A children's carousel is set to be forced off Hounslow High Street, where it has been for nearly 20 years, despite huge public support.
The operators of the fairground ride outside the Treaty Centre and the neighbouring jacket potato trailer have been told by Hounslow Council their trading licences will not be renewed when they expire at the end of this month.
Both claim the decision has put their livelihoods at risk and say they have been 'led on a merry dance' by the council, having previously been assured their futures were safe.
A total of more than 2,000 people have signed petitions to save the carousel and the food vendors as of today (Tuesday, May 20), just over a week after they were launched.
The council said all applications for temporary trading licences had been refused since the new year, ahead of a new market opening later this year at Bell Square, outside The Bell pub, where it has offered to find the traders a place.
But the traders say the new site is unsuitable because of the lower footfall and its proximity to the road, which the carousel operators say means parents would feel less comfortable.
The carousel has been running outside the Treaty Centre on weekends and holidays since shortly after the Treaty Centre opened. Brothers John and Nathan Buckland assumed responsibility following the death of their father, Nathan Senior, in 2011.
John Buckland said it was used by between 200 and 600 youngsters a day and the £1 charge was much lower than for similar rides elsewhere. He claimed he had invested £35,000 on a new ride and candy floss stall less than three years ago after being assured by the council its future was safe.
"This is a tourist attraction and a meeting point, and we've had letters of support from shop managers saying we bring people to the High Street," he added.
"Despite only ever having a temporary licence, we've always been told we're safe on the High Street, and we feel the council is not honouring its word."
The council decided not to renew the licences of any street traders in Hounslow High Street except for the carousel operators last spring, inviting them all to apply for spots at a new food market at the western end of the shopping parade.
However, that market was dogged by complaints and closed in December, fewer than nine months after opening. The council says it plans to open a new market at the site later this year but has yet to confirm a date.
The new market is part of efforts to regenerate the High Street, which is being repaved as part of a £2.75 million revamp, largely funded by London mayor Boris Johnson.
Jacket potato sellers Natalie and Robert Bunn successfully reapplied for their licence in December, but others have seen their applications rejected, including Claire Lewis, who had been the third generation of her family to run a fruit 'n' veg stall on the High Street.
The Bunns, who have two young children, started their jacket potato stall in 2009. They agreed to move from their pitch to the new market last spring, but said it was a disaster as they were not even covering costs.
They say they invested £27,000 on a new unit based on the advice of council officers and will struggle to keep up with repayments should they have to move, as no other suitable locations are available.
"We're part of the community and we're putting in, not taking out. We've always played ball with the council but feel like we've been led on a merry dance," said the couple.
"We supply 50 meals a week to the food bank Hounslow Community FoodBox but if we have to move it could be us needing food vouchers.
"The regeneration of the High Street is being funded using money from Boris Johnson, and I'm sure he wouldn't be happy it's putting local traders out of business."
A council spokesman said: "As part of the council's drive to regenerate and create a vibrant Hounslow town centre, a new improved street market will open later this year.
"In advance of the new market opening, all new applications for temporary trading licenses have been refused since the new year. The licences for the potato sellers and fairground ride will expire at the end of May.
"We've offered the traders our full support in finding alternative pitches elsewhere in the borough and have encouraged them to apply for a pitch at the new market.
"We have also offered the fairground operators the opportunity to be located on the newly built Bell Square once it’s completed."