Friday, January 10, 2014

Mark Duggan..a Hackney Unites statement

Following the Mark Duggan inquest verdict we need to launch a civil rights movement right here in Hackney. 

Mark Duggan was unarmed when he was shot dead. He was posing no realistic threat to the armed officers who were tasked with arresting him. Immediately after his death the press printing lies about how Mark Duggan had ‘opened fire’ and shot an officer ‘in the side of the chest’. This was simply untrue, and clearly designed to create a public perception that the police acted in self-defence. The police failed to properly seal the area, and evidence was tampered with. None of the above is 'rhetoric', it is cold fact. Those of us who have been around a long time were not surprised that the inqu est verdict appeared to legitimise the killing of Mark Duggan. Over the years we have seen too many deaths in police custody, and never seen police officers held to account as a result.

We remember in particular Michael Ferreira, Vandana Patel, Oluwashiji Lapite, Sarah Thomas, Kwame Sasu Wiredu, and Colin Roach, all of whom either died in Stoke Newington Police station, or after ‘contact’ with officers from that police station. We also remember Harry Stanley who, returning home with a table leg which had been repaired for him by his brother, was shot in the head and killed by an armed response unit.

The killing of Mark Duggan was a shocking and disturbing incident. The verdict of the inquest, and the police statements subsequently imply that it was perfectly legitimate for trigger happy officers to shoot to kill. 

We contrast the killing of Mark Duggan with the professional response of armed officers outside the Woolwich barracks after the killing of Lee Rigby. In that incident, police faced with being attacked by two armed individuals who had just killed, acted in a professional manner, shooting to incapacitate and then arresting the suspects. In that case the suspects were charging at the police, in Mark Duggan’s case he was reported to be running from the police. If we need armed police, we need them to behave professionally. If Mark Duggan was a criminal, the responsibility for the police was to bring him before a court, not dispatch him to the mortuary. 

The verdict in the Mark Duggan inquest raises wider issues about institutional racism in our society.

Why did the Daily mail print lies about a dead black man (was it because they instinctively do?). Why are black boys so often systematically failed by our schools system? Why are unemployment rates so much higher for ethnic minority communities? Why are black youth more likely to be imprisoned when in similar circumstances white youth receive non-custodial sentences? Why is stop and search so often accompanied by unlawful racial profiling?

We pay taxes to fund the police service. Their role is to protect us (lets repeat that: their role is to protect us), but in our community too often it appears as if the police view the community with suspicion at best, and at worst as ‘the enemy’. The horror of this killing and its endorsement by the inquest verdict feels like a metaphor for a society in which black people’s lives are simply worth less than those of their white neighbours. 

Our community must respond and it is the responsibility of the elders to ensure that they give leadership to the young. There is massive pent up anger in our community. Without leadership, we fear that there will be a repeat of the riots of 2011, riots which harmed small businesses in our community, put lives at risk, and resulted in hundreds of young people, some with no previous records, sent to prison. Rioting is not the way forward.

Martin Luther King, while condemning riots also cautioned: ‘There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that that have nothing to lose. People who have stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it’.

As a community, we need to come together and devise a plan of action that reverses the current trend which sees too many of our young reaching the conclusion that they have no stake in society. This will inevitably involve struggle, with the police (to enforce a change in police attitudes to our community) with government policy (which has condemned a million young people to unemployment), with those employers who operate in our community, but fail to provide opportunities to our community.

As a community, we need to find ways to hold those in authority to account, so that they work with us to actively dismantle the barriers that exclude our youth from their rightful place in society. In short we need a civil rights movement right here in Hackney. It will not be easy, but we cannot allow the current situation to deteriorate any further.

If not us then who? If not now then when?

Please join us at the Trinity Centre tonight (Friday 10th January 7pm) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hackney Community Celebrates Life of Nelson Mandela this Friday evening!(13th December)‏‏

Hackney Unites have come together with various community organisations in Hackney to organise a ’Nine-Night’ celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life. Through the African tradition of ‘Nine-Night’ - an extended wake – Mandela’s life will be celebrated through songs, poetry, African-drumming and performance.
This event takes place from 6pm at the Trinity Centre, Beechwood Road London, E8 3DY on Friday 13 December.
There will be a book of condolences open for signing from 5.30pm. There will also be African drumming, community singing, poetry and also be tributes from representatives of various communities in Hackney.
Co-organiser, Ngozi Fulani said: ‘Perhaps one man more than any other in the 20th and 21st Century represented the spirit of humanity and endurance. NELSON ROLIHLALA MANDELA has made that final journey along the long walk to freedom. This is an opportunity for us to come together as the Hackney community to honour Madiba!’
For those that cannot make it to the event in person but would like to send a tribute to be read or shown on the night, please send emails, video tributes and images to:
Notes to editor:
This event has been organised and supported by E.A.T. (Education Africa teaching (EAT), Hackney Unites, BEMA and Hackney CVS and the Trinity Centre (Dalston).
For further info contact: or telephone 07949 868 989
You will be also able to sign a condolence book on the following days and times:
Wednesday 11th December - Hackney CVS 10:00 to 16:00
Wednesday 11th December - Northwold Community Hall (Emashi rehearsal venue)
Thursday 12th December - Hackney CVS 10:00 to 16:00
Friday 13th December - Hackney CVS 10:00 to 16:00
Friday 13th December - Trinity Centre Dalston 17:30 to 23:30
Hackney CVS – Springfield House, 5 Tyssen St, London E8 2LY
Northwold Community Hall – 131  Upper Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 9SA

Trinity Centre - Beechwood Road, London, E8 3DY

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Will you help us organise our communities?‏

Our end of year round up:
  • Alerts you to a renewed threat to planning regulations in the north of the Borough
  • Notifies you of the next stage of Stokey Local’s Sainsbury’s/Wilmer Place campaign
  • Informs you of the Progress of the Dalston Futures initiative
  • Updates you on plans to hold politicians to account across the borough through ‘hustings meetings’
  • Announces plans for two new locality based initiatives (in Hoxton and in Hackney Downs)
  • Gives a call our to students or others with skills they are willing to share with the community
  • Makes an appeal for donations
  • Asks you to update your records, and
  • Encourages you to share this info with others via email, twitter and facebook.
As we draw towards the end of a year, it is always good to look back and celebrate what has been achieved. This year we have concentrated largely on a small number of very local initiatives. We hope next year to help more communities develop local initiatives that are relevant to their area.

