Nour announces deal to stay in Brixton Market

Nour's Saja Shaheen
Nour’s Saja Shaheen

Nour Cash & Carry last night announced that it had reached agreement with its landlords that will enable it to remain in Brixton’s markets.

The struggle of the Shaheen family to remain a central part of social, cultural and commercial life in Brixton had been the centre of a growing social media campaign against plans to evict them.

And campaigners have pledged to continue to campaign against Brixton “becoming a soulless theme park for the rich”.

In a statement, Nour said: “After months of negotiations, we are delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement with our landlords that allows us to continue supporting our beloved community from within the markets.

“We want to take this opportunity to say how grateful we are for the unwavering support we have received from the community and the press.

“However, we do not condone the personally abusive or threatening messages from some individuals that have been levelled at Taylor [McWilliams, director of Hondo Enterprises, joint owner of the markets] his friends and his partners in Housekeeping [McWilliams’ DJ collective].

“We look forward to working with Hondo in improving the markets for its vendors, its customers and its long-term success as a pillar of the Brixton community.

Nour Cash & Carry sign“This agreement will mean Hondo can continue to invest in Market Row, starting with installing a new power substation in our current space that will power and breathe new life by supporting all 50 traders for years to come.

“Though we have been unable to comment on public debate, we have always kept a private and productive dialogue with the Hondo team.

“Over the past year, we have discussed many options, each of which had their benefits and complications.

“Both parties have worked hard to find a solution that keeps us in the market while allowing them to complete their essential electrical works.

“We want to reassure our customers that we are happy with our new agreement and we now look forward to serving all of our customers, as we emerge from lockdown.

“The market is now fully open, and we encourage everyone to come and explore Nour and our neighbours in the markets over the coming weeks.

“Once again, thank you for all your support.”

Save Nour, Save Brixton …

The statement came as the government announced that it had extended its ban on evictions by commercial landlords until the end of September. It had been due to end on 30 June and the owners of Market Row had obtained an order to evict Nour on 22 July.

The resolution is unlikely to end the renewed concern about the pace and nature of change in Brixton and its markets in particular.

Amsterdam-based companies controlled by the massive New York based finance outfit Angelo Gordon that own the market still have plans to build a 19-storey office block that would be joined to Brixton Village.

Anti-gentrification campaigners, whose spectacularly successful Save Nour social media onslaught against Taylor McWilliams has attracted worldwide attention and raised £20,000, have pledged to fight a “Battle for Brixton”.

Saja and Salam Shaheen with customers in 2012
Serving the community for decades: Saja and Salam Shaheen (centre) with customers in 2012

It said in a statement earlier this week: “We will soon hold our first online public meeting with local activists to raise ideas for future in-person actions now the lockdown has eased, and make plans for how to best distribute the money raised.

“We want to make sure this momentum is sustained and that tenants at the market know that the community will always have their back, and a part of that is expanding our campaign to be a sustained, healthy, and non-hierarchical coalition of Brixtonians and allies.

“The Battle for Brixton has been a long one, and we are not planning on losing it anytime soon.”

Louise Barron and Tony Pommell
Louise Barron and Tony Pommell in the old 414

And the campaigners are already turning their attention to another Hondo property – the former premises of Club 414 on Coldharbour Lane.

It was also the home of Louise Barron and Tony Pommell, who were forced to leave, after running a club there since the 80s, before the building was bought by an Amsterdam based Angelo Gordon company.

In a statement the Save Nour campaign said: “We pledge to stand firm with the people who remain, to resist Brixton becoming a soulless theme park for the rich.”