Who Loves Hackney?

A big debate has kicked off following the announcement by a Channel 4 Property Show that Hackney is ‘the worst place to live in Britain’.

The young professionals who have been buying houses in the area have used their privileged positions in the media to jump to Hackney’s defence. This article from the BBC’s website is a hilarious example: “As a resident of the borough -albeit for only the last four months – let me tell you one thing: the findings are rubbish. For many of us, this pearl of cultural diversity and tolerance in north-east London is little short of an earthly Eden. Bars, restaurants, parks, canals reminiscent of the great days of Venice – we have it all on our doorstep”.

Middle class mayor Jules Pipe has been publicly defending Hackney, criticising the programme and claiming that “their survey takes no account of the things that really make a place great; people, architecture, culture, nightlife, parks”. He has asked everyone in the borough to “wear your I love Hackney badge with pride” in protest at the TV show.

Unfortunately for the Mayor, many residents seem to have taken a rather different view. “Where are all the letters of love for Hackney?” asked the Gazette as it printed a page full of angry letters attacking Pipe and complaining about “rotting windows, cockroaches rats, burnt out cars, no playgrounds for children” and pointing out the levels of crime in the area.

“The worst place to live, how right you are” wrote a resident from Haggerston Estate. These very different reactions clearly show that there are now two very different realities in Hackney – one for those who can afford to enjoy the bars, boutiques and ‘architecture’ and another where basic needs like decent housing are not being met.

The angry letters in the Gazette have exposed Pipe’s pathetic ‘I love Hackney’ campaign as a classic piece of New Labour pin. Rather than tackling any of the real problems faced by most working people all the council have to offer is an empty slogan.

Despite Jules Pipe’s attempts to present himself as a man of the people, defending “poorer people” against the “middle class snobs” at Channel 4, it’s clear that the council seem far more interested in attracting profiteering developers and posh professionals into the area with ‘culture’ and ‘nightlife’ than sorting out conditions on council estates.

The real truth of what New Labour have planned for Hackney was grimly spelled out on the Channel 4 property show: “Property developers, who are expecting big returns resulting from the Olympic games covet the area. It might be the least pleasant place to live in the UK, but you’d be a fool not to invest here…”


Council Plan to demolish over 500 homes and hand open space to developers

I simply do not believe that there is sufficient ‘underused’ land on these 28 estates to fit in 550 homes, so the Council must be defining areas as ‘underused’ which residents do in fact use. To the Council and the developers, ‘underused’ probably means ‘not making money’.
– Janine Booth


Now the elections are out of the way and Hackney Labour have power until 2010, they are turning on our estates. The council want to knock down over 500 homes and build on open spaces and car parks. Surprise, surprise, the new homes will be for housing associations or for private sale.

Estates targeted so far are Suffolk, Fellows Court, Wenlock Barn, St John’s, St Leonards, De Beauvoir and Haberdashers. But this is only the beginning – the Council want to buld on 13 sites on Wenlock Barn alone. Expect more estates to be included later.

Instead of focussing on the task of spending our rents and service charges on cleaning and repairing our homes, the council’s main push is to hand over sites to developers. Most estates are already overcrowded and we need green spaces, playgrounds and parking. Hackney Independent sees these spaces as being vital to our community. Labour sees them as an opportunity to bring in their developer friends.

The council plans will bring chaos to estates that are already overcrowded. Even the council admit that Hackney has the third highest level of over-crowding in England. How will these plans help matters? Worse still, the plan is for at least 3 out of every 10 new homes built on our estates to be private – for homeowners or high renters. You can bet that the end result will be more than 3 out of 10.

A council report states that extra funds will be put into the targeted estates to “assist residents to consent.” – in other words they are trying to bribe residents into going along with their privatising agenda! Of course this also means less money for other estates. The report also states that “Shoreditch Trust representatives have been involved in the development of this strategy.” We spoke to some of the elected resident representatives and the plans are news to them! Worse still the Council claim they are carrying out “early consultation” for the proposals but a council insider has told Hackney Independent that the decisions have already been made.

Any new building in Hackney should be council housing for overcrowded tenants, and young people needing a place of their own – and shouldn’t take away space on existing estates. We need to campaign against these plans and stop Hackney Council from flattening council flats and destroying play areas and replacing them with private homes. This isn’t just an issue for those already targeted by the council. Your estate could be next!

