Hackney Citizen

Hackney Council defends CLR James library ‘Starbucks cafe’ decision

‘It’s not a Starbucks’ says Hackney Council, but admits the cafe will sell Starbucks coffee and other Starbucks products

Time for Tea at L'Epicerie

Starbucks may not be everyone's cup of tea. Photograph: Lena Gansmann

Hackney Council is standing by its decision to award the contract to run the café at the soon-to-be opened Dalston CLR James Library to a Starbucks franchise, despite questions being raised over the terms of the contract.

On 12 September, the council’s Cabinet approved the letting of the café space to local restaurant operator Mr Gurkan Bozdere, who has entered into a license with Starbucks, along with a 15 year lease at £30,000 per annum.

Under this license arrangement, Starbucks will supply the coffee machines, all the coffee and some of their branded range.  The formal proposal to the Cabinet to appoint Mr Bozdere stated that the desire of the council was to “secure a major chain operator” to run the cafe.

By contrast, the Dalston Area Action Plan outlines as an objective to “strengthen local character and identity by enhancing the existing [local] qualities” and that any new retail development would promote independent retailers alongside high street multiples. When quizzed by the Citizen, the council stated that it did invite expressions of interest from small and medium companies, as well as and mainstream ones.

But there was no clear answer as to why the proposal clearly outlined that its aim was to secure a major chain.

The report to Cabinet stated that: “the response from leading chain operators [to lease the cafe] had been disappointing” and that £30,000 per annum therefore represented best consideration. However, the consultants’ report prior to marketing the cafe also stated that the offer to run the Dalston cafe may be too early to attract its full potential.”

Note: In our original story we stated that the cafe is already open. This error has been corrected.

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31 Responses »

  1. A new independent coffee shop has only just opened not a hundred yards from this proposed Starbucks. Are Labour deliberately stifling local innovation at a time of economic trouble, or are they just accidentally doing it, I wonder?

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  2. Never describe to malice, what can be explained by incompetence.

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  3. @JoeJordan: so what’s your maximum threshold for the number of coffee-shops you think Hackney can sustain?
    No more coffee-shops in Hackney – cos Joe Jordan says so.

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  4. Dont see people moaning about coffee shops as much as bookies and chicken shops in hackney

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  5. @patrick wielkn: if you were to add ‘ignorance’ and ‘fear’ to ‘incompetence’, I’d be inclined to agree with you! ;-)

    The Blairites (like their New Democrat role models in the USA) have long been afraid of anything small, independent and genuinely competitive. Clement Atlee must be turning in his grave, given the crimes against enterprise and individualism that have been committed in the name of socialism in the last decade and a half…

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  6. Dont understand why nobody complains about betting shops, money shops and poundlands.

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  7. @Jv because that would be a snobbery that’s diffcult to mask whereas one can moan about Starbucks and pretend to be cultured.

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  8. starbucks makes me sick – apart from the cheapskate treatment of workers – it always stinks of off milk.

    It truly amazes me how many defenders of major chain store companies post comment on HC – the desire to turn Hackney into a retail clonetown is amazing – why live here I wonder when you could move to Stratford and have Westfields?

    Do they have shares or do they think there is somehow greatness in association?

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  9. @Jv: Mayor Pipe has been complaining about betting shops, whilst taking every available opportunity to cosy up to anyone with a FSTE listing.

    @simonh: it’s because they’ve already been trained to be ‘good’ little consumers, and resent it when anyone else refuses to fall into line like they have.

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  10. @simonh Maybe it’s not rooted in a “desire to turn Hackney into a retail clonetown” but rather in a loathing of snobs who think it their right to stop people shopping wherever the hell they like.

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  11. Although this is a Starbucks FRANCHISE – the licence has been awarded to a “local restaurant owner” – a local business… isn’t that good news?

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  12. @NomDeGuerre: come off it – Hackney Council’s record (under Jules Pipe’s leadership) regarding small, independent retailers has been pretty appalling.

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  13. ah yes Nomdeguerre, that all important freedom to shop – in an ever decreasing number of identikit chain stores which use thier massive resources to drive to the wall independent traders who might offer a real choice… you can shop wherever you like as London and the UK are increasingly covered by tesco’s, sainsburys, starbucks etc etc and they are in no danger of disappearing unlike Hackney’s independent small traders. Once they are gone what freedom of choice of retailer do you have?

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  14. @simonh It sounds like you have a problem with people’s choices rather than business. Why not stand outside supermarkets and try to persuade you fellow residents not to shop there….or ask why they do? There is certainly more consumer choices available today than when I was a child.