Planning Watch
For Hackney Unites, the year began with news of a very concerning, and divisive attempt to wrest democratic control of planning in the north of the borough from elected councillors and hand it to an unelected and unrepresentative ‘forum’.  A substantial campaign initiated by Hackney Planning Watch, one of our founder groups, alerted the community to the threat, and saw a major victory when the council instead declared a ‘Area Action Plan’ for the area (although since then we have seen no plan and precious little action since then).

Unfortunately, the problem has returned! We have been informed that a revised application for a ‘Central Stamford Hill Neighbourhood’ planning group has been submitted. As we enter the new year, we will be working closely with the community to ensure that this divisive proposal is rejected.

Stokey Local
The long running campaign against the proposed Sainsbury’s/Wilmer Place development rumbled on, with a number of wins for local people early in the year, but a shocking reversal when the council granted planning permission in August (after the developer threatened a costly appeal against an earlier rejection). The community, however, were not prepared to ‘roll over’ and put up with the heart being torn out of a conservation area, the threat to the biodiversity of Abney Park and the inevitable damage to the independent local stores. A public appeal was launched to raise £10,000 to pay for a judicial review. The money was raised and a judicial review is ongoing. The battle goes on however, as the developer has submitted a further, identical, application in an attempt to outmanoeuvre the judicial review process.

Stokey Local is a genuine grass roots community organisation, with over 70 people regularly attending meetings. You can read their latest email here: If you want to help the community in Stoke Newington, then you can sign their petition, and join them on 11 December when the latest planning application goes back to committee.

Dalston Futures
Inspired by the success of the summer’s Dalston People’s Festival, we have begun the work of putting together a local, inclusive group which is capable of bringing the community together. We used techniques we had learnt from the Stokey local campaign to bring people together, and the last meeting had 45 residents discussing how to build a powerful voice for the community. You can watch a short video of the event recorded by East London Lines, here: 

What are our plans for 2014?
Our aspirations for 2014 include organising a series of ‘hustings’ meetings in advance of the May council elections. Candidates who want our votes should make themselves available to answer our questions, and we want to use these meeting to encourage our communities to re-engage with the election process. We are actively looking for local community groups across the borough to work with us to host these meetings. If you are part of a community group that would like to play a role in empowering your community and enhancing democracy by hosting an event with local candidates, please drop us a

Hoxton and 'Tech City'
Hoxton contains some of the poorest and most deprived estates in the borough. It is also host to ‘Tech City’ an amazing collection of high tech companies. The difference between the wealth, innovation and energy of tech city, and the lack of opportunity that exists on estates is an affront to decency. We want to explore how we create bridges between Tech City and the surrounding estates. We are planning an innovative project that brings together the movers and the shakers from Tech City with the community that surrounds them. We hope to get training and development opportunities, as well as a commitment to ‘skill share’ with the community so that some of that technology can be put to good use supporting the community. If you live or work in the south of the borough and are interested in getting involved in a planning meeting for this project let us know.

Hackney Downs
With planned ‘regeneration’ on the Nightingale Estate, we have been approached to help establish a community group in Hackney Downs. Discussions to establish a community organisation (or link up existing groups) in the area are at an early stage, but if you are from the area and want to get involved, please let us know.

Student give back
We are engaged in talks with the student union at London Metropolitan University with a view to getting students living in the borough more involved in the community. Many of the students are Hackney born and bred, they are getting an education that provides them with skills that many in the community simply don’t have. We want to create an opportunity for them to ‘give a little back’ to the community that raised and nurtured them. More details to follow, but if you are a student, even if it is not at London Met, and you want to help facilitate a process by which students engage with their communities, then let us know. We need help to establish a student group committed to supporting the community.

None of our successes could take place without some financial resources. In the last few years Hackney Unites has relied on grants from charitable trusts, collections at events and donations from supporters. Our organisation could not function without our Andrea, our part-time organiser/project manager, but we often struggle to find the money to pay for her work. If you could make a donation, or make a series of smaller donations via regular direct debits, then you can help strengthen and support us in delivering against our objectives.

If you would like to help, you can make a donation via telephone, or on-line banking:
our account name is Hackney Unites,
Unity Trust Bank,
Sort Code 08-60-01
Account number: 20245706.

Alternatively you can write a cheque and send it to Hackney Unites C/O HCVS, 84 Springfield House, 5 Tyssen Street London, E8 2LY.

Some of our supporters help by donating a regular sum each month. If you would like to join them, you can download a standing order form from (please complete and return to us) or you can set this up via telephone banking.

Skills share
We increasingly need volunteers, to help us turn our vision of a well organised community into a reality.
For example, we need volunteers who:
  • are prepared to put leaflet through doors
  • are willing to ask residents to give us their views of the issues that concern them.
  • have web development skills.
  • have leaflet/poster design skills
  • have experience of financial budgeting,
  • have experience of making applications to charitable trusts or other fundraising activity.
  • have skills in developing training materials,
  • are able to make short promotional films of our events (just two or three minutes long)
There is lot more help that we need, from basic admin tasks, to ‘phone banking’, if you want to get involved, please let us know what you can do, drop an email to

Help us update our records
We want to keep you updated with the events and activity that really matters to you, so please visit[UNIQID] and update your profile.

Please tweet/facebook this newsletter
If you are on facebook or twitter, you can help us increase our reach by sending the following message/post

Hackney Unites, a community gets organised Please share

Thank you

It has been a good year for Hackney Unites, lets make sure that 2014 is even better.

Thank you for your continued support.

John Page

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dalston Futures is taking off!

More than 45 people attend Dalston meeting on community organising
View this email in your browser
Those of you who were not at the recent 'Dalston Futures' meeting may have wondered what we got up to. Well the film crew from East London Lines who recorded the event have just pasted their story and you can view it here:

The meeting discussed the issues that Dalston people care about, and how we can build an inclusive voice that can raise community concerns in a way that cannot simply be ignored.

At the end of the meeting, everyone agreed to take ten copies of a paper based version of our survey and get these completed before the next meeting.

If you were at the meeting, then please let us know how you are getting on with getting them completed (email us on

If you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the paper-based survey, please drop us an email and we will forward one to you.