Hackney Independent’s summary of the council’s plans is available here on our website as a pdf.

Council Jargon Explained

The proposals for the ‘Next Estate Regeneration Programme’ are written in council jargon. Here we pick out some of the quotes and tell you what they actually mean:

“We aim to continue tenure diversification”
This means they want fewer council tenants and more private renters and home owners.

“Selective demolition”
This means knocking council houses down.

“Land assembly and decanting”
Dividing up any open space into packages for developers and getting the tenants out.

“Infill opportunities”
This means building on any available open space.
What people are saying about the council’s plans

“I simply do not believe that there is sufficient ‘underused’ land on these 28 estates to fit in 550 homes, so the Council must be defining areas as ‘underused’ which residents do in fact use. To the Council and the developers, ‘underused’ probably means ‘not making money’.”
Janine Booth

“Hackney Council won’t be happy until they’ve sold the entire estate off”
Harry, Wenlock Barn

“I don’t want local green spaces used for development”
Ian, Wenlock Barn

“Have you seen Hackney Today recently? An article states ‘I love Hackney because of its green spaces’”
Tony Butler, Hackney Independent

Benefit film at RIO, Dalston: 5 1/2 roofs

‘Save the Spirit of Broadway Market’

Late night benefit film screening 

5 1/2 ROOFS (15)
UK 2006, director Sepp R Brudermann, 84m

According to Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 the occupation of empty property in the UK is not illegal. In London there are more than 13.000 people living in squats. These are 6 episodes of 6 different London based squats and their inhabitants. 6 stories of life in the city, stories of struggle, celebration, creativity, resignation, fear and hope. The final episode concerns the struggles and occupations in Broadway Market.

“A compelling look at a layer of our urban community which is rarely seen” (Raindance Film Festival)
“Fresh and beguiling” (R. Thompson, BBC Storyville)

+ speakers

11.15pm, Saturday November 25, Rio cinema, Dalston

Tickets £6.50/£5 Concs (available in advance or on the door)

Background information:

A campaign has been running in Broadway Market, London E8 for the past twelve months in support of two particular leaseholders who operated businesses in Broadway Market and who were tenants of Hackney Council until the properties were sold to offshore property developers in 2001/2. These cases are also linked to an on-going campaign to protect buildings in Dalston Lane, London E8. The issues surrounding these cases gained worldwide press and media coverage last Christmas and New Year and led to an investigation by the Fraud Squad and the L. B. Hackney Audit and Anti-Fraud Division, culminating in an internal enquiry before the L. B. Hackney Governance and Resources Scrutiny Committee in March/April this year. The findings of that report go before Hackney’s Mayor and Cabinet on 27 November. The enquiries came about as a result of the widely publicised occupation of Francesca’s café at 34 Broadway Market and publicity relating to Lowell ‘Spirit’ Grant who runs a Caribbean fresh fish, fruit and veg shop at 71 Broadway Market. Spirit is still facing eviction, although a significant campaign has been launched to clear outstanding rent arrears whilst the Courts determine his legal status. There is to be a hearing at the Court of Appeal on 5 or 6 December 2006 and his lawyers are increasingly optimistic.

20 and still not out

by James Ballhatchett

After the reckless demolition of the Laburnum Primary School on Laburnum Street in September/November of last year to create another Blairite City academy, the after effects are still being felt by residents of Laburnum Court after a mass invasion of mice fleeing the wreckage to lay their new home in our homes.

In one flat (flat 3) alone 20 mice have been caught since November and no. 20 arrived Wednesday 13th of September.

The case has been looked upon by the Hackney Council but all they can do is deliver an endless supply of mouse traps and say ‘what else can we do’.

After the reported drive by the council to supply us with decent ‘Hackney Homes’ we ask ‘where is the evidence?’

Here is the evidence of the mice:

Preparing for the London 2012 Olympics

As Ken’s roadshow begins to get going the cost of the 2012 is beginning to become apparent, both financially and socially.


The primary benefactors will be not just the esteem of our politicians but the City and property developers too.


The working class will, as usual, be at the sharp end of this grandiose gentrification plan.


It’s time now for both groups and individuals to start to get organised.


The Games Monitor website was launched this week and promises to be ‘a network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development processes’


They say, ‘We want to highlight the local, London and international implications of Olympic processes. We seek to deconstruct the ‘fantastic’ hype of Olympic boosterism and the eager complicity of the ‘urban elites’ in politics, business, the media, sport, academia and local institutional ‘community stakeholders’.


