London Riots: Bromley traders ‘we should have been told’

Argos in Market Square was attacked

Argos in Market Square was attacked

Traders hit by looters say council staff and police should have warned them about the threat after internet rumours began circulating on Monday afternoon.

Bromley Council and the police were aware of the potential threats on Monday afternoon but neither informed any shopkeepers or businesses.

The worst damage happened around Bromley North in Market Square and East Street.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Bromley North Traders’ Association Chair Bob Gregory said: “If rumours were going around then people should have been notified. It could have been handled better. People would have cleared their shop windows. They might be back tonight.

“I’m going to speak to the traders and tell them to remove products and secure their shops as much as possible. You can see what they were looking for. These were experienced people. It was organised.”

Bromley councillors had gathered for a meeting about Biggin Hill Airport in the Civic Centre which ended at around 9pm.

Council leader Stephen Carr says he then went on a walkabout in the town as the looters hit the shops.

Orpington MP Jo Johnson, who was at the meeting, said he was did not know of any rumours or potential threat to Bromley and had not known that nearby Lewisham had fallen prey to rioters in the afternoon.

Richer Sounds electrical store in East Street has its shop front smashed in and was completely ransacked with thousands of pounds worth of good stolen.

Field sales director Lee Nelson, helping with the clear-up operation on Tuesday morning, said: “It’s terrible. They have taken almost everything. It would have been a good idea if the council or police had told us.”

Asked how they would deal with the situation, he said: “We are speaking to our insurance and then we will be trading from the door if we have to. They will not stop us.”

Cllr Tim Stevens, portfolio holder for public protection and safety said: “We need to be vigilant as the impact could further spill over into Bromley. We would expect the police to be ready for this.

“The actions of some people in our borough and across London generally are nothing less than opportunistic criminal damage and theft. Whilst the police are ensuring that all available officers are on the streets to target the lawlessness of the minority with a particular emphasis on protecting high streets and businesses selling high value goods, we can do our bit by making sure the streets are as clear as possible so the police can do their job unimpeded.”

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