from Hackney Gazette, 25 January 2007
As a Hackney resident and somebody who works for a Lottery-funded project in Islington, I read last week’s Gazette article, “Groups fear Olympics shortfall will rob them of vital funds” with some degree of alarm.
I think Liz Hughes was absolutley right to ask the question about what exactly “…the legacy will be and how it will make up for all the projects which lose out”.
All the government spokesperson could come up wih in reply were soundbites about “benefits” outstripping “losses” and that the Olympics would “transform society” and “improve millions of lives”.
Your readers might like to ask themselves how will this extremely grand ambition be achieved in 2012 and beyond – given that no Olympics before has ever managed to do it.
The only “legacy” I can see from previous Olympics is a few impressive-looking (and under-used) buildings and some luxury housing developments that have taken over the athletes’ village after the Games have finished.
Finally, how is it that small community projects like the one I work for and the ones mentioned in the article (who do extremely valuable work with local communities day in and day out) have to say precisely what we will do and what the outcomes of this will be to get a few thousand pounds of funding from the Lottery when the Olympics is set to get billions of pounds on the basis of some vague aspirations that will never ever materialise?
3pm, Sunday February 11, Sebright Arms, 31-35 Coate Street, London, E2 9AG
HACKNEY INDEPENDENT FILM SHOW
The Battle for Broadway Market
At the end of November 2005 an occuption was started by local residents at 34 Broadway Market to prevent it being knocked down for luxury flats. Over the next few months support multiplied and the news travelled around the world. It’s a story that brings in corrupt property developers, an incompetant council, rampant gentrification and the question of just what sort of community we want in 21st century London.
This is the definitive film of the event.
Dir: Emily James, 2006, 62 minutes
The 43 group
After the Second World War Jewish ex-serviceman found once again Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirt pals spreading their anti-semitic message on the streets. This documentary recounts the anti-fascist battles fought in the East End and all over London in the years immediately after 1945.
Dir: Graeme Kennedy, 2000, 25 minutes
SMOKE AND MIRRORS: FIGHTING HOUSING PRIVATISATION
An inspirational documentary showing how tenants in Edinburgh fought against council housing privatisation.
3pm, Sunday February 11, Sebright Arms, 31-35 Coate Street, London, E2 9AG
Sunday lunch is served in the Sebright Arms from 1-4pm at £7 per head onwards
Community groups in Hackney have warned the government not to plunder National Lottery funds to pay for the London Olympics in 2012.
The government is considering dipping into the fund to make up for a shortfall in the soaring costs of the Games. However, the people who rely on the funding have said the move could spell disaster for hundreds of community projects.
Jim Armstrong, the Laburnum Boat Club co-ordinator, said his organisation relied on Lottery funding.
The club, based in Laburnum Street, Haggerston, was boosted by a £90,000 Lottery grant in 2005 which gave young people with disabilities the chance to go sailing and canoeing.
“The Lottery is an important source of funding for community groups in Hackney,” said Mr Armstrong.
“We support the Olympics, but not at the expense of community groups and would be saddened if there was any threat to our funding in the future.”
Liz Hughes, of the Haggerston Pool Trust, said: “We think before the Olympic organisers take any more they should make their case about how the Olympics is really going to benefit community groups.
“We want the government to be much more specific about what the legacy will be and how it will make up for all the projects which lose out.”
The National Lottery is already set to contribute £1.5 billion towards the 2012 cost, which will be raised through Lottery games.
However, with the final bill likely to top £3.3 billion, the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has not ruled out further contributions.
Projects in Hackney have benefited from a staggering £141 million since the National Lottery began 12 years ago.
Last year, the Stoke Newington Woodcraft Folk were given a £6,700 grant to send 25 children to the Global Village International Camp in Kent.
Hackney Cultural Carnival Arts received £5,000 to help organise the Fusion East Carnival finale in Bethnal Green.
The Hoxton-based arts charity, Standpoint Studios, was given £5,000 to carry out educational workshops in primary schools.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the benefits of the Olympics would outstrip the losses to other projects.
She said: “It’s been made clear that money from the Lottery will be used to go to the Olympics.
“The Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will transform society and improve millions of lives.
