The meeting was organised by Hoxton & Haggerston Fightback to enable TRAs to come together and discuss proposals for a public enquiry into the council’s financial incompetence and their insistence that it should be the working class of the borough who once again bail them out.
Fred from Whiston & Goldsmith TRA put the case for a public enquiry, while Noreen from St Mary’s and Anna Maria from Kingsland TRA insisted that tenants had to resist the council’s ‘logic’ that we should all pay more to receive less.
A motion proposing a rent freeze (ie that tenants should withhold the rent increase) was put and agreed in principle. TRAs will discuss the proposals and report back on 12 March to discuss what can be done. Hackney Independent also supports the call for a public enquiry and a rent freeze. If there is widespread agreement for it on our estates we will be involved in the campaign.
Londoners have been hit by a “Hackney tax” following the borough’s collapse into financial chaos, it emerged today. Figures released by the Mayor reveal that the disastrous state of council tax collection the east London borough caused an increase in his precept – the slice of council tax allocated to the Mayor – of an additional one per cent. The London Assembly yesterday voted to allow him to raise the precept by 22.6 per cent. The Mayor has promised to use the extra money to pay for 1050 extra police officers and to fund developments in technology and staffing in the Met. Last year the borough estimated that it expected to collect 96 per cent of the £54 million it could levy in council tax. But its performance has been much worse. The borough is on course to collect just 68 per cent, which means it will be £15 million short. This has in turned impacted upon the “council tax fund”, a pool of reserves resulting from surpluses made by all of the London boroughs.
GLA officials calculated they would receive £2.3 million from the fund and would not have to raise so much through the precept. But after the Hackney crisis, the GLA was instead forced to pay £700,000 into the fund. The Mayor compensated by raising his demand on the precept.
The revelation is embarrassing for the GLA’s deputy Tory leader Eric Ollerenshaw, who is also joint leader of Hackney council. In a statement with Cllr Jules Pipe, who chairs the borough’s finance committee, he blamed the low level of council tax collection on a contractor. “We want to ensure every penny is paid so we have funds to run services. However, given the problems caused last year we do not pretend that this will be easy.” But they said Hackney should not be blamed for the scale of the increase. “While our council tax collection does have a small effect on the overall precept, this is in no way comparable to the large increases to the precept proposed by the Mayor.”
“Booming house prices, the right to buy and estate revamps are behind the council’s desperate shortage of housing, which is the worst for 10 years. All 380 hostel places in the borough are full and Hackney Council says the housing crisis has not been this bad for a decade”.
The council claims that “estate revamps” will ease the crisis, but this is hardly likely. Obviously we all want our housing improved but what’s really going is a sell-off not a revamp. As the Gazette points out, “since 1993 the number of council homes has dropped from 38,000 to 29,000” and 7,000 homes have been sold to housing associations.
Do we really believe that the glossy plans being flashed around by developers in the area mean that we will be able to move straight into brand new homes ? Not likely. What the developers don’t tell us is that while “revamps” take place, tenants will be dumped into housing that is as bad , if not worse, than the current stock.
And will all council tenants be allowed to return to the same area ? Not if the gentrifiers get their way. As we have pointed out since we started 2 years ago, the people of Shoreditch in particular are sitting on a gold mine with land prices going through the roof, and other areas in Hackney are getting the knock on effect of this. If tenants agree to move out and have blocks and estates demolished it’s hardly likely that we’ll be welcomed back once the yuppie loft apartments have been built and the area has been “improved”.
As a tenant representative and deputy chair of the borough wide tenants’ convention, I would like to inform the council employees that we fully support their industrial action against cuts. It is a sad day when the workers are left with no alternative but to strike and say “No More Cuts”. Hackney is steeped in history but, sadly, most recently we have achieved notoriety by becoming the borough with the highest level of serious crime, the lowest level of services and paying the highest price for the lowest level pf services.
It’s up to us now to tell these councillors that we elected them to represent our interests, in which they have failed miserably, and that if they have any decency left in them they should resign now. The government has told Hackney Council to put its house in order under the direction of the managing director, Max Caller. I can see it now – Max called the councillors together and told them “Unless you do as I say, you will be surcharged” – which could mean them losing their property and any other assets they might have.
We’ve all seen the Laurel and Hardy of Hackney, namely Jules Pipes and Eric Ollenshaw, singing from the same hymn book on TV, reiterating the words Max Caller has programmed them to try and justify leading us further into the mire.
