Camden Market: Eviction standoff comes to an end as Hairdresser traders agree to leave

Frog Mala and Carlos Gomez

Frog Mala and Carlos Gomez have agreed to vacate their hairdressing stall on Camden’s Stables Market

A dispute which led to a stand-off in Camden’s Stables Market between market security staff and hairdressers who refused to leave their salon has come to an end following the agreement of the traders to vacate.

Hairdressers Carlos Gomez and Frog Mala had been served notice to quit on their salon in the market and were refusing to leave their stall after trading on the market for nearly 25 years.

The two had staged a last-stand sleep-in against eviction by market landlords Lab Tech. But now agreement has been reached and the two are to go at the end of the month.

Camden Market is a major tourist attraction and particularly appealing to international visitors but is used by relatively few Londoners. Lab Tech has said it is keen to change the nature of the market to make it more appealing to residents.

Mr Gomez has been highly critical of changes across the market, which he says will kill the bohemian nature that helped make it famous. He was served with notice to quit last month, but refused to go.

“It feels like the end of an era and we are pleased to have been a bit of a thorn in the side of the corporate vibe that’s taking over,” said Mr Gomez, who runs Pepi’s Hairdressers. “We said – we’re not going to roll over and take this, and we hope we have inspired other traders. “We couldn’t afford the legal fees to fight on, but we are leaving when we are ready.”

Lab Tech want to use the unit – currently decked out in punk-inspired mirrors, mannequins and objets d’art – as part of a renovation plan which encompasses a different vision for the Grade-II listed former Horse Hospital in Chalk Farm Road.

The decision to close Pepi’s comes in the wake of other changes in the market. Longstanding gallery and nightclub Proud Camden shut its doors last week, while restaurant and bar Gilgamesh closed in January.

Lab Tech Director Chen Moravsky has said he wants the market to move away from being primarily a tourist attraction and offer more space to crafts and artisans. But Mr Gomez and his fellow hairdresser Frog Mala say the atmosphere will change.

Mr Mala said: “We know if a place doesn’t change, it can stagnate. Places do need to be reinvented and rejuvenated – but you do not need to kill everything off and start again. By doing so, you kill the ecosystem that supports somewhere, kill the essence that makes it work in the first place.”

Mr Gomez added that he had been offered space elsewhere in Camden Town but had yet to find somewhere affordable or suitable.

He added: “For now we will work with our clients from my home. Rents are extremely high in Camden, and many smaller businesses are being forced out. “Part of me hopes they may still find something suitable for us in the market – but it has to be able to function as a hairdressers.”

A spokesman for Camden Market said: “We can confirm the trader is leaving at the end of the month by mutual agreement and this departure is in line with our long-term plans for Camden Market.”

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