Leaked Labour Newsletter

A leaked Labour newsletter has come into our possession, showing what the party really thinks about the current crisis in Hackney Council. We reprint it below:


Scare stories, downright lies …. and other news

‘Shut down Hackney’, say a group calling themselves Hackney Fightback. Jules Pipe, leader of the Labour Group on the Council, made his feelings fairly clear when he walked into GC crumpling one of their posters.

It is, of course, all because of the Section 114 notice, served by the Borough Treasurer when it became clear that the Council was set to overspend. It gives Councillors 21 days to come up with a balanced budget. Meanwhile it freezes all but essential spending.

Hence the front page story of sit-ins by parents and children furious at the sudden closure of Fernbank and Atherden Road nursery schools. Hence also an emergency resolution tabled at GC which began with concern about some of the effects of the notice, urged the seeking of government cash and ended by calling on the Labour Group to urgently reconsider its alliance with the Conservative Group and not to support any further privatisations, job losses or cuts in services.

Before that debate even began, Diane Abbott had spoken with some vigour about the way the nursery closures had been handled. You simply cannot, she said, hand a working mother a letter at five o’clock on Friday, telling her that on Monday she’ll have to take her child to another nursery half an hour’s bus ride away. Diane had been to the sit-ins. The parents were not left-wing agitators, they deserved better treatment. They had even offered to pay for the sacked staff. Why did not Councillors go and talk to them ?

In fact, Cllr Jessica Crowe had been to talk to them. Also, as the staff in question did not have continuing contracts the S 114 automatically made it illegal to employ them, wherever the money came from.

By this time there was heat in the debate. Jules Pipe stepped back from the highly-charged detail and gave the broad picture. There was nothing new about this year’s overspend. Transforming Hackney, voted in against Labour opposition, had created a financial obscurity in which officers, without intending to do so, annually overspent by some £15 million. The difference this year was that a team of seconded officers under the new managing director had identified the problem, which by law forced them to serve the 3.114

But speaker after speaker argued that the scale of cuts envisaged was simply untenable in a borough like Hackney. The emergency motion urged the Group to explain this fact to government ministers and seek an extra injection of funding.

Jules Pipe, and others, thought it naive to suppose the government would bail the borough out without the Council taking steps to put its house in order first. As to the impact of the 3.114, Jules Pipe said the media had carried scare stories or downright lies. There was NO truth in stories that schools could not buy toilet paper or use fax machines, that social workers could not use interpreters, that the mobile library had been forbidden to buy petrol, that parents of disabled children had been asked to pay for school transport, or that pensioners had been left without heating.

Diane Abbott came in for criticism from Cllr John Hudson, who felt that in media appearances she might have been supportive of the Labour position. Many people still believed Labour controlled the Council, and Diane, John Hudson argued, should have pointed the finger of blame where it lay – at the Transforming Hackney programme and those who backed it.

An unrepentant Diane retorted that if she had to choose between support for an embattled Council and working mothers who were getting a raw deal, she would back the mothers every time – that was what she went into politics for. By this time GC had before it an amendment to the original resolution, which managed in a few brush strokes to turn it through something like 170 degrees, and it was this form of the resolution that it eventually adopted, taking a position which was broadly supportive of the Group’s efforts, rather than pressurizing it…

…This(Hackney Wick) is the fifth successive by-election that Labour has won in Hackney, and Jules Pipe sees it as a tribute to the election campaigning of the Labour Group and dedicated party members, as well as a vindication of the responsible actions of Labour in the Council.

The victory gives Labour 30 seats out of 60, and brings that much closer the prospect of restoring political leadership to a Council that has been hung since 1996.

So, while residents of Hackney suffer from the freeze on new spending and wait to hear which vital services will be cut, the Labour Party – and especially Jules Pipe – see the whole situation as a chance to win political advantage. Diane Abbott is the only person to come out of this leaked newsletter with any credit , but then it’s her Labour government that has failed to properly fund local government in the first place. Maybe her time would be better spent putting pressure on the government to increase funding to what is one of the country’s poorest boroughs.