The first initial planning meeting takes place at 7pm on November 13 at Passing Clouds in Dalston, Hackney (Richmond Road, just off Kingsland Road behind Uncle Sam’s)


Also, the UK Rank and File Building Workers Committee have called a meeting about organising for the 2012 Olympics at 7pm, Tuesday November 28 at the Cock Tavern, Chalton Street, Euston.


All building workers and rank and file trade unionists are welcome. For further details please ring 07749 517074



The Games Monitor website can be found at


Winter newsletter published

  • BLOCK THEIR KNOCKDOWN! Council plan to demolish over 500 council homes & hand open spaces to developers.
  • Council Jargon Explained
  • Who loves Hackney?
  • ASBO for Jules Pipe
  • The tragedy of Holly Street
  • Olympics
  • Hoodies
  • More!

Hackney Independent, Winter 2006/07 issue (pdf format)

More newsletters.

The oldest council estate says no to a private landlord

In 1900 the Boundary Estate, just north of Brick Lane in the Whitechapel area of east London, became Britain’s first council estate – and, following a vote last week, it will continue to be so for the forseeable future.


Last week the tenants of the Boundary and 3 other East End estates voted to reject the intense campaigning and enticements offered by vested interests to transfer their homes to a private Housing Association landlord. Despite a lack of investment in their homes due to funding cuts by central government, they chose to stay with Tower Hamlets Council as their landlord.
Successive recent Tory and New Labour governments have committed major resources in an attempt to coerce tenants into accepting privatisation. Deliberate long term underfunding of maintenace and refurbishment services is intended to ‘encourage’ tenants to vote ‘the right way’. In Tower Hamlets hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent on persuasive campaigning. An army of professional ‘consultants’ and campaign managers were installed in the area; estate security guards were forced to become part of the Yes campaign and help distribute glossy promotional material.
Yet, despite the hard sell, all 4 estates voted overwhelmingly No. They joined the growing trend of now over 80 other No votes by tenants against privatisation. This is despite knowing that no extra funding is likely to be made available by central government for necessary improvements. In the London borough of Camden £283 million was already promised by central government, for a major refurbishment programme, prior to the vote. But after tenants delivered a No vote in New Labour’s flagship borough the £283 million was spitefully withdrawn. In Waltham Forest, north-east London, where tenants voted Yes a few years ago, a quango – ‘Gresham Homes’ – has taken over management of the Council housing stock. But they have been so blatantly incompetent that the government auditors have for several years refused to allow the delivery of promised extra funding for upgrading of the housing stock. So even if tenants vote Yes, they don’t always get what’s promised.


Benefit Gig for Spirit – Chat's Palace, Hackney, October 27

Benefit Gig for Spirit at Chat’s Palace Fri 27th October – Advance Tickets Available NOW

Save the Spirit of Broadway Market presents:

Reggae by Jah Youth Roots Ambassador & Guest Sounds, West Indian Food by Jah Spirit.

Proceeds will help to keep Spirit in Broadway Market E8 and prevent his eviction from the shop and home he built from scratch before Hackney Council sold him out to developers.

For more info about Spirit and the campaign against council sell offs and evictions in Broadway Market, check out the News section of this site.

Friday 27th October 2006 8pm – 1am

Chat’s Palace, 42-44 Brooksby’s Walk, E9

£5 advance,

* Advance tickets available from Spirit’s shop, 71 Broadway Market, E8 *
Tickets also available on the door. The last benefit was a sell-out so get your tickets now!!!

70th Anniversary of The Battle of Cable Street: Street Celebrations

On 4th October 1936, people in the east end of London stopped Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists marching through Cable Street, in Stepney, then a mainly Jewish area. The Spanish Civil War slogan was widely used: They Shall Not Pass – No Pasaran!

The Cable Street Group, and Alternative Arts are planning a commemorative day. The Festival will include a procession, street theatre, music, singers, an exhibition of photographs from 1936 and from more recent events, as well as stalls. This event takes place in Cable St, Whitechapel.

Dates: 08 October 2006 – 08 October 2006
Times: 12pm – 4pm
Admission: FREE – just turn up in Cable St on the day.

