OPEN LETTER TO HAGGERSTON RESIDENTS
by Nusret Sen, Peter Sutton and Carl Taylor
Two years ago we stood in the council elections as independent working class candidates. We argued New Labour only represents the middle class in this area – they act in the interest of loft-dwelling City workers and their developer friends . We said that the working class majority in the area needed independent representation. We wanted to put your issues first and after talking to over 1000 people on estates in the ward we campaigned on the issues of crime and anti-social behaviour, housing repairs and transfers, and defending our vital community facilities.
Against a Labour Party bankrolled by big business we did well. With no experience of standing in an election before, we came within 90 votes of winning. We were the closest to beating Labour anywhere in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency. More people voted in Haggerston than in neighbouring wards, mainly because people who don’t normally vote saw us as something different and gave us a chance.
But Labour scraped back in. Since then what have they done?
• Haggerston pool is still shut (and now Clissold pool in Stoke Newington is shut as well)
• Laburnum School was closed despite protests from parents and the community
• Estate management has been handed over to private companies – tenants and leaseholders weren’t even given the choice of staying with the council
• Grant funding to Apples & Pears adventure playground and the One O’clock club has been cut
There will be another council election in two years time. It is our view that Labour do not deserve to keep representing this ward. We think there should be another independent working class challenge to Labour – whether this is us, or other independent working class candidates. That challenge has already begun. We know how to fight elections now, but we also understand that community politics is not about ticking a box once every four years. It’s about our involvement in the day to day issues of Haggerston. We will work with anyone who wants to fight Labour’s plans for privatising and gentrifying this area.
Tenants Petition ShOW over New Development
Activists from the Shoreditch Tenants Association have been petitioning the estates in the Pitfield Street area of Hoxton about the proposed redevelopment of the old cinema. Shoreditch Our Way (ShOW) have pushed a bid for the site, currently a warehouse. They say they want to reopen it as a community cinema. However, the planning application leaves it open for “mixed use”. Local residents are clear that while they would welcome a local community cinema — including a Saturday Morning Club for local children — they object to more yuppie flats and late-night bars. In short, local people do not want the so-called Shoreditch “cultural quarter”, with its high prices and anti-social behaviour, to creep further North from Hoxton Square into residential areas. Shoreditch T/A’s petition will be submitted to both ShOW and Hackney Council’s Planning Office.
£30 million – Down the Drain?
Hackney hit the headlines again with the closure of the £30million Clissold Leisure Centre. During the last election, the IWCA campaigned for “the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.” A fraction of the cost of Clissold would have refurbished Haggerston Pool, but New Labour preferred to open their very own Millennium Dome in the borough instead.
Working Class Candidate for London Mayor
The IWCA recently announced its candidate for the London Mayoral election on June 10th. Lorna Reid, 39, is an advice worker who lives on a council estate in Islington. She aims to give a voice to the concerns of the millions of working class people in London who find they are ignored by the mainstream parties. The message she is sending is: “We live here too!”
More information: http://www.iwca.info
Get Involved with Community Politics!
This newsletter is put together by community activists who want to work together to defend working class interests in Haggerston and Hackney. If you would like to work with us then contact 020 7684 1743
The Truth about the Olympics
Ken Livingstone and New Labour are promoting the lower Lea Valley for the 2012 Olympic Games. While vital sports provision for the rest of us continues to be cut (bear in mind that dozens of football pitches on the marshes will be lost to make way for a coach park), what is being kept quiet is the plan if the Olympics doesn’t happen.
Thousands of jobs will be lost from the hundreds of local companies who will be evicted, so that thousands of riverside flats for Canary Wharf yuppies can be built.
Camden Tenants Fight Housing Privatisation
Housing Minister, Keith Hill called tenants in Camden “irrational” after they threw out government plans to hand their homes over to an ‘Arms Length Management Organisation’ (ALMO). More than 3 out of 4 tenants voted against the ALMO, rejecting the advice of Labour councillors, highly-paid consultants and top council officers. ALMOs are limited companies, set up to run council housing but tenants realised that it would quickly be sold off to a housing association. There has to be another vote before this can happen, but the ALMO is just a half-way house which the Council uses to get tenants used to the idea that Council housing should be privately run.
Minister Keith Hill has shown the contempt he has for tenants who don’t just go along with Labour’s privatisation plans and who want improved council housing with no strings attached. Watch out for Labour’s plans for bringing in an ALMO in Hackney.
New Labour – Privatise Locally, Privatise Globally
The charity War on Want has recently criticised the government severely for tie-ing overseas aid to the privatisation of public services. Hackney residents have become very familiar with New Labour’s fetish for privatisation. However, until recently most of us didn’t know that New Labour’s commitment to selling off everything that moves also extends to Africa, Asia and South America…