Haggerston Tenants Reject Imposition of Private Company

On 1 November 2003, Pinnacle took over the housing management of St Mary’s Estate in Haggertson. Despite calls for a tenant ballot on the issue, the council undertook a limited consultation exercise, the results of which have not been made public. However, at a meeting in early August, 30 out of 35 people asked for a choice to remain with the council.

Ignoring the results of this consultation meeting, the council’s cabinet decided to press ahead with the transfer of estate management to Pinnacle. It should be noted that the choice tenants were given by the council was between privatisation this year, or possible privatisation next year, ie no real choice at all.

Hackney Independent Working Class Association has spoken to nearly half the tenants on St Mary’s, 160 of whom have signed a petition calling for a tenant ballot on the issue and to be given the choice of remaining with the council. The petition has been sent to Cllr Jamie Carswell, head of Housing at Hackney Council.

As a tenant from St Mary’s states, “The majority of tenants and residents were unhappy that there were only two options on the voting paper and most added a third option stating that they wanted things to remain as they were. These feelings were ignored as was a direct question to Jamie Carswell asking for a ballot”.

IWCA spokesperson Carl Taylor said : “This is not about the rights and wrongs of privatisation – although the IWCA is opposed to it – but the fact that tenants have not been given a real choice or the opportunity to vote on the matter. Consultation New Labour-style is clearly no substitute for genuine democracy.”

A new lease of life

With latest figures showing an astonishing increase in the number of empty properties in Hackney (from 795 to 2895 in the space of just a year), we reprint here an article from The Guardian’s website arguing the case for local councils taking over ownership of private properties left vacant for no good reason.
(Friday October 10, 2003 – Society Guardian website)

As consultation ends on a scheme to force landlords to bring their empty properties back into use, Jack Dromey urges the government to take measures to implement it

With all the talk at the moment of a housing crisis, you could be forgiven for not picking up on the fact that there are a startling 729,770 empty homes across England. Not a lot of people know that but just think of the contribution that they could make to meeting housing need?
While some of these empty homes are in areas of low demand for housing, over half are empty where there is high housing need. In London and the south-east, for example, there are just under 185,000 empty homes. Of this total more than 80% are in the private sector and 70,000 have been empty for more than six months.

Yet in 2002 there were around 59,000 families registered as homeless in the same region.

The debate on empty homes in this country has moved on. It is no longer about the shocking management of empty homes by the NHS, Ministry of Defence or local councils, as much work has been undertaken in this area over the last decade. The big challenge now is bringing back into use those long-term empty private homes to meet increasing housing need.

To date local authorities across the land have adopted empty property strategies and have worked with private owners of empty homes to ensure the homes are brought back into use. Through targeted grants programmes, and gaining the associated nomination rights, empty homes have been brought back into use.

Yet a voluntary approach is only sadly going to take us so far. Take just one local authority, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which has for many years run a progressive empty property strategy. Despite this excellent work, the council still found itself with over 1,000 properties where their approaches had been turned down. In many cases these owners are “accidental landlords”. They may be owners of a shop, with a flat upstairs, or landlords who have inherited a property. The best long-term solution is to turn these landlords into good landlords or encourage them to make a decision to get out of the property business rather than force them out of it.

An idea was developed with such properties in areas of high housing need, where a good reason can’t be given for keeping the property empty, and the owner has turned down offers of assistance, the local authority should have the discretionary power to take over the management of the property.

The authority would undertake the necessary capital works to make good the house and then the rental income stream could pay for this work. Once the debts had been paid, the management of the house would revert back to the owner. As the management period neared completion, the owner would be offered training on being a landlord or advice on how they could continue letting out the house. The key issue with this idea is that ownership is not the issue it is occupation.

Indeed it can be seen as a win win solution. The owners receive an income and their property is improved, housing need is met and the community loses another empty home and its ability to attract crime and vandalism.

Such a scheme was advocated by the Local Government Association in its submission to the housing and planning select committee and is supported by Shelter, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and indeed my own union the Transport and General Workers’ Union. And a number of local authorities are expressing interest in this scheme, from Southampton to Salford showing that this idea is not one restricted just to London.

The recent select committee investigation into empty homes in 2002 recommended a pilot scheme to test such a scheme and the government responded with interest to this idea. In their Communities’ Plan published on 5th February 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced that it was minded to go out to public consultation on this issue, and a consultation paper was launched at the joint Empty Homes Agency/Social Market Foundation conference in May.