In the meantime, we have been contacted both by the police and the local council, both keen to work with us. So we are already being seen as influential, a good start, but there's a lot more to do if we are to begin to be able to create change for the benefit of the community.

Next steps
We have an on-line survey please visit if you would like to take part.

Our next meeting is at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road on Tuesday 10 December at 6.30pm (as ever we commit to finish promptly by 8pm). We will have a speaker on planning issues in Dalston and lessons learnt from the Sainsbury’s/Wilmer place campaign. But we will also discuss what we need to do to create a strong inclusive community group capable of exerting real influence over decision makers in the area.

How you can help:
We are encouraging people to register to attend the next meeting

We want as many people as possible to get involved so please forward this email onto friends and neighbours. If you use twitter or facebook, then please post the following message:

Love this video of the Dalston Futures meeting: if you want to get involved visit: Please RT

Inevitably this initiative has begun with just a few people, but we need more people to take on a role in helping us get organised between meetings. If you have some time, and want to get more involved, please drop an email to

Who are Hackney Unites?
Dalston Futures is an initiative of Hackney Unites, a community coalition for social justice. We are not aligned to any political party or ideology, and work when we can with people with a wide range of political views. We believe that our communities can prosper when we work together, and that if we want to see positive change in our communities then we need to work together to make that change happen rather than leaving it to someone else.

Please forward on this email to people who may be interested. If you wan tto join our emailing list then please visit:


John Page
Hackney Unites

Monday, November 18, 2013

Welcome to Dalston Futures

Last week, to our amazement over 45 local residents attended a meeting in Dalston to create a community organisation in the area.


The meeting discussed the issues that people care about, and how we can build an inclusive voice that can raise community concerns in a way that cannot simply be ignored.

At the end of the meeting, everyone agreed to take ten copies of a paper based version of our survey and get these completed before the next meeting. If you have completed them, you can either scan or photograph them and email them to, post them to the address on the form, or bring them to the next meeting. If you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the paper-based survey, please drop us an email and we will forward one to you.

Next steps
At the moment we are ‘listening’ to the community, identifying the issues that people in the area feel sufficiently concerned about to want to organise to see change. We have an on-line survey where we invite people to tell us what issues they care about and if they want to get involved. Please visit if you would like to take part.

Our next meeting is at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road on Tuesday 10 December at 6.30pm (as ever we commit to finish promptly by 8pm).

How you can help:
Speak to your friends and neighbours about Dalston Futures, and how we are trying to build a community organisation and encourage them to join us on 10 December. We are encouraging people to register to attend the meeting

We don’t have a leaflet for the next meeting, but we will need to leaflet the area again. Indeed, in the future, we may need to collect petitions door to door, so we are trying to establish a list of supporters who will take responsibility for contacting people in their street, or block: if you can help, please register when you complete the survey.

We want as many people as possible to get involved so please forward this email onto friends and neighbours. If you use twitter or facebook, then please post the following message:

Wow, Dalston’s communities are getting organised
Please RT

More than anything, though, why not just speak to your neighbours and get them along to the next meeting?

Inevitably this initiative has begun with just a few people, but we need more people to take on a role in helping us get organised between meetings. In particular, we need people to visit local faith and community organisations and discuss what we are trying to do. If you have some time, and want to get more involved, please drop an email to

Who are Hackney Unites?
Dalston Futures is an initiative of Hackney Unites, a community coalition for social justice, our member organisations include Hackney Planning Watch, the Black and Minority Arts Network, North East London Anti Racist Alliance, and Digs, the private sector tenants group. We are not aligned to any political party or ideology, and work when we can with people with a wide range of political views. We believe that our communities can prosper when we work together, and that if we want to see positive change in our communities then we need to work together to make that change happen rather than leaving it to someone else.

Can you help us with a regular donation?
Hackney Unites is always exploring grant funding for our projects, but in all honesty, it is never enough. We need local people to help with regular donations.

We are transforming Hackney, but we need a little help. If you would like to help, you can make a donation via telephone, or on-line banking:
our account name is Hackney Unites,
Unity Trust Bank,
Sort Code 08-60-01
Account number: 20245706.

Alternatively you can write a cheque and send it to Hackney Unites C/O HCVS, 84 Springfield House, 5 Tyssen Street London, E8 2LY.

Some of our supporters help by donating a regular sum, between £1 - £5 per month. If you would like to join them, you can download a standing order form from
 (please complete and return to us) or set this up via telephone banking.

Many thanks for your interest; let's get our community organised!


John Page
Hackney Unites 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dalston Futures - have your say about your area!

Please download and circulate our leaflet/poster
From shops, to schools to open-spaces the face of  Dalston is rapidly changing. In recent years many millions of pounds of public and private money has been invested in the area. But little of that money has found its way to local people.

Despite the influx of residents who can afford to live in the new developments of Dalston, some parts of the ward remain the most deprived areas of the country.

Hackney Unites is organising a new community network in Dalston – Dalston Futures. The aim is to ensure that local people have a voice and can influence the changes happening in their area. We are determined to create a strong, inclusive voice that can make a positive difference to the future of the area.

If you want to get involved in Dalston Futures then please come along to our open meeting (6.30pm Thursday 14 November, Trinity Centre Beechwood Road, London E8 3DY).

If you live in Dalston (or just want to help get this initiative up and running), then please complete our survey:,  attend the next meeting  or volunteer to help with leaflet/poster distribution. You can download our leaflet here – please display it in your area.

To sign up and receive Dalston Futures regular emails visit:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Finding a voice on the future of Dalston...

Peter Snell, one of the key supporters of Dalston People's Festival in July reports on some of the great activity that took place. And also some of the key campaigning issues to take forward. 

Our Dalston Futures Campaign will be addressing many of these issues - we will keep you posted. 

Finding a voice on the future of Dalston...