“It will bring immense benefits to the country in exactly the areas that the Lottery was set up for in the first place.”
from Hackney Gazette letters 18JAN07
Readers of the Gazette need to be aware of another proposed hidden and so far undisclosed cost of Hackney Council’s unqualified support for the bid to win the 2012 Olympic Games for London.
Customers of Thames Water could see annual water bills rise by £40 every year if plans to build a proposed £2 billion tunnel are allowed to go ahead.
Apparently, there is a concern that if nothing is done the 2012 Games could be marred by the sight and smell of tonnes of sewage being pumped into the river next to the main stadium.
A spokesman for the Consumer Council for Water probably has it right when he says that, “to consider such an expensive and long-term capital programme with a focus on 2012 does a disservice for those who will have to pay for it – the customers of Thames Water”.
Residents are being kept in the dark over a bid to sell off up to £70 million worth of council-owned land on Hackney’s housing estates, campaigners claim.
Garages, play areas and green spaces are all at risk, but the council is refusing to say which ones, according to community campaign group, Hackney Independent (HI). Peter Sutton, HI spokesman, asked the council through a Freedom of Information Act request to confirm the locations of 18 sites which have been identified on the Cranston, St John’s and Haberdasher estates in Hoxton and Shoreditch and Fellows Court in Haggerston.
Mr Sutton said that he was told a consultant would be appointed this month to carry out further assessments, with plans being published in due course. Sales of such sites on 26 estates across the borough to registered social landlords for redevelopment could provide 700 new homes and generate up to £70 million for the town hall, according to a report which went before Cabinet last October.
A plot of land between housing blocks on the Haberdasher estate is large enough to accomodate 40 new, two and three bedroom maisonettes and a doctor’s surgery, according to the report.
It adds that at least five estates in Shoreditch are being targeted for sale and redevelopment in an already overcrowded area where property values are high, said Mr Sutton.
“The council’s still stuck in the bad, old days,” he said. “If you ask something, they say it’s too early to tell you. You ask again and they say the decision’s already been taken.
“There’s already a lack of open spaces in the Shoreditch area. There are issues with flooding from the sewers and water shortages.
“This is about removing play areas, garages that are in use and green spaces on estates, which are essential to make them decent places to live. If there’s room for anything new, it should be council housing.”
Mr Sutton added that he had been told that developers for the sites had been lined up and that homes had been earmarked for demolition without residents being informed.
Cllr Jamie Carswell, Hackney’s deputy mayor and Cabinet member for housing, said: “The next regeneration programme of Hackney’s estates is still at an early stage.
“Although we will be building much-needed housing, we will also be investing in facilities for the community, such as playgrounds, garages and parking spaces.
“By the end of this week we will have held 18 meetings with tenant’s and resident’s associations as well as residents to set out our strategy.
“However, because it is still at an early stage we are also very keen not to raise expectations or worry people unnecessarily.
“We will be consulting residents again once our consultant has identified the sites that have housing potential as these sites will provide the money to improve the lives of residents on our estates.”
It’s nice to read that Sue Foster, Head of Planning in Hackney, has received an OBE in the New Years Honours list.
“There were very serious failures, with delays in taking action of several years. It is fair to say the planning department was in a state of complete disarray”
To be including in the Order of the British Empire in this day and age is a truly super achievement, and as “our boy’s” fight to defend the North West Frontier in Afghanistan and bring “civilization” to the people of Iraq, it is only fit that those on the frontline in Hackney are also awarded equal acknowledgement for their marvellous good work.
Only some though may be a little perplexed at this award when the Local Government Ombudsman issued a report on December 22, 2006 that “heavily criticised” Hackney council’s Planning Department.
Indeed, they declared that “complete disarray” ruled in the Planning Department and unauthorised development within the borough is “endemic”.
It looks like she was nominated for this award by the council’s Chief Executive and Returning Officer, Penny Thompson – which is nice and cosy.
Of course, Hackney council responds by saying that matters are now improving, but as New Labour sing, things can only get better.
As for Sue Foster, considering that Naseem Hamed has just had his MBE revoked, may we too look for similar action from the Crown towards certain subjects of the British Empire in Hackney?
For the full Local Government Ombudsman report click on here: http://www.lgo.org.uk/news/info.php?refnum=105&startnum=