That is why all theses councillors from all the parties are so willing to agree to any of Max’s proposals to make cuts to staff and their salaries. This will obviously result in cuts to services while Max proposes to increase the cost of these services, to be paid for by the residents of Hackney. The residents and service providers are yet again expected to bear the cost, rather than the perpetrators of this mess, the councillors who should be surcharged, and some senior officers, who seriously ill advised members at committee level when decisions were being made which are affecting us all now. These officers should be sacked.
Let us not forget the latest mess these councillors are leading us into, the awarding of the refuse collection contract to ServiceTeam, which was contested at the time by a company named Cleanaway, who were at the time unsuccessful in their bid. However, less than two months into the contract ServiceTeam have been taken over by Cleanaway. Is it an example of “best value” being practised by hackney Council when the private contractor is being paid £2 million more than the in-house team was ?
Until this council is brought down, we will be expected to keep bailing them out and bearing the cost.
Look out for an interview with Dave Mackey in the next Hackney Independent, out in March.
“A stunning landmark development capturing the Islington lifestyle with Armani suited concierge, air conditioned gymnasium and private secure parking”
New Development on Balls Pond Road/Southgate Road.
Kind of reminds you why the IWCA exists doesn’t it ?
IT firm fined
Enfield Council’s main computer supplier has been fined the equivalent of nearly £150,000 after its services failed to come up to scratch.
New papers presented to the council’s Special Projects scrutiny panel last Tuesday show that ITNet, which is just one year into a 10 year contract, has been fined the maximum possible amount following criticism of its service by council officers…Particular concern was attached to ITNet’s out-of-hours support cover and the way in which it logged service faults…
Enfield Advertiser 17th January 2001
You could accuse us of kicking a firm when it’s down, but when lives have been ruined in Hackney by ITNet’s incompetence and they still cream off millions in profit every year, it’s justified. It also begs the question, why didn’t Hackney Council strike a contract with them that included such penalty clauses ?
note: Patrick McCrudden has been in touch and we urge others who are interested in standing independent working class candidates to contact us.
Why Should We Pay ? – letter in Hackney Gazette 23rd January 2001
The following letter appeared in this week’s edition of the Gazette. It wasn’t sent by an IWCA member but echoes many of the things we’ve been saying about standing independent candidates against the middle class councillors we have now. If the writer of the letter is serious in his points here, we would urge him to get in touch.
Hackney Council, its present concillors, and managers etc. want to increase tenants’ rent by up to £8 a week, plus increase our council tax by £84. What services are we residents in Hackney really getting and why are we the people/ residents/ workers in Hackney having to foot the bill for the council’s mismanagement ? Why should the people of Hackney suffer and pay, especially those on low incomes ?
Max Caller’s on a nice little earner, but I bet he’s not taking a pay cut. No, but these people who provide services will take pay cuts. This is why I am in full support of strike action…This is what all tenants, residents and council workers should do to those bosses and councillors in Hackney Town Hall – direct action, residents’ action groups, non-payment of council tax. Enough of this softly, softly approach. It’s time the people of Hackney got off their backsides and take the councillors and bosses by the neck and tell them “you’re not making us pay for your mistakes and incompetence”.
What we really need is to elect independent candidates who will stand in the next local elections on anti-cuts/anti-corruption. This is why I and othyer sactive in Hackney have decided to stand against the Liberal/Labour/Conservative coalition. Residents of Hackney – it’s time to stand up and come to the call to arms. The councillors voted in the cuts to jobs and services, so dump your rubbish on the councillors’ doorsteps.
Patrick McCrudden, Stamford Hill
Power to the People
letter in Hackney Gazette 8.2.2001
As the letters page of your paper shows, more and more people in Hackney are fed up with how our lives are being made a misery by the incompetence and political careerism of councillors who “run” the borough. Some of your correspondents have called for marches, demonstrations and produced the odd snappy slogan, but where have these things got us in the past ? I was more interested to see Patrick McCrudden’s letter in last week’s Gazette which called for independent candidates to be stood in council elections.
The IWCA has long argued for this, but it is only part of a bigger picture of community politics and can’t work just on its own; a recent event might highlight this. Two weeks ago, around 100 tenants from all over Shoreditch attended a meeting of the New Deal where proposals to demolish entire estates were being put forward. At short notice, and with impressive self-organisation, these people forced the New Deal to back down: a display of the power that working class people can have when we work together (a fuller report is available on the news page).
