Sign language trips up big business as this Dalston website takes it on over public space

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© 310816 David.altheer[ at]
Martel Place, top: it belongs to the people — whatever the sign above implies


SINCE IT BURST on to the northeast London media scene, Loving Dalston has had much success in exposing failings in the private and public sectors.

Usually such campaigning takes weeks of patient digging and gentle pressing. So to get the best result within half an hour is extraordinary. That is how long it took when the editor of this site asked all possibly involved authorities which one of them was claiming control of a chunk of public space — and why.

Editor David Altheer’s liberal hackles had started to flutter when he noticed signs posted on a wall at the entrance to a Hackney supermarket. Who was the anonymous official, the prodnose or clerk who thought he/she could order behaviour — in this case, about smoking — in a public area?

Never mind that the smoking proscription demanded by the notice is popular, the fundamental issue is: whose space is it?

In the case of Martel Place, Dalston, it still belongs to us. Yes, we, the people.

This is how it happened: Loving Dalston sent an email, asking about the signs, at 0855. By 0923 Regal Homes, the “considerate and caring contractor” which is building the block of flats on the south side of entrance to the Kingsland Centre car park, had fessed up. A Regal Homes spinner indicated that the on-site manager would contact me to explain.

© david.altheer [at ]
Space race: where the workers used to sit

He did. It seems the “signs where wrongly placed”. They had subsequently “been removed”.

A Loving Dalston reporter went to check. The signs were indeed gone: a result, within hours.

The workers, central and east Europeans all, were leaning against the railway-cutting wall, a distance from where the doomed no-smoking signs had been wrongly placed.

Regal Homes, they said, had provided a rest room where they could take refreshments, but they liked also to relax over a smoke so they went outside the site.

Bob Dylan, a composer-singer older readers will know, sang: I pity the poor immigrant. Loving Dalston has spoken up also for him.

Hamish Scott 130916

* Backstory: High-rise in heart of Hackney

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