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…”