What is the connection between the opening of Westfield in Stratford and the closure of Gaby’s Salt Beef Bar in the Charing Cross Road?

Here is a picture of the hotel at the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, viewed from the International terminal.

And here is a picture of Gaby’s salt beef bar in the Charing Cross Road.  Westfield is about a week old and has been welcomed as the saviour of East London.  Gaby’s is about fifty years old and following a decision by Westminster Council is due to be closed down to make way for a Strada or similar.  The government has been attempting to revive the high street; Charing Cross Road is very much a high street but most of the qualities for which it was known: books, independent traders, a college of art – and the lives of its immigrants – have now gone.  Gaby’s is eccentric, the quality of the salt beef varies with each visit; the number of free falafels depends on who is serving; and the toilets are pretty grimey but is has character, enterprise, personality and history.  It is part of the place that is my London – Westfield, where I stayed for about twenty five minutes, speaks for itself.

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