A Call for Action Following the Defacement of Brick Lane

Posted on | Sunday, 26 February 2012 | No Comments

Tower Hamlets' Council, as we now all know now, have defaced Brick Lane. We are not going to let it rest.
The issues are threefold; (1) an autocratic decision by Lutfur Rahman to tarmac Brick Lane in the face of local opposition, (2) a partisan publication promoting the political agenda of Tower Hamlets’ executive management, whilst excluding the voice of those opposing the Council’s actions, and (3) – linked to (2) – the lack of any cohesive representation to spearhead and publicise public objection.
Let’s firstly address the total lack of editorial integrity shown by the Editor of East End Life, Ms Loraine Clay in gazetting the pro tarmac articles by both Rahman and Rennie in the same issue, while omitting any reference to significant local objection. This, coupled with her refusal to respond to my own request for an explanation illustrates the paper’s shabby editorial oversight. We should not be deceived into believing this pretence for a newspaper is ‘by the people, for the people’; it is not. It is in reality simply a political vehicle for Tower Hamlets Council which as we know is itself a conduit used by the Mayor, Lutfur Rahman to promote his political aspirations and agenda. Until there are major changes to the editorial staff we can pretty much assume East End Life won’t effectively represent the views of those objecting. To the contrary, the paper can be expected to give bad press to any efforts made in challenging the Council’s tarmac decision. So we can assume East End Life will not be covering our endeavours in any supportive way. Better the devil you know as they say.
I don’t underestimate the great work everyone has done so far in objecting through blog comments, but we need to be a great deal more proactive, on and off the Internet. For example, I recommend we make better use of social networking to promote our cause as we’ve established that we don’t have the luxury of a tax payer funded sycophantic publication to support our case. Consistent use of Twitter, Facebook and a raft of complimentary social networking tools to publicise our case and gain support will potentially be more effective than the occasional item in the local press anyway – it simply needs organising in a disciplined way.
That being said, what other avenues are available to us to represent our cause? Well, we should formally approach the Councillors for the Ward of Spitalfields and Banglatown. Regrettably with one in jail, that only leaves two, namely Councillor Helal Uddin Abbas (Labour) http://bit.ly/zVNXBy and Councillor Fozol Miah (Respect) http://bit.ly/zwxSKo. I recommend we write an open letter to both expressing our concern and outlining our argument for reinstating original cobbles in Brick Lane.
Next we should arrange for a Petition to be signed by residents and businesses in Brick Lane and this petition formally handed to both Councillors, ideally with photographs of the event to publicise the presentation through our social networking channels.
Last but certainly not least important will be a public show of strength, and this means an orderly demonstration in Brick Lane with the consent of residents. Again photographed and networked. We can make this work without, or in spite of, the press.
To summarise I’m recommending:
(1) Build an effective Social Network presence branded as, e.g., #BrickLane
(2) Write to Spitalfields and Banglatown Councillors
(3) Organise and present a Petition
(4) Make a public show of strength to support our case
No progress will be made unless we push ahead with these or similar actions. My time is available to help. If others are prepared to step up to the line and get involved, please do so and let’s set the project up in a constructive way.
On a final note, regarding John Rennie, we oughtn’t to hold our breath for him to honour his promise. The last entry he made to his own web site, which few, if any read – eastlondonhistory – was on 7 December 2011!

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