A BUSINESS OWNER says he is forced to cease trading because Mini Holland has deterred his customers.

Asghar Jilow has run Eastman Army Camp in Walthamstow High Street for the past 19 years.

The 63-year-old says his profits have been cut by 45 per cent since the introduction of the controversial cycling scheme in Waltham Forest.

After struggling to make ends meet for over a year the father-of-one said he has no choice but to shut his beloved store.

He said: “Since Mini Holland was introduced I have not had many customers.

“They tell me it takes them too long to come here. After Mini Holland closed the secondary roads all the traffic has to use the main roads and it has caused gridlock.

“Lots of customers from Chingford and Leytonstone have stopped coming. When customers do come in they are unhappy with the situation. A journey that used to take 10 minutes now takes 40 minutes.

“I feel like I’m going to lose something big and it’s very upsetting.”

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Mr Jilow presented the council with 200 signatures from business owners in the high street asking them to re-open the closed roads.

Measures such as road closures, cycle lanes and one-way systems have been introduced on more than 70 roads in the borough since the £30 million scheme launched in September 2015.

Mr Jilow, who has one son aged 33, moved to the UK from Iran in 1991. His shop sells camping, fishing, hunting and security supplies.

He claims the number of customers visiting his store every day has decreased from 30 to 10.

He collected 200 signatures from business owners in the high street calling on the council to re-open pedestrianised roads but he said their pleas fell on deaf ears.

He said: “I have asked councillors to help but nobody is looking after the businesses in the high street.

“I have to close the shop. What else can I do? I can’t afford to open the same shop somewhere else.

“My wife says there’s no point in doing it when the money is’nt coming in.

“This shop is half of my life - it’s my livelihood. If I can’t come to work every day I will miss it.”

A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said it has been in touch with Mr Jilow and is working to produce a “long-term strategy” for businesses in Walthamstow Market and High Street.

They said: “We understand that some businesses and traders feel that the Mini Holland programme has had a detrimental effect on their takings, however there are many factors which influence where people choose to shop.

“Recent research conducted to help us develop the High Street Strategy found that trips by car only account for 13 per cent of visitors to the high street.

“We would also like to stress that there is extensive consultation with local residents and businesses before any changes to road layouts are made as part of the Mini-Holland programme.”

Mr Jilow disputed this, saying: “Most of my customers come by car because how could you bring heavy and bulky equipment like tents on the bus? There’s only one or two other shops like this in east London.

“I work here up to 12 hours a day and I was never consulted by the council. I am very disappointed with them.”