Emily James’ film of the occupation was put online whilst this site was out of action.
(Hackney Gazette 19th June 2008)
Hackney Council spent an enormous amount of money on consultation fees and publicity to convince residents that the only way we were going to get “Decent Homes” was by agreeing to transfer to a housing association, or by way of a Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). They got the second of their preferred options, the ALMO now called Hackney Homes, and now appear to have a secret agenda to obstruct Hackney Homes from obtaining the required two stars that will release funds from central government to complete the Decent Homes programme in the forthcoming audit by the Audit Commission.
Despite enormous opposition from residents the council, not Hackney Homes, persists in going ahead with its Estates Plus programme.
This programme calls for “under-used land on estates to be sold off to housing associations for development.
What is “under-used land”? It is our green spaces and play areas.
Excuse me councillors, our green spaces and play areas are not under-used. They are an essential part of our estates and environment.
Furthermore it is not your land to dispose of. It belongs to all the residents of Hackney, be they Hackney Homes residents, or not. It is held in trust for future generations. We the current residents of the estates are just the guardians of the land.
Question three on the ballot paper on Decent Homes posed: Were residents in favour of land on estates being used to build on. The answer to this question? Twenty-nine per cent in favour, 66 per cent opposed.
I venture to suggest that were the same question asked today the result would be an even more resounding “no”. Are you really encouraging mass protest by residents just before the audit?
If Hackney Homes fails yet again to obtain two stars following the audit, are you planning to hold a further ballot that will disenfranchise a large proportion of residents by limiting it to one vote per household? (By itself a total abuse of all democratic procedures and principals).
I ask again councillors: Do you have a secret agenda? Is this a ploy to so frustrate residents that they will vote for a transfer to a housing association in order to get Decent Homes and thus allow the council to avoid any responsibility for the 20-odd years of total neglect of our homes?
It certainly appears so.
Finally. No, I am not being a NIMBY. Aspland and Marcon estates are not part of the Estates Plus programme.
Tony Osborne, Secretary,
Aspland & Marcon Court
Estates Tenants’ & Residents’ Association.
published in Hackney Gazette 1 May 2008
After reading your coverage of the campaign by a group of middle-class nimbys to protest the opening of a Nandos in Stoke Newington Church Street, (a devastating proposition that certainly overshadows the need to protest the closure of Stoke Newington Road Post Office) I checked out their website to discover where you could sign their petition.
“…you can sign the pledge at four shops on Church Street, at The Tea Rooms, Olive Loves Alfie, Casino and the Camia Deli.”
Where, I wonder can we sign a pledge against these exclusive, overpriced and useless shops?
published in the Hackney Gazette, 15 May 2008
Having read the letter, “Not in my exclusive backyard”, from Carl Taylor, in the Gazette on May 1, I would like to exercise a right of reply on behalf of the campaign he mentions in his letter.
The streets of our towns and cities have suffered grievously at the hands of the so-called “planners” and “developers” in the past 20 years. They have been made so bland, homogenised and completely identikit, that stepping on to one you would be hard-pushed to know whether you were in Scotland, Cornwall or any point in between, so utterly have they been eviscerated of character and individuality.
This is, very fortunately, still not quite true of Stoke Newington, and is it this that forms the basis of the campaign. The campaign is about making sure that small, independent retailers keep their fingertips clinging to the rock face of survival, not having them stamped all over by the large chains.
As for the way Mr Taylor tries to smugly and patronisingly use the term “middle-class nimbys” as some sort of put-down, there are two main rebuttals.
Firstly, the close-on 1,500 signatories to the campaign’s petition, from residents and businesses alike, cover the complete spectrum of our community in terms of age, race, class and sex. Had Mr Taylor bothered to look into the facts of the matter, rather than just react with a blind prejudice that says much more about him than about our campaign, he would have discovered this.
Secondly, his rather crass comments fall into the trap of the ad hominem argument, attacking the people making the argument instead of the argument itself. The campaign is asking those who live in the area to use their collective power to stop one of the best-loved streets in London from being denuded of all that makes it so special and turned into another clone of every main street from Paisley to Penzance.
Mr Taylor clearly seems concerned about the closure of “Stoke Newington Road post office”, too. However, with pointless and witless sarcasm, he seems to suggest that our campaign is somehow invalid because it does not address this point. It is not because it is not intended to. If Mr Taylor feels that strongly about the issue, may I suggest that he starts a campaign of his own. He will certainly receive our support, something he seems singularly unable to demonstrate himself.
Jenner Road, Stoke Newington,
On behalf of the Boycott Nandos Campaign.
