I don’t believe it!

On January 21 an article appeared in the Independent newspaper that would cause any sane person to choke on their breakfast.

Entitled ‘Hipper than Hoxton: why Haggerston is the place to be’, it took its lead from the new edition of the Lonely Planet guide to London. In this book Haggerston was described as one of the “chic new neighbourhoods” that makes the capital such a “dynamic and buzzing place”.

This fabulous claim was based upon a review of one restaurant, a pub and the “thriving Saturday farmers’ market”.

In the Independent article a declaration of war was read out by the owner of the Cat and Mutton ‘gastropub’,  Kevin Cooper: “Actually we are pretty much on the frontline of gentrification. The White Lightning brigade – the cider favoured by drunks and derelicts – have not entirely disappeared, but it’s now so much better than Shoreditch.”

Thanks for that contribution Kev. We would boycott the pub in protest but nobody with any taste would be seen dead in the Cat and Mutton anyway.

Still, the benefits of progress and change mean that we can now pay £3 for a cup of Caffè Latte  – even if we do have to drink it in the ruins of a community.

letters about the occupation of Broadway Market

From the Hackney Gazette

Re your front page story (1 December, 2005) about the occupation of Francesca’s Café, 34 Broadway Market, I’d like to clarify a few things for your readers. That the local people and their friends and well-wishers have occupied the café for a ‘cause’ is quite correct. They have occupied the building to prevent its demolition in the hope that the café can be returned to Tony, so he can resume his business of 31 years.

The occupation is not therefore a ‘squat’, in the usually understood sense. People (most of whom have never done anything like this before)have been forced to take direct action to attempt to right a wrong that the legal system seems incapable of doing.

But there is another main reason for the occupation: to publicly object to the continued gentrification of the area. Hackney Council is colluding with property developers to clear out the small businesses that local working-class residents rely on, and replace them with shops that cater predominantly for rich newcomers and weekend visitors from the posher parts of Islington. They have sold under-valued properties at a cost of millions of pounds to Hackney Council Tax payers.

This so-called ‘regeneration’ is not of benefit to ordinary, local people. Not only are we poorer for the loss of these publicly-owned commercial properties, but many of the new cafes and restaurants are too expensive to eat in. Tony’s was one of the very few places on the market where people could meet and eat at affordable prices.

Hackney Independent fully supports the occupation and encourages well-wishers to visit the café for a cup of tea to find out more about what is going on.

Carl Taylor
Hackney Independent

I was slightly bemused to read Cllr Crowe’s comments about the massive sell off of council properties being down to “legally binding directions from the government”. Can she clarify for us exactly which party was running the government at the time? It is either a Labour council or a Labour governmen to blame, or probably both. As a Labour party member Cllr Crowe’s attempt to pass the buck between the two doesn’t really cut much ice.

Compared to this sort of double-speak, the clear words and actions from the protestors at 34 Broadway Market came as a breath of fresh air, and I offer them my full support.

John Eden



Come and find out more about the situation in Broadway Market. After Cafe Francesca, the Nutritious Food Galley is the next targeted for eviction.

Come down and tell the Deputy Mayor of Hackney what you think!

The meeting is on January 16th 2006, from 7.30 to 9.30pm at St Michael’s Church Hall, on the corner of Lansdowne Drive and Lavender Grove, E8.

Deputy Mayor Jessica Crowe from Hackney Council will be present. The Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe and Dr Roger Wratten (current owner of 34 Broadway Market) have also been invited.

On January 3rd Spirit (of Nutritious Food Galley, 71 Broadway Market), received an eviction notice for January 20th. It is more important than ever that we tell the council what we think about the sell offs in Broadway Market and the rest of Hackney.

Come and have your say!

Hackney Gazette: Protestors Reclaim Cafe

PROTESTERS occupying a cafe to save it from demolition have rebuilt part of the building destroyed by workmen.

The activists took over Francesca’s in Broadway Market again on Boxing Day after being kicked out by court order five days earlier.

Campaigners initially endured rain and freezing temperatures because part of the roof and back wall had been knocked down while they were locked out.

Members and supporters of the Save Broadway Market Campaign have put up another wall and strung a tarpaulin over new roof beams.

Group spokesman Arthur Shuter told the Gazette that people from the community had come forward to fund the work.

“I want to see the cafe open again for them,” he said. “We will not give in.

“Developers are tearing the community apart,” added Mr Shuter, “but we will fight them all the way.”

Francesca’s had been run for 31 years by Tony Platia until he was evicted last July when his lease ran out.

The cafe is one of a number of properties in the street owned by Dr Roger Wratten.

He would not comment on the row, but a spokesman made a statement on his behalf.

“We’re naturally disappointed at the continuing illegal occupation by the squatters,” he said, “and are reviewing the situation with our lawyers.”

Former Hackney mayor Betty Shanks has joined the campaign by demanding that her official portrait be taken down at the Mare Street town hall in protest at Hackney Council’s role in the dispute.

The 76-year-old, who was mayor in 1985, blames the problems in Broadway Market on the cheap sell-off of public properties by a cash-strapped council in 2000 and 2001.

“I have asked for my picture to be taken down,” said the great-grandmother-of-three, “because of what has happened to Francesca’s.

