For children aged 5-11 there will be an art session led by local artist and former Laburnum School student Lee Dadpour. Lee will be working with the children to produce posters and banners calling for the school to stay open.
A local film-maker will be carrying out quick interviews with people on camera to produce a video, which we will send to all councillors.
There will be tea, coffee and other refreshments available.
Pick up campaign materials like postcards, posters and petitions and find out more about how you can support the campaign Save Laburnum Day. Saturday August 31st. 11.30am – 2.00pm. Haggerston Community Centre, Haggerston Road.
This information is produced by the Save Laburnum School Campaign and does not claim to represent the School itself or the School Governors.
“The Council haven’t told anyone they are looking to close the school, and this is meant to be the consultation period,” said Sharon Bender, mother of Cain Lowe, 11. “I’ve had nothing through from the Council. It’s only because I’ve read in the Gazette or the Hackney Independent or been told by the Governors. This isn’t consultation.”
Please help CAB to continue it’s vital work, by giving your support through contacting Max Caller now at Hackney Council on 020 8356 5000.
Summary: Below is a letter written by concerned people who run a project in Hackney, which provides an area for children to play and enables the parents to leave their kids there and seek work. Guess what – the council are removing funding.
Who will look after the children Grandparents? If the project gets 90 days notice, so will the grandparents then. Our project offers integration, friends to play with in a safe environment, trained skilled staff (police checked). So we do hope the Association of London Government are going to contact us soon and not at the last moment. Yes it is a worry for us as we are on the front line. We need some answers as we are parents living here, supporting this project.
While it is claimed there are surplus places in the Hoxton, Haggerston and Queensbridge area, chair of the governors at the school, Graham Myers has made it clear that the school is close to capacity:
“We have more information on the reasons the council proposes to close Laburnum. Basically, the council has worked out that Laburnum has a surplus of school places. However, according to the LEA we have a form and a half entry (one and a half classes per year group). Although we have only been single form entry (one class per year group) for some time, because when teachers left the school 1991-1992 those classes were closed down by the authority. The teachers were not replaced! So it is quite amazing that the same authority now tell us that we should actually have 330 pupils instead of our 220. Currently every class is at full capacity ie 25 or more. In fact, there is a waiting list for certain classes. Also, the fact that we have a brand new computer suite, a brand new science room, just completed, and the school office was moved down stairs into what was formally the year 2 class room. We doubt very much if we could accomodate 330 pupils.” The real reasons may be more complicated than what the council are claiming and one schoolkid hit the nail on the head when he said “Hackney Council wants to close our school and make it into posh flats!”. Laburnum School is on prime development land overlooking Regents Canal and ripe for conversion into flats for Hackney’s yuppie influx. And after all, who needs a local state primary when you could go private?
Hackney Independent is meeting with supporters of the campaign to keep Laburnum School open and will do what we can to prevent another sell-off of a much needed community asset. So soon after New Labour strengthened their hold on the Council it’s nice to see they’ve started out as they mean to go on – closing community facilities in working class areas.
News like this would once have brought down the government. First, the company we all think of as the Post Office announced 15,000 workers would lose their jobs – the first strike in what could be a cull of 40,000 staff. That staggering figure overshadowed the second axe to fall: 750 naval workers laid off after the government decided to hire private companies to refit British warships. To cap it all, the biggest headline grabber: a Cabinet minister forced to make a full-speed, skidding u-turn by handing £500m of public money to the shareholders of the late and unlamented Railtrack. All of that on a single day: Black Monday.
What explains the change? It’s partly a tribute to Britain’s success: our official unemployment rate is the lowest in the European Union, hovering at 1975 levels below a million. We no longer think of joblessness as a problem. But there is a deeper explanation, too.
Industry mattered to politics when politics mattered to industry. Two decades ago, whole sections of the economy were under the direct control of the state. Now, in the era of privatisation, ministers are able to shake a fist or shout the odd plea from the sidelines but rarely to make the decisive difference. They can beg BMW or Motorola not to pull out of Britain – but if the boardroom has made up its mind, there’s little even a phone call from the PM can do.
So voters no longer look to government to make the industrial weather. Two decades of Thatcherite economics have persuaded us that the market is king: governments are powerless to resist. On this logic, politicians have a choice between doing nothing or making things worse. Their role is to stand aside and let the market sort it out. We are all laissez-faire liberals now.