Juan Haro, a speaker from the Movement for Justice in El Barrio will talk in Dalston, about their struggle against displacement bygentrification in Harlem, New York city.
On Saturday the 24th of May @ Passing Clouds, on Richmond Rd, just off Kingsland road in Dalston, 10 mins from Dalston Kingsland Station. Buses: 149, 242, 243, 67.
Free or donation entry to talk from 7.00pm
Followed by Latin bands and DJs hosted by Movimientos at around 9pm “From folkloric to electronic Movimientos is the sound of London’s Latin alternative”
Dalston, like many other parts of London is undergoing development that will mean rent rises for tenants already struggling to pay extortionate London rents. When an area becomes appealing for investors and “regeneration” it’s those people with money who end up enjoying the new housing, expensive cafes and shops, and the people with less money who end up having to move further away from the centre of the city or who, if they stay, lose the shops, cafes and resources they rely on. Movement for Justice, the organization of tenants in Harlem, New York that have been struggling against the landlords that want to price them out of their area say;
“This displacement is created by the greed, ambition and violence of a global empire of money that seeks to take total control of all the land, labor and life on earth. Here in El Barrio (East Harlem, New York City), landlords, multi-national corporations and local, state and federal politicians and institutions want to force upon us their culture of money, they want to displace poor families and rent their apartments to rich people, white people with money. They want to change the look of our neighborhood, with the excuse of “developing the community.”
The talk will explore issues around resisting gentrification and the model of organization that Movement for Justice have used to work with each other – an inspiring and educational example from across the Atlantic that we could learn from in London.
“Together, we make our dignity resistance and we fight back against the actions of capitalist landlords and multinational corporations who are displacing poor families from our neighborhood. We fight back locally and across borders. We fight back against local politicians that refuse to govern by obeying the will of the people. We fight back against the government institutions that enforce a global economic, social and political system that seeks to destroy humanity.”
Talk organized by Hackney Solidarity Network, Hackney Independent, Haringey Solidarity Group and London Coalition Against Poverty.
BANNER-waving tower-block tenants staged an angry protest last week over sell-off plans which could see their council homes demolished.
Families living in the 160 flats on the Gascoyne Two estate in South Hackney are fighting privatisation plans which could involve knocking down their four rundown 10-storey blocks.
Furious tenants complain they face an uncertain future, plus higher rents and less secure tenancies, over proposals to transfer control from Hackney Council to a housing association landlord.
They have blasted as a “sham” a public consultation open day setting out the preferred options for demolition or refurbishment.
The plans include bulldozing at least two, or maybe all four, blocks and replacing them with low-rise homes.
The alternative is to renovate the buildings, although tenants are angry that they will continue to have to use costly storage heaters because the design of the 1960s-built flats has been deemed structurally unsafe for gas central heating.
“Tenants will face huge upheaval being moved off the estate while the demolition or refurbishment is carried out with no guarantee they will return or be offered comparable-sized accommodation,” said Adrian Peacock, who lives in Ravenscroft Point.
A letter signed by more than 30 tenants opposing the sell-off plans has been sent to the three Wick ward councillors.
This week, the deputy mayor of Hackney, Cllr Jamie Carswell, gave reassurances that the open day was designed to inform residents of the latest developments and get an initial opinion, and that other consultation events would be arranged.
He defended the council’s Estates Plus scheme, which he said was funded separately and designed to improve the estate as a whole, supplementing Decent Homes work.
[Taken from the Hackney Gazette website]
The meeting held on 7 June 2007, to discuss the planned demolition of Bayton Court sheltered housing unit in London Fields by landlords Hanover in Hackney (HiH), was both bizarre and angry in equal measure.
“The purpose of the meeting”, according to the organisers, OPEN, “is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale.”
“The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields.”
Tenants from Blackstone Estate TRA, elderly residents from Bayton Court and others heard first the background from OPEN’s Bill Parry-Davis. In 2002 Bayton Court was stock transferred to HiH because the council claimed it had no money for improvements. Residents were promised that £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same.
Reassured, residents voted ‘YES’ to the stock transfer. Despite these reassurances made by HiH and Hackney councillors and officers back in 2002, HiH are now seeking planning permission to demolish the building and put up homes for the wealthy; not just depriving the elderly residents of the community they know and their pleasant green surroundings, but also depriving many residents of Blackstone Estate their views of London Fields, too.
HiH’s presentation of their plans for the new development was bizarre. HiH’s architect – dressed oddly like a Bond villain – gave a presentation as if he were trying to sell the proposed private homes not to the angry pensioners and tenants who were patiently waiting for him to finish, but to a room-full of prospective yuppie buyers.
