Stratford restaurant angry over council trees

Trees planted outside Stratford restaurant Caribbean Scene have angered the owner who says the council is literally blocking out small businesses.

Part of extensive regeneration plans in the town centre, the trees appeared in front of the restaurant in Gerry Raffles Square around two months ago.

Owner Patrick Marche said: “We paid for the sign and we pay the rates for the frontage there and no one can see it.

“It’s totally blocked our signage. As you come from the Olympic Village, you can’t see us behind the trees. As you walk up to the restaurant, it’s normally quite open and you can see everybody eating but now you can’t see inside the building.”

Patrick feels the planting of the trees is indicative of a dismissive attitude towards small businesses during regeneration.

He said: “Before the Olympics, we were promised that it would be a good thing for local businesses and it would reflect the diversity of the area.

“I feel I’m speaking on behalf of the community when I say that the community should have a voice. From what I can see, it just seems to be big sponsors riding in and taking over.”

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But Newham Council insist they have consulted businesses extensively and the decision was made in regards to residents’ safety.

A council spokesman said: “Newham Council carried out an extensive public consultation which we have to do by law. This included more than 10 meetings, letters and formal notices which date back to the start of the project in 2009. There were also numerous supplementary meetings with Cultural Quarter members.

“At each stage, any objections raised would have been taken into consideration. An issue was raised during those consultations that high winds were being generated by a vortex caused by several of the buildings in Theatre Square. This was clearly a safety issue for people living and visiting the area - which would include Mr Marche’s customers - and we wanted to rectify this.

“Our priority is to create thriving communities where people want to live, stay and visit. Working with local businesses is central making that goal a success.”