Update on the Occupation of 34 Broadway Market

This is an update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.


The meeting saw a level of attendance which pleased the organisers, and which shocked Hackney Council and other attendees. A head count showed that more than 135 people attended and many were clearly angry and seeking answers. Hackney sent their Interim Director of Law & Democratic Services – Meic Sullivan-Gould, with no elected labour Councillors showing their faces. The 3 property developers at the centre of the Broadway Market regeneration arguments failed to attend or be represented.
Five speakers put their clear points of view and Hackney listened carefully to what was said. A motion was put at the end of the meeting, calling on the Council to immediately agree to buy/take back Nos: 34 and 71 Broadway Market and to restore the properties to Tony and Spirit. The motion was carried unanimously. Hackney are now very aware of the depth of the feeling against what has happened here and we now need to maintain the current levels of pressure on the Council, and the property developers, to bring about the only solution which would be acceptable.

It was agreed that our protest would continue and that we will link up with the Ellingfort Road Co-operative and OPEN-Dalston, to highlight the problems faced by others, and the similarities with the Broadway Market issues. Meic Sullivan-Gould admitted that there had been fraud in the past and suggested that a number of corrupt officials had been caught out in the last 12 months and removed from their posts. But we know that many of those behind what took place during the commercial property sales fraud are still very much in place and in control. We have resolved to continue until they are formally identified and properly dealt with.

Spirit has received the date for his Appeal hearing at Shoreditch County Court – January 27, 2006 at 10.30am, for a one hour hearing (although we have heard that before haven’t we?). The Appeal against the Possession Order granted for Tony’s Café will be lodged with the Court of Appeal by 22nd December and a hearing is expected very early in January. There is still much to be done.

Update on Broadway Market Occupation

This is an update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.

Update 10th December 2005

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in opposing Dr Wratten’s possession proceedings in court on Friday. However, instead of being heard in 10-20 minutes which is usual in these matters, the case went to trial and His Honour, Judge Latham, took until 4pm to reach his decision. He also gave Dr Wratten’s lawyers a very hard time. Much was made in court of the actions of Mrs Wratten, who is one of the directors of Market House Ltd, the company that wants to demolish Tony’s Café. Mrs Wratten made a visit to our occupation where she accepted tea, chatted with protesters and even signed our petition and gave us a donation. Judge Latham described her actions as

But at the end of the day the wider issues surrounding our occupation (for example the problems with the sale and planning permission) were not seen as relevant to the case in the eyes of the law. This meant that Dr Wratten’s property rights were given precedence and he can now evict the protesters.

An appeal is planned and must be lodged by 23rd December.

This decision has in no way dampened our enthusiasm to get justice for Tony and other affected traders in Broadway market and to continue challenging gentrification in the area.

The Evening Standard has continued its coverage of the events in Broadway Market. It devoted a whole page to the matter in Friday¹s edition and journalists were present at the court case.

London Tonight are sending a film crew to the occupation on Sunday morning we ask anyone who wants to show support to come along before 11am in a show of strength!

We are receiving an increasing number of calls from the press and media and many have started to become interested in the wider story of council corruption.

A public meeting is being called for local residents for Thursday 15th December between 7.30pm and 9.30pm at St Michaels Hall, on the corner of Lansdowne Drive and Lavender Grove, E8.

The Occupation of Tony’s Café has raised many issues in the national, London and local press and we are inviting people to discuss the following issues:




The event is to be chaired by Rev William Campbell-Taylor.

All relevant parties are being invited to speak including:

Chris Berry: Interim Head of Planning, Hackney Council
Jessica Crowe: Deputy Mayor of Hackney
Guy Nicholson: Regeneration Officer, Hackney Council
Andrew Boff: Conservative Councillor, Queeensbridge Ward
Bill Hodgson: Labour Councillor, Queensbridge Ward (Chair of Planning)

Arthur Shuter: Local Advocate and Spokesman for Protest at Tony¹s Café
Carl Taylor: Hackney Independent
Stephen Selby: Broadway Market Traders and Residents Association
Maria Flynn: Regents Estate TRA
Fred Filce: Whiston & Goldsmiths TRA

Dr Roger Wratten
Stirling Properties
Broadway Investments Hackney Ltd.

