On Sunday London Road finally reopened to traffic after work to ensure the fire damaged buildings were safe. Chief reporter Nick Hitchens spoke to traders in the devastated street who are battling to get their businesses back to normal...

Binu Matthew proudly reopened his off-license Wibi Stores today after suffering a horrific ordeal where not only was his business destroyed but he and his wife were attacked and his van stolen and torched.

“I was just about to close when they stormed in. They took alcohol, cigarettes, smashed cabinets, my till, credit card reader, attacked me and my wife,” said the 40-year-old.

The pair fled in his van but were pulled from the vehicle at traffic lights and car jacked.

His van was later found torched, while his business suffered around £35,000 damage and lost stock.

“It was terrible we went to our flat above and just watched all night,” he said.

Mr Binu still suffers anxiety about the ordeal, but has refused to be beaten and has now reopened.

“We had only opened for eight months before so it was a new store anyway. Now we must start again,” he said.

Further along London Road Mr J Paramanathan, owner of JK Gold and Fashion House, saw his stock, worth up to half a million pounds, raided and his store gutted by looters.

Borrowing stock from suppliers he hopes to reopen soon, but is disappointed at the lack of support from the council.

He said: “All the businesses were given £1,000 and a month’s business rate rebate but what is that when you’ve lost everything? I have said from the start they should have graded how affected businesses were. Some have only had broken windows but get the same as me, who has lost six figure sums.”

His restaurant, Dosa Lounge, on neighbouring St James Road, suffered minor damage and is operating.

Chris Jackowski, 58, is general manager of Cash Converters stores on London Road and High Street The High Street store was ransacked, with tens of thousands of pounds damage caused, but the London Road store was under-going renovation and was left untouched.

“In the scheme of things I guess it was lucky, though the High Street Store was supposed to support us during the renovation,” he said.

Both shops are only offering pawn-broking services while they gather more stock.

Mr Jackowski added: “The main issues here for business now are sorting out parking to encourage shoppers back and encourage regeneration.”

All business affected by rioters have been given a £1,000 grant as part of a £1 million package from the council, which is also offering interest free loans and to repay business rates.