Sunday 14th July; 2.30 pm till 5.00 pm, The Arcola Theatre, Ashwin Street (part of Arcola’s Green Sunday)

Cllr Vincent Stops, LBH Planning Chair explained recent planning decisions on major developments in Dalston and the modifications achieved through the application process despite the limits within which the Council operates.  Ray Blackburn of Dalston Conservation Area Advisory Committee wanted conservation areas extended to cover the centre of Dalston to better protect the traditional streetscape.  Bill Parry-Davies of Open Dalston used a series of slides to show what had already been lost and what new developments were proposed.  Oliver Schick of Hackney Cyclists explained how the redesign of Dalston Lane to increase bus flow had created a dangerous junction for pedestrians at Queensbridge Road and created conflicts with pedestrians near Dalston Junction station.  He suggested ways in which junctions could be made more permeable to create more direct and safer routes for cyclists. John Thornton of Disability Backup welcomed the formal role they had now been given in the Hackney Planning process and some achievements such as the removal of street clutter such as A boards and tables on public pavements.  He noted that bus access was now far worse than before the changes around Dalston Junction. Russell Miller of Sustainable Hackney warned that current planning policies failed to address the scale of the challenge posed by climate change and the loss of biodiversity.  He characterised new homes with inadequate open space as “prison homes guarded by crippling debt”. 

In a spirited discussion Ursula Huws of the Rio Cross residents complained that current planning and licensing policies seemed to give priority to business need over residents’ concerns. Disability campaigners were concerned that permeability for cyclists made streets less safe for users with disabilities.  Bill Parry-Davies complained Hackney Planners should be less scared of losing planning decision on appeal. Vincent Stops said Hackney’s rate of success at appeals was already in decline as Planning Inspectors ensured decisions better reflected the light touch policies of the current government.  Dave Holland pointed out that popular protest was needed to effect long term change in the Planning Framework within which decisions are made.  Both Oliver and Ray said current management through guidance instead of rules created a presumption in favour of developer’s proposals.  Oliver said this was highly unusual compared with other European countries and inevitably led to poor planning outcomes while encouraging land owners to hold onto land rather than release it for development.

Possible campaign issues
·         Extend conservation area to cover the whole of Dalston Town Centre to provide better protection for traditional streetscape.
·         Redesign Dalston Lane to make it more pedestrian and cycle friendly
·         Improve bus access in Dalston Town Centre
·         Reduce anti-social impact of night time economy on local residents
·         Seek Council leadership of campaign for more effective local Planning powers

Cllr. Stops then left the meeting so it could discuss concerns about the proposals for the Dalston Cross Shopping Centre for which there was a public consultation exhibition at the Kingsland Shopping Centre on the afternoon of Friday 19th July and the mornIng of Saturday 20th July. In discussion the following points were identified as needing clarification;
·         How it could be described as a retail development when the overwhelming use was to create new flats?
·         Why existing green space would be lost to grey paved areas?
·         Why the plans did not properly fit into existing street patterns?
·         What would be done to mitigate the impact on the existing infrastructure such as child play that was already overstretched?
·         How current use of the Eastern Curve garden could be maintained if it was turned into a public thoroughfare?
·         How would the new flats will benefit local residents space when none are at genuinely affordable rents or prices?
·         What could be done to prevent flats being kept empty as investment properties?
·         Why is the bridge over the railway line not on line with St Marks Rise?
·         How can Dalston take more car use from the new parking spaces?
·         Artisans, designers and light industry are being driven out of Dalston by residential conversions so how will the new development create premises they can use?
·         Will the development so change the demography of Dalston that it will kill the market?

Guided walks and discussion; reports
Each walk started from CLR James Library at 6.30pm

Monday 15th, Respecting our heritage.  
Ray Blackburn, Secretary of Dalston Conservation Area Advisory Committee led a walk around Dalston Lane, Kingsland High Street and their back streets and talked about the history and merit of buildings in the area.  He explained the status of existing legal protection for such buildings (listing, conservation area status etc.) and brought to life the issues that have to be considered in preserving our heritage.  He posed the questions;
·         Should we preserve the relics of previous uses such as the old entrance to Dalston Junction station?
·         Is it good enough to preserve the frontages of historic buildings such as those on the south side of Dalston Lane while completely rebuilding the rear?
·         If the missing buildings on Ashwin Street are rebuilt should they be faithful copies of the building demolished?
·         Since former industrial buildings are what most make Dalston distinctive can more be done to protect them (and such use)?
·         More modern buildings (the old Library and Kingsland Estate) are regarded as good buildings of their era.  Should their protection be given equal weight.

Throughout the walk reference was made to the views and recommendations of the Edmund Bird Dalston heritage report produced for Design for London.  The report is available at; Another source of local social conservation history based on Dalston Lane was “The last days of London; a journey through the ruins” by Patrick Wright.  Ray said local conservation area advisory committees wanted to expand their membership and suggested participants looked at the Hackney Society website to find out how to join their local committee.

The walk retired to the Duke of Wellington on Balls Pond Road to consider what had been learnt.  Ray reported that LBH officers had told him they would commission their own heritage report for Dalston in August with a view to reviewing boundaries and strategies in 2014. The Edmund Bird report was highly regarded so it was important the LBH report addressed the issues raised therein.

Any review should address;
·         More effective enforcement of existing standards
·         A more strategic approach to protecting Conservation Areas from development threats.
  Those present;
·      Sought access to the Heritage Report to see if they agreed with its suggestions
·      Questioned the degree to which Conservation Status could defend mixed use
·      Said that the existence of conservation areas, their purpose, their rules and the benefits should be better publicised
·      Suggested there was scope for training apprentices in traditional building techniques
·      Conservation Area Advisory Committees should be given access to pre-application discussions with developers.
·      Consultation for new developments would be assisted by better techniques at demonstrating impact (travelling display ideas from Hackney Wick)
·      Wider engagement important to appreciation of conservation value
·      Dalston’s community, particularly its ethnic diversity, was what made it distinctive and the protection of Ridley Road market (an option in the Edmund Bird report) was essential.
·      Mixed usage was important and the Council should utilise the sites it owned to support daytime economy uses.
·      Developers use what is distinctive about Dalston to attract residents but destroy it with bad developments.
·      Neighbourhood Planning powers had been given a bad name by the conflict generated in Stamford Hill but we needed to understand the value of new localism powers (neighbourhood forums, community asset listing etc.)