If we are serious about changing Hackney for the better for its working class majority, then we have to be serious about how we approach it. Standing candidates is one part of that, but those standing should be prepared to get involved in the issues that working class communities themselves feel are important, not just appear overnight and hope to pick up a few votes the next day. We would be genuinely interested to hear what Patrick McCrudden is proposing.
Dan Carter (Hackney IWCA)
We hear that Paul Davis-Poynter (see last news story) is now demanding an inquiry to find out how so much news from the New Deal for Shoreditch is “leaking out.” Remember this is supposed to be a community-led initiative – so there should be no secrets, or meetings behind closed doors. From now on everyone on the New Deal Board should assume that everything they say is going to get back to the people who they are meant to be representing. The best community leaders will have no problem with that – but what have the others got to hide?
We also hear that Paul Davis-Poynter wants a retraction of our last news story. We won’t do that, but we’ll go one better. If Paul wants to write a reply of no more than 300 words, then we will put it on-line unedited as a news story.
Booming house prices, the right to buy and “estate revamps” are behind the council’s desperate shortage of housing, which is the worst for 10 years. All 380 hostel places in the borough are full and Hackney Council says the housing crisis has not been this bad for a decade. The story in this week’s Hackney Gazette rightly points the finger at Hackney Council for creating a crisis in the borough, but what are the real issues?
The council claims that estate revamps will ease the crisis, but this is hardly likely. Obviously we all want our housing improved but what’s really going is a sell-off not a revamp. As the Gazette points out, since 1993 the number of council homes has dropped from 38,000 to 29,000 and 7,000 homes have been sold to housing associations.
Do we really believe that the glossy plans being flashed around by developers in the area mean that we will be able to move straight into brand new homes ? Not likely. What the developers don’t tell us is that while “revamps” take place, tenants will be dumped into housing that is as bad, if not worse, than the current stock.
And will all council tenants be allowed to return to the same area? Not if the gentrifiers get their way. As we have pointed out since we started 2 years ago, the people of Shoreditch in particular are sitting on a gold mine with land prices going through the roof, and other areas in Hackney are getting the knock on effect of this. If tenants agree to move out and have blocks and estates demolished it’s hardly likely that we’ll be welcomed back once the yuppie loft apartments have been built and the area has been “improved”.
To be elected Chair of a tenants’ association is an honour, but it brings responsibility. The highest standards should be expected of our community leaders, and if they are not up to it then they need to step down and let others take over.
The Chair of one of our tenants’ associations walked into the New Deal Office yesterday (February 1st) with a leaflet he claimed had been distributed by Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) on his estate. He implied that it had been written by leading Shoreditch tenant activist, Clayeon McKenzie. This was quickly checked out and the true position emerged.
The “Hackney Independent leaflet” was text taken from this website (the 20th January news item – “Demolition of Shoreditch averted – for now“) and rearranged by someone into the form of a leaflet. This had not been distributed by Hackney IWCA, or any other local tenant or community activists who we work with. So this begs the question “what was the aim of claiming this was a Hackney Independent leaflet?”
- to support sell-off’s on the New Deal Board
- to defend Pinnacle against any criticism whatsoever on the Shoreditch Panel
- to argue for rent rises in the Hackney Gazette (13th January 2000) and on the New Deal Board
- to attack Hackney Independent, while never having a word of criticism for the middle class parties that run Hackney Council.
There are some outstanding community leaders in Haggerston and Hoxton, but Paul Davis-Poynter’s leaflet that never was and Winnie Ames’ actions, show that we do not just have problems with our councillors – our own local community leaders need to be held to account as well.
New Deal Diary from Hackney Independent Issue 2:
I note that Paul Davis-Poynter was voted off the New Deal Board Area 1 by tenants. Paul was the chair of the Board and made a habit of criticising Hackney Independent behind closed doors. Always trying to look reasonable, he would claim to have tried to contact us countless times on our phone number and through our mailing address. In reality he did not make a single phone call or write a single letter. Now he is off the Board, Paul will have more time to make contact with us. One local tenant leader remarked that Paul’s problem is “that he spent too long in the Socialist Workers Party and too long trying to prove that he is not a member !”