HACKNEY is to restyle itself “the Home of the Hipsters”.
In a move that will reopen arguments about gentrification, the council is to replace its logo, seek a twin-town link with a buzzing New York neighbourhood and perhaps become an “ironic” republic.
The six-figure cost of new signage and organising the link with Williamsburg in Brooklyn will be subsidised by what the council is terming “the hip tip”.
“It’s simple,” says a spokesperson for Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe. “Instead of restaurants and cafés across the borough adding the usual 12.5% service charge to the bill, they will, we hope, ask for only 10% and pass it on to the council.
“We see the ‘hip tip’ as a small way for them to show their gratitude for the huge number of visitors we have brought to an area that only a decade ago was considered rough if not downright dangerous.”
In any case the hip tip would be “put back into the community”, which meant eateries would be “among the main beneficiaries”.
Pipe says: “All too often [Hackney] has been reached for as an example of negative inner-city issues… Instead it’s the go-to example for articles about trendy hipsters.”
The Mayor went on to rave about Hackney’s fashion hub and the number of creative people moving to the area. He also praised the input of a developer said to have brought Manhattan-style loft-living to London.
Hackney council has been increasingly taken with the potential benefits of entrepreneurial hipsterism, trying, for example, to market the borough at an upscale festival in trend-friendly Austin, Texas.
The potential benefits were not realised, however, for old-timers, as when the council allowed Kingsland Waste Market to… well, waste away.
Stallholders say they were forced out because a market selling cheap goods to poor local people did not fit the town hall’s plans for what is becoming a fashionable if still-shabby-looking street.
Some traders in nearby Ridley Road fear that the council wants to replace their six-day-a-week fruit-and-veg market with a version of Hackney’s Broadway Market, offering baguettes not bagels and putting posing above sheer survival.
Williamsburg is not the only hip-town link. The council has delayed until 1 April next year 2017 a decision on whether to join also with the uber-cool Kreuzberg district of Berlin or foppish Fitzroy in Melbourne.
A council official denied that either of the trips would be a jolly: in each case at least two of the five days would involve “a heavy schedule”. She added: “And Melbourne in the southern summer can be very hot, which is not conducive to excessive work.”
A cheaper option being considered is to declare “ironic independence” for Hackney.
David Altheer 010416
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