LEYTON: 5,000 call for Olympic market traders to be refunded
AN ONLINE petition demanding refunds for traders at a "disastrous" Olympic food market has attracted nearly 5,000 signatures.
The council created the temporary 'Olympia Market' in Marshall Road, near the Leyton Asda car park, in the expectation that thousands of visitors travelling to the Games from Leyton Tube station would walk past.
Stallholders, who were sold the pitches at prices of up to £16,200 for 45 days, were given estimates of 40,000 visitors on peak days - but were dismayed when hardly anyone turned up.
The petition, set up by trader Donna Thomas who claims she lost more than £27,000, calls on the council and its partners to give traders their money back.
It had been signed by 4,960 people at the time of writing.
Both the council and its contractors Skateco blame each other for the market's failure.
Each side says the location and promotion of the market was the other's responsibility.
In a statement sent to the Guardian two days before the market opened, the council described the market in "the heart of Leyton" as a partnership between the authority and Skateco.
Many of the traders and the contractors are considering legal action.
It has emerged that Skateco was the only firm to bid for the contract as part of a group which also included not-for-profit agencies North London Business (NLB) and E11 BID.
The head of NLB and company secretary of Skateco, Gary Ince, resigned from NLB following the market's "apparent failure", according to a statement from the organisation.
Traders have criticised the lack of promotion, including council leaflets welcoming Olympic visitors to the borough which advised pedestrians to walk a different route through Leyton to the Olympic Park, bypassing the market.
A council spokeswoman said: "NLB and their partners Skateco are solely responsible for the success of their market.
"The council strongly denies making any misleading statements to NLB or Skateco.
"NLB and Skateco won the ability to locate, organise, manage and run the event, receiving their income through their contracts with stall holders.
"The council has paid nor received any monies from these organisations
"Publically available information from LOCOG and Transport for London was provided.
"Visitor numbers have been lower than expected across the capital and we are of course disappointed that this has had a negative impact on businesses within the borough."
Brian Jokat, director of Skateco, said in an earlier statement that the council had "let down" traders and his firm.
He said: "The council had told us and other local businesses that in excess of 30,000 people could realistically be expected on some Games days.
"We were told that there would be a regular flow of visitors to the Olympic Park from nearby Leyton Underground station and that people would be drawn to the market by local signage and council-produced leaflets.
“All of this would have generated significant passing trade for the market and its stalls but, sadly, none of it has been delivered in reality."
The petition can be viewed here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/north-london-business-refund-leyton-olympia-food-market-traders