Open Olympic Forum

Those who are critical of the way that the 2012 Olympics is affecting their Borough would like to share their experiences with like-minded people from the other Boroughs who are feeling the Olympic effect.


Some of us are facing planning deadlines and need support.


Some of us are predicting worse road transport hold-ups in a local system which is barely able to cope.


Some of us are dismayed at the speed with which promises about respecting and enhancing local common land and open spaces have been broken.


Some of us are anxious about the effect of rising property prices upon the affordability of the local housing market.


Some of us do not believe that promises about the skills training being planned will significantly improve the employment prospects of the local unemployed.


Some of us are concerned that the process of being consulted leaves us with the empty feeling of not being taken seriously.


Instead of ‘being consulted’ by the planners about their agenda we would like to consult each other in order to clarify what our agenda is and what our indepenedent responses should be. We want to make contact in person and network.


To begin this process a number of activists from the East End met together recently in Hackney and decided to organise a series of meetings in each Olympic Borough.


The next meeting will be on Monday December 4th at 7.30 at the Hornbeam Centre 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 (near Bakers Arms. 1st left up Hoe St on the corner of Bakers Avenue) Tel 020 8558 6880

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.