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Readers' Letters

Editor's comment: Just whose screw-up is this anyway?

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:09 25 January 2019

Traders and artists have been given two weeks to leave the building. Picture SAM GELDER

Traders and artists have been given two weeks to leave the building. Picture SAM GELDER

Ridley Road Studios

Whoever's behind the decision to shut the entire building containing Ridley Road Shopping Village with two weeks' notice could do with a lesson in community engagement.

There was already significant anger from neighbours, traders and artists about the plan to demolish it next year to make way for a housing development, which has yet to be put through Hackney’s planning committee.

But to deprive shops of their Christmas takings with so little warning – seemingly on the basis of some relatively low-level disorder – is an extreme, unfair measure, whoever’s fault it is.

It’s confusing to see the council pointing the finger at the people running the market, because last week they told traders (but not us) they blamed the police. The police, for their part, failed to answer our questions at all, though they did manage to retweet our story about the closure, which doesn’t exactly suggest they dispute its accuracy.

Whether it’s the managers or the police who have chosen to shut down the building with a fortnight’s notice over what appears to be some low-level persistent anti-social behaviour, I share the council’s confusion and disappointment that it’s happening. And the silence from police leaves the market’s neighbours in the dark about any more serious justification they may have, which ultimately does little for the already tense relationship between an overstretched force and the communities in Hackney it serves. Could they have done more to support the market managers to stay open? Is the council wrong about the scope of the order?

The tide of gentrification may not have anything to do with the decision to shut the shopping village early. But it’s incumbent on authorities such as police, landlords and business managers to work with communities rather than divide them. Someone, somewhere, has screwed this up.

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