Our once-thriving market is now a ghost town – we fear nuisance ULEZ rules will drive people away for good | The Sun

RESIDENTS in a once-thriving market town say it's now a ghost town – and that nuisance ULEZ rules will drive people away for good.

The market in Romford, east London was established by royal decree 800 years ago, but lockdown, online shopping and rising rent have "killed" business.

Now ULEZ rules threaten to keep customers away, putting family stalls out of business.

ULEZ, sometimes known as the Clean Air Zone, is an area of London where drivers of polluting vehicles have to pay a charge.

The £12.50 daily charge for driving in the area was first mooted by Boris Johnson before it was introduced by Sadiq Khan, who plans to expand it further in August.

George Chittock, 68,has been running a market stall selling household and garden wares for more than 50 years after he inherited it from his father.

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He told MyLondon: "It's just gone downhill, there's nothing much you can do about it.

"It's general trade. Covid, that's where we lost a lot of our trade, I think.

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"Rent is going up a little bit but it hasn't been for a good many years, so it's not going up massively.

He added: "The worst thing will be the ULEZ. If you take people from Brentwood, to get here it would cost them £12.50 more.

"Anyone from outside the town will think twice about coming, and then there's paying for car parking.

"It will make a lot of difference. I've been here over 50 years, I've seen it all.

"Years ago you couldn't walk down here, and the buses came through the market.

"That's what really killed it off, when they stopped buses coming through here.

"When the older traders go, there won't be enough money to warrant the market.

"This was a thriving business when I took it over from my dad."

Stall-holder Ron Strowd, 71, said: "Don't get me started. It needs running properly. ULEZ will finish it.

"Today most of the vans are out to protect the stalls because of the wind, but they will be gone.

"And you can't get a new one, there’s not enough."

His friend Barry Goodyear said: "It'll be worse still when the ULEZ comes in – it will all be dead. People won't want to pay £12.50 on top."

Fishmonger Diane Rigby said: "It has gone downhill, not just the market but the whole town.

"Because there's so many shops closing down and they're developing flats everywhere, but the infrastructure's the same.

"There are no more hospitals, no more schools, no more doctors."

This was a thriving business when I took it over from my dad

It comes after a driver said he will have to sell his home after he was fined for driving into a Clean Air Zone without realising.

Henry Franklin, 36, from Bristol, believed his motor complied with council rules when he drove into the city's CAZ area up to 30 times last month.

But now he faces fines of over £4,000 – as well as the cost of taking fuel-guzzling detours to avoid the CAZ or forking out for a pricey new car.

Another driver set to be charged £12.50 a day under new Clean Air Zone rules revealed how he got his revenge on jobsworth road bosses.

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Engin Coban, 48, from London, now walks around with a registration plate strapped to his back, deliberately tricking them into issuing fines.

He hopes that that the fake fines issued by the plate will overwhelm the system, forcing bosses to shut it down.

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