Two years since the 8/8 riots in Croydon, and nearly 50 businesses in the borough have yet to receive a penny in the compensation that they were promised by Prime Minister “Call Me Dave” Cameron and the London Mayor Boris Johnson, under the provisions of the Riot Damages Act.
In Croydon, one of the firms that has been so badly let down and is yet to receive any compensation is the Reeves furniture business, whose burning store became a global symbol of that night of infamy.
“The site’s remained derelict since it was burned down,” Trevor Reeves said. The Reeves business continues to trade from a second shop adjacent to the destroyed site.
“We were indemnified by our insurance company so they’re taking up our claim under the Riots Act. To be honest we’ve not really heard anything about that… how far that’s got through the insurers I can’t say.”
Sources in West Croydon and Old Town suggest that Reeves is one of at least 45 businesses that have been left waiting for compensation. MP David Lammy, whose Tottenham constituency also experienced rioting over the weekend before violence erupted in Croydon, has today accused the government of “sweeping under the carpet” the needs of the victims.
The “island” site at Reeves Corner, positioned in a busy junction alongside the tram lines, remains almost untouched since demolition work two years ago removed what remained of the unsafe structure. And while the hoardings around the site have begun to come down, the Reeves family accepted some time ago that the site’s majority owners, the wealthy charity the Whitgift Foundation, would not allow the shop to be re-built.
The Reeves family, which owns 40 per cent of the site, has given up the lease; the Foundation is waiting on other developments in central Croydon. The Whitgift Foundation is the owner of the leasehold of the Whitgift Centre, where Hammerson and Westfield are planning a £1 billion shopping mall.
“While that’s being sorted out by the council you can’t get any building work done and the other landowners want to wait till that is finished before they will consider anything,” Graham Reeves, another member of the family business, said.
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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