Following that it took repeated questioning of HiH to get to the heart of the matter. Why build posh homes on London Fields instead of refurbishing or even building a new sheltered unit?
If the money has to be raised by building and selling posh homes, couldn’t it be raised by building and selling posh homes in another part of the borough if necessary, rather than disrupting the remaining years of frail and vulnerable old people, and disrupting – both short-term and permanently – the council tenants of Blackstone Court? HiH admitted they chose London Fields rather than any of their other sites in Hackney because of the value of the land right next to a big leafy park. As Bill Parry-Davis observed, what HiH are really saying is that Bayton Court is too nice and too valuable to be wasted on elderly people.
As usual there was lots of guff from HiH about them taking a “holistic approach” to their management of sheltered housing in Hackney, none of which gets round the fact that they have broken the promise they made to the residents and to Hackney Council in 2002 at the time of the stock transfer. Since then HiH have sold off two other buildings. As one angry member of the meeting’s audience pointed out, “they should be called Handover in Hackney!”
Given that HiH are in breach of a promise made with Hackney Council as well, you might expect the council to be outraged and threatening all sorts of action to protect their legal integrity and the rights of their constituents? Sadly, if predictably, not, however. The Queensbridge Ward Labour councillors at the meeting appeared content to sit on the fence rather than whole-heartedly defend their constituents against a landlord that had effectively lied to them to get hold of their homes five years ago.
Surely, it was asked, Hackney Council planning committee should just declare HiH’s planning application invalid since it is in breach of the original stock transfer agreement? Not so easy apparently. Councillor Emma Plouviez explained that it was up to tenants and residents to object to the planning application. Makes you wonder why we bother electing representatives in the first place….
Hackney Independent will post further developments.
For more info: www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF
OPEN (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs Ltd) in association with London Fields User Group
MEETING ABOUT BAYTON COURT DEMOLITION & REDEVELOPMENT
On Thursday 7th June 2007 at 7.30pm at St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)
The purpose of the meeting is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale. Although the redevelopment proposal does not satisfy the Council’s planning policies, Hanover have asked that it should be considered “holistically” in the context of 11 other planning applications made simultaneously.
Bayton Court is on the west side of, and overlooks, London Fields. The developer proposes todemolish a 2-storey development and build houses at higher density up to 4 and 5 storeys.
The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields. Blackstone Estate TRA have put in strong objections to the proposal.
Bayton Court is one of 29 sheltered housing schemes which were transferred by Hackney Council to newly formed Hanover in Hackney in October 2002. At that time it was made clear to tenants that the Council had no money to improve the properties but it was promised that, if the transfer proceeded, £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same. In view of these promises tenants voted in favour.
However, in 2003 Hanover undertook a review of its former Council assets and identified development and sale opportunities to raise capital from its 29 properties. It commissioned architects to help realise these opportunities. Then, in March 2006, it advised its tenants that, due to Hackney Council requirements, it would be replacing residential sheltered housing officers with “floating support” workers. This scheme is likely to be introduced in November 2007. The demolition and redevelopment plans, and the loss of their residential sheltered housing officers, will not be the subject of a tenants’ ballot.
The planning application drawings for Bayton Court have only recently been published on the Council’s web site although the official consultation period expired on 15 May. The Council’s planning officer has confirmed that comments received prior to the Planning Committee meeting will be considered.
Hanover in Hackney’s architects have agreed to attend and present the scheme at the meeting but with the proviso that, following a “high level” meeting with planners to take place this week, their attendance may become “inappropriate”.
To see planning application go to www.hackney.gov.uk (search planning applications – 2007/0286)
Public meeting:7.30pm, Thursday June 7, St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)
For more information contact
www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF
from Hackney Gazette, 24 May 2007
In your report of the decline of Gillett Square, you failed to remind readers that the fanfare opening of the square attended by Jules Pipe and Ken Livingstone was also attended by a number of protestors voicing their concern about the social cleansing of the area. It looks as though they were right. Hackney Council and the regeneration professionals think that architecture and middle-class culture is the key to improving areas like Dalston. In doing so, they ignored the needs of the majority of low income working families and now apparently want to sweep aside those who have become unemployed, homeless and/or alcoholic.
The council has publicly funded a “Mediterranean-style square” upon which it now proposes to impose a strict drinking ban! It would be funny if it weren’t so hypocritical. Can someone tell me the difference between late night revellers in Shoreditch and down-and-out street drinkers in Dalston? While both groups urinate in the street and upset local residents, one group is threatened with dispersal, CCTV and policing while the other’s anti-social behaviour is ignored. One group drinks cheap wine and lager and has no disposable income, while the other drinks expensive wine and trendy imported lager and has an enormous disposable income. Do you suppose that’s why they’re treated so differently?
