IWCA Slams "Misleading" Labour Election Leaflet

Community activists from Hackney Independent Working Class Association (Hackney Independent as of 2004) have slammed a Labour election leaflet distributed in Haggerston Ward. The IWCA – which is standing candidates in the ward – have accused Labour of trying to mislead potential voters.

“In the leaflet – the Haggerston Rose – Labour are claiming to have solved problems that they themselves caused,” said IWCA (Hackney Independent) activist and candidate Carl Taylor. “And they have claimed that things are getting better when all the evidence is that they are getting much, much worse.”

The leaflet claims that the £30 million secured by the council from central government has ended the threat to libraries and nurseries, that Labour were responsible for terminating the costly ITNet revenues and benefits contract and that they have brought improvements to schools, street cleaning and social services.

“The news that the threat to libraries and nurseries has been ended must be news to workers and users,” said Carl Taylor. “Each week in the Gazette we read about the ongoing libraries dispute and renewed threats to existing nursery provision. The ITNet contract was brought in by Labour in the first place and they were forced to sack them only in the face of the anger and misery of Hackney tenants. Thanks to Labour, ITNet nearly bankrupted this borough. Rather than claim credit for sacking them they should be apologising to all of us for their own incompetency. The massively overspent Service Team street cleaning contract and the Initial school meals fiasco shows that they haven’t learnt anything from ITNet. As for social services, how can anyone claim that reducing home care for the elderly and cutting Freedom Passes to the disabled are ‘real improvements’!?”

The IWCA (Hackney Independent) have also condemned labour councillors claims to have ‘worked hard to keep open the Apples & Pears Adventure Playground’. The IWCA’s Peter Sutton – another election candidate in Haggerston Ward – said “the only reason this valuable site is under threat in the first place is because Labour councillors are determined to sell off our facilities. Apples & Pears was only saved from the hammer at auction because volunteer workers and parents got a court injunction which has delayed the sale. Are Labour now saying they have no plans to sell the site, or do they intend to push the sale again after the election when it will be less electorally damaging? Whatever their plans are they should come out and say so. No wonder people are increasingly fed up with this kind of dishonest ‘politics’.”

The IWCA (Hackney Independent) believes that Labour’s claim that they will ‘continue to stick up for local people and vital community facilities’ is nothing more than a joke, and not a particularly funny one. “Labour’s record on community facilities is abysmal,” said Peter Sutton. “They have broken their promise in their last newsletter, put out over a year ago, to reopen Haggerston Pool. Why should people believe what they read in this one? We share people’s frustration at this kind of ‘economy with the truth’ and are committed to campaigning with local people to prevent more cuts and sell-offs. We will continue to do so whatever happens at the elections. Fortunately people now have a choice in Haggerston.”

Haggerston Ward Election Manifesto 2002

Council elections: this time there is a real choice

Hackney Council has been running this area down over the last few years. The Council says it has no money, but keeps putting the rent, service charges and council tax up while cutting back on the essential services that our community needs. Since the last election Labour, Lib Dems and Tories have all taken turns running the Council and they have all played their part in bringing the Council to its knees. The Council is millions of pounds in debt and the only answer from the government and from our Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councillors is more of the same – more sell-off’s, more privatisation and more policies aimed at replacing Hackney’s working class majority with middle class city workers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Over the last few years, Hackney Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) has worked alongside community representatives and other residents of the area in trying to implement another vision of Hackney. This vision is of a Hackney where ordinary residents get to decide what the priorities should be in their area. Only the IWCA has asked the residents of Haggerston for their views on what should be done in this area. All the other parties want to do is impose their vision of a privatised Hackney on the rest of us.

That’s why this election is different – this time there is a real choice.

The election manifesto has policies in the four areas set out below. But we know that none of these policies stand up on their own. You can’t deal with anti-social behaviour without realising that closing down youth clubs mean more of our young people will get drawn into crime. Campaigning for security doors on blocks is a housing issue and an anti-crime issue. And it is because councillors have been unaccountable that they have got away with things in this area for so long. We need councillors who will get involved with the community in finding solutions to these problems.

