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Hackney Heroine warns gentrification is destroying way of life for many

11:43 15 August 2014

'Heronine of Hackney' Pauline Pearce

Rob Baker Ashton - freelance

Hackney Heroine, Pauline Pearce, has warned the council is not doing enough to help residents in the face of spiralling gentrification.

The voice of the London riots, who stood up to youths ransacking her neighbourhood, has spoken out this week after seeing friends forced from their homes due to a mix of ever-inflating house prices, costly rents and the bedroom tax.

And while emphasising the borough’s need for more social housing, she also said the influx of hip youngsters drawn to the borough is even forcing many born and bred locals out of the high street as the numbers of pricey boutiques and cafés explodes.

Ms Pearce said: “The locals are fed up of it. There is not a lot we can do. As far as the council is concerned, they are bringing money and jobs into the area but the people working in these shops are not from Hackney.

“Hackney is a beautiful place and we are famous for diversity but that is being pushed away.”

She added: “The council need to stop sitting on their pedestal. They know it’s always going to be Labour so they do nothing and nobody says anything because nobody knows they can.

“They should also be more transparent about how people can get help. Prevention is better than the cure.”

Ms Pearce also criticised the decision to build a new luxury fashion retail outlet in Hackney Central using money put aside after the London riots – however, the council was keen to stress that it had to bid for the regeneration money which was only granted to projects to drive growth and prosperity.

Ms Pearce said: “I’d like to think that social housing, or community centres, is what they were using the riots money for, but they used it for a fashion hub that nobody can benefit from. I haven’t got Burberry money.”

She went on to add her voice to Hackney’s big race debate, highlighting the double standard she sees in the treatment of young people based on ethnicity.

“We used to go to Visions on Kingsland Road. If it was hot in the club and you came out for fresh air, we were told to move.

“Now there are hundreds of these retro trendies and nobody is moving them along – these people are peeing and puking over people’s storefronts.”

The mayor, Jules Pipe, voiced his intention to provide opportunities for youngsters in the borough.

He said: “Hackney is becoming increasingly out of reach for people on ordinary incomes, but we should be looking to those pushing housing associations to charge 80 per cent of market rents and the developers who sidestep affordable housing obligations, before looking to blame visitors who spend their money in local businesses.”

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