors ten days prior to the lockdown in March and only reopened in July under social distancing guidelines.

Mr Starmer said: “I know many businesses, in Camden and across the country are struggling right now, and many people are worried about their jobs. That’s why Labour has been relentlessly pressing the government to do more to support jobs and businesses affected by the pandemic.”

He has previously told the New Journal how he hopes the government will reconsider the ending of the furlough scheme in favour of a phased approach which sees the scheme stay open to hard-hit sectors. This week, he criticised chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new job support scheme accusing him of “pulling up the drawbridge at the worst possible time”.

“Many people are worried about their jobs” says Sir Keir

When the pandemic hit, LabTech, owners of Camden Market, offered a rent holiday of three months to all its traders.

Since reopening the market’s “open air” set-up is said to have been successful in bringing customers into the space, but shop workers told Mr Starmer they believe the government’s stricter measures, such as the ‘rule of six’, had undermined consumer confidence and caused a drop-off in the number of visitors.

Mr Shahar said: “Consumer habits are changing, and it is vital that we, as providers of retail space, play our part in facilitating sustainable consumption that is conscious of the impact we have on the environment.”

Despite fears over the effect a possible second spike could have on the economy over the winter, LabTech says it is still planning on opening  its latest development in Camden Hawley Wharf, a regeneration scheme comprising of luxury apartments and dozens of shops, restaurants, as well as co-working spaces located on the canal.

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