The IWCA spent six months talking to over 1000 people on 17 estates across Haggerston. You told us your priorities were crime and anti-social behaviour, housing repairs and cleaning and the lack of community facilities. You also told us that you don’t think your councillors represent you. The following manifesto is based on what you told us.

Hackney Council wants to sell off Council housing throughout the borough. Every estate they sell ends up with less homes for rents we can afford and more homes for high rent or sale. This is part of the Council’s plan to increase the middle class percentage of the borough, claiming they are creating “mixed communities.” We will oppose all Council plans for sell-off’s of estates in this Ward and across Hackney. Where tenants decide that they have been so let down by the Council that they will accept privatisation we will work to make sure they get the full facts and the best possible deal.

The current standard of housing isn’t acceptable. We will continue to campaign with tenants and residents and their associations for more money for essential repairs on our estates and for a better standard of cleaning and repairs. We support free parking for residents.

Labour encourages the building of £200 a week flats for City workers. We will campaign for new council housing aimed at overcrowded Hackney tenants and young people living at home.

We will campaign for every empty flat in this Ward to be done up and let on a council tenancy – not high rent housing association tenancies.

We oppose any rent or service charge increases at least until the Council meets its obligations to manage, repair and clean our estates.

We will work with private and housing association tenants to fmake sure these landlords fulfil their responsibilities. We are opposed to housing associations building for high rent or sale in this Ward.

Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
This is your number one priority and it would be the main issue for IWCA councillors. We do not claim to have all the answers on this issue. IWCA councillors would convene a genuine community-based conference on this issue to look at possible solutions to the problem.

Dealing in hard drugs in this ward must be stopped. The Council and the police have a duty to take action to stop it.

While trying to force the Council and the police to be accountable about the way they operate and the priorities they choose, we will also look for community-based solutions to the problems of muggings, car theft, burglaries and vandalism.

We will campaign with tenants and residents and their associations for block security measures and improved lighting throughout the Ward.

Community Facilities
Public space in Hackney is under attack from developers and their friends in the Council who are encouraging the selling off of land and buildings that belong to all of us. Everyone suffers when public amenities are turned into a source of profit for private builders. IWCA councillors would oppose each and every move that leads to the loss of facilities such as playgrounds and parks for our community. We are supporting the campaigns to prevent the Apples and Pears adventure playground being redeveloped and to keep the Haggerston One O’clock Club open and also back the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.

We oppose all Council attempts to close down or sell off public assets in this Ward and across the Borough and will participate in any campaigns to protect our community facilities.

Electing IWCA councillors will not change the World, but it would be a clear signal to the Council and the government that the community has a vision of its own for the area that doesn’t involve making it a playground for the wealthy.

IWCA councillors wouldn’t be doing the job to promote their own political careers. They would work as part of a team within the IWCA and with the community to expose the Council’s plans and come up with viable alternatives

These are just a few ways in which IWCA councillors would be different from the other parties:

We would call a Ward Meeting as soon as we were elected and then every six months and invite everyone who lives in the Ward to come along and participate. Councillors would report back on what they have done in the last six months and outline what would be likely to happen in the next six months. In this way councillors would be held directly accountable to the community.

We would open an office in or near the ward – probably in a shop. This would be an easy way for you to contact your councillor. The IWCA would use the office to run advice sessions, surgeries and as a base to run campaigns from.

All decisions that our councillors have to vote on would be displayed in the office and on our website – so that you could have your say on them first. We would look at every possible way of getting people involved in decision-making, including use of the internet.

We will never form any alliance with the establishment parties that have let Hackney down – Labour, the Lib Dems or the Tories. We will work with tenant and community groups and anyone else who is on the side of the working class majority.

We know that we would be in a small minority at the Town Hall and we will not waste our time point-scoring with the other parties. We would arrange for delegations of local people to have their say, and would confront councillors with the effects their policies are having on this Ward. The main role of IWCA councillors will be as part of the IWCA outside of Council meetings – in the community. IWCA members will be at meetings on your estate or in your community. We will be part of campaigns in this area and will be accountable to you.