Other areas of discussion beyond heritage issues were;
·        The need for better toilets with longer opening hours and effective removal of food packaging waste was needed in Dalston.
·        Islington and Docklands had become stale and lifeless as high rents drove out genuine local business use.
·        Daytime studios and workshops  should build on hidden arts foundation in Dalston which was already being forced out by high costs

Tuesday 16th, Sustainable Dalston.  
The walk started with a visit to the Eastern Curve garden.  Marie Murray explained how they had started to develop the land over the railway cutting as part of the Making Space in Dalston project funded by Design for London and the London Development Agency in 2010. The cutting had originally joined the North London Line to the line into Broadgate until that was closed in the 1950s. It was filled with rubble topped with earth.  LB Hackney owns 30-40% of the land from the Dalston Lane entrance to the wooden pathway that divides it from the rest of the garden.  The space had become a popular retreat for residents in nearby grey developments like Dalston Square and a hub garden to support other community gardens.  In developing the Dalston Area Action Plan residents had overwhelmingly supported the use of the site for a green park but the plan had instead designated it as a corridor to a redeveloped Kingsland Shopping Centre.  The owners of the shopping centre did own the bottom part of the site and had agreed to loan it for the creation of the garden. Because it was not currently used as a corridor it was a safe space for children’s activities and effectively policed.  Arcola, Bootstrap Company, HCD, HCVS, OPEN Dalston and V22 studios had developed a strategic management board to originally develop the site.  MUF architects were responsible for overall design, EXYST for the pavilion design and J&L Gibbons for landscape design. Since Summer 2012 it has been managed by a social enterprise, ‘Grow Cook Eat’ set up by Marie and Brian Cumming, local residents who had been involved in the running of the Garden from the start. Income for the daily opening and management of the Garden is raised by a café, space hire and events. A number of jobs have been created but the gardening is done by volunteers.

The group agreed that the Eastern Curve garden was part of what made Dalston distinctive and the obvious place for the main entrance to the new development was the passageway at the end of Ashwin Street.

Amy Janina Cooper from the Rhodes Estate joined the walk at the Eastern Curve and explained how it had inspired new community gardening initiatives and provided a base from which they could collect compost.  Russell and Marie agreed that ideas of establishing a formal network and advice had been replaced by informal networks as gardeners just wanted to get on with gardening.

Amy walked the group around community gardening initiatives on the Rhodes Estate starting at a green corridor initiated as part of a Groundwork Transform Project pathway from Forest Road to Gillett Square. Some residents had initially claimed the initiative might attract Anti Social Behaviour and knives had been found concealed in bushes but the opposition had been based more on an expectation of traditional maintenance with mown grass.  Bird boxes at the entrance to the route were being moved following complaints from the owner of the house to which they were fixed that he had not agreed their installation. 

Despite early setbacks local engagement has grown and the residents had now notified the Council of areas they did not want sprayed with herbicides and were waiting for the Council to respond.  Parts of the Hackney Homes had been very helpful. While scaffolding was erected for maintenance work they had installed rain water runoff to water buts in each of the 4 community gardens. Amy led the visit to various community garden initiatives and explained how they had increased neighbour engagement particularly from children.  She explained how the Tenants & Residents Association was seeking to develop the community hall to increase its value to the community and that this might open out opportunities for the wider community to make more use of the Multi Use Games Area. 

Russell Miller contrasted the amount of green space on the Rhodes Estate with the grey expanses of Dalston Square and current planning applications and offered advice on developing flower meadows.  Peter Snell noted the inadequacy of home insulation works completed on the Estate (further detail on the Sustainable Hackney website) and his ongoing attempts to sort this out. 

Oliver then led the walk to Queensbridge Road and back along Dalston Lane explaining some key outstanding transport issues in the area:
·         Hackney was the first local authority n the country where more residents (15.4%) cycle to work than drive (12.8%), yet it was required to manage its streets to assist commuters from elsewhere to drive through.
·         There were cycle permeability problems on the Rhodes Estate, as some gates were too wide (designed to keep motorcycle traffic out) and some dropped kerbs were missing.
·         Queensbridge Road was a problematic street and needed a street-long review to improve cycling conditions along it. Central hatching and pedestrian islands encouraged drivers to speed and marginalised pedestrian use.
·         The redesign of the junction of Dalston Lane, Queensbridge Road, and Graham Road to increase bus flow had not gone far enough. While it was better than what had been there previously, it still left the junction as a disjointed space geared too much towards motor traffic throughput. 
·         Motor traffic capacity had been speeded up at the Queensbridge Road junction by banning the right turn from Dalston Lane into Queensbridge Road. The ‘official’ route for making this turn was now along  Laurel Street next to the Rhodes Estate. Fortunately, this had not developed into a significant rat-running problem.
·         Hackney was thinking about removing the bus pre-signal facility before the Queensbridge junction, as it was under-used; eastbound traffic queues there were not as long as westbound queues.
·         Pedestrian islands at the junction still featured raised kerbs to force pedestrians to walk in a dog-leg that was intended to discourage running. The guard railing that generally used to accompany such indirect arrangements had no longer been installed following a change of policy, but the dog-leg was still there.
·         He explained that the preferential layout for the junction was to remove the slip roads to reduce motor traffic capacity and to create a single, unified junction without requiring people on foot to cross in three stages.
·         The widening of the traffic lane to allow cars to overtake parked buses on the eastbound carriageway had made the westbound carriageway so narrow that it caused cyclists to ride on the southern footway outside the library. This had been a change required by TfL. The best layout at this point was to revert to the previous arrangement of two wide kerb lanes 4.5m each in width, which were flexible and allowed cyclists to pass vehicles comfortably.

Oliver said that there was some work going on in Dalston Lane and that the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) in Hackney had brought these concerns to the attention of officers and Councillors. He was keen to work with Rhodes Estate residents to look at permeability on the estate to increase route choice in the area.

Oliver is currently writing a guide to sustainable urban design and the walk ended in Dalston Square where he explained key background and concepts as follows:

·         Dalston was one of many town centres in London which had until now been subject to a presumption by TfL in favour of increasing motor traffic capacity there. This had caused poor layouts such as the present one in Dalston. Oliver had been a member of the Mayor of London’s Roads Task Force on behalf of LCC until they had withdrawn because they couldn’t support the emerging recommendations in full.  It now appears to have set in place a framework by means of which prominent town centres such as Dalston could be developed with a greater emphasis on ‘place’ over through motor traffic, so it might be possible to achieve the required changes to street design locally. The Roads Task Force sought to maintain overall motor traffic capacity on London’s streets through building new roads elsewhere.  It contemplated a possible Paris style ‘périphérique’ ring road,  possibly in tunnels to counteract and motor traffic capacity reductions in areas like Dalston or Elephant & Castle.
·         He criticised aspects of the Dalston Square development, in particular the layout and orientation of the square. He explained that the housing was “enabling development”, built to finance other projects, which often caused proper planning controls to be ignored or reduced. Dalston Square was such a development; a grey paved wind tunnel, whose trees were dying and where all the building surfaces were opaque including the windows, causing an unwelcoming atmosphere. It was not a pleasant or attractive space and misconceived in most of its aspects.
·         The inexorable rise in London’s population could only be served by aligning population density with density of activity. This in turn required the creation, and in many cases the re-creation, of a hierarchy of dispersed urban centres so goods, services, employment, and education  were available to everyone with a reduced need to travel.

