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Black Community Bookshop & Centre Evicted in Dalston

By mute, 12 November 2012
The Black community bookshop. cafe and centre, Centreprise, in Dalston,
  East London was
  evicted last week. They had been paying a peppercorn rent of £500 odd a
  year since 1984, and Hackney Council had demanded this be upped to a
  market rent of around £37,000. Centreprise claimed that they had bought
  the building in 1983, which is disputed by the Council; they offered to
  pay £12,000 a year, but Hackney rejected this, took them to court and won
  possession... Centreprise were preparing an appeal, but were evicted
  overnight last Thursday November 1st.

  Centreprise was originally set up around 1970, by a collective that
  included black and white socialists, anarchists and other community
  activists. Over the decades it has served as a meeting place for all sorts
  of community groups, an outlet for all sorts of radical literature, a
  centre of working class writing and history, a drop in space for thousands
  of local folk and a good cheap cafe... In recent decades the bookshop has
  been orientated more to black politics and writing, and while some of us
  have had some issues with the place, especially since the collective
  management was replaced by  the hierarchical domination of one person in
  the '90s, that's as maybe... A community space of great local usefulness
  and significance has been totally done over...

  Hackney has form for this kind of sleight-of-hand dealing with tenants
  they want rid of: Hackney folk who recall the Broadway market evictions of
  Tony's Cafe and Spirit's shop a few years back will recognise the style. 
  As with Broadway market, there's more to this story than some unpaid or
  disputed rent and rates... The big plan for Dalston is gentrification,
  money money money, and a nice big dollop of social and ethnic cleansing -
  politely and with flash developments if possible, but with force behind
  that. The Shoreditch/Hoxton art-cash nexus is spreading north up the
  Kingsland Road like a posh, hip, tight-jeaned, bearded, floaty dress
  plague, powered by those white single-speed bikes with orange or purple
  wheels, and Dalston is due for class (meaning effectively race)
  As Ceasfire commented: "This process of gentrification is quickly usurping
  the outlets and services which local working class communities have built
  up over time. Pushing up the prices of rent is one of the most significant
  ways in which this process is perused. This rent hike is not affecting the
  bookmakers or pubs, as much as cultural spaces such as Centerprise
  bookshop and restaurant. The local council is raising the low rents
  offered to community outlets, in favour of the commercial establishments
  which gentrification has brought to the area."

  There was no way Centreprise could pay such a huge rent hike, or if they
  could, they would have had to change utterly. "More art galleries and jazz
  bars - less black politics, or politics of any sort, or variety of any
  sort..." Nice new slogan for Hackney Council?

  Several groups and businesses who use Centreprise are getting together to
  challenge the eviction in the courts, and as far as I know the main avenue
  for protest asked for right now is sending
  angry letters to Hackney Mayor Jules 'Shit' Pipe... I'll try and find out
  if owt else is going on and will let people know...

  B. Heaven
  for past tense

  contact Centreprise:

  some links about Centreprise history and the eviction: