Tuesday 19 December 2023

Who tore down #SaveRidleyRoad's public art work "Timeline of Resistance"?

#SaveRidleyRoad's public art work "Timeline of Resistance" was produced as part of the E8 Art and Craft Trail when local artists and makers exhibit work in their studios and publicly.  "Timeline of Resistanceextended over 6 metres, with original graphics, photos, text and a planned design. It was a collaborative work, curated and assembled by hands. It told a local community's story (Probably a global one too Ed.) of the last five years resisting evictions of traders and artists, the development of luxury flats and the gentrification of the Ridley Road Shopping Village indoor market. A film has been made of the public art works' creation. Here is the film's trailer:

The "Timeline of Resistancehad been exhibited along the builder's hoardings, fronting the Ridley Road Shopping Village which is still undergoing refurbishment by its off-shore owner Larochette. 

At 5am on Friday 8th December, #SaveRidleyRoad's public art work was torn down and removed in a van marked Hackney Cleansing. It is believed to have been taken away to be burned in Edmonton's Incinerator. ( I never even knew Hackney had a Cultural Cleansing team! Ed). 

An official request has been made, by Dalston's Green party Councillor Zoe Garbett, for the Council to explain who took the decision to tear down the art work, and why? It is now the subject of a formal Council investigation.

Hackney says that it has so far spent over £130,000 subsidising its Shopping Village 'project'. It has employed additional staff and produced a booklet of 250 regulations to control future trading. ( Before its even acquired the property! Ed.) But there has been very little, if any, visible benefit from the money for the traders themselves. The traders have made the 5 demands shown in this blog post.

Hackney decided back in January 2022 that it would take a long lease of the Shopping Village once Larochette's refurbishments are completed. It will in due course be paying lease rents of around £500K including VAT to the owner which is based in the British Virgin Islands secretive tax haven. It has now emerged that Hackney intends to run the Shopping Village for profit, in line with its commercial properties. 

Following a community application, in December 2019 Hackney designated the Shopping Village as an Asset of Community Value, in part because of its cultural uses by creative businesses on the upper floors.  But in February 2022, when refurbishment work began,  the 60 artists were evicted. Now, Hackney has negotiated to take a lot of the upper floor studio space for its own Market Services offices.  There will be much less, if any, affordable space left for cultural uses and artists in the future.  The Asset of Community Value will have been substantially damaged by the Council's own financial interests.

NEWSFLASH :  The Council has said it will be consulting on its latest "Markets Strategy 2023-2028" to start running all of Hackney's street markets for profit under the Food Act.  (See Market Strategy paragraph 6.5 here Ed.). If the "for profit" policy is passed not only will the market become less affordable but all street market stallholders will lose their existing legal rights to be consulted, to challenge excessive fees and charges, and to appeal against unfair treatment to an independent Magistrates Court. Hackney will become the sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of Hackney's markets and its stallholders.