Broadway Market occupation

An article from the Hackney Independent Winter Newsletter on the Broadway Market occupation.

Everyone in the area knew Tony Platia, who had run Franscesca's Cafe from these premises for 30 years. Tony was evicted on 1st July 2005 and had his livelihood destroyed. Tony was part of the local community and on previous occasions local people rallied round to help prevent his eviction by bailiffs but in July, 10 bailiffs and 50 police turned up to throw him out. Tony was evicted by Dr Roger Wratten, a property developer who also owns a number of premises in Broadway Market and many other local sites. He owns the cleared warehouses on the corner of Queensbridge & Whiston Roads, where he plans to build 132 mainly private flats. Dr Wratten got Tony's Café when Hackney Council sold off many of its commercial properties to try and solve its debt problem. Despite the fact that Tony had first refusal on the property and kept trying to buy it from Hackney Council, he was passed over in favour of a wealthy developer. The way the cafe was sold to Wratten is very suspicious and is now under investigation. Hackney's sell-off of commercial properties was a disgrace. The Council's estate agents sold £225 million worth of properties for just £70 million (losing £150 million of our money) and most were sold to off-shore developers who made a killing at the expense of Hackney people.

Dr Wratten wants to knock down the whole building and build a new shop downstairs with luxury flats upstairs. The builders turned up to demolish Tony's Cafe on Monday 28th of November. But this demolition was stopped by a number of local people who are against the Yuppie flats that would replace it and are angry with the council-sponsored gentrification of the area. At the time of writing they have occupied the building (an entirely legal action) to make a stand against the developers and to appeal for a full investigation into claims of corruption around how the Council sold its commercial properties.

Support

The occupation has huge support in the local community, where many people have known Tony for years. Many locals have commented on how angry they are that after 30 years Tony was forced out of Broadway Market and that Tony represents a part of Broadway Market that is being pushed out as the area becomes trendy and expensive.

Hackney Independent have given their full support to the action. Although the Hackney Gazette made the protesters out to be "squatters" most of those involved have never done this kind of thing before - they have just had enough of the changes in Broadway Market which only benefit the new middle class settlers. Direct action was the only way to prevent the demolition and give Tony some kind of chance to return. This occupation needs active support from everyone to succeed. What you can do to support the occupation:

1. Take some leaflets from the cafe and give them to your friends and neighbours

2. Spend some time in the cafe. We need people there 24 hours a day

3. Give some money or food to help keep the occupation going We can save our cafe and stop Broadway market becoming a middle-class only area of boutiques, estate agents and luxury flats. Tony is not alone

Francesca's Cafe is not the only small business to have been pushed out of Broadway market. Other longstanding shopkeepers like Paul the TV repair man and Prakash (Peter) from Kenny's Newsagents have also had to leave. Now Lowell Grant AKA 'Spirit' from the Nutritious Food Galley has been served with an order for possession of his premises.

Spirit is another victim of the dodgy sell-off of former Hackney Council property to developers. He moved into the Market in 1993, got a cheap lease and spent 6 years doing up the derelict council-owned shop. In 2001 the Council put the property up for auction. Spirit went to Council estate agents Nelson Bakewell and gave them a cheque for the deposit on his property. Later that day they sold it at auction to a developer for £15K less than Spirit had already paid! The developers started making him pay TEN TIMES more rent and are now trying to get him out. After all his hard work Spirit is having his livelihood taken away and we are losing another useful shop. Now the same thing is happening in Dalston Lane, possibly on a much bigger scale... "What has happened is shameful and disgraceful. People have been robbed. These people don't really care about the residents of Hackney but it's the residents that make the area what it is" - A Statement from Spirit Hackney Independent Needs You!

Hackney Independent is a local community-based political organisation. Throughout the year, we deliver thousands of copies of this free newsletter to homes across the Haggerston and Hoxton area; giving you the news you won't hear from Hackney Today or any other official local publication. We have also stood candidates in the local elections, regularly take part in community campaigns, and organise practical stuff like advice sessions and support the Hackney Independent Kids' Cinema. Unlike the council or property developers, we won't tell you how good things are while our homes and schools are sold off, and valuable local facilities are closed down.

We want to carry on defending homes and facilities for ordinary people in Hackney - but we can't do it without your involvement. You can assist in a number of ways, such as by helping deliver or producing our newsletter, getting involved in our other activities or just by keeping us informed of what is happening in your part of the area or estate.

Or maybe you have your own ideas or suggestions for helping out. If you would like to know more, get in touch with Carl Taylor on 020 7684 1743, write to us at Hackney Independent, PO Box 47000, London E8 4WW, or email us at info@hackneyindependent.org

MORE INFO
Broadway Markey occupation feature and updates on libcom.org news
http://libcom.org/news/article.php/broadway-market-cafe-occupation-2005-...

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libcom
Dec 6 2005 10:25

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