East End businesses slam economic report

East end businessman, Abdul Quayum Jamal. Photo: John Elmes

East End businessman, Abdul Quayum Jamal. Photo: John Elmes

Local businessmen have reacted angrily to research that claims Tower Hamlets is in the top three local authority areas with the greatest potential for economic growth.

The traders, who own businesses and property on and around Brick Lane, disagree with the research recently carried out by business consultancy Winning Pitch. They argue it misrepresents Tower Hamlets’ economic situation.

Mr Mahmoud Rauf, chair of the Brick Lane Business Association, believes that Winning Pitch’s survey will have a detrimental effect on companies in the area, despite its positive findings. He said: “One may think this is a borough like Chelsea, but the reality is that Tower Hamlets is a very deprived borough.

“I do not know what the motives are behind this study, but all I can say is, it will be counterproductive.”

The report has already had a negative effect on both the area and Mr Rauf’s business. He said: “This over positive report probably encouraged the valuation authority to increase the rateable value of the commercial properties of the borough by 55 per cent.

“I had a letter from the Inland Revenue, and I will appeal, but my argument is weakened by the content of the report.”

Winning Pitch’s conclusions were based on a unique method of identifying local “high growth” small and medium business enterprises, as well as bigger more profitable companies. However, Mr Rauf views the complimentary findings as dangerous for the borough. He worries future businesses might find it harder to obtain help from central government, and tax and VAT authorities might react suspiciously to local traders with a low turnover.

Brick Lane has a wealth of long established local businesses and their owners are equally mystified by the findings. Abdul Quayum Jamal, 39, a director of Taj Stores, said: “If we’re talking about now, then no [this report] is absolutely incorrect. The situation is diabolical.We’ve been around since 1936, we have a lot of properties and we’re struggling. People don’t want to say, but they’re in trouble.”

His views were echoed by Mohammed Sanu Miah, 46, owner of the Royal India restaurant in Worcester Park. “People are finding it difficult to cope – rent is going up, costs are going up, business is going down,” he said. “I used to cope easily with the business [costs], but I’ve paid the rent out of my own pocket for the last two quarters.”

While areas of the borough are thriving, there are places where prospects are less promising. “The council has supplied this ‘over positive’ news of a ‘thriving borough’,” added Mr Rauf.

Both Winning Pitch and the council were unavailable for comment when contacted by East London Lines.

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