Each party will have 2-3 minutes to speak on one or all of the issues and questions will be taken from the audience. We expect the media to attend.

We have now learnt that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has appointed a senior officer to deal with criminal investigations relating to commercial property sales in Hackney.

Bill Hodgson, Chair of Planning in Hackney has told us that he is happy to refer the issues around planning consent for 34 Broadway Market to the Independent Planning Directorate a government body – for review.

Update of the Occupation of 34 Broadway Market

This is an update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.


7th December 2005
Once again, thank you to everyone who has been supporting the occupation. Many local people and traders have been giving donations, food and other useful items to help us continue protecting the building. We have collected over 500 signatures on our petition so far. Also we have had a lot of support from local estates – thank you to everyone who has put flyers round their estate.

Wiston and Goldsmiths TRA are formally offering full support to the protest at their committee meeting tonight and have already asked us if they can donate food to the occupation!

This occupation has been covered in today’s Guardian – it is the front page story on the G2 section. The Evening Standard are running a piece tonight, BBC London are picking up the story today and Channel 4 News and the Financial Times have also expressed interest in covering the situation.

Just to remind everyone that our court hearing is on Friday at 10.30am. Our supporters are invited to come down to the court which is at 19 Leonard Street EC2. It would be good to meet outside the court at 10.00am.

Tony has applied for legal aid for a Judicial Review of the planning
consent for flats – the planning consent which caused him to be evicted and paved the way for the demolition of the cafe.

 The Judicial Review will be to examine how planning consent was given by Hackney Council without referring to the proper planning committee. Hackney have recently looked at the planning decision but have so far decided they are not going to revoke it.
In addition, Tony’s solicitors are looking into getting an injunction to stop the court case on Friday on the grounds that the possession hearing will prejudice the powers of the High Court to examine the validity of the planning consent.

We have been informed that, following our protest, the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad are ‘re-opening’ their investigation into the council commercial property sales in Hackney.

Lastest Update on the Broadway Market Occupation

This is an update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.

You may have seen that the Hackney Gazette covered our protest on their front page. We thank them for their attention but we want to clarify some aspects of their coverage. They described the people involved in the protest as ‘self-styled squatters with a cause’. We wanted to just clarify who is participating: There are some local people with experience of squatting involved and they have been invaluable in making this action possible. But it is important to realise that many people involved here have never done anything like this before they are local residents who felt that it was time to act to prove that it is possible to reverse the tide of gentrification. Also there are many, many local people and shopkeepers who have dropped in for a short time to show their support! You are invited to join us.

Just to let you know that there are reporters preparing stories about this situation for the national press. Keep a look out next week!

We have put up a poster letting people know that we are not asking people to boycott the businesses in buildings owned by Dr Wratten or his associates who are just their landlords.
Apparently they have suffered a drop in customers since our occupation a clear indication of how seriously people in this community are taking this issue and a sign to Dr Wratten that his future business interests in the market might not be so rosy!
The one point we do want to make is that these businesses might not know that they occupy premises with a dark history. Many of us miss Prakash the proprietor of Kenny’s Newsagents, formerly at numbers 4-6 who threw in the towel after years of wrangling with Dr Wratten. Obviously people also remember Little Georgia which was priced out of Broadway Market by Dr Wratten (as covered in the Hackney Gazette). Whilst we have nothing personal against the new business owners they should recognise that they are part of the wider process of gentrifying the area (increased rents, businesses not aimed at working class locals).

Our occupation has now been served with an application for a Possession Order which is due for hearing at 10.30 on Friday 9th December. We will be vigorously opposing this application and doing everything in our power to stop Dr Wratten from recovering and destroying the building!

Hackney Planning, Legal Services and the Chief Executive of Hackney Council are in intense discussions with the audit and anti-fraud division about the planning consent to build a new development on the site of Tony’s Cafe. It remains to be seen whether the council will cancel the consent they wrongly gave or whether they will leave us to apply for judicial review. Under pressure from local councillors, Head of Planning Sue Foster has decided that the original planning application was approved contrary to council rules. Although they were aware of this at the time the planning consents were granted they seem to have decided (some twenty-one months later) that they messed up!
Hackney are aware that we face possession proceedings and that there is an urgent need to resolve this issue.

