Oxford City Council has been called out for publicly supporting South Asian Heritage Month while the oldest Asian food shop on Cowley Road may be forced to close, “due to the LTN scheme”.

Eastern and Continental Store, at 152 Cowley Road, has been run by Mohammed Mehrbun with his wife, family and two staff since 1978.

Mr Mehrbun put a heart-breaking notice on Facebook last week: “Sadly due to the LTN Scheme forcefully imposed on East Oxford I have no option but to close the shop due to a drop in shop sales and inconvenience to my local customers. Thank you for your support."

Oxford Mail: The notice posted on FacebookThe notice posted on Facebook

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Mr Mehrbun quickly received hundreds of messages of support from the community.

He said: “My trade is almost 40 per cent down and after the [Quickways] cycle scheme comes in in August we will have no customers at all.

"At the moment we have a bit of parking on the road. A lot of our customers drive. The things we sell, Continental and ethnic foods, are specialized and people drive here specially to buy them. And we have loyal customers, they don’t want to go anywhere else."

He added: "All my life I’ve worked here and we are so happy. It’s almost a hobby, I really enjoy it, and everyone comes here. I want to work, I don’t want to be at home, but if we carry on like this we can’t go on. We don’t want to close.”

On July 29, the city council tweeted: “We are proudly supporting #SouthAsianHeritageMonth running until 17 August.

“As part of the celebration, we would like your help. We're encouraging people of South Asian heritage to share the places in #Oxford that are significant to them, to help us create a map of the city.”

This tweet was met with a heated response from a resident, who called out the council for not listening to minority communities in East Oxford in light of the potential closure.

Twitter user Alisha, whose bio states she is 28 and an Oxford resident, wrote: “Eastern Continental (Mehrbans) - which is now being shut down because of the LTNS. South Asian heritage month but the South Asians in East Oxford along with other minorities aren’t being listened to.

“We’re tired. @OxfordshireCC.”

Alongside this, she also quoted the council’s tweet and said: “The irony.

Oxford/Oxfordshire couldn’t give a c*** about POC and the places we shop/visit etc… thanks LTNS! @OxfordshireCC.”

An Oxford City Council spokesperson said: “Oxford City Council is proud to support all of our diverse communities.

“They make a valuable contribution to the city’s culture and none more so that the South Asian community.

“This year, as part of the Community Grants scheme, the City Council has given funding towards projects for the South Asian community, including the Rose Hill Mela, a Hindu festival, and Oxfordshire Asian Women’s Voice, tackling social isolation.

“The Council’s social media channels are also putting out a call for people of South Asian heritage to share the places in Oxford that are significant to them.

“The Museum of Oxford is collecting resident’s stories and pictures for its online City Stories collection, and this month would particularly welcome contributions from the South Asian community.”


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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