Possible Campaign issues
·         Keep the Eastern Curve garden as a safe defensible space and do not allow it to become a through route to the proposed Kingsland development.
·         Redirect planning and regeneration strategies to align population with employment and entertainment activity to minimise the need to travel

Wednesday 17th, The Cultural Quarter & Evening Economy
Feimatta Conteh (Arcola) noted that the site of Dalston Square had once housed the Dalston Theatre of Varieties which subsequently housed the Four Aces and the Labyrinth Clubs. The Arcola Theatre had indicated it would have been interested in developing the derelict theatre if it had not been demolished to make way for the new development.  The large residential development was already leading to complaints about noise from nearby cultural sites like the Arcola tent.  Ashwin Street also included arts studios, and Cafe Otto as well as the Arcola Theatres.  The Council’s Regeneration Department had supported the designation of the site for cultural use in the Dalston Area Action.  Arcola had found that the Council’s Property Management Department had been slow and uncooperative with supporting that goal when they had moved in. 

The Arcola Theatre had been started in 2,000 by Mehmet Ergen who is still involved in its management. It now comprised;
·         A 200 seat theatre for major shows.
·         An 80 seat studio theatre for more experimental work

It runs a fringe Grimeborn opera festival every summer and a creative learning programme comprising 2 youth groups, an academy for older youth, and a 60+ acting group.

Policy points noted were;
·         That sun surveys on new buildings should also consider the shading impact on adjacent buildings to ensure they accurately reflected overall impact on an area.
·         That independence of cultural organisations was an essential defence against homogenisation.

Dan Beaumont, (Dalston Superstore), took us to meet the owners of three diverse local bars before ending in the basement of his new venture, Voodoo Ray to discuss the work of Dalston Pub Watch and the Evening Economy Forum. The details of the Clubs visited, and their owners, were as follows:-

Alibi  (Mark Schaffer)
Was set up as a collective with Real Gold who provided the youth face of the Club which had a top end suspended dance floor, free entry, a no guest list policy and viewed all who used it as celebrities.  Staff were expected to generate use and received a cut of profits.  The owner had moved on to establish Macbeth in Hoxton, Birthdays on Stoke Newington Road and the White Rabbit restaurant on Bradbury Street.  A former musician he was drawn to new interests and said he was keen to build institutions rather than earn lots of money.

Planning issues; yellow line needed across entrance to Gillett Square from Bradbury Street as it is always blocked by parked cars.

Visions (Eddie Augustine)
The owner, had arrived from the West Indies in 1965 and developed the Twylight Sound System from work DJing in youth clubs around Ealing but eventually worked all around the country.  He regularly visited Dalston which hosted 30 odd clubs (Dougies, Le Prison, Pier 1, the All Nations etc,) and where black businesses could establish themselves in a way not possible in Ealing.  On the back of this he developed a Visions film business and in time developed a wedding video specialism.  Visions was purchased and equipped with multiple video displays showing the entire wedding preparations and service as the reception dinner was served.  His traditional business had declined over the last 8 years as his mainly Afro-Carribean clientele had been forced out of the area by high housing costs. He had been forced to remodel the venue as a Club to stay afloat.  Eddie had been required to move to a “primary trading area” when he established the Club but now it seemed OK for residents to move in and demand businesses like his be closed down.

Possible campaign issues;
·         Reduce pressures forcing black and minority ethnic communities out of Dalston.
·         Be fair to established businesses and don’t allow newly arrived residents to close them down.

Ruby’s Bar (Tom Gibson)
The owner had established an up market cocktail bar from a building previously used as a Chinese takeaway but that had been a restaurant back in 1885 at the front of premises owned by his parents family business “Castle Gibson ”. They had been in the furniture business until moving into the provision of studio space to film units in the warehouses once used to store furniture. The walk visited the studios at the back of Ruby’s bar which attracted 20 – 150 users a day for filming and made extensive use of local restaurants and other services.  The spaces were also used for pop up meals and similar uses which required temporary licenses.  An independent fire adjudicator did an annual inspection to ensure they met fire safety standards.

Voodoo Ray (Dan Beaumont)
Dan Beaumont explained how he had started Dalston Superstore with 2 partners as a queer friendly bar and felt humbled to build upon the great traditions of venues like the Four Aces and Labyrinth. He would not claim credit for being the first of the new wave of bars but they had arrived just as Dalston was being recognised as a unique venue and attracting media attention.  Voodoo Ray was his latest venue and was similar to Dalston Superstore acting as a cafe all week with a basement music venue open Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings. An architect designed retro interior had been nominated for awards.  He believed Voodoo Ray pizzas matched any in London and they were based on extensive field research in New York.

Dalston Pubwatch & Evening Economy Forum
Dan talked about this network of which he has been a key figure for some years. Key achievements were;
·         Establishment of additional street scene  enforcement through voluntary contributions of between £50 and £200 per month from 15 bars
·         Additional street scene wardens who issue fixed penalty tickets for antisocial behaviour, urination
·         “You drink here, people live here” awareness  campaign
·         Good neighbour agreement about to be ratified by Council through which bar owners made a number of commitments which included managing the pavement outside their venues.
·         Provision of free/ reduced price basement space to arts and community groups when they were not open.
·         The Parliamentary All Party Special Interest Beer Group had “specially commended” Dalston Pub Watch as one of the best three in the country in 2013.

