A WORLD-RENOWNED technology and innovation festival is coming to Hackney next summer.
When you’re from Hackney council and spending several days at a festival in Texas that seems to have little to do with an inner-city borough struggling to find accommodation for its citizens, a “Faire” – as in Ye Olde Hi-Tech Faire, presumably – extending its reach from America is worth trumpeting.
Worth hailing, indeed, although a respected newspaper saw the announcement as a coup for the London Legacy Development Corporation. The Observer article did not mention Hackney council.
What is indisputable is that Hackney agreed a “sister city” deal with Austin. The city’s Mayor, Lee Leffingwell, flew to London to sign the agreement with his Hackney equivalent, Jules Pipe. Leffingwell may collect many frequent-flyer points: Austin has lined up 12 other sister cities.
Regeneration councillor Guy Nicholson said Hackney’s regeneration service and the 30 northeast London firms that hung around the Hackney House set up at the event returned last year 2013 with “£7.5m of new business for the borough”. To clarify, they signed orders for the business.
Yes, yes, Councillor, but this year, how much “new business” was won this year? Nicholson lapsed into W1A-type platitude… “it is anticipated that considerably more will be achieved,” said the councillor, who has been appointed Labour candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey in Kent.
His hesitance is understandable because “showcasing the talents of East London’s creative, tech and design community”, as the council described the trip, must have been hard work and analysing figures and promised orders takes time. And competing interests came from around the world, not just the US.
Still, one would have expected some figure to have been put on the new business a month after the event.
Yee-hah, although any outside-schmooze-time entertainment would have had to come from private pockets. Private-sector sponsors bore the cost of Hackney House Austin but not of extra-curricular activities.
Hamish Scott 110414
* Hackney businesses were able to use Hackney House Austin facilities without charge. To ask about a possible 2015 participation contact the council member for regeneration early next year or email firstname.lastname@example.org.