WE MEAN BUSINESS: Squatters with a cause occupy café

An update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.

Hackney Gazette frontpage: Thursday December 1, 2005

WE MEAN BUSINESS: Squatters with a cause occupy café

Campaigners have staged a midnight takeover of a popular greasy spoon to save it from demolition.

The self-styled ‘squatters with a cause’ invaded the former Francesca’s café in Broadway Market hours before workmen were due to gut it on Monday morning.

Calling themselves the ‘Save Broadway Market Campaign’, the highly organised group say the move is part of their quest to save the area from delopers.

The Gazette gained access to the building and found members were stocked up with food and water, keeping warm with electric heaters and even had a TV set up inside.

Group spokesman Aruther Shuter claimed up to 50 people were working in shifts to protect the building and would stay there for six months under ‘squatters rights’.

He blames a string of Broadway Market business closures on the cheap sell-off of public properties by a cash-strapped Hackney Council in 2000 and 2001.

“We want to stop the rot and prevent developers from taking businesses and homes from the people of Hackney,” Mr Shuter told the Gazette.

The café was run by Tone Platia until he was evicted in July when his lease run out and it closed.

My Shuter sawys the group is demanding that his business is hand back.

“Tony was one of the first victims of the council sell off,” he said. “Francesca’s was a meeting point for the community who lived here all their lives.”

“He had a business for 31 years and we want him back in here,” he added.

“This is just the first phase of the battle – we won’t stop until the truth comes out and we take back all these properties from developers.”

Manchester-based Thermatic Building Services Ltd owns the building and was due to replace the café with a new eatery and flats.

That company is owned by Market House Ltd, which is controlled by property developer Dr. Roger Wratten. He owns a number of properties in Broadway Market.

Dr. Wratten would not comment on the lasest row, but Thermatic’s managing director David Oakley told the Gazette he was taking legal advice.

“It’s all going to be developed in keeping with the theme of the area and it will be an asset to it,” he said.

Hackney’s deputy mayor, Cllr Jessica Crowe, explained that properties on the street were sold when the council was “under legally-binding directions from the Government”.

“These required the council to sell surplus property to get it out of the financial crisis that developed when it was under no overall control,” she said.

“All local authorities must by law get market value when they sell property.”

Hackney police have confirmed they are aware of the situation and that officers have been incontact with the protestors and owner.


Photo by salimfadhley

This is an update on the occupation of 34 Broadway Market which Hackney Independent fully supports.


First of all thank you to all local residents who have been so supportive of this action!
Special thanks to the many who have donated time food, heaters and other useful things.

It seems that the majority of local people support what we’ve done. Many have commented on how angry they are that after 30 years Tony was forced out of Broadway Market and that Tony represents part of Broadway Market that is being pushed out as the area is gentrified.

Our first goal has been achieved! A group of local people have taken legal possession and secured the premises and on Monday 28th of November we prevented the scheduled demolition of Tony’s Café.

We have cleaned up the mess left after Tony’s eviction and made the place warm and welcoming for anyone who wants to drop in. Many people have already come for a cup of tea and to find out more about what’s been going on.

Also we have heard that Hackney Council have reviewed the original planning application for the site and come to the conclusion that it should not have been issued in the manner that it was. Our legal advisors are saying that the approval of the application was not a formal decision and we are now at the stage where the planning application can go to judicial review.

Our occupation of the premises is entirely legal. However we have to keep it secure. Friendly locals are invited to drop in but we have to be careful not to let representatives of the developer come through the door and attempt to repossess the cafe and start demolition. Please beware that although the building is occupied 24 hours a day, the front door is always locked. This is a necessity because of the legal position we are in.

Urgent Appeal: Occupation Of 34 Broadway Market, E8

As of Sunday evening the premises of Franscesca’s Café on Broadway Market have been occupied in protest against ongoing corruption allegations and aggressive gentrification in Hackney.

