LEYTON: Traders suffer as Olympics turns area into a 'ghost town' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Shopkeepers in Leyton High Road say the Olympics has turned the area into a "ghost town" - while a temporary pop-up food market has been branded a disaster due to a lack of visitors.
SHOPKEEPERS in Leyton say the Olympics has turned the area into a "ghost town" - while a temporary pop-up food market has been branded a disaster due to a lack of visitors.
Traders claim they were given estimates that hundreds of thousands of visitors would pour through the High Road on their way to the Olympic Park in Stratford during the two weeks of the Games.
But, like much of London, it seems the opposite has happened.
Amit Gokani, of Croydon, is one of dozens of furious traders who signed up to rent stalls at a temporary Olympic and Paralympic Games market in Marshall Road, where pitches cost £13,500 for 45 days.
He said: "I'm fuming. We've been completely sold up the river.
"I was sold this on the pledge that there would be around 33,000 people on Monday and the same on Tuesday. Instead I've seen about 150 people since Friday.
"I've spent £10,000 on food and equipment alone but in the last four days I've made £28.
"Many of us have had to take out loans, and beg, borrow and steal to get the money to pay for these stalls, but it's been a disaster."
Shamima Bung, of Blackwells Newsagent, was one of several traders to have their shopfronts painted and done-up by the council after it secured a £400,000 grant from Olympic organisers.
She said: "The shopfront looks very nice but to be honest it hasn't had any real impact on business.
"And now Leyton feels like a ghost town. There's no-one here.
"[Council leader] Cllr Chris Robbins promised us a lot but businesses are suffering."
Hasan Akbayrha, manager of Anatolia restaurant in the High Road, employed two extra staff to cope with the predicted influx of visitors.
He said: "It's so quiet. We spent quite a lot of money investing for all these visitors but even are normal customers are staying away.
"No-one can park around here because of the temporary parking restrictions."
A council spokeswoman said the authority was aware of reports that a lack of visitors was a London-wide problem and not unique to Leyton.
The management of the pop-up market was contracted out by the council to the North London Business group and Skateco UK Ltd.
Gary Ince, chief executive of North London Business, said: “It has been incredibly disappointing.
“We were expecting significant footfall but it hasn't happened – it seems all the visitors are being directed to get off at Stratford or West Ham, and not Leyton Tube station.”
He added that organisers were keeping a close on eye on visitor numbers in the coming days and were considering what to do next.
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