And we have now come to the end of a three-month public consultation period. The government has responded quickly to the campaign run by the Empty Homes Agency, but it must not lose momentum. Compulsory leasing (or empty homes management orders as the government prefers to call it) has massive potential to increase the supply of affordable housing by using existing assets. This is a radical idea but one that we need to put into action fast.

For that reason I call upon the government to include compulsory leasing in the housing bill when it returns to parliament in the next session. With the current intense pressure for new housing the government must turn this idea from rhetoric to reality soon. We can’t afford to wait.

Jack Dromey is the national convenor at the Transport and General Workers’ Union

For more information on the IWCA’s policies on this issue see www.iwca.info

Summer newsletter published

  • Labour closed Laburnum School
  • Privatisation of St Mary’s estate
  • Street Lighting campaign
  • Olympics
  • More!

Hackney Independent, Summer 2003 issue (pdf format)

More newsletters

Dubious Deals on Dawson Street?

16th June 2003

Hackney IWCA has discovered that the destruction of the Victorian former school in Dawson St E2, next to the Hackney Rd Bingo Hall, is nearly complete. Local residents received a letter from Hackney’s Planning Department on Saturday 24 May 2003 informing them that the plans for a 5-storey block of flats were due to be considered at the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday 27 May. With the Bank Holiday in between this gave residents just one working day’s notice of the meeting, but the letter announced that the Planning Department was to recommend approval of the flats in any case.

This puts to bed another questionable property deal by Hackney Council. The premises were donated to the Borough for community use, and in recent years used by the council’s Social Services department. Last year the entire school building and its grounds was sold – for the criminally low sum of £526,500 according to HM Land Registry (this in a part of Hackney where a tiny terraced house will set you back £300,000!) – to a developer who immediately put forward plans for 22 residential flats and a tiny “D1 community use” area on the ground floor. The development met with concerted opposition from local residents, with 40-odd households objecting to the plans in writing. It’s not hard to do the sums: after selling their 22 flats the new landowner will still clear a million or two comfortably. And it’s not hard to guess who’ll be moving into the flats. Certainly not hard-up tenants from nearby Fellows Court!

Interestingly, the property is now owned by Goodview Ltd who are currently featured on the front of Hackney Labour Party’s website because they want to demolish a pub and build… a block of flats! In that story Labour Party councillors are quoted at length under the headline ‘”Don’t call time on The Vic” say Labour councillors’. Cllr Boyd is quoted as saying, “I am horrified at the proposal to demolish this historic building”. As a local resident has told us “It’s interesting to note the councillors’ sense of priority: they’ll scream and shout and fight to save a pub, but won’t lift a finger to prevent the demolition of a community centre by the same developer. Local people are disgusted by the council’s lack of consultation over this and want to find out how this happened”.

And it would seem Hackney Council aren’t too happy to let people access their records on this sale, claiming that the sale price for the land had been archived and was therefore unavailable. Hackney IWCA and local tenants will be investigating the whole matter further…

Sink or swim in the Basin

Below we reprint an article from The Guardian about regeneration in London. It’s particularly interesting in the light of London’s proposed bid for the Olympics and the push by Labour to get Hackney people supporting it. This article asks the question, do local people benefit from regeneration schemes.

A multi-million pound development is creating 30,000 jobs in a run down area. But, reports Colin Cottell, local people are missing out on the much-needed work

A flagship project with the promise of jobs for the long term unemployed. What could be better for a deprived area of London that sits next to pockets of incredible wealth, but never seems to benefit from the ripple effect?

Occupying a site the size of 60 football pitches three miles west of Oxford Street, Paddington Waterside is a gleaming collection of offices, upmarket homes and holes in the ground that will turn into yet more gleaming offices and upmarket homes. Out goes the seedy prostitution and bedsits image that has dogged the area and in comes shiny 21st century living.

Like east Manchester after the Commonwealth Games, Paddington Waterside is supposed to turn an employment desert into a thriving part of town, creating an extra 30,000 jobs.

Mobile phone company Orange is building its new European headquarters building, the Point, next to one of the canals that run through Paddington. Marks & Spencer is also moving its HQ to the area. Just 11 acres of the site, bought for £85m by a developer, will see £600m spent on it before completion.

Yet on a sunny afternoon last week, two young men kicking a football about on a local council estate, less than half a mile away from the main Paddington site, say they have missed out.

Although in its brief history the regeneration of the area has already spawned several thousand jobs, neither men say that they or residents on the estate have gained anything.

