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.

Update from the Save Laburnum School Campaign

Hackney Council say that they are now consulting us on whether Laburnum School should be closed. 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 half the kids can go to Randal Cremer and the other half can go to a new junior school at Queensbridge. We say we want to keep this school at the heart of this community. And 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 have said that if they close the school they will try to put a new secondary school there, and if that doesn’t 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.


What are the Council trying to teach our kids? That their education doesn’t matter. That the can be pushed out so that City people can have their loft apartments where they used to have their classrooms? We are trying to teach our kids something different – that you have to work together to stand up for your community and fight to keep the school open.


The Council “consultation” period runs up to 30th September. Lets give them their consultation. Lets make sure that our councillors know what a mistake it would be for them to close Laburnum School.


Council consultation farce


All parents/carers with children at Primary Schools anywhere in Hoxton, Haggerston, De Beauvoir or London Fields should have got a letter from the Council in early August headed “Review of Planning Areas 1 & 2.” You wouldn’t know it, but this is the official Council consultation on closing Laburnum School. This is despite the fact that the word “Laburnum” or even “school” does not appear anywhere in the letter.


It is important that you do not throw it away, but that you turn to page 4, which is a survey. The questions are hard to work out – such as “Do you agree that the LEA should bring forward proposals to reduce surplus capacity?” The Save Laburum School Campaign recommends that you vote “no” to all the questions. The vital question is 3, which asks if you agree with closing Laburnum. To help save the school, please tear out the form and send it back to Marian Lavelle, Hackney TLC, 1 Reading lane, E8 1GQ. If you did not get the letter, we can get you a copy if you ring Carl Taylor on 7684 1743. The Council have agreed to spend £750 on “consultation.” As far as we know sending out this letter is all they are going to do. Compare this to the consultation on the sell-off of the nearby Haggerston East, Whitmore and part of Kingsland estate. Here the Council threw (our) money at the tenants – with videos, glossy brochures, “independent” advisers, fun days – but the difference is that the tenants legally have to get a vote and so need to be persuaded – but Laburnum parents and the wider community do not.


But our kids don’t go to Laburnum …


We are asking for support from everyone in the community – even if you are not directly affected. If you have got kids or grandkids at another school – their school could be next.


And we all need to stand up for what we have got in this community. Haggerston used to have a library and a swimming pool. It’s not just Laburnum School that is under threat – there’s our One O’clock Club in Haggerston Park and the Apples and Pears Adventure Playground. They need our support too