Below is film footage of the event from 1936

Windows media player file:

Quick time movie:

London Social Forum: Divided City

Open Forum on speculation, housing, land and social rights

On Sunday 1st October, Limehouse Town Hall – in the shadow of Canary Wharf – will be host to an event called “Divided City Open Forum” on the effect of financial speculation in the City of London on housing and the community’s right to live.

Through short presentations and a series of workshops, the necessities of residence, democratic deficit and resistance to global corporate finance and evictions will feature heavily, with guests from as far away as Chile and Egypt (Cairo Housing and Land Rights Network). There will also be a session on the impact of the 2012 Olympics on London and the effect of development in the Lea Valley. Workshops include ‘Networking on Housing Rights [and privatisation]’, and ‘A Right to Land’ with campaigners from the travelling community and the Land is Ours land rights campaign.

The final session of the Open Forum will examine solutions to corporate domination and community struggles, including the Local Communities Bill, systems of democratic audit, and the broader context. In terms of the latter, we will explore the concept of democracy and relate the effectiveness of constructing alternative methodologies of accountability within an economic system where human and material exchanges are grounded in enclosures, as in the privatisation of public utilities such as water and health/education/transport systems. We will refer to the underlying neoliberal agenda, which deepens and intensifies the market economy and breeds both prosperity and exclusion, in both urban and rural contexts.

The conference is free to all, but participants will be asked for a donation to help cover costs.

Campaigners are mooting plans for a demonstration at an unspecified location in London on Monday October 2nd, as part of an international day of action on housing and land rights, on what will be World Habitat Day 2006.

Sunday October 1, 2006, 12.30pm-6 pm Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commercial Road, London E14 7HA

Organised by the London Social Forum

The main session will be the “LONDON CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP – COMMUNITIES IN RESISTANCE” with speakers from the Broadway Market campaign, the campaign to save Queens Market in Newham, people from the Dale farm travellers community, and activists from Dalston. This session will be chaired by Dave Morris from HSG. Start time, around around 4.30.

The Programme:

12.30: Session 1:

Doreen Massey (Open University): London as Financial Hub

Ana Sugranyes (Habitat International Coalition): Social Impacts on Habitat

Sebastian Mueller (Dortmund University): Impacts of privatisation and speculation

Fred Harrison (Land Research Trust): The Property Bubble

+ time for open discussion

14.00 Session 2: Privatisation, Development and Large-Scale Speculation.

Chris Shirley Smith (Independent Water Consultant): Thames Water

Martin Slavin (Journalist): Impact of 2012 Olympics on London

Knut Unger: European global investments

+ time for open discussion

14.45 Workshops

– The Lea Valley, impact of the Olympics, Gentrification and Displacement

– Networking on Housing Rights and Finance

15.45 Workshops

– London Effect on Property Markets

– A Right to Land, with Dale Farm travellers, Grattan Puxon from the Roma Federation, Maggie Smith (Romany Gypsy Council tbc) and Simon Fairlie (The Land is Ours/Chapter-7)

16.45 Open Forum (including):

– Introduction to Urban Watch and Mapping (Citymine(d), NodeL), L-Atlas, Cartograhy of Resistance, Violation Database and Real Estate Corporate Watch.

– London Campaign Roundup

– The Democratic Deficit, including speakers on:

Democratic Audit (Manchester Open City), Sustainable Communities Bill (Steve Shaw), Inclusive dialogue on rural inhabitants, farmers and public lands and Perspectives from the South (Angie Balata) and the North (Simon Fairlie)

18.30 Summing Up and Close

Films and food at Ramparts in the evening.

The Open Forum is free to all, but participants will be asked for a donation to help cover costs. Food and refreshments will be provided, including Zapatista coffee.


Trains: DLR Limehouse or Westferry; c2c from Barking, West Ham and

Fenchurch Street.

Tube: Mile End (Central, Metropolitan, District lines) and then a 277, D6, or D7 bus; or, Aldgate (Circle, Metropolitan) or Aldgate East (Metropolitan, District) and then a 15, or 115 bus.

Buses: 15, 115 (from Paddington station, Aldgate tube, East Ham); 395 (from Surrey Quays tube), D3 (Isle of Dogs, Bethnal Green); 277 (from Highbury and Islington tube via Dalston Junction, Mare Street and Mile End tube), D6 (from Mare Street via Bethnal Green and Mile End tube), D7 (Mile End tube and Poplar).