There’s a gold rush afoot in east London, and we’re not invited. Also left in the cold is Sicilian café-owner Tony Platia who, together with other locals in the borough of Hackney, has recently re-occupied Francesca’s Café, his business of 30 years, after being booted out last summer. It was one of many premises sold from under tenants’ feet as the Council scrambled to dispose of their property over the last few years.
Now the shop front has turned frontline, barricaded in the battle to halt an ongoing stampede of investors and speculators, trailing a stench of corruption in their wake that would make Robert Mugabe blush. Tony had right of first refusal and tried to buy his place – but his cheques somehow kept getting lost in the post before they reached the Council. You, too, could get a slice of the real estate pie – if you don’t mind furnishing the right officials with a few back-handers.