A LABOUR councillor in North Kensington has suggested a five-point support plan to protect the character of famous Portobello and Golborne roads.
Councillor Pat Mason has written to the council to suggest a scheme to preserve the heart of Notting Hill, which he worries is under continual threat of losing its unique appeal and becoming a shopping centre just like any other.
The five points are:
Retain the Woolworths site for business or community use.
Set up a £500,000 hardship fund for small businesses.
Get the council to buy empty shops on Portobello and Golborne Roads
Freeze rents on council owned shops which provide essential services, such as chemists or laundrettes, for three years.
Support local shops which cannot meet their business rates.
Mr Mason added: "I think it vitally important that the council has a strategy to support the economic base in Portobello and Golborne during the current downturn.
"I don't want shops lying empty or greedy developers getting tempted to move in."
Kensington and Chelsea's cabinet member for finance and property, Cllr Tom Fairhead (Con), reacted largely positively to the suggestions and stated that Woolworths must remain a shop.
He confirmed that the council is discussing setting up a £130,000 loan fund for small businesses and added that the Portobello Business Centre has been given a cash injection of £50,000.
But he disagreed with two of Cllr Mason's points, saying: "Subsidised rents are not a good use of council taxpayers' money. Similarly the answer is not a blanket reduction of rents across all council-owned shops.
"Even in these difficult times, most businesses are managing to get by. Instead we look after our tenants when their businesses get into trouble."