Archive for August 31st, 2011

Anyone who thought the question of the EDL protest in Tower Hamlets had simply vanished the moment Home Secretary Theresa May announced a ban last week is in cuckoo land.

The following email has just been sent out by the Respect party to its supporters (it makes reference to an email from Fozol Miah – he’s a Respect councillor in Spitalfields).

New meeting place for anti-EDL protest in Tower Hamlets.

Further to the recent email from Fozol Miah about the EDL in Tower Hamlets, the meeting place for the anti-EDL protest has now been changed to Whitechapel.

The new assembly point and time is 11am, corner of Vallance Road and Whitechapel Road, London E1.

Further details from http://uaf.org.uk/2011/08/new-whitechapel-assembly-point-for-3-sept-anti-edl-demo/

Although it has been banned from marching, the EDL has confirmed it still intends to turn up in Tower Hamlets for a “static protest”.

The Home Secretary’s ban, of course, referred to all marches through Tower Hamlets and four other boroughs. It means that Unite Against Fascism is also banned from marching.

However, UAF, on its website, is still issuing a rallying call for the largest possible turnout on Saturday and it many hope and probably intend to march. UAF has this petition:

Right to march against racist EDL

We, the undersigned, welcome the banning of the racist English Defence League’s march through Tower Hamlets.

However, we believe the headlines claiming the EDL have been ‘banned’ from Tower Hamlets are misleading. The EDL will still be holding a static protest in the borough.

We are also appalled to discover that the home secretary, Theresa May, has agreed to the Metropolitan Police’s application for a blanket ban on ALL marches across five London boroughs – Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest – and the City of London for 30 days.

This is a huge attack on everyone’s civil liberties and prevents people’s rights to oppose racism.

We have the democratic right to peacefully march through Tower Hamlets on 3 September to show unity of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Black, Asian and LGBT communities, trade unions and all those against fascism and for freedom, and to voice opposition to the EDL’s attempts to divide us.

Our legal advice says there is no law that says if one march has been banned, all marches in that area must be banned.

It is our human right to peacefully march in Tower Hamlets.

We therefore support the joint Unite Against Fascism / United East End protest on Saturday 3 September.

I’ve just spoken to the Metropolitan Police who told me that anyone who marches on Saturday will be “liable to arrest” under Section 13 of the Public Order Act. The protests will be “policed accordingly” in terms of numbers and officers will use “discretion” in deciding what constitutes a march.

It’s looking like a recipe for disaster on Saturday.

UPDATE – 6.45pm

The Press Association reports that Theresa May has now extended the ban to the City of London. I guess they’ve just realised how close Tower Hamlets is to the City..


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When I was at the East London Advertiser, I tried to persuade the bosses at Archant that we should be running restaurant reviews. Hardly a revolutionary idea as local newspapers had been doing this for decades, the idea being that reporters claim back the expense of a meal in return for writing a review.

Archant’s bosses declined the request by insisting it was an expense they could not afford. I thought they missed an easy marketing trick: restaurants, particularly the smaller, non-chain owned ones, love those reviews and often frame the cutting on a wall inside or on the door to boast to passing trade. I argued that would get our brand to a wider audience. But the argument was over-ruled by short term cost management.

On Tower Hamlets Council’s East End Life, they don’t have those problems and they run a restaurant review every week. They are mostly written by the paper’s staff and council press officers who spend about £50 every week and claim the cash back from the taxpayer. (Intriguingly, we don’t know who the authors are because all reviews are written under silly pseudonyms such as Munchin’ Minnie or Pot-Bellied Pig; why their identities need to be protected I don’t know, but if I were a councillor I’d be trying to ensure genuine bylines were used – I suspect there would be fewer volunteers for the freebies as a result… .)

We used to complain regularly about these reviews at the ELA, as did Tory councillors Tim Archer and Peter Golds; more recently, Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has voiced his own criticism. However, Tower Hamlets Council continued to press on with the practice, claiming – disingenuously, in my view – that the review brought in external advertising to that page.

I suspect there is a demand for reviews of local restaurants and by failing to serve its readers properly, the ELA is shooting itself in the foot – and also from a strategic point of view. If it carried them, it could cite that as another area where East End Life is competing in its space.

However, there is a gap in the market and East End Life can argue (albeit weakly) that it is performing a public service. But the review in the current issue is taking the mickey. On p29, under the headline “Firm ribs, boozy Ribena and the best ‘slaw ever”, a council officer hiding as Pot-Bellied Pig reviews the cocktails and food at the chain restaurant Giraffe in Spitalfields Market.

Is there really another need for a review of Giraffe? Aren’t East End Life reader able to do simple searches of the internet finding reviews here, here, or here for example?

Surely this is just an example of a council officer enjoying a perk at our expense. If those reviews are to be run in East End Life, shouldn’t they be reserved for genuinely local restaurants?

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