Fight For Frank: Stop Tower Hamlets bullying Frank on his pitch & vandalising his property

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In late April 2018, Frank, a mild-mannered, gentle man who has served the community of Bethnal Green from his coffee van at Bethnal Green tube station steps for fifteen years with a smile and a kind word, had his electricity cut off in an act of intimidation and harassment by the local Tower Hamlets council and the management team behind the new gentrified coffee shop being built on top of his pitch.

Without being warned or consulted, Frank noticed in February that a new building was being erected behind the fence where he stations his coffee van. One week, he was asked to move to the patch of green on the other side of the road. Frank's contract has been with TfL and Bethnal Green tube station for fifteen years, and is in no way connected to the council: the electrical cables that he uses are supplied by the station, for which he regularly and reliably pays his bill. Frank naturally refused, as there is no electric on the patch of grass opposite his usual pitch. Less than two months later, as building works are nearing completion, he arrived on the morning of Sunday 22nd April to find his cables had been cut.

This is an act of wilful illegal destruction of property. The TfL tube station staff had no idea that was going to happen, and were equally horrified, telling Frank they support him. When Frank approached the local police station, he was told they could not help, and that he would have to take it up with the council. Tower Hamlets have refused to engage with Frank on the matter, saying that the land belongs to TfL, not to the council. If this is the case, why has his property, and the property of TfL, been vandalised - and why has a man's only way of supporting himself been cut off, with no offer of compensation? Why has a contract that he holds with Bethnal Green tube station been completely ignored, and why is he being bullied by the council and cafe management staff?

English is not Frank's first language, and he says to all the community members who have spoken to him, that he feels defeated and doesn't know how to fight for this. Frank has poured his heart and soul into serving the community of Bethnal Green for fifteen years. He has never hurt anyone, always pays his bills on time, and has a legal contractual right to be there. He even keeps an eye on vulnerable homeless people, ensuring they do not get spat on or verbally abused, giving them free tea to cheer them up if they do. Frank has a good heart, and Bethnal Green loves him. To see him treated so cruelly, in favour of big(ger) business, is unacceptable.

In local elections week, the community of Bethnal Green would like to see evidence of all Councillors seeking election or re-election entering into a conversation with Frank, and defending him. Frank wants fair treatment, and so does the community that love him. We don't want posh coffee in stamped cups that has come at the expense of a kind, gentle man's living: we want Frank's coffee, Frank's smile, and Frank's presence.

We demand: Financial compensation for the weeks business Frank has lost and the £1,000 he had to spend on a generator. We demand: Frank's electricity, pitch, and dignity to be reinstated, at no further cost to him. We demand: fair treatment for a community man.

The cafe and Frank can coexist in harmony - it doesn't need to be one or the other.

Councillors - stick up for local businesspeople and independent ventures. Do the right thing in election week, and Fight For Frank.

If any signatories wish to email Councillors directly, the incumbent Councillors can be reached on: cllr.amy.whitelockgibbs@towerhamlets.gov.uk; Cllr.Sirajul.Islam@towerhamlets.gov.uk; cllrhaque@outlook.com



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