“Diverting” street drinkers elsewhere, as the Council puts it, or instigating some kind of social apartheid, where some are welcome and others are banned, should not be taken seriously. I sympathise with the residents over-looking Gillett Square just as I do with those who live adjacent to Hoxton Square. The fact is that the Council and others ignored the needs of local people – both residents and down-and-outs – when they “regenerated” Gillett Square. You cannot regenerate an area by ignoring its social problems at the planning stage and then resorting to bully tactics when those social problems refuse to go away. If anyone is guilty of anti-social behaviour here it’s Hackney Council, for p***ing over all of us from a great height.
In the summer of 2005 the world was stunned at the plight of the people of New Orleans
In the couple of years since the devastation, the rebuilding has resulted in ethnic and social cleansing on a massive scale
Film maker Chris Ivey will be showing footage that he has shot and talking about events that have happened since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans
@ 7pm, Tuesday May 8, Centerprise bookshop, 136/138 Kingsland High St., Hackney E8 2NS
The working class is defeated, they have no political representation and they are only the subject of popular disdain, mockery and hatred.
This is thinking behind the two playwrights Beatrix Campbell and Judith Jones in their latest offering Blame.
Hackney Independent talked to them just as Blame is about to open at the Arcola Theatre on Kingsland Road.
The play is set in a multi-racial working class household in this borough. Divided by drugs, alcohol and violence the household unites around the disappearance of one of the youngest members of the family – a 10-year-old girl.
Beatrix Campbell, a long standing journalist, and Judith Jones, a social worker of 30 years experience, have worked together before on their previous play And All the Children Cried, and decided to write together again on that elephant in the British sitting room – class.
Beatrix explains: “What moved us to do this play was that we were interested in what has happened to the working class. In our lifetime we lived through the amazing contrast between the moment after the Second World War when the working class had to be taken into account and its demands had to be answered to the point now where the working class doesn’t really exist at the parliamentary level or in a category where they are going to be taken any notice of.
“And the consequences of that for the poorest people within the working class are astounding and unacceptable.
“It’s impossible to ignore the way that there is a permanently pauperized presence in Britain.”
Theatre is infamous as the place where the polite classes go to quietly sip wine, but facing the paradox of presenting such a working class-centered piece in a middle class institution, the writers are unapologetic, as Beatrix makes clear:
“We believe totally in the importance of addressing the life and times of working class people who are maligned, in any environment that we can possibly find and challenging middle class or upper class or reactionary political preconceptions about how people are in those circumstances.
“What we are interested in is an unsentimental look at how these people behaviour is sometimes terrible, sometimes funny, sometimes mystifying, and sometimes tragic, and any environment that that can be aired is good as far as we are concerned.
“Besides, the final resting place for this play will be in the Arcola Theatre on the Kingsland Road in Hackney, which is where the play is set, so nothing could be more appropriate.”
Hackney remains today one of the most overcrowded and poverty stricken boroughs in London. We live in a labyrinth of concrete tower blocks that houses a population of which over half are dependent on some form of income support. But despite deep seated social problems, the borough has become a byword for urban chic as gentrification has taken hold over certain areas.
This social conflict provided the ideal setting for the play:
“Hackney is emblematic of what has happened to Britain with globalization and what has happened to the working class. It’s emblematic of a borough in London that has always been poor and where life has always been a struggle, it’s also emblematic of the enormous richness of our history and culture.”
Both Judith and Beatrix comes from working class families and have spent their subsequent professional careers working and writing about the class.
Beatrix is the author of previous acclaimed books Goliath: Britain’s Most Dangerous and Wigan Pier Revisited, with Judith Jones has her experience grounded in over 30 years of social work.
One in three children today grow up in poverty, a figure which Judith finds astounding: “I thought when I started social work that there would still be so many children living in poverty – I thought that something might be done about it and then we could deal with other issues such as mental health and children protection, but this certainly hasn’t been the case as we have to deal with it all.”
The play is bound up with their pessimism for the future of working class politics in England. Without a representative voice, the playwrights claim, they lack any economic clout.
“It’s very hard to imagine how the working class will gain a strategic presence here in England,” explains Beatrix Campbell, “The transformation of the Labour party means that is not a party with a comfortable relationship with the working class any longer.
“We feel very strongly that its needs and future have very little political articulation at all, other than being to blame for everything and as people who are lowlife scumbags who are spoiling it for everybody.
“We are trying to confront this situation with this play.”
Blame runs at the Arcola Theatre from March 27 until April 21.
To book tickets call their box office on 020 7503 1646