Cllr Jules Pipe seems prepared to put his own political career before the interests of the working class in Hackney. He won’t even ask for more government money until Hackney has put itself in order – which presumably means closing down all the most vital services. But that’s alright, because we all know who’s to blame…don’t we ?

IWCA letter in the Gazette about ITnet

So ITNet have finally been given the boot – good, this is something we’ve been campaigning for all year. Now it’s time to boot out all the councillors who allowed this scandal to wreck so many people’s lives.

And before the Lib Dems start crowing about their role in getting rid of ITNet, let’s just have a look across into Islington where the Lib Dems are in control of the council, and see who’s running the benefits system there? None other than our old, incompetent friends ITNet.

And while it’s good to see benefits coming under the control of the council – which is at least partly accountable to local people in that we can vote them out – we’ll never get true accountability until the council starts to represent the working class majority in Hackney. After all, if any of these councillors had actually been on benefits themselves (Vernon Williams excepted), they would have known what was going on a lot earlier.

To make sense of how this disastrous series of events started, we only need to look at the make up of our council. Whatever parties they come from, they represent the middle classes – none of them have a clue, or give a damn, what’s going on in the lives of the working class majority they are supposed to be representing.

Dan Carter – Hackney IWCA

Original version of Letter in Hackney Gazette 12th October

ITNet sacked!

After 2 years of benefits chaos, Hackney Council has given bungling benefits company ITNet the boot.

The 10 year contract worth £70 million was terminated last week amid scenes of back-slapping from the Labour group. Clearly they feel that they’ve got something to celebrate.

While the IWCA is glad to see the back of ITNet and its money-grabbing attempt to clear up at the expense of working class residents, we’d also like to point out that it was Hackney Council who put them there, Hackney Council who ignored complaints about their service right from the beginning and Hackney Council who are now apparently celebrating a job well done.

Until we get councillors who actually represent working class people in the borough we’re bound to have a repeat of performances like this.

We’ve got rid of ITNet , now let’s get rid of these councillors.

Autumn 2000 Newsletter


Hackney Independent – Stanway area edition

IWCA local newsletter for Geffrye Estate, Harman Street, Rosalind & Cordelia

Hackney Council are about to make up to cuts of at least £22 million – on their own figures – which may end up being nearer £40 million pounds worth of cuts. They say that this was because they were overspending, but have you noticed any “overspending” round here? They can still afford to pay Council boss Max Caller £3,000 a week and pay all the councillors’ expenses, but our essential services are on the line.

When they came round asking for your vote last time, how many councillors said that they would be bringing in these sort of cuts? None of them did, and they have no mandate or support to do so. More than that, these services don’t belong to the councillors – they are ours. We have paid for them with our rents and council tax several times over and no councillor has the right to sell them off.

Our community is under attack from two sides. Not only is the Council cutting back our essential services, but they are encouraging developers and housing associations to gentrify our Borough and ‘socially cleanse’ the Borough of us – the working class majority.

Resistance to both these attacks must be from us – it’s our estates and community that is most affected. We can’t expect any favours from the Council. Instead we need to decide what which essential services we cannot lose, draw a line in the sand and plan what steps we will take to defend them. Parents from two nurseries have already occupied them and are keeping them open themselves rather than let the Council close them.

We should never let Labour get back in. The Labour government has proved no better at funding Hackney than the Tories. Labour now runs Hackney Council in an alliance with the Tories and it is these parties that are bringing in the cuts. The Hackney Labour Party is now a middle class party that has no interest in representing the working class.

And the Lib Dems are no better. They are very good at telling you what you want to hear when they are in opposition, but they helped get the Council into the mess when they ran the Borough with Labour. In neighbouring Islington the Lib Dems run the Council and are bringing in their own £2 million cuts plan.

There is no point in looking to any of the political parties on Hackney Council. The IWCA is seriously considering standing in this Ward in the next Council elections We need to replace the middle class parties on Hackney Council with working class representatives. The time for protesting to the Council has gone, we need our own representation.

IWCA needs your help

The IWCA was set up to involve and represent the interests of the working class majority in Shoreditch. We felt that the political parties were no longer able to do this, and that the developers were being given a free hand to gentrify our area.