“I don’t know anyone who has found work at Paddington Basin,” says Mark Bradshaw, aged 22. Mr Bradshaw has been in and out of work for the past four years.

“Lots of my mates on the estate are out of work,” he says. What about the construction companies who say they are crying out for people? “They are lying,” he says.

Who to believe? Those who say that urban regeneration projects such as Paddington Waterside bring jobs and prosperity to nearby communities or those who complain that it always the locals who lose out?
One thing is certain, however. More than a decade after Canary Wharf put urban regeneration on the political and social agenda, the question of who gains from massive projects such as Paddington Waterside, and a host of others, including London’s Olympics bid, shows no signs of going away.

Sue Hinds, head of community employment at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, home to Canary Wharf, says the answer to people who ask if local people are winners is “yes and no”. She adds: “It depends who you talk to. Some employers will think that local people won’t have the skills they need. Some local people will think the jobs are not for them.”

However, in Tower Hamlets as elsewhere the hard facts tell their own story. Employment, including 5,000 construction jobs, may have risen to 60,000 at Canary Wharf, but in its shadow there are around 9,000 residents out of work.

Granted, unemployment has come down, but at around 12% it is still more than twice that of London as a whole, says Ms Hinds, and excludes the large number of people of working age who are economically inactive – including 57% of women.

According to Robert John, an adviser to Canary Wharf, around 7.5% of those employed at Canary Wharf live in Tower Hamlets, up from 4.5% in 1997. But compare the actual number of non-construction jobs held by Tower Hamlets’ residents – around 3,000 in 2001 – with the 150,000 jobs in the borough, and it is clear that there is still along way to go.

The situation has improved as local people’s aspirations have risen, says Mr John. However, more still needs to be done. “We need to work on ways of making places like this not hostile to local people,” he says. “It is not that are there are no jobs, or a lack of opportunities, but poverty of attainment. People have low aspirations. They don’t think they will get those jobs,” says Colin Middleton, program manager at the City Fringe Partnership, which works in deprived areas such as Hackney. However, everyone involved in regeneration agrees that limited aspirations are only part of the problem.

There is a mismatch between the skills employers require and those possessed by local communities, says Mr Middleton. “The skills needed are NVQ Level 4 and above. The majority will have NVQ Level 2 or below.”
Mike Noakes, general manager for BAA Rail, which operates the Heathrow Express at Paddington station, admits: “We do have to look further afield sometimes. High customer service type skills are required for frontline positions such as drivers and staff who work on the trains, and sometimes these are the ones local people don’t have.

“Some of these jobs have been filled by locals, but not so many up to date,” he says. Jobs such as baggage handlers have been easier to fill locally, he adds.

For other employers the only criterion is ability to do the job. “We don’t see it as whether someone is an insider or an outsider, but will they make a decent lawyer or not? The postcode is absolutely irrelevant. We wouldn’t employ someone just because they lived on the Isle of Dogs,” said Iain Rodger, Head of PR at legal firm, Allen &Overy, who employ 200 staff at Canary Wharf.

Nigel Hugill, chairman of Paddington Waterside Partnership, the private sector lead consortium redeveloping Paddington, says that as unemployment has fallen the task of getting the remaining jobless into work has become more difficult.

Kay Buxton, the Partnership’s chief executive, says they have made progress in helping local people to compete.

Since 1999, Paddington First, their non-fee jobs agency has helped find work for over 2,500 people. “Some 40%-50% of people getting jobs through Paddington First live within two miles of Paddington Waterside, and 60% live within [the public transport] zones one or two,” she says.

Employers involved in the Paddington development are doing their bit. All the main contractors and sub-contractors have agreed to advertise their vacancies with Paddington First.

It was generally easy to recruit local people, says Trevor George, construction manager for Wates Construction, who following a customised training course took on three of the 12 trainees employed. Mr George says that the experience left him “pleasantly surprised.”

However, according to John Hodson, director of programmes at Renaisi, a not-for-profit organisation specialising in regeneration, the beneficial effects of large scale construction projects on local employment are often limited. “The contracts are tendered out to major companies and a small proportion will go to local residents,” he says. And even where companies set up training programs, the numbers involved will be “a small proportion of the total workforce”, maybe 20% on a major construction site.

Higher up, the situation is even worse, says Caroline Masundire, managing director of regeneration recruitment consultants Chase Moulande. Despite a severe shortage of planners and surveyors, she has never known a local person get one of these jobs. “It’s men in suits – people who move in for two years and then bugger off.” At least that’s what communities think, she adds.