“The council should buy back Tony’s cafe with a compulsory purchase order,” added the former Labour councillor, “to set the situation right.”

The council says it is “unlikely” it will buy back properties in the street.

In another development, 58-year-old Lowell Grant, the proprietor of another shop in Broadway Market, the Nutritious Food Gallery, is facing eviction by other developers later this month.

Mr Grant, known as Spirit, who has run the shop for 13 years, is also being supported by the protesters. “The axe is now hanging over Spirit as well,” said Mr Shuter, “so we could be doing this all over again.

Broadway Market Occupation: BBC News Coverage

For BBC local news coverage of the ongoing Broadway Market occupation click on this link here.

Protesters continue cafe battle


More protesters have occupied a cafe to save it from demolition, less than a week after others were evicted.


Police and sheriff’s officers moved in to remove them from Tony’s Cafe in Broadway Market, Hackney, last Wednesday after a four-week occupation.

On Boxing Day more protesters occupied the cafe, in the fight against what they call the area’s gentrification.

Spokesman Arthur Shuter said they were now freezing in the half-demolished building, but they would remain.

He said there was no longer any water or gas and many of the fittings had been removed and the roof had been destroyed.

But he told BBC London: “We have to maintain occupation of the building, we have no choice.

“Now that we have done it we can’t go home at night, because when we come back in the morning, the building will be gone.”

He said protesters decided to re-occupy the popular cafe because what had happened was “so unfair” and a lot of people locally were against it.

Builders moved in to start knocking it down as soon as the last batch of protesters were removed.

The cafe is one of several buildings in the area due for demolition, but some residents say it is a local institution.

Hackney Council told BBC London that it had sold the property years ago, in line with government guidelines, to help clear its debts.


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


On December 21st the occupation in defence of Tony’s Cafe at 34 Broadway Market was evicted. Developer Dr Wratten’s henchmen smashed half the place down. On Boxing Day morning, a new group of supporters of the campaign managed to enter and re-occupy the cafe.

We have now undertaken an ambitious reconstruction scheme and are rebuilding the cafe almost as fast the wreckers smashed it down. (We plan not one but two floors – but no exclusive penthouse apartments or concierge on this development!).

We are loath to describe this as regeneration but it’s probably closer to it than anything Wratten or Hackney Council have been capable of so far.

We still have lots of work to do, so if you have building skills or just would like to help out, we’d be glad to see you. We urgently need more bedding, food, heat, and other provisions. Anything you got for christmas and don’t want would be gratefully received. Please come down if you would like to help out keeping the place occupied.

As promised, we are going to go on fighting for Tony to get his place back and to defend Spirit’s shop. The fact that new people were willing to come forward and carry on this community occupation only shows how strongly many in this area feel about the sell off of Tony’s and Spirit’s places and the wider process of social cleansing affecting long-term working class areas like Broadway Market.

Please sign up to our mailing list and pass this news on to everyone you know – we need your help to keep this thing going! Thanks to everyone for their support so far.


From the website: http://34broadwaymarket.omweb.org/modules/wakka/HomePage

On Wednesday morning the occupation in defence of Tony’s Cafe at 34 Broadway Market was evicted. Despite this setback we are going to go on fighting for Tony to get his place back and to defend Spirit’s shop. This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning!

You are cordially invited to our Christmas Party on Tuesday 27th at 1pm, outside Tony’s Cafe. There will be music, food and drink, and maybe a few festive surprises. We will also be outside the cafe again on Saturday 24th from 11am. Come and get a Christmas card!

Whilst we appreciate that Christmas is only days away and that money is tight for everyone, we urgently need to raise funds to keep the campaign going. Please make a donation if you are in Broadway Market over the next few days. There are collecting tins at 27-29 Broadway Market (Supermarket & Off-Licence) and at 71 Broadway Market (Spirit’s Nutritious Food Galley). Please give generously.

Developers evict cafe protesters

BBC News

Protesters who locked themselves inside a cafe for four weeks to save it from demolition have been evicted.

Builders started knocking down Tony’s Cafe in Broadway Market, Hackney, shortly after protesters were forced to leave just before dawn.

Residents fear that the popular cafe will be turned into luxury flats as part of the area’s “gentrification”.

Hackney Council told BBC London that they sold the property some years ago to help clear its debts.

Campaigners say the cafe is a institution in the community.

“People are sick of very little being done for low-income families,” said campaigner David Stanton, who said other properties were under threat.

“This is something that’s not going away and the council knows it.”

“It’s for the rich,” said Betty Shanks.

“I’m ashamed that the council, who say they’re for the working class, can come and along and take the cafe away.”


Please copy and send out to as many people as possible


Sheriffs and Police broke into Tony’s Café this morning, injuring one of the occupiers and have allowed Dr Wratten’s men to start an immediate demolition. Within an hour the building was rendered unliveable.

We lodged an appeal yesterday with the High Court but the bailiffs ignored that and went ahead anyway. Two of the occupiers are at the courts right now trying to get a stay of execution but Wratten’s men have done so much damage that it seems unlikely we could re-occupy the café.

The sad thing is that more people than ever were coming to the café and there was still a fantastic energy to the occupation.

We plan a show of local solidarity tonight at 6pm, outside the Café. Please come and show your anger and support!