You only ever see the other parties at election time, but the IWCA has tried to get round to every door asking about repairs, ITNet, anti-social behaviour or phone masts.

The IWCA needs your help. How much help you can give is up to you – but if you can help deliver newsletters, take a petition round your block or even make the tea at meetings there is a part you can play. And by attending our meetings you can help make decisions on what issues we take up and how we campaign on them.

If you want to know more about the IWCA you can attend the meeting below or phone us on 07000 752 752. If you can get onto the internet, look up our website on www.hackneyiwca.fsnet.co.uk

Phone masts – unsafe and unwanted

Have you seen the phone mast on top of the building on the corner of Kingsland Road and Pearson Street?

This mast is emitting pulses of radiation up to 217 times a second, and anyone living within 100 yards is affected. That means York Row, most of Harman Street and the nearest blocks on Geffrye Court.

Hackney Council are taking a small amount of money from the phone companies and not telling us about the health risks.

Federal Law in America, and similar laws in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden have made it illegal to place the masts close to homes, schools and hospitals. But the Council let them be put up next to our estates, and have even let one be put up opposite Laburnum School. Were you consulted before this phone mast went up? And has anyone told you about the health risks? This is another example of how the Council treat us like second class citizens. After all, have you ever seen a phone mast on top of a private block?

The IWCA believes that there should be no mobile phone within 100 yards of council estates or schools. We also believe that there should be ballots on every estate to see if tenants want the phone masts down. If they do, the Council should break the contract and take them down.

If you would like a free information pack on mobile phone masts, call the IWCA on 07000 752 752 and leave your details on the answerphone.


Everyone knows how hard it is to get your housing benefit or council tax benefit paid. The Council has a legal duty to get you your benefit within 2 weeks of you giving them your details – but instead the Council blame ITNet, the private contractor they brought in to do the job for them. While we have no time for ITNet – a firm that made £10 million profit a year but is causing suffering to thousands of hackney people who are not getting their benefits – the buck stops with the Council. Typical of them, they privatise a service and then pretend that it’s not their problem.

The Council got a lot of good publicity by saying they had sacked ITNet – well they haven’t. They are still in place and we are still not getting our benefits paid.

Those of us who are on benefits, or whose family and friends are on benefits know what a big issue this is. Our middle class councillors have no idea what it is like not being able to pay the rent, and that’s why they didn’t sack ITNet a long time ago.

The IWCA held a surgery in the Geffrye Estate Community Centre for people who were having trouble with ITNet. We arranged for benefits experts to attend to give people advice, and have since followed up everyone who attended. We aim to hold another surgery soon, but if you are in need of immediate advice, call the IWCA phone number – 07000 752 752 – and Carl Taylor will get in touch with you to help with your benefits application or to give you any other support.

gap between council workers and management

“Speaking to a road sweeper I discovered that there is a huge gap between workers, who have pride in the Borough, and officials and management, who are not Borough residents. He said workers could only see to complaints when they had an order to do so from above. As I am sure that many workers in the Borough are aware of the conditions of the roads, I can only assume that the staff who sit in Shoreditch have little interest in the workers in Stoke Newington.”
Stoke Newington resident and cyclist Norman Bright takes on the Council’s senior managers
(Gazette 1 June 2000).

But our councillors, who do live in the Borough, are no better.

letters in the Hackney Gazette, January 2000

“The New Deal and the council want Pinnacle to take over the [Kingsland]estates. The New deal wants it to happen because their whole funding plan is based on Pinnacle borrowing the money to do up blocks across Shoreditch and then sticking the rent up. The Council can’t wait top get shot of its responsibilities.”
Haggerston tenant, Carl Taylor, Hackney Gazette 6 January 2000

“Hackney has been in a chaotic mess, run by a ragbag coalition of Tories and Lib-Dems, who have sacked staff, thrown away money on redundancy payments and neglected our streets and run down the area by scrimping on repairs to homes and schools.”
New Labour Councillor Sunday Ogunwobi, Hackney  Gazette 13 January 2000.

So no change from when Labour ran the Council then?