London’s most famous market district, Portobello, in Notting Hill, is under threat. The Government and Central Rating Office has removed all concessionary rates for small businesses in Kensington and Chelsea, which is adversely affecting traders in streets such as Golborne Road, Ledbury Road, Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove.

The rates were increased at the end of March by 75%–100% for some traders, which is seriously handicapping small businesses that were already struggling in the downturn.

Nina Cuthbert, acting editor of local magazine The Hill, which has been distributed in the area for the past 25 years, says: ‘If the rate increase is not amended in the very near future, the area will become a ghost town.

‘This part of London has prided itself on its independent retail shops, its originality and its community spirit. With the congestion charge extension and opening of Westfield, this area has already taken some hard knocks. Now, with the economy in virtual freefall and credit not running through the capital as freely as it was, this latest setback may prove to be the nail in the coffin.’

Supporters of Portobello are planning a demonstration on April 18 at Portobello Market to raise awareness, and are also petitioning against the rate rises. To sign the petition, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveportobelloandgolbornerdfromb

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