Your stories in last week’s Gazette on the ITNet fiasco raise a couple of interesting points but perhaps a couple more could be taken into account as ITNet’s £70 million contract is just the tip of the iceberg. The company made over £10 million profit last year and one of its directors, Bridget Blow, made herself a tidy £289,000 after all her bonuses and benefits were taken into account. It’s almost insulting to think of the contrast between Ms. Blow and the people of Hackney (and Islington too) who have suffered at the hands of this private company, living on run down estates and having to wait months for the money we’re entitled to, while the directors of ITNet pop the champagne corks at their AGM and laugh all the way to the bank.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised; after all, private companies set out to make a make a profit and Hackney Council should have realised that before jumping into bed with one of them. If, as it seems, there’s no way out of the contract now or penalties that can be imposed on the firm for its disastrous performance, one thing we can do is offer support to tenants who’ve been affected. The IWCA has run one successful benefits advice surgery on the Geffrye Estate so far and is set to run more over the borough in the next few months, while the group Whose Benefit ? has been set up by victims of ITNet and can be contacted at PO Box 55, 136 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2NS. The council and the company they’ve shacked up with may want ordinary people to feel powerless but there is a lot we can do.
“Speaking to a road sweeper I discovered that there is a huge gap between workers, who have pride in the Borough, and officials and management, who are not Borough residents. He said workers could only see to complaints when they had an order to do so from above. As I am sure that many workers in the Borough are aware of the conditions of the roads, I can only assume that the staff who sit in Shoreditch have little interest in the workers in Stoke Newington.”
Stoke Newington resident and cyclist Norman Bright takes on the Council’s senior managers
(Gazette 1 June 2000).
But our councillors, who do live in the Borough, are no better.