The Saturday Market Debate

The Broadway Market Resident and Traders Association (BMTRA) have taken issue with Hackney Independent’s views and argue that the Saturday Market is positive for the regeneration of the area. We have therefore given Louise Brewood, Chair of the BMTRA, the opportunity to put the BMTRA’s side of the story so you can decide what you think of their arguments.

Our viewpoint is under the article

Do you still stand by the view that the Saturday Market is positive for the regeneration of the area around Broadway Market?

Yes I do. I believe it’s an amazing catalyst for bringing people together. People from all types of background, financially, economically, socially. It’s beginning to become a platform for the community. It’s real urban space because it’s grown up itself. My fear though is that the property market would go nuts and it has. It’s gone nuts quicker than we anticipated.

Are you acting in the best interests of the local community?

Yes. Most definitely. If I didn’t believe in what I was doing, I wouldn’t be doing it.

The market came about because of about 70 people, most of them long-term residents of over 20 years or local shopkeepers, which includes Spirit and Tony. They wanted to bring in a handful of stalls that sold locally produced goods, environmentally friendly, because that’s the sort of food they wanted and they didn’t want to go to supermarkets. It was never meant to be this massive market but we expected it to take 6 or7 years to grow, we never expected it to happen in 6 weeks. It was a runaway success from day one.

What about people on low incomes?

Do you think the market’s prices reflect local needs?

This is the biggest one…. people are beginning to change their opinion. The reason Broadway Market is such a success is because I wouldn’t look at the market as a market. Initially it was really about having good quality food and my involvement was to make sure that a handful of stalls didn’t clash with current shops. This is the only market I know in the whole country where the market is about the people who live and work directly in that street, everyone’s had an involvement and a say. When people accuse me of the market being this and that I say to them “Have you been down there? Come down with me, let me take you into Henry’s (on Broadway Market) there you can buy a really good piece of cheese, same as you can in the supermarket. Let me take you back to the supermarket to their finest range.

Their finest range is more expensive than what you’re getting direct from the producers in my market”. I tell everybody, if you want a cheap market you can go to the other markets. Ridley Road is a fine market. I know it’s got problems but it is one of the country’s biggest and best markets for everyday stuff.

But it’s not local for the people who live near Broadway Market

No. I agree but you’ve got that option. Why should local people have to go all the way over to Ridley Road market for affordable fresh food? Haven’t you created an upmarket food ghetto on Broadway Market?

Yeah. That’s what it was meant to do. Who let the market die in the first place?

Where are all the stalls that these people say should be here giving them what they want? Why did they go away in the first place? Because people stopped using this market. They went to supermarkets instead. They let it die. We all let it die. If any one from the local estates wanted to do (something similar) they could have done it too. We’re just a bunch of ordinary people. They could’ve done it themselves. The longstanding businesses (on Broadway Market) would not have been here now if we’d not introduced the market.

What do you think are the social costs of gentrification?

Scary. It’s not spreading wealth fairly and evenly. It’s only providing for some, which creates resentment from others. And that’s wrong. But nobody has the right to condemn a bunch of people who got together and did something they wanted to do as volunteers. Sadly, what we’ve done has kind of been sabotaged by those who do want to gentrify the area. Regeneration I do think is good thing but regeneration through gentrification is a bad thing.


How will you be using the revenue from the market to benefit the local area?

Simple things like raising funds for various projects. We try to support local events if we can and when the tsunami happened we raised 2 grand in less than 8 hours.

My personal dream in getting involved (with the market) was to do local things. Because we’re a ‘not for profit’ organisation, anything we make has to be put back into what we’re doing. Everything should benefit the local and wider community. We raised money at Christmas (around about £1000) and half that money went into putting on a half-days football tournament on the fields for local youngsters. Ultimately we want to get a local youth club up and running.

So meeting all local needs and not just a particular group?

Yes. Like my market. I believe that the whole market is important. Every shop and stall is part of a shopping experience and you must cater for all needs. Spirit and Tony would both tell you that without the market their businesses were struggling anyway. We have to meet all local needs and I believe the market does that. The area, sadly, is not doing that and that is down to politics and money and fat cats and that’s wrong because if all this money’s being made it should be going back into areas of deprivation.

The Hackney Independent view

In 2004, Hackney Independent published an interview with a local resident and the results of an estate survey which were critical of the Broadway Market Saturday Market. In the survey we found that most estate residents were glad to see some activity in the market, but clearly recognised that it is not aimed at them, ie that it is ‘exclusive’ and too expensive for the majority of local working-class residents. 83% of those surveyed on the Whiston and Goldsmiths estates said the market not aimed at us and 93% said the market is too expensive.

Hackney Independent, and many local people, are of the opinion that the Saturday Market is contributing to the gentrification of the area. The campaign for Tony’s Café and Spirit’s Nutritious Food Gallery has recently emphasised this issue. The ‘invasion’ of unaccountable property developers means that small businesses that cater for local people are being forced out of the market.

Those who are using the market have no idea that the area is becoming divided – between a working class majority who are having to put up with bad housing and run down services, and a new breed of rich, self-interested young professionals. This is not merely an accident of the property market. The gentrification of the area is something that is urged on by Hackney Council’s regeneration plans. As they privatise public services, shut down community services, run down estates and close schools they want to bring in a new class of people with money to ‘improve the area’.

Albeit unwittingly, the Saturday Market, by excluding local people, is, we believe, contributing to the process of gentrification. Indeed, even the new coffee shops and boutiques that have opened on Broadway Market over the last few years will eventually themselves fall victim to increased rents and property development if this process is not arrested. No-one wants to see a street of Starbucks and Estate Agents that you can find in any other ‘regenerated’ street in London.

Hackney Independent say the Saturday market is accelerating the gentrification process, pushing working class people out of the area by increasing the cost of living and the price of housing.