Included below are copies of two leaflets that went out in Sara Lane Court; one took the form of questions to tenants and the other contained the collated responses of the tenants to whom we spoke after canvassing the block.
Raw Deal for Shoreditch ?
Two questions for
Sara Lane Court
“Why are the Council running the block down?”
“Why are there drug users on the stairs?”
This weekend, members of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) will be knocking on your door to ask you these two questions.
And we will be asking what you think should be done about it.
Without putting anyone’s name on them , the answers we get will be sent round to everyone in the block. Then you will see if other people are thinking the same as you – about the conditions in Sara Lane Court and what needs to be done.
You may ask why the IWCA is doing this. The answer is that our aim is to involve and represent the interests of Shoreditch’s working class majority. A better question is why aren’t Hackney Council, Pinnacle and the police taking up these issues.
If we call while you are out, but you would still like to put your views forward, please leave a message on the IWCA answer phone on 07000 752 752. Or you can to the IWCA, PO Box 48, 136 Kingsland High Street, E8 2NS.
SARA LANE COURT
About three weeks ago members of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) spoke to residents of Sara Lane Court about the problems facing the tenants in the block. We spoke to about 15 separate residents on the day and have put their views together into the points made below.
Most tenants complained about the behaviour of a small group of drug-users (most said they were from outside the block) whose activities frightened and concerned a lot of people.
Tin foil is left all over the back stairs, some complained of syringes too, and at least 4 tenants said that drug users were so confident that they would even knock on people’s doors to ask for silver foil so they could take their heroin. “The corridor is very scary. I found two people on my doorstep smoking. The back stairs are the worst,” said one tenant, while another mentioned that she thought drug deals were being done in the lifts (when they were working) and that she had to step over drug users to leave her front door.
While the drugs seem to be a big problem, the knock-on effect is in the state the drug-users leave the stairs and the rest of the block. Some people complained about the urine and excrement left on the stairs and in the rooms off the stairwells as well as the fear they felt at night coming back top their own homes.
Virtually everyone we talked to made a point about the lack of security in the block. While new doors have just been put on, nearly everyone asked for an entry phone and many for CCTV and a full time caretaker.
“There is a lack of safety everywhere in the block. A concierge or porter on the door might help – an entry phone might help and there should be CCTV in the lifts.”
“The youngsters are unemployed and there is nothing for them to do – they get into drugs and prostitution. There should be more social services, CCTV cameras and a caretaker.”
“The block needs security and cleaning. Twenty years back this block was better.”
“One lady came up to me and said it’s like hell in this place. The cops and the council have done nothing and the building is dirty. If there were enough security we’d stay.”
A lot of tenants we spoke to had complaints about the general state of the block and 2 thought that it was so rundown it should be demolished. One man said that one of the workers putting up the new doors had told him “this is the worst block I have ever seen”. There were many complaints about the lifts, the state of the corridors (some even looked as if they had police tape all over the floor) and the time it took to get anyone to get repairs. “To me asking for repairs seems pointless,” said one tenant, while another had only managed to get the council to do work on his flat after he had contacted a solicitor.
The firm who have taken over the management of the block came in for criticism too. “After Pinnacle took over, things got worse,” said one man, while another thought things had slightly improved but then added
“There is a tree causing damage to the structure of the block and our phone lines. I can’t get Pinnacle to deal with it.”
“It is disgusting. Pinnacle promised so much but have not delivered. It has got worse since they took over.”
“When I complained about a leak I was told by Peter Akkermans, Pinnacle’s estate manager, that I would have pay for the repairs myself.”
“The council and Pinnacle have done nothing. They don’t give a damn about the class of people living here.”
No one we spoke to was happy about the conditions in Sara Lane Court, but what can be done ? A lot of people seem resigned to the fact that the council doesn’t care and that the company they’ve sold off the estate management to aren’t bothered about working class people, only making a profit.
The chair of Sara Lane Court Tenants’ Association has already put pressure on Pinnacle to make improvements to the block and some of this has been done. In the week IWCA members came round to talk to tenants, work was being done on putting up new doors, but the promised entry phone system is already late.
The Independent Working Class Association is determined to support the interests of Shoreditch’s working class majority and we are looking for your views on what can be done to make Sara Lane Court and other blocks like it, a better and safer place to live. If you have any suggestions for action that tenants could take or ideas about how to make Pinnacle come up with the goods, we would be interested to hear.
As for now, we would urge all tenants to get involved in their tenants association and make sure that Pinnacle sticks to its promises. We are only too aware that given the track record of private companies like ITNet these promises are nothing unless they are fulfilled. If you want further information about Hackney IWCA or have information / suggestions to give us, please get in touch.
HACKNEY IWCA, PO BOX 48, 136 KINGSLAND HIGH STREET, E8 2NS TEL: 07000 752 752 WEBSITE: www.hackneyiwca.fsnet.co.uk
“The New Deal and the council want Pinnacle to take over the [Kingsland]estates. The New deal wants it to happen because their whole funding plan is based on Pinnacle borrowing the money to do up blocks across Shoreditch and then sticking the rent up. The Council can’t wait top get shot of its responsibilities.”
Haggerston tenant, Carl Taylor, Hackney Gazette 6 January 2000
“Hackney has been in a chaotic mess, run by a ragbag coalition of Tories and Lib-Dems, who have sacked staff, thrown away money on redundancy payments and neglected our streets and run down the area by scrimping on repairs to homes and schools.”
New Labour Councillor Sunday Ogunwobi, Hackney Gazette 13 January 2000.
So no change from when Labour ran the Council then?