Even where locals do find work it may be short-lived, says Ms Hinds. “The anecdotal evidence is that people are not staying in their jobs. Most of the unemployed have been out of work for between four months and a year. People get jobs, then go back to being unemployed.” Other anecdotal evidence shows that when local people get well-paid decent work they move out of the area to “somewhere a bit greener,” she suggests.

Figures from Canary Wharf back this up. “Between 1997 and 2001, 640 people moved out of Tower Hamlets after starting work at Canary Wharf,” says Mr John. Those people who move in, by contrast, tend to be “at the top of the deprivation ladder,” says Mr Middleton. “So it starts again – a vicious circle.”

Professor Andrew Church, from the geography department at the University of Sussex, adds: “The community changes as the development occurs.” And because new groups moving into an area may not have the skills necessary to take up the available jobs local unemployment remains high.
Ms Hinds accepts that consistently shifting populations are a reality of inner city life and that this makes it difficult to reduce unemployment for good.

Nevertheless, she remains optimistic. “I think it is changing slowly. But it is changing,” she says.
Whether such change ultimately leads to local people getting their fair share of jobs remains to be seen.

More "Social Cleansing" for Hoxton

The old cinema on Pitfield Street, Hoxton is next in line to be redeveloped into exclusive flats. It’s part of the process that has been driving local, working class families out of the area and importing new “yuppie settlers”. The IWCA has long opposed this trend in the borough and elsewhere, arguing that the needs of the working class majority should take precedence over those of the moneyed newcomers. But with more and more of our local resources being sold off and buildings such as Laburnum School, Haggerston Pool and many other schools and nurseries under threat, where will it all end?

Below: flyposter making local peoples’ views clear:

"This used to be our library"

“This used to be our library” – graffiti on a new development off Whiston Rd.

Before becoming a nursery for hospital staff, the new yuppie development was a local library.

Education, Education, Education?

Before the Labour government got elected in 1997 they said their priorities wee “Education, Education, Education.” Hackney Labour’s current targets are “Laburnum, Kingsland, St Thomas’ ” – the three schools they want to close this year. Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) members have started working with parents from St Thomas’ Primary in Stamford Hill to help them fight the closure. We have given them our advice based on the campaign to save Laburnum School and have produced a petition for them, which you are urged to fill in and return to the address given. To get a copy of the petition, write to us at the usual address and we will send you one. The Hackney Independent will help parents produce a newsletter to circulate in the area and a campaign video.


The Learning Trust are only going through the motions of consultation over St Thomas’ because they have to legally. Our view is that councillors of all parties should be challenged to support the school, but that parents need to build the strongest possible campaign in the community in defence of the school. If councillors don’t support the campaign, particularly Labour councillors as they are in power, then community groups need to consider moving beyond lobbying them to a position of replacing them – of standing against them in future elections. The campaign needs to look at all the other public and community facilities that are under threat in this borough and make links with those campaigns. Everyone involved needs to understand that closure of these schools is part of the the wider agenda of privatisation of services and gentrification of the Borough supported by all the main parties – replacing the working class with a new population of middle class settlers.

Autumn 2002 Newsletter


ShOWing Themselves Up
In 1999 the IWCA was the first group to come out publicly and say that there was a problem with the New Deal for Shoreditch. There was a big row about it at the time, and the New Deal printed a page in their newsletter attacking us, but it is worth quoting from what we wrote 3 years ago:

“£50 million sounds like a lot, but by the time they pay their consultants and put up new lamp posts and railings there will be very little left. Hackney¹s councillors, officer and housing associations plan to use the New Deal to make a permanent change to Shoreditch. They want to change the profile of the population from it being a working class area to it being a middle class playground ­ with canal-side flats within easy reach of the City and all the yuppie bars and restaurants.”

So were we right?

Sara Adams, writing in the Wenlock Barn TMO newsletter this July, stated that as part of the New Deal “residents have felt disempowered and that their voices have not been heard or simply did not matter. The problem was that ShOW (the New Deal¹s new name) was not just representing the interests of local people, but also that of Government, Local Authority and Business. Residents views were not adhered to because often they were in conflict with these other aims.”

Of course the New Deal has done some good things, under pressure from the community, and of course Hackney Council is a bigger problem. But from the very start the New Deal have been committed to bringing in more private housing and less council housing. It is in the delivery plan ­ their founding statement. We know that most of the community reps disagree with it – but it is what the New Deal¹s paid staff are working towards.