The café was due to be demolished at 8.00am, Monday November 28 to make way for luxury flats.

This is part of Hackney council’s sell-off of commercial properties. The estate agents appointed by the council have sold £225 million worth of properties for just £70 million, with the majority of these going to wealthy off-shore cartels who have made an absolute killing at the expense of the people of Hackney.

Tony Platia, a well-liked and popular figure in the community, has run Franscesca’s Café for the past 31 years.

Tony had first refusal on the property and repeatedly tried to buy it from Hackney council but was passed over in favour of a wealthy developer, Dr. Roger Wratten.

On three previous occasions local people rallied in support and prevented his eviction by bailiffs but in July this year, 10 bailiffs and 50 police turned up to throw him out.

Dr. Wratten is typical of the greedy developers that Hackney council chose to do business with. As the owner of a multi-million pound property portfolio his only interest in the area is financial gain – at the expense of the local community.

We call on both local residents and sympathisers to show their support by turning up at Broadway Market as soon as possible. Please copy this appeal and pass it on.

When Hollywood comes to Broadway market!

Tony, at Francesca’s

Hackney Independent has recently mourned the closure of Francesca’s Café on Broadway Market – the latest victim of the gentrification of the area which has seen shop rents increase at the expense of decent, affordable outlets for local working class residents.

Lately we have also witnessed the closure of the upmarket ‘Little Georgia’ restaurant on the Broadway, another victim of rent increases, but one that indicates that even the original gentrifiers are not immune from the self-same process. (See our letters page for coverage of debate on this in the Hackney Gazette.)

Irony of ironies is that this last week, film crews – which have in the past used the Market for its gritty realism – have been seen ‘dressing down’ the site of the ‘Little Georgia’, which is now another new upmarket restaurant, to look like a traditional local working-class café!?

Hackney Independent, we are sure, don’t need to point out the absurdity this situation.

Indeed, as they say, you couldn’t make it up if you tried…

Challenging Institutional Gentrification

This week’s Hackney Gazette (8 September 05) leads on “Keys to our Door – we’re being pushed out say traders.”

It covers a meeting held on Tuesday by the Broadway Traders & Residents‘ Association and led by Queensbridge Tory Councillor Andrew Boff. The meeting was largely attended by a middle class audience with a few exceptions.


The meeting was prompted by the closing of the upmarket ‘Little Georgia’ restaurant. We note that that there were no meetings called when much more socially useful shops closed or Tony‘s Cafe (Francesca‘s) closed recently. Councillor Boff says that he is concerned that the market is going backwards because of the ‘greed’ of developers, and focussed on how council corruption that has led to the selling off of council-owned shops to off-shore developers.

A local lawyer has been researching the background to several of the sell-offs in Broadway Market and claims to have found several cases where the council has been involved in doing deals with developers behind the back of shopkeepers who could have bought their leases. He has been taking the council to task but has not managed to get any straight answers from them in response to his allegations.

A representative from the Dalston area updated people about the recent sell-off of Dalston Lane properties. It seems that these were carried out in the same way as the 2001 Broadway Market sell-off – local shop keepers were sidelined by property developers who were given preferential treatment by the Council’s estate agents, Nelson Bakewell. The meeting was told that Nelson Bakewell sold an entire parade of shops on Dalston Lane as a job lot for almost half their total combined asking price to an overseas developer that already owns 10 properties in Broadway Market.

Councillor Boff is willing to stand up and say that there has been corruption in the Council and it is clear he wants to make political capital out of this and position himself as a champion of Broadway Market.


The view from some traders and residents is that they want to see laws put in place that mean that properties are only sold with conditions that they stay in local hands (no overseas developers) and are used for ‘community’ use. By community, the Traders Association seem to mean the ‘community’ of young professionals that could afford to frequent places like Little Georgia – people friendly to many of the shop keepers’ agenda of creating a middle class ‘urban village’ with little to offer the majority of local people.

The majority view in the meeting seemed to be that the sale of council-owned shops is fine, as long as the shops are sold to people like them, not big developers.

