Shoppers stopped and stared as umbrella- waving protesters unveiled banners in Queens Market, Upton Park, East London. Chanting ‘Make the roof – waterproof’ they demanded immediate repairs to the Queens Market roof.
Some two hundred traders work in the vibrant hundred year old market. But there are complaints of damaging leaks in rainy weather. In some cases stock has been destroyed as a result.
“We got our own structural engineer to look at the roof” explained Friends of Queens Market campaigner Pauline Rowe “he said that the structure was fine: the problems seem to arise from poor maintenance and repair”.
The roof was repaired in 2010 and again in 2013. But the leaks persist. “Any half-decent builder could sort out blocked gullies, inadequate seals on rooflights and defective roof cladding” commented retired building trade shopper Ram Chadda “Why can’t this Council?”
Last month thirty shopkeepers sent a joint letter of complaint about water leaking through the roof into their shops. The Property Department of Newham Council,the local authority who owns the market, has still not replied to their letter.
“How rude is that?” asks fruit trader Neil Stockwell “these Councillors and officers would be quick enough to get a proper repair done if it was their own homes threatened with water damage. Don’t they care about anyone else?”
A final word from Bibi Patel,shopper at the market for forty years “We need this lovely market. Please Council take good care of it”.
Photograph by Colin O’Brien