That is why they have pushed demolition of our homes so hard before, and why they have not given up on it yet.

And the good things the New Deal have done have all been things that the Council should be doing. We were promised new money for the area ­ but the truth is that the council have pulled huge amounts of funding out of Shoreditch and New Deal money has been used to plug the gaps.

It¹s not all bad news, though. The elections for the Board are coming up again and we expect nominations to be in by the end of the year.

Candidates are coming together who will try to make the New Deal more accountable to the community, who won¹t let decisions be taken behind closed doors, who will oppose demolition of our homes and who will try to rein in the consultants and privatisers around the New Deal. Sara Adams argues that having two Wenlock Barn TRA members on the Board “has ensured that the consultation with the estate has evolved around the wishes of local tenants.” Lets get 12 community reps elected onto the Board who can block the privatisation agenda and argue for a Shoreditch that puts working class interests first.


Since Councillor David Young promised to save Haggerston Pool two years ago, there hasn¹t been much good news about it.

During the recent election the IWCA campaigned on a programme of supporting “the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.” We take the 610 votes that we got as a mandate to keep campaigning on the Pool issue and to oppose the private-sector solutions that are now emerging.

Hackney Council and the New Deal for Shoreditch’s new plan involves:

*No money from the Council for repairing or running the Pool
* The New Deal to use its funds to carry out some of the repairs
* 30 Private flats to be built on the site
We oppose this, because before we know it, once the flats get built, the developers will apply pressure to get the whole building converted into yet another private housing development.

45 people attended the IWCA Haggerston Ward meeting in July and voted unanimously against any flats in the Pool. We need the building re-opened as a pool and we need the Council to pay for it. After all, they found millions to open Clissold Pool for Stoke Newington ­ so why not the same in Haggerston ?

The Pool User Group meets on the second Thursday of every month at 7pm at the Fellows Court Community Centre. All welcome.

Why is the Library closed on Saturdays?

If you’ve tried to visit your local library on a Saturday recently, you will have noticed it was shut. Why is this?
In October 2001, Hackney Council breached a nationally reached agreement, which ensures all library staff that work on a Saturday get what is in effect “overtime” pay.

Because of this library workers across Hackney have been on strike for nearly a year now, to try and get this money back from their employer. They are not doing this because they are greedy or they want to stop people using the libraries; but because like a lot of people in this borough, they are poorly paid and rely on this additional day¹s pay to make ends meet.

The Council has also recently been advertising for “Saturday Library Assistants”, who will be non-unionised and are being cynically used to break the strike. The irony being it will cost more to employ these agency staff, than it would be to pay the librarians what they are asking for, and settle the dispute once and for all. Make sense of that if you can!

The union is also accusing Hackney Council of “political manipulation”, because Max Caller, the Council¹s Chief Executive, has asked in a leaked memo that this change be delayed until after the mayoral election “to prevent unnecessary industrial action during the election campaign”. After all, we can¹t have Council Leader, Jules Pipe’s mayoral campaign interrupted – can we now?

Three years ago, we had high hopes of getting a youth club when Islington & Shoreditch Housing Association bought up three sites just to the south of the estate.

Two sites were to be used for housing and the other for our youth club. The final result – two sites developed for housing and no sign of the youth club. Hackney Council got involved first and sold off the last site for £5 million. And we haven¹t even seen the benefits of any of that money.

To make matters worse estate agents Nelson Bakewell have sold off the nearby community nature site. Some people with long memories remember the site being given to Wenlock Barn TA on behalf of the community by the GLC. In those days we had some councillors who cared about the community and understood the need for open spaces.

But hats off to the Tenants & Residents Association (TRA) for getting an injunction to stop the Council selling off any sites on the Wenlock Barn estate itself.

Wenlock Barn TRA office is open between 12- 3pm on the last Sunday of the month, or ring them on 020 7684 2551.

This year, the Apples & Pears Adventure Playground in Pearson Street, celebrates 25 years of providing a free and safe play environment for local kids. It also occupies a prime piece of land. No surprise then that Hackney Council has wanted to sell it off. Pressure from the community made this a big issue in the run up to the local elections in May. Labour councillors knew this could cost them the election and so they had to stop the sale.

But the council now have a new plan- they are trying to increase the rent on the site until Apples & Pears can no longer afford it. Then the council would be free to sell off the land. To make matters worse, the council has cut the Apples & Pears¹ grant but insists on them providing the same activities as when they got a full grant.