There was no mention of related issues that have shaped the area like gentrification or the privatisation of council housing and services. The traders do not seem to accept that many local people feel that the Farmers Market is not for them. Their agenda is very narrow – they want to fend off big chains like Starbucks and freeze the gentrification process at a particular point. Ultimately the shopkeepers want to be protected from the excesses of the free-market whilst enjoying its immediate benefits.

We have seen this gentrification process at first hand in “Hoxton”/South Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Islington‘s Upper Street. First comes the arty/hip shops and bars, then the place becomes popular, then the rents come up, big business pushes out the artists and “cutting edge” trendy bars and shops. At this point those who did nothing for the working class majority except price us out of their new shops and close our pubs expect us to help them or at least feel sorry for them when they get pushed out in turn.


New Labour’s William Hodgson, councillor for Queensbridge and head of Planning did turn up to the meeting. The Hackney Independent have not seen him since we saw him mouthing obscenities and gesturing at us at the 2002 election count where Labour narrowly beat our candidate.

Whereas Andrew Boff at least seems to be interested in local issues (though from a middle class perspective) Hodgson has an arrogant attitude to his role as a councillor and seem annoyed to even have to attend the meeting.

When one local started laying into him, he was protected by the Chair who told everyone ‘he’s on our side’. Not on our side, mate!

Hodgson also refused to take any responsibility for things done before he was in office. His basic role at the meeting was to keep repeating his New Labour mantra: “historically the council has done a bad job of managing properties so therefore I think it is best to sell them. The council should deliver services not manage properties. So it is our duty to get the ‘best price’ for ‘your’ properties as a duty to the borough. It is hard for us to guarantee that anything stays in the hands of community businesses”.

His argument was attacked as obviously many of the sales in Broadway Market and Dalston Lane have hardly been at ‘best price’! The reality is that commercial properties have usually sold at cheapest price to the developers after tenants have been sidelined from their right to buy.

Despite these attacks Hodgson’s solution to everything still seemed to be offloading more properties onto the free market. This sums up Labour‘s view perfectly – but not just with shops – it is the same with council housing, schools, leisure … They don’t want to own anything, they want to sell it and stand back and let market forces provide. This makes them no different from the Conservatives or Lib Dems and of no use to us whatsoever.

Although Councillor Boff seems to be more engaged with local issues and does a better job than Queensbridge‘s Labour councillors, his position on Broadway Market has two major flaws. Firstly his party shared power with Labour during part of the time of the mass sell-off of shops and of course did nothing to stop it. Secondly he believes in the free-market. He does not disagree with the council selling off the shops, so his only tactic is to say there was corruption in the process. The problem with the free market is that it will inevitably drive out smaller businesses if there is money to be made. So all the help Andrew Boff has put into helping establish the Saturday market has inevitably led to the increase of popularity in the area which in turn leads to pricing out local businesses.

The Gazette editorial summed up the meeting very well:

“It is ironic that the ward’s only Tory councillor slams the damaging effect of putting so many properties in the hands of a few real estate speculators and warns the future of the area is at the whim of property developers. Until there is evidence to the contrary, we can assume there is nothing shady or unlawful about what has happened and it is simply the consequence of a free-market economy – an ideology championed by Thatcherism and usually embraced by all Conservatives, shopkeepers and traders.

There is no accidental process going on in Broadway Market. Selling their commercial properties was not just to balance the council’s books when they ran short of money. The council don’t want to hold on the shops, or have any other plan to provide shops and service of use to most of us. The process is ‘institutional’ gentrification‚ at work, not just corruption on the side of a few fat cats.

We don’t want Starbucks to come in, but we also don’t need shops for new rich young settlers discovering this ‘fabulous shopping street’ in the ‘gritty’ east end. We want Broadway Market back serving local people as shops and market stalls selling goods at affordable prices.

Summer newsletter published

  • Haggerston School Under Threat
  • City Academies
  • Olympics
  • Broadway Market
  • A View from Hoxton
  • A View from Haggerston
  • More!

Hackney Independent, Summer 2005 issue (pdf format)

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