Pie-loving Islington Council leader gets a taste of cockney life

MANZE’S pie and mash shop in Chapel Market might be a world away from sun-drenched Sydney - but Islington’s Aussie council leader went back to her roots when she dropped in on the cockney cafe last week.

Jellied eels and liquor were never part of Councillor Catherine West’s picnic hamper for barbecues on Bondi Beach, but munching on meat pies was the national past-time when she was growing up down under.

“I’ve never eaten jellied eels but I grew up on pies,” she said. “The meat pie was classed as the Australian national dish in the old days and we’d get them every week at school.

“It’s mostly packed lunches in schools back home but once a week they’d do us meat pies as a special treat and we loved it.”

Councillor West dropped in at Manze’s on Thursday for the latest in her series of “pop up” surgeries, giving locals the chance to grill her about the issues of the day. Previous surgeries have taken place at Iceland in Archway and Morrisons in Nag’s Head, but this time she was able to bag herself some lunch too.

“I’d always walked past Manze’s and thought I must go in there some day so it was great to visit,” she said. “And at �4.10 for pie and mash it’s not bad value at all.

“It’s good to get out and talk to people face to face and everyone knows Manze’s so they certainly didn’t have trouble finding me. Most people still wanted to talk about housing repairs, overcrowding or individual parking horror stories, but I was also able to speak to the people at the shop about some of the local business issues.

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“Since Woolworths closed on Liverpool Road there has been a reduction in footfall which has had a big impact on Chapel Market.

“Opening a Waitrose where Woolworths was is all very well, but what we need are more practical shops like Peacocks or Clarks or hardware stores.

“Islington has got so many fancy dress shops, but we need to keep our streets nice and lively and people need to have places where they can get everyday things.”

The manager of Manze’s, who only wanted to give his name as Tim, said: “It was a terrible day, with all the wind and rain so I think only five or six people turned up, but the council leader seemed to enjoy her pie and mash and it was good to have somebody of that level talking with people in such a public place.

“Losing Woolworths was a blow to the whole country really because it sold so many different things and catered for so many different people. It’s a shame it wasn’t replaced by a Wilkinsons or something similar like that because another supermarket was just more of the same.”

- Councillor West is looking for a cafe, supermarket or community centre in the EC1 area to host her next “pop up” surgery. Anyone interested should email her at catherine.west@islington.gov.uk