And so the very phrase “industrial policy” – such a staple of 1970s political talk – has disappeared. And yet it’s worth examining Labour’s stance on industry, for inside it lies a glaring, increasingly risky contradiction – and Black Monday illustrates it perfectly.
The government believes in blending the lean efficiency of the private sector with the social goals once exclusively associated with public ownership. The result is a new industrial landscape littered with strange, hybrid creatures – part private, part public, they look and behave like neither. They are the “third way” made flesh.
Railtrack was one. Inherited from the Major government, this company walked like a private business, talked like a private business – but never quite escaped its genetic origins in the public sector. So it had shareholders and sought profit, but as soon as things went wrong it held out the begging bowl for handouts from the government. Of course it got the money: how could any country let its rail system go under? So Railtrack had all the fun and perks of life as a private company – safe in the knowledge that, whenever the chill wind of the market got too nippy, the nanny state would be there with a blanket.
That’s why so many voters, commuters especially, feel resentful about forking out an extra £500m in compensation to Railtrack’s shareholders. They know that reason is probably on the shareholders’ side: they owned assets which the government could not simply grab from them. But the admittedly emotional response of many is to ask: if your company was worth so much, how come you kept coming to us for more cash? More viscerally, why should we bail you out, just because your shares went down; how much did you give to us, the taxpayers, when they soared up? And isn’t that the whole point of shares: you do well if they go up, but you expect to take a bath if they go down? Railtrack shareholders placed a one-way bet: win if you win, but don’t lose if you lose.
And this is the core problem: we were asking a private company to take on an essentially public task. Railtrack was designed to follow the profit instinct of private enterprise when its real job was to provide a public service. It was meant to be governed by the iron disciplines of market forces, but it always knew its risk was more hypothetical than real: if trouble struck, the government would step in – as Stephen Byers duly did this week.
There is a direct lesson here for the public-private partnership plan still dogmatically pursued by Labour for the London Underground. Once again, the government will pretend that the private infrastructure companies are taking on the risk that things might go wrong. They will certainly be handsomely rewarded for it. But if things do go off the rails, we all know who will really pay the price: the government cannot let the tube collapse, so it will step in – with our money.
Consignia is a different strain of mutant company. It too was meant to behave like a private outfit, even though it remains government owned. And it, too, suffers for being neither fish nor fowl. It faces competition for key services, like a private company, but it cannot do what any private business would do if strapped for cash: it cannot raise the price on its core product. The price of a first-class postage stamp has gone up just once in six years, even though it costs a penny more to deliver a letter than it costs us to post it. The regulator has capped the price, on the reasonable logic that monopolies can’t just up their charges whenever they like: after all, the customer has nowhere else to go.
So the Post Office is sort of private, sort of public: exposed to competition, yet obliged to perform public duties (like delivering letters to remote rural locations) that cost them badly. Its rivals are full-blooded private businesses, able to cherrypick the profitable bits, unhindered by costly obligations. The Post Office is neither one thing nor the other – and soon 40,000 workers will pay the price.
The government needs to have a rethink. It should follow the logic of Gordon Brown’s speech last week on the NHS, and declare that some tasks are public by their very nature. Health is one, said the chancellor. Why not add railways, which will always require a public subsidy, and a collective, social need like delivering mail?
“The plain fact is, there are certain natural monopolies, best run by the state,” says director of the Industrial Society, Will Hutton. That does not mean, he adds, that they have to be run like the “organisationally dysfunctional” nationalised industries of the 1970s. Network Rail, the successor company to Railtrack, could be a step in the right direction. Its directors will be rewarded not for boosting share price, as with Railtrack, but by their performance on the “public” aspects of the service: safety, reliability, punctuality.
That may be a new way of doing things. But only if the government ends this unhappy experiment in asking private companies to do the public’s work. That experiment has failed.
Wenlock Barn TRA chair and Hackney Independent member, Tony Butler comments on the latest news about attempts to gentrify the area.
