What is this about?
Independent small businesses are the beating hearts of our communities – everyone has a favourite cafe, shop or mechanic that makes their neighbourhood distinctive. Individually these unique businesses are vulnerable – to spiralling rents and business rates – but together they can be strong.
This summer, small business people are joining forces to build the biggest commercial tenants association in history - a powerful and democratic organisation to work for them and the communities they serve. Join us and be part of making our cities better places to live and work.
We are railway arch tenants – mechanics, hairdressers, café owners, brewers, furniture restorers, metal-shop workers, tyre sellers, distillers, community leaders, gallery curators, specialist food sellers, artists, gym coaches, and lots in between. We want you to join us and support our effort to build our organisation to give the small businesses that sustain our communities a powerful voice.
Just think of the potential of connecting over 7,000 small businesses as a single organised collective. By working together we will protect each other and gain the security we need. And by acting as a collective we could get better deals on procurement, provision of services, advertising and suppliers.
We are already hundreds of small business owners working together and achieving success. With your help, we can become thousands and change how landlords, big business and government behave towards small businesses. We are calling out to all railway property tenants, our customers and our supporters to join us in unity to defend our rights against monopolist landlords and huge global investment firms. In this fragile economic climate, we need to act now.
How can you help?
I AM AN ARCHES TENANT - Become immortalised as a founding member today by pledging your first year’s membership fee! There are three tiers to choose from: £100, £250 or £500. Simply decide how much you would like to invest, then click on the corresponding reward that says 'Founding Member' to our right here >>>
As a member, you will have a voice in driving the direction and strategy of our organisation and will be invited to shape our founding assembly in November this year.
I AM A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC - Become immortalised as a founding supporter! As well as lovely rewards your name will be listed among our founders now and forever. Simply choose the level of investment you would like to make as a standard Supporter, a Friend of GOTA, a Benefactor or a Patron from the rewards listed on the right of this page >>>
It would also be a HUGE help if you could share this page with your network and across social media!
We started life as a collective of arches tenants from Hackney in London. When faced with impossible rent demands by our landlords Network Rail and TFL, we began to realise that by working together and sharing information we became more powerful and better able to withstand the pressures that were being imposed on us by our landlords.
We decided to create a campaign to raise awareness of the unfair rent hikes and to stand up for the small businesses that occupy the arches and who give so much social, economic and cultural value to our communities. Launched from a packed event at Parliament in June last year our campaign won the backing of 20 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum including Lord John Bird, Meg Hillier MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Zac Goldsmith MP.
Our tenant-led initiative captured the imagination of the British public featuring in The Mirror, Sky News, BBC News, ITV News, BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio London, The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, The Independent, The Big Issue The Evening Standard and local papers across the land, amassing 10,000 signatures to a letter hand-delivered to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, demanding his proposed sale of the railway property estate be reassessed.
Matt Lovell of Our/London Vodka, Leni Jones of Rosso Corse Ltd & Mohammed Moonan of Tyreworld Ltd. With thanks to Sarah Ainslie for the photograph.
The ‘tenants first’ approach promised by the new landlord, The Arch Co., is a direct result of our actions. Without us uniting to protect our interests, there is a risk this will be little more than words. We must come together to compel action. And no matter who our landlord is, we know we have to work together to protect our interests. So we're asking both tenants and the general public to help us turn Guardians of the Arches from a campaign group into a powerful and democratic new national organisation to fight for small businesses occupying railway property.
Ben Mackinnon of E5 Bakehouse, George Grant of Clapham North MOT, Louise Rivers-Hull of Three Rivers Gin, Ian Mearns MP of Newcastle, Mr Jo Johnson MP Minister of Transport, Leni Jones of Rosso Corse Ltd, Nhi Chu of Chus Garage.
Our campaign work around the government's public asset sale of 5,261 of our arches won The Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s David & Goliath award at the National Campaigner Awards 2019. We were incredibly honoured to accept this award for all our work in raising both public awareness and securing the commitment of one of our landlords (The Arch Co.) to a ‘tenants first’ approach.
What are we doing now?
We have been holding local tenants meetings across the country to listen to the common concerns of small businesses. Our next one is in Manchester on 3rd June 2019. All those who join as a Founding Member will be invited to attend.
Collective action works!
Our collective action was also instrumental in Meg Hillier MP requesting The National Audit Office to investigate the sale of the arches. Although this report is retrospective in its findings, it does evidence what we can achieve by working together. The report states that our needs as tenants of the arches were never considered and a commitment to tenants’ needs has been put in place only because of the collective voice of Guardians of the Arches.
Working Rent Manifesto
We are also working with the East End Trades Guild on a Working Rent Manifesto which has already got the support of the Mayors of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority, we need your support to replicate this across the whole of the UK.
Philip Glanville Mayor of Hackney, Leni Jones of Rosso Corse Ltd. Thanks to Jeremy Freedman for the photograph.
With thanks to Jeremy Freedman for the photograph.
What will the money be spent on?
Guardians of the Arches have achieved an incredible amount led by Eleni Jones (Leni) on a shoestring budget. To date, all that Guardians of the Arches have achieved has been done on voluntary time and bucket loads of passion, vision and commitment from a dedicated group of tenants and supporters. In order to sustain GOTA through this vital stage of development from a campaign group to a financially viable organisation, we need to pay for dedicated staff time and invest in our organisation.