Key concerns were;
·         Street drinking rather than Club use was the real issue. How could key stress points such as John Campbell Road outside the Rio Cinema be better managed?  The drinkers were a younger transient crowd compared with those in Gillett Square.
·         Need to keep pavement clear. Revellers blocked pavements without intent and needed to be reminded to keep them clear.
·         Time Out/ Evening Standard publicity as a trendy youth venue undermined interest in attracting a wider range of age groups.
·         Need for new image; e.g. the best pizzas/ cocktail venues/ coffee suppliers/ record shops in London.
·         Poor engagement of a cross section of local stakeholders; what do we want and how do we get it/ protect it?
·         Council proposals to introduce a Special Policy Area could further restrict the issue of new licenses although may have little effect as Police are already objecting to all applications on the basis of cumulative impact. The danger of this approach was that it put a monetary value on existing licenses and created an incentive for small local bar owners to sell out to corporate interests.

Dan was disappointed that the Council’s scrutiny committee enquiry into the evening economy had failed to come up with a proper plan to better manage licensed premises through;
·         Diversifying the offer to attract a wider age group and families.
·         Developing a policy for the proper management of departures from Clubs and Bars
·         Better management of pavements
·         Staggering closing hours; 3.00 am is currently a time for mass exits.

Thursday 18th, Building a shared future.  
Sara Turnbull (Bootstrap) walked the group down Ashwin Street to the Printhouse and summarised the history of Bootstrap as follows:-
·         Sara had been the Bootstrap Chief Executive for one year.
·         It dated from 1977 and had a 99 year lease on the Print House signed in the early 1990s. 
·         Sara was working to standardise leases towards a common level of rent and clamp down on non payment.
·         The building was occupied by a variety of support groups, creatives, freelancers and design houses listed on website.
·         Renting half a desk and networking was a popular use.
·         It was now generating a surplus which was going to community projects.
·         The first project was Hackney Pirates – a targeted literacy and numeracy project based in a model pirate ship which had secured long term support and taken up a 5 year lease in the former Centerprise building  where a high end sportswear shop would be set up on the ground floor and staffed with local unemployed youth with disabilities.
·         Its latest project was Bootstrap Campus which assisted 18-25 year olds to learn to love work.
·         An active programme of work placements had found jobs for 2 out of 3 placements placed centrally and 9 business tenants had also taken placements.
·         Complaints of noise nuisance from the roof garden had been addressed by employing an “acoustician” so that sound levels were now automatically managed at a level which did not cause nuisance to neighbours. 
·         Cafe Oto had been given a long 25 year lease in return for significant investment to set up the cafe
·          Shared desk space was let on a 2 week licensed basis.
·         Most tenancies contracted out of the Landlord & Tenants Act.
·         Total use; 450 tenants, 223 tenancies, and 170 organisations .
·         Rent levels around £22-£24 psf
·         In choosing new tenants they were assessed on the basis of social impact and management contribution criteria
·         Abbott Street premises.  Bootstrap had the top two stories of Colourworks on a 20 year lease (covered by Act) and a short lease (also covered by the Act) with the private owner of Fitzroy House (already letting ground 2 floors but just extended to top two floors) along with the bunker, the space above and the car par to the rear (Hackney Council owned).
·         Bootstrap welcomed the redevelopment proposals for the Kingsland Shopping Centre and were keen to develop affordable retail along Abbott Street
·         They were keen to follow the Coin Street development model where residents focussed on what they wanted rather than what they opposed and worked with local cafes and bars.

Sara felt that there were two main threats to community business survival;
·         Reliance on grants
·         Inability to manage premises

Sub-market long leasing a public asset to a community organisation in return for specified outcomes was a more robust means of developing community capability than giving out grants.  Locality was using Bristol City Council as a best practise example of such an approach and Sara was involved with a local network supported by Locality looking at the scope to apply such ideas in Hackney.

Dominic Ellison (Hackney Cooperative Developments)  then led the group to the Hackney Co-operative Development meeting room in Gillett Square and made the following points;
·         The preferred pronunciation was with a hard “G”.
·         The HCD portfolio was valued at £6.5m six years ago with most based around the square but some properties in Haggerston and on Kingsland Road
·          Most were on 99 year leases with peppercorn rents agreed in 1982/3 for properties owned by Council and regarded as too dangerous to squat following bomb damage in the war.
·         Roots in Co-operative Housing movement helping residents into co-operative enterprise were still an important motive.
·         Refurbishment of the north side of Bradbury Street fully funded through mortgage finance.
·         Culture House was a derelict factory purchased from previous owner and co-funded with European and mortgage finance.
·         Continued place making role with occupancy by art therapy and circle design projects.
·         Ken Livingston adopted Gillett Square as part of his 100 squares project.
·         Various outreach projects are supported for Square users suffering from mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, often provided in partnership with other third sector agencies as part of wider ongoing financial investment into Gillett Square. HCD do not support zero tolerance strategies in isolation if they just displace problems and do not address causes.
·          HCD generally offer 6 month licences for start-ups and pro-actively seek out and provide business development support to new co-operatives.
·         HCD also support staff seeking to take over businesses when original owners retire or want to move on.
·         Initially established as Company limited by guarantee but now structured as a Community Interest Company
·         Entire 15 member board is Hackney based many of whom have previously received support from HCD with 2 places kept for staff.

In discussion Sara and Dominic felt;
·         Hackney Business Venture was the prime vehicle for giving business support in Hackney and did have a very wide outreach (diversity etc) but did not give the level of detailed support provided to tenants by HCD/ Bootstrap.
·         Andrew Sissons (LBH Head of Regeneration Delivery) was often perceived as too business friendly but was successful in getting deals, for example around local employment (90% on fashion hub development).
·         Both HCD and Bootstrap would have been interested in the Stamford Works site but its market price had been too high to be economic for their users.

Dominic then took the group down to Gillett Square and explained which was which of the various buildings.  He said HCD’s preferred layout of the Square was to make the north side entirely retail/ commercial to avoid conflict with residential use.