After the election – who will stand up for the working class majority?

The IWCA is completely different from the other parties. While we campaign 52 weeks a year, you only ever see the other parties at election time – if at all. And while the other parties only want your votes, we want you to vote for us and get involved.

If Labour councillors get in they will be able to vote for things like increased charges for home helps, scrapping the Freedom Pass for disabled people and selling the Apples and Pears adventure playground site – and claim they have your support.

If the IWCA get in, our councillors will be able to put pressure on the Council, but it needs far more than 3 councillors on their own. The IWCA is creating an organisation that doesn’t just hold protests, but can force the Council to manage and repair our homes and that can take action to make our streets and blocks safe again.

We want you to join the IWCA.

The first thing to do is to ring Carl Taylor on 020 7684 1743 and see how you can help in the election campaign. This could be anything from just putting a poster in your window to giving some leaflets to your neighbours or even coming out and knocking on doors.

But after the election when all the politicians have forgotten Haggerston again, the IWCA will still be here creating an organisation that involves and stands up for the working class majority in this area.


Nusret Sen – Independent
Peter Sutton – Independent Working Class Association
Carl Taylor – Independent Working Class Association

Hackney IWCA Hits Out at Council's Record on Abandoned Cars

press release
2nd November 2001

In the week that the government has declared a crackdown on abandoned cars, community activists from Hackney Independent have hit out at the council for its failure to act over dumped cars on the estates of the borough and have launched a “shame the council” web page.

Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) spokesperson Carl Taylor said that “Hackney Council have the power to remove abandoned cars within a week of them being reported but in most cases are failing to act within a month or even longer. On the Kingsland Estate in Haggerston, out of 5 cars reported to the council by Hackney Independent only one has been removed and more are starting to pile up. The council put stickers on two of the cars claiming they would be removed but they are still there 3 weeks later.”

He added that “Abandoned cars are another symptom of the running down of working class areas. As far as the main political parties on the council are concerned, people who live in these areas are second class citizens so their complaints aren’t worth listening to”.

To put pressure on the council, Hackney IWCA have added a page to their website featuring pictures of the dumped cars and details of when the council has been informed about them.

Chair of Kingsland Estate Tenants Association, Anna-Maria Mari backed Hackney Independent’s campaign and added “If this was a middle class area, the council would have sorted the problem out ; these abandoned cars are dangerous and can make the whole area look like a dumping ground. We have reported these cars to the council ourselves but nothing has been done.”

Carl Taylor added “The council doesn’t seem to take any notice of the concerns of working class tenants. If it’s down to us to shame them into acting then so be it”.

Hackney IWCA starts distribution of latest newsletter

Members and supporters of Hackney Independent Working Class Association (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) today started the distribution of the latest issue of the Hackney Independent to 10,000 homes in Hoxton, Haggerston and De Beauvoir.

Hackney Independent, Autumn 2001 issue (pdf format)

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Hackney IWCA to Distribute 15,000 Local Newsletters in March

Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) has started distributing 15,000 copies of its newsletter, the Hackney Independent, across Hoxton, Haggerston and De Beauvoir. The Hackney Independent is now broadsheet size and has a circulation bigger than the Hackney Gazette.

The main issues covered are:

1) The crisis in Hackney Council – with a lead article on how the Council are putting EVERYTHING up for sale, and an interview with Dave Mackey, Vice Chair of the Hackney Tenants’ Convention.2) Harwood Court – the block that fought back. We look at how Hackney Independent was able to initiate a succesful campaign to bring huge benefits to one Shoreditch tower block – and foil the New Deal officers plans to demolish the block3) ITNet sacked – so where’s our benefits? Hackney Independent’s Carl Taylor gives advice on getting your housing benefits pair, whoever is responsible now.

4) Working class rule in working class areas – interview with Hackney Independent co-ordinator Peter Sutton looking at the New Deal, gentrification and the work of Hackney Independent.