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  15. This is old news, and there is little that can or should be done. The previously poorly funded, and minimally attended library needed to be given the best opportunity in order to evolve with the already established Dalston Square development. These are projects that have been developing since the first estates were built in Bow and around the Lea Valley. That the library has had to follow the US and sell branded coffee in order to survive should come as no shock or surprise! All there is to do, given the way that our society is and will always be structured, is to make choices as a consumer (ie don’t buy coffee there if you don’t agree with it). This is all that is understood, nothing else will register with authorities other than profit margins, especially not outright moaning!

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  16. @Trowel: are you a sockpuppet for the Jules Pipe clique? Or just a Quisling for the multinationals?

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  17. @GSOB:
    you can always tell someone’s “argument” has run aground when they resort to accusing their opponents of being collaborators/Quislings.

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  18. @NomDeGuerre: or they borrow other people’s pet phrases verbatim! :-P

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  19. @GSOB: pointedly so Andrew

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  20. Seriously though, Trowel comes across either as either a sockpuppet of the Mayor and his cronies, or someone in the pay of either one of the large developers or large retailers keen to make a killing out of the ‘gentrification’ of Hackney. Just consider phrases such as:

    “…there is little that can or SHOULD be done.”

    “…given the best opportunity in order to evolve within the established Dalston Square development.”

    “All there is to do, given the way that our society is AND WILL ALWAYS BE structured, is to make choices as a consumer…”

    “This is ALL that is understood, NOTHING ELSE registers with the authorities…”

    (Capitalisations are mine)

    Do they come across as the work of an ordinary contributor, or do they have the stale whiff of the PR industry about them?

    And look at the underlying message of inevitability – it’s all very ‘my way, or the highway’, isn’t it?

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  21. No. A resident who is tiring of misdirected aggression, needless name-calling (ahem!) and all too vague naive ‘protests’ in the place of genuine, constructive contributions to social structures and town planning. Spend your energy on these things, not on pigeon-holing?

    @ndg Thanks for the defence, not expected when fully aware of not following the popular arguments!

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  22. @Trowel: why then does your cheesy rhetoric have the hollow ring of something written by a junior employee of a PR agency (see above quotes)? And as for trotting out the tired old ‘progress’ non-argument and portraying the USA as a role model – PUR-LEASE!

    Where’s ‘consumer choice’, when the only choice left is between (for argument’s sake) Coke and Pepsi?

    If you’re not in on the ‘game’ directly and are – as you claim – an ordinary resident, it strikes me that you may well be one of those recent arrivals hoping to ride on the shirt-tails of mass redevelopment and the influx of the (multi)national brands to the borough, in the hope of increasing the value of your property. Are you an estate agent?

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  23. As for the ‘established’ Dalston Square development, some of the phases haven’t even been completed yet!

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  24. Crikey-cor-mikey Andrew! You really don’t like frappuccinos do you!

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  25. @NomDeGuerre: how’s the weather in Stoke Newington this evening? Give my regard to the Blairites! ;-)

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  26. Really interesting how those on the left turn out to be the least tolerant, and can’t see the bigger picture. Amusing still! It’s a pity I don’t like starbucks fan – more a nero’s man.

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  27. @JV: Caffe Nero is at least a British-owned chain (like Costa) – and their espresso beats Starbucks, hands-down! But we digress…

    The real question is why Hackney Council was determined to “secure a major chain operator” in the first place, rather open the concession to bids from local independents as well.

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  28. Oh, and as for the “bigger picture”:

    * What is the long-term rationale for a series of planning decisions by Hackney Council which have an adverse effect on existing use and appear to be geared towards redevelopment for (expensive, some would say overpriced) owner-occupied housing?

    * Why the apparent keenness on their part to offer food and drink concessions to national and global chains, without giving local independents serious consideration?

    * And why put in place measures which make life more difficult for the owners of small, local businesses, at a time of economic uncertainty?

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  29. Trustafarians in Clapton against Tesco, Lefties in Homerton against Bookies, Meeja Luvvies against Strippers in Shoreditch, Nimbies in SN against Nandos and Sloanies roughing it in London Fields . So many negative vibes amongst who want for nothing and yet seek to impose their views on everyone else. Poor old Hackney, totally ruined in the last few years and with plenty of help from those Nu Labour arseholes in the council.

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  30. You sure Hackney wasnt ruined before then with the yardie drive by shootings and the cockney gangs

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  31. Starbuckets is just such awful coffee!Who wants to drink a bucket of coffee? But the cafe at the Arcola does a good cup, so I’ll keep going there.

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