Put a big ‘For Sale – everything must go’ sign up over Bermondsey and let’s all move out – if Millwall and Manze’s decide to close up shop at least.
We don’t believe it’s going to happen, of course, but both institutions are fighting the effects of gentrification, demographic changes and soaring land values in this part of London.
And if you had to choose two things that represented Bermondsey, you would probably plump for Millwall FC and Manze’s pie and mash.
Of course the details of the two cases are different – for Manze’s, the gentrification around Tower Bridge has had an effect on their trade, although to judge from the queues on a Saturday, they are still doing brisk trade.
They sought to widen their audience, or make it easier to get food to customers by using UberEats, but understandably the black cab trade, many of whom enjoy pie ‘n’ mash, weren’t too happy about this, in the context of their life and death struggle with Uber. Given that they already deliver around the country, no doubt Manze’s will continue to survive, without upsetting a large part of their client base.
Ironically, part of the problem for Manze’s is TfL’s red routes that prevent customers from stopping – so they certainly share a common enemy with the cab trade in TfL!
Millwall are also adapting to the changes taking place in and around Bermondsey, but the threat to them is more tangible.
Once again, Lewisham Council have postponed a decision on whether to grant approval to developers Renewal, allowing the compulsory purchase of land which would mean the closure of the Millwall Community Scheme and which would put the very survival of the club in question.
Chief Exec Steve Kavanagh has made clear that every option will have to be considered, should approval be given – which includes whether the club would up sticks and move to Kent, where a large proportion of its fanbase now live.
Day by day, the football community at large, as well as senior politicians, are waking up to the seriousness of the threat facing Millwall with this proposal – which as we’ve argued before, does not provide anywhere near enough social benefits to justify its approval.
Today we received confirmation from FA Chairman Greg Clarke that he was backing Millwall, and on the CPO proposal he added: ‘I struggle to see how such action can be in the public interest’. Hear hear. And now the Mayor of London has also thrown his support behind the club staying put.
This latest postponement on the decision came after the council sent a request to the club for further information – just two days before the meeting. Going ahead would surely have proven that the council was paying mere lip service to its consultation with the club.
All of us who believe it should not go ahead must use this further delay to garner more support against it, and hope that sense prevails. Let’s all keep up the pressure and force Lewisham to reconsider.