Saturday 20th July, 10.00 am till midday, Developing a sustainable local economy; Presentation & discussion, Duke of Wellington, Balls Pond Road (back room)

Cllr. Guy Nicholson, LBH, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, explained that;
·        The Council was dealing with levels of change unmatched anywhere else in the UK and was seeking to ensure that such change was inclusive rather than exclusive and was affordable and accessible for the existing community.
·        Shoreditch had become a transformed and dynamic area
·        In the Heart of Hackney the fashion hub attempted to bridge the gap between £1m houses one side of the railway tracks and a deprived and young community looking for employment on the other.
·        “Ways Into Work” used a mixture of public, institutional and private funding to secure work for local residents in new jobs around Aquascutum (24 jobs), construction in Shoreditch, and Tech City in the Olympic Park.
·        The Council was opposed to gated communities that displaced social housing to lower value parts of Hackney but these made the most money for developers.  They worked against sustainable communities by undermining social cohesion.
·         Locally Labour recognised the need for more balanced and diverse communities and had developed policies to support these goals but its powers had been limited by the current government.
·        Nationally Labour did recognise the need for more local control for example over the proliferation of betting and payday loan shops.
·        Shoreditch was home to one of the UK’s largest media companies which actively sought local sttisaff and employed over 200 people living in Hackney.
·        Mother London, the UK’s largest independent advertising agency was based in Shoreditch and have been big investors in apprenticeships  along with many other Shoreditch firms working with the Community College as the Council actively promoted collaboration to support local unemployed into jobs.  
·        The government changed policy to remove public funding from affordable housing and define 80% market rents as affordable had come at the worst possible time for ensuring local benefit from the building boom in Dalston. It was Council policy to encourage developers to offer affordable rents at 60% market values in order to maintain real diversity of tenure. The building boom was happening at the same time as government had removed capital support for infrastructure to support such developments in areas of transport, healthcare and education provision.
·        Twin challenges from national government;
o       Reduced public controls over development
o       One third reduction in public operational budgets + sharply reduced capital funding
·        Hackney was still building partnerships around i-city which it hoped would generate 4,000 local jobs and hoped a new government in 2015 might generate more scope for capital investment and more powers over high street development. 

In discussion participants said;
·         The Labour Party should have a clear public position in favour of retaining mixed neighbourhoods and had shown a lack of ambition in mobilising local opposition.
·         Transition Towns offered a model for supporting carbon reduction targets , developing crowd funding for new projects, supporting new entrepreneurs and increasing community resilience in dealing with recent shocks.
·         Popular protests had forced developers of the Wilmer Place Sainsburys to engage more with the community. The Council should be more open about what it really wanted to support an evolving narrative between residents and developers.
·         During consultation for the Dalston Area Action Plan, local residents had demanded a community engagement forum to address development issues.  The Council had seemed to agree it but it had never happened.
·         Current development proposals would permanently change parts of Hackney which would stop being a Labour Borough.  Should Labour not do more to prevent such changes, in particular by helping local children find housing locally?

In response Guy made the following points;
·         After a long period of focussing on Hackney Council management issues residents might support the Mayor in taking more of a campaign role to deliver Labour objectives.
·         Developers could not be forced to participate in pre-application discussions and some did not co-operate so community and political pressure for such dialogue was essential.
·         The Dalston Area Action plan did still provide some support to the Council in preventing applications being approved on appeal.
·         Section 106 procedures would be replaced over next 18 months with the Community Infrastructure Levy and residents should participate n the current consultation to determine how such funding should be used.
·         The key Regeneration concern for the Kingsland Shopping Centre redevelopment was that it made a positive economic contribution to the Borough.  The current proposals demonstrate a “highly commercialised approach to maximising development value and it shows”.
·         Entrepreneurial networks tend to be clustered locally.  Incubator space in Shoreditch was commercially led but in Dalston was primarily in social ownership.  There were currently 7/8,000 jobs in Dalston and if Ashwin Street was handed to Bootstrap they could let it out in a week.
·         Concerns about lack of affordable housing provision were primarily the responsibility of his colleague Karen Alcock who was planning to hold a community housing conference.

Andrew Sissons, Hackney Council Head of Regeneration Delivery - then took over from Guy (who had to leave) and focussed on issues specific to Dalston.  He said that;
·        Increased amounts of online shopping did create a danger that too much retail space was being created locally.
·        Major destination retailers had plans for how many stores they needed to cover London working down from a presence at four “Westfields”  while taking account of existing local provision. In a time of recession their main interest in Hackney was in bespoke niche possibilities such as Shoreditch. 
·        New Dalston entrepreneurs were attracted to food and service provision.
·        The current Kingsland Centre shops were viable and affordable but there was also scope to capture some of the middle class “retail bleed” of spending – primarily to the Angel and Westfield-Stratford.
·        Although “regeneration” had no planning function it had mobilised the local business community to get an exemption from government proposals to prevent Councils stopping commercial property being converted to residential use.  100 Councils had applied for such exception but only 17 had been granted.  Hackney had succeeded after mobilising 400 letters from business and over  2,000 signatures on the petition. 
·        Business mutual support networks were particularly strong in Shoreditch covering fashion, technology, PR and media with similar design based networks developing around Hackney Road/ London Fields.  There was scope for further development of such networks in Dalston which at the moment is under developed.
·        Hackney had supported various business support initiatives such as the London Fields Design Festival, Hackney House, Digital Shoreditch , Shoreditch Design Week and London Fashion Week.  
·        Immediate concerns about the Kingsland Centre development were that;
o       It focussed on maximising residential provision on a town centre site for which the Council sought maximum appropriate commercial provision.
o       Adequate consideration should be given to address proven demand for commercial space.
o       It needed to avoid a “landlocked” shopping centre which did not feed demand for adjacent provision, particularly Ridley Road market.
·        Redeveloped Council owned Dalston Lane terraces would offer outlets to local small and medium sized businesses especially with the current demand for small retail spaces for food and artisan production. 
·         Keeping Marks &  Spencers, Primark and Boots was essential to maintaining footfall in the Narrow Way.
·        Since Hackney was home to many ethnic minority entrepreneurs regeneration should support them in moving up the value chain.  The Hackney Shop in the Hackney Fashion Hub  was an example of what could be done.  Businesses in studios on Ridley Road and Shacklewell Lane could benefit from similar support.
·        The Council planned to use the development of Birkbeck Mews to counter the loss of light industrial workspace and it could provide 20-30,000 square foot of employment space.
·        Hackney was supporting the University of London project to repatriate manufacturing jobs from overseas.
·        A particular focus of the Regeneration Team was in maximising local employment in new developments across the Borough with 40 local jobs created in the Ace Hotel, 25 at the Aquascutum Shop, 15 so far with BT sports on the Olympic park and many jobs in the food and restaurant industry. A recent study by Nesta concluded that Hackney Regeneration had helped to generate some 270 restaurant jobs for local people in the last year.