Earlier this year Apples & Pears took the council to court but have now entered into negotiations around the lease. They have said if they do not get what they want, they will continue with their legal action. For now, the parents’ campaign continues…

Hackney Council say they are consulting on whether to close Laburnum School. If they are listening, there’s a clear answer ­ the kids, parents and the wider community are saying KEEP LABURNUM SCHOOL OPEN.
The Council say that the kids can go to other schools. We say we want to keep the school at the heart of this community. It is an improving school with a new head, new computer room, new science room, new funds to improve the playground and to put in security cameras. And after all this hard work ­ now Hackney Council wants to close it down.

The Council say that if they close the school they will try to put a secondary school there, and if that doesn¹t work they will sell the site. We are no fools. We know that it is too small for a secondary school. And that leaves the plan like it always was ­ to sell the school site to developers.

Our Labour councillors knew about this during the elections in May. They hid the issue during the election, and have hidden from the issue since then.

While parents, kids and staff, with support from the IWCA, have campaigned to keep the school open, Labour councillors have kept their heads down. Already many Laburnum parents are saying that they will never support Labour again.

Residents living near to the Shoreditch Centre behind the Hackney Road bingo hall are opposed to Hackney Council’s recent sell-off of this former centre for people with disabilities.

“The developers plan to flatten the Victorian school and cram in 22 high density flats which will be sold off privately. Why should we lose our community resources and put up with an overcrowded neighbourhood, just because greedy developers have realised the area is now trendy?” says Lucy Guo of Dawson Street.

Residents of all 30 flats in Dunloe Court have signed a petition to stop the development. The Hells Angels, whose London HQ is opposite the site are also opposed. Campaigners believe that the site has been flogged off cheap at about £1/2 million and have discovered that the site will be worth around £1.5 million. This means that the speculators will make around £1 million within a few months.

” This is outrageous considering that it was sold in order to help pay off Hackney’s colossal debt. The building belonged to the community and Hackney had no right to sell it. We will fight to stop the development of the site. This is another story about the most vulnerable members of our society being disenfranchised by the naked greed of speculators and developers,” says neighbour Andrew Lord.

The Save the Shoreditch Centre Campaign can be contacted on 020 7729 8677.

Time up for One O’clock Clubs?
The Haggerston One O’Clock Club is a playgroup aimed at parents with babies and toddlers. Situated in Haggerston Park, it is a haven for young families where parents can chat and the kids can play in well supervised surroundings.

There are two other clubs in the Borough: Springfield Park is due to close this year after Hackney Council withdrew its funding. Parents have been given a 3 month extension to raise their own money to keep it open.

Haggerston One O¹Clock Club will also have its funding withdrawn and is expected to close next year unless other money can be found.

The IWCA supports parents in their search for alternative funding, but we strongly believe that Hackney Council should continue to provide long-term support out of the Council Tax. Our community has seen enough butchering of the facilities used by working class residents. As Celia, a playworker at Haggerston says, ” There¹s less for our kids to do now than there was 30 years ago.”

During the ballot on Haggerton East and Whitmore estates being sold off, there were no bigger cheer-leaders for privatisation than Labour councillors Fran Pearson and David Young. Now some of the chickens are coming home to roost – the Canalside private landlord is trying to give 47 flats to so-called “key workers” on rents of around £50 a week extra instead of housing local people. Fran Pearson voted for this on the Canalside Board, while David Young ducked out of the meeting and has kept quiet on the issue.

What should local councillors be doing? It’s quite simple. Work with the tenants’ association, who oppose the high rent scheme. Use your votes on the Canalside Board to oppose it. Get the Council to oppose the scheme and put pressure on Canalside to drop it.

There is a reason why Labour councillors aren’t doing any of these things. Labour prefers having middle class hospital managers and high-grade civil servants moving into the area. The IWCA will always put the interests of the working class first.

Two Canalside Board members did come out publicly against the scheme. Nick Strauss and Sheila Seabury wrote “This is bad for people waiting for housing in Hackney, bad for Canalside tenants waiting for transfers and bad for key workers.” Nick and Sheila have now been suspended from the Canalside Board for speaking their minds.

Space to Breathe?

Photo of the green on Acton estate. This is the only open space on the estate.

Hackney Council had plans to sell it to developers to build houses on it.

Before the election Labour Councillor David Young won a lot of support by getting the site taken off the Council’s disposal list.

Now that the election is safely out of the way, and there is not another one due for four years? The land is back on the disposal list.