This is the third Hackney Independent newsletter and each time the size of the newsletter has grown and it has covered a bigger area. The Hackney Independent is the only newsletter in the area that counters what is in the professionally-produced newsletters put out by the Council, Pinnacle and the New Deal. No other political organisation puts out a newsletter in Shoreditch outside of elections.

Hackney Independent, Spring 2001 issue (pdf format)

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No Rent Rises – No Repair Cuts

40+ tenants activists attended a meeting at Fellows Court on 26th February in reaction to plans by Hackney Council to increase Rents and Council Tax while cutting back on services such as repairs.

The meeting was organised by Hoxton & Haggerston Fightback to enable TRAs to come together and discuss proposals for a public enquiry into the council’s financial incompetence and their insistence that it should be the working class of the borough who once again bail them out.

A Housing Shop Steward from UNISON asked tenants not to believe the propaganda put out by Max Caller and the Labour/Tory group that all Hackney workers are drowning in £££s but did identify some who were – Max himself and his 9 (count ’em, 9) assistant directors. He also stressed the importance of involving local communities in the opposition to the cuts, which is something Hackney Independent have long been arguing for, and which was unanimously applauded.

Fred from Whiston & Goldsmith TRA put the case for a public enquiry, while Noreen from St Mary’s and Anna Maria from Kingsland TRA insisted that tenants had to resist the council’s ‘logic’ that we should all pay more to receive less.
A motion proposing a rent freeze (ie that tenants should withhold the rent increase) was put and agreed in principle. TRAs will discuss the proposals and report back on 12 March to discuss what can be done. Hackney Independent also supports the call for a public enquiry and a rent freeze. If there is widespread agreement for it on our estates we will be involved in the campaign.

What a load of rubbish

Nearly a week after Hackney supremo Max Caller promised that “most of the rubbish will be cleared from the streets by December 1st” , residents in Dalston have threatened to take the council to court over the situation.

As the deadline to the handover of council collections to private contractors Service Team ticked away, the streets did for a while appear to have improved, but unconfirmed reports have reached the IWCA that much of this was window dressing – some of it at the direct expense of larger estates whose cleaners were diverted from normal duties to clear up the roads where rubbish was most visible. More worryingly, it appears that some tenants representatives were persuaded by Pinnacle to back this.

Whether or not this is true, the situation with rubbish is clearly going to be worse for council tenants who share disposal facilities in large blocks than it is for street properties who can leave bags outside on the pavements. The health risks for tenants of blocks are undoubtedly higher and it’s not enough to say that streets will be cleared.

On the Stonebridge Estate in Haggerston, the Tenants Association organised a rubbish collection using private contractors as the situation had got so bad. Obviously tenants shouldn’t have to do this and the TA have been criticised by some as giving in to “privatisation” but the IWCA support this action as they were meeting the immediate interest of the tenants.

The IWCA is calling for council blocks to be given priority over street properties and for the backlogs of collection to start in the working class areas most affected.

Haggerston Pool closed by Council after "Health and Safety fears

In a stunning display of political cowardice and deceit, Hackney council has closed Haggerston Baths.

A Health and Safety report (compiled in a 20 minute visit, and published – coincidentally of course – 3 days after private bidders for the pool had met with the council) claimed that the pool was a “risk to the users and workers at the centre”.

Local people have smelt a rat and suspicions over the timing of the closure have been reinforced by a secret document obtained by the Haggerston Pool Community Action group which reveals that the pool has been closed in order to free up funds for the Clissold Pool.

As one speaker at a packed emergency meeting put it, “A poorer part of the borough is being used to subsidise the building of a lovely new leisure centre in a better off part of the borough”.

The document reveals that the bidders for running the councils leisure facilities (all of which are up for tender) have demanded a larger injection of cash from the council in order to make a profit and satisfy their shareholders, and under the logic of this PFI-style initiative (which the council is now trying to apply to housing too) if there’s no profit for private business then they’re just not interested.

All of this flies in the face of the work done by the local community in putting forward its own scheme for running the pool and goes to show what the IWCA has been saying all along: if you’re working class the council couldn’t care less.