“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.