A blogging war has broken out in Stoke Newington over the campaign to stop Sainsbury’s opening a new supermarket just off Church Street.
The Duchess of Hackney blog criticises Stokey Local, the group of anti-Sainsbury’s protesters, calling them middle-class NIMBY’s. Hackney Hive online publication, ‘Who is kidding who over Stoke Newington’s Sainsbury’s proposal‘ makes claims that the campaigners are all: ‘white middle class people’.
Stokey Local has in turn invited the Duchess and her followers to a: “dance off.” John Page, Stoke Local member told EastLondonLines: ” We will bring our supporters and they can bring theirs. We guarantee that we will outnumber them 50 to one, and we will demonstrate that our supporters have the best dance moves.”
“Our detractors have not yet taken us up on this offer,” he said.
Until recently the anti-Sainsbury’s faction have been the loudest voice, protesting that a new Sainsbury’s development would turn their neighbourhood into a “clone town”. The campaigners have so far been successful in organizing a petition and a ‘zombie-a-thon‘ through Stoke Newington, to illustrate that a new chain development would bring: “death to the local community.”
Atique Chodhury, owner of a string of local businesses, including restaurants YumYum and Mercado, then kicked off a row by complaining to the Evening Standard that the whole situation causes a “class-divide” and people should not be so “picky and choosy”.
He said: “In Stoke Newington not everybody is middle class and has money. What about the poorer people? Aren’t they entitled to go shopping too?
“There is a massive class divide in Stoke Newington – Sainsbury’s is no good, but Waitrose we don’t mind. How does that work?” he added.
The Duchess of Hackney then raised the temperature by suggesting that Stokey Local had called for a boycott of Chodhury’s businesses, and described the campaigners as bullies and hypocrites:
“The hypocrisy and nastiness of these people pretty much sums them and the whole movement of people in various enclaves of Hackney, who feel they are the gate keepers.
“As far as some of the Stokey NIMBY’s are concerned, he’s history and they claim they will no longer patronize his business and have encouraged others not to.”
Stokey Local responded on their FaceBook page: ” Nobody in the Stokey Local campaign is calling for the boycott of anyone’s business. We support local businesses, and we want them to thrive – without unfair competition from a giant, unwanted superstore on their doorstep.”
John Page, a leading member of Stokey Local told EastLondonLines that the organization takes comfort from the fact that their opponents have avoided seeking to address the issues raised and have instead resorted to calling them “childish names”.
He also said that the Duchess of Hackney is in no position to judge whether the organization is middle class or not, and adds: “Our meetings have in fact been inclusive and ethnically and culturally diverse, and have included trade unionists and tenants from live-work units, whose homes are threatened.”
“Our campaign also has substantial support from many of the proprietors of Stoke Newington’s numerous Turkish/Kurdish stores. It says more about our detractors than it does about us, that these contributions have been ignored in the rush to condemn us as ‘white middle class’”.
Page added: “After our a successful zombie-a-thon, we have been deliberately misrepresented as being a ‘vocal minority’. We don’t want to have an unnecessary argument with anyone.
The Duchess of Hackney has shocked locals by suggesting that there are no good local shops on Church Street and that a new Sainsbury’s would help get rid of: “…depressing shanty town like shops, with not particularly great customer service.”
Page responded to this claim: “The suggestion that there are no good local stores in Stoke Newington raises a question of what do these people judge as good? We have amazing florists, newsagents, delis, cafés, bookstores, children’s stores and convenience stores that cater for the needs of this community (not to mention stores such as Rosa’s that people travel across London to visit)”.
Alex Ross, owner of The Spence, an artisan bakery on Church Street, said: “I feel insulted that people are saying there are no good local shops on Church Street. I think the product we produce is the best bread in London.
“A new Sainsbury’s will definitely affect my business to a small degree, however I think that people who buy bread from Sainsbury’s wouldn’t come to my bread shop anyway”.
We want to hear from you. Do you welcome a new Sainsbury’s in Stokey or are you afraid it will wipe out local small shops? Our comments are open