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Patchy Journalism

October 27, 2010

As part of the course at City we are required to complete a ‘patch file’ in our first term. We are assigned a small area within either Islington or Hackney and told to go out and find news stories within our patch. Seems a simple enough concept. Or so we thought. For many, if not most, of my fellow MA students, patch work has become something of a living nightmare as we find ourselves leaping on any mere morsel of potentially newsworthy hearsay.

The patch work has provided us with an opportunity to get to know the local area, however many of us have been struggling to find news stories and moans and groans about patch work have become a regular part of daily conversation amongst the Newspaper students!

This is my first attempt at a patch story. It will appear in our student publication, The Hackney Post, this week. It is based on an interview that I did with David Dawkins, the manager of Pages of Hackney, an independent bookstore on Lower Clapton Road. The shop is a self-described ‘hub’ of community activity and runs a number of events and exhibits which are aimed at promoting local authors and artists.

David Dawkins (manager) and Eleanor Lowenthal (owner) in Pages of Hackney

Small businesses in Hackney are under threat as larger commercial businesses begin to buy up local real estate, said the manager of a local independent bookshop this week.

As the unique independence of Hackney is taken over by more commercial companies, small businesses will suffer, explains David Dawkins of Pages of Hackney on Lower Clapton Road.

He said: “There is a camaraderie between the small shops and the local people. There’s a community around here and there’s a definite sense of ‘localism’. People in Hackney have a great pride in their community and luckily that extends to us and all of the other businesses that keep this area so unique.”

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, announced last week that the council budget will be slashed by £70 million over the next four years. Although the cuts will not have an immediate effect on local business owners, Mr Dawkins believes that it will cause the council to offer local real estate to larger, national companies in a bid to bring in extra funds.

He explained: “This area is changing too quickly for some people and many are against commercial change. However, as people become more concerned about what they can and can’t spend, they will look to the cheaper shops for their necessities. It is through this ‘commercialisation’ that small businesses are going to suffer.”

Residents in the Hackney Downs area are currently protesting against plans to build a Tesco Extra on Lower Clapton Road in a building which the council originally said could be rented out for use as affordable office workspaces only. In November 2009 this restriction was removed after an “unsuccessful marketing exercise” over a six-month period.

Local councillors have joined the fight against the Tesco development, releasing a joint statement in order to voice their protests against the plans. It said: “There has been no consultation with us as elected representatives or local residents by this supermarket giant… We are all for variety in the local economy but of the community’s kind, working with the community, helping to create community, not substituting for it with the one state Tescopoly variety.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 27, 2010 7:11 pm

    Great Patch News. This is a growing issue for all the ‘village communities’ of London. Priced out in terms of residential and business properties. It won’t be long before London becomes a shoppers paradise for visitors, with no residents!

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