It is not the fault of Shoreditch council tenants that our homes ‘have been allowed to be run down to the condition where they are now deemed worthless’. Over the years, our rents have been paid only to be mismanaged by Hackney Council in whatever scurrilous means it has allowed it’s self. I wonder if any councillor’s homes are up for the draconian affects of demolition. These people are the very apologists who put us in this situation and laud up the value of such schemes as it means they do not have to take responsibility for council housing and pray, if it ever comes to it, that they will escape surcharging for the incompetent way it has managed our affairs. P.S. Which Housing Association is Hackney Labour M.P. Brian Sedgemore chair of?
The Wenlock Barn Estate 4 years ago made it plain to the council that we did not want Stock Transfer and caused them to back down when the overwhelming majority signed a petition to reject stock transfer and stay council tenants. Our insistence on this has not changed we do not view our homes as been decrepit or our social lives as impoverished. Yes, there are problems with our homes but using social engineering as a mechanism to destable our values is not going to work. We know what we are worth and what we want. We have paid for the maintenance of our homes over the years and have the moral right to be acknowledged for this and not used as a tool to encamp essential/key workers (what ever they are?) in to our homes our area.
My block was once referred to as a ‘bad social mix’. Where the consultants got this from, I cannot imagine because I get on with every one in my block. I can only allude this has come from a set of prejudices that have no connection with the culture and value system that has grown up over the 30 years this estate has lived. 1477 properties cannot be wrong.
The spectre of demolition still haunts the minds of every one but the council tenants concerned. We buried it before and we will bury it again.
WENLOCK BARN IS NOT FOR SALE. IS NOT FOR DEMOLITION. IS NOT FOR STOCK TRANSFER. If they do not believe us, let them come and take us on. We are organised, informed and ready. Take note Lord Falconer we know where you are at. You owe us and not the other way round.
In response to the three-year budget strategy provided by Hackney Council last year, central government is to give the local authority £25m to reduce the impact of the cuts. The ‘deal’ still requires £13m worth of cuts and a 10% increase in council tax. Not much of a deal for Hackney residents who will be paying more whilst simultaneously watching their public services disappear.
How to balance the budget – whatever the social cost
After an audit commission report in 1999, huge gaps in the authority’s finances were exposed and central government demand-ed changes to the running of the council. The first step it took was to prevent a single penny from being spent, by serving a Section 114, an inadequate policy which saw waste vehicles sit idol in the depot waiting for repair as rubbish piled up on the streets. The ensuing protests forced the order to be lifted, but only after the council agreed to formulate a three- year budget balancing strategy. The government paid £3.5m to accountants whose task was to go through each department’s finances looking at ways to make savings.
When the strategy was publicly aired in December last year, there was outrage – no area within reach of the council was safe as group after group and service after service faced huge reductions in their finances. Many residents most in need, the young, elderly and those from minority communities, will lose vital facilities.
The budget strategy requires the government to give Hackney £54m over 3 years. However, it has now been made clear the only one year’s worth of extra funding will be offered. Will the future see even worse cuts imposed than those already outlined in the 3 year budget?
Drop the Debt!
The Government may wish to shift all the blame onto Hackney Council but a major part of the problem is the massive debt repayments the Council has to make to the Government – nearly £75 million each year. If it did not have to pay this it would not have to take the short-sighted step of selling off its family silver, in the form of buildings and land. The facilities that occupy these, such as libraries and play-grounds, are under constant threat of disappearing. The District Auditor has warned that property disposal ‘is not a sustainable medium-term strategy’ while, at the same time, asking for ‘clear actions and timescales to show how the gap (in future budgets) is to be addressed’.
Government-encouraged privatisation has also added to Hackney’s debt. The outsourcing of benefits and council tax to the company ITNET cost the borough £38m when the deal went sour. ITNET meanwhile announced a pre-tax profit for the year of £12.5m. Outsourcing of abandoned vehicles collection is intended although £130,000 of the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund is to be used on it until that happens. And privatisation of Waste Management now seems likely to cost more than when it was in the hands of the council.
The Government claims that the £25m is ‘an exceptional offer of support to prevent unacceptable cuts in services’. Yet £13m cuts are totally unacceptable and more will be scheduled for next year. The Government has provided stringent conditions attached to the money. At least £10m must be made available for future years and so is not available for services at all.
Once again the people of Hackney are left dangling on a thread wondering about the future of their community and what next year’s budget will bring.
News from Hackney Not 4 Sale
Hackney Not 4 Sale, Box No. 7, 136-138 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2NS. Tel: 07950 539 254.