|Portobello Campaigner served a “Notice of Exclusion”|
Marion Gettleson, a campaigner for the Save the Portobello Road Market has been issued an Exclusion Zone by Warren Todd on all his shops and arcades.
As it has already been widely reported, Marion has been banned from entering several properties within Portobello Rd. The notice was hand delivered by Lee Clifford who works for the Warren Todd.
So what has Marion done? Has she been damaging property? Has she been behaving anti-socially? Has she been caught taking illegal drugs within the premises? Has she been caught in any other illegal activity? ....Has she been groping Warren Todd (or any other form of sexual harassment)? ....No, none of the above... The crime is "Persistent leafleting/agitation of market traders". Apparently the Portobello Group (i.e., Warren Todd) said that "Ms Gettleson is disruptive and inflammatory and traders are fed up with her politicking getting in the way of their work”.
Marion says she's being intimidated. She also questions the legality of the Notice. See below for your own assessment (and let us know your thoughts!).
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The notice is issued two weeks after the crucial vote on the Admiral Vernon Arcade. The Evening Standard reported ' She is one of the main figures in the Save the Portobello Road market which has campaigned against changes such as a move towards seven days a week trading.' The way this is written is a bit misleading as the issue is not of campaigning against changes per se, but rather the type of changes. Also the issue is not so much that the campaigners are opposed to the seven days a week trading but rather that this is an excuse by landlords to increase rents whereby only clone stores will be able to pay, therefore excluding the antiques traders and other local shops.
The statement suggests that it has been issued to protect the traders, when in fact most of them have been supporting the campaign. Besides, Marion buys stock from them and this ban will prevent her from conducting her normal business. Damage is done to both Marion and the traders who pay their rent, yet lose one of their regular customers.
What really is at stake here is really as simple as it is frightening. The notice illustrates how many properties are owned by one single individual within the Portobello Road. For the record that is numbers 101,103, 115, 119, 139, 14l, 143, 145, l4'1, 149, 153, 16l, 163,165' 167' 169, 177, all in Portobello Road. These include the Red Teapot Arcade, Abras Gallery, the Crown Arcade, Admiral Vernon Antiques Arcade, Harris's Arcade and the Red Lion Antiques Arcade. So now we know in no unclear terms how may properties are owned by Warren Todd. If anyone was in any doubt as to the risk that the Market faces, one only has to look at the All Saints shop on the corner of Portobello Rd with Westbourne Grove – in other words, the site from the formera Arcade, now occupied by one single clone shop where not even street traders are allowed in the pavement. If this landlord were to have his way, you could kiss goodbye to the Market and say hello to Westfield on Portobello Rd, much like so many high streets across England.
Having such a huge property portfolio in a much loved, diverse and unique part of London in a single hand is a huge risk for everyone. Property is undoubtably an asset but first and foremost it's a responsibility. The idea that that one single individual can change the face of one place by bulldozing his way through, despite huge opposition, shows everything that is wrong with the accumulation of wealth and monopolies.
In a small but telling way, this Notice of Exclusion is an example of such risks. What is at stake is not the "Persistent leafleting/agitation of market traders" but rather the fundamentals of free speech. It takes on the similar (and now classic) tirade of ' you're either with us or against us' and it's enforced by excluding individuals from spaces where they operate in their daily lives as individuals, traders and social beings – in other words If lacking a good argument, make life harder for those who oppose you. The idea that a debate that is of a cultural and socio-economic nature, can be rebutted like this is as baffling as it is outrageous.
Besides the legal issues that may arise from this so called notice, this action only reflects badly on a property owner who claims to have the best interests of the Market at heart. It's a sign of weakness and only emphasises that Warren Todd is losing the argument, that the campaign is strong and that the Council has finally taken note of what is at stake as the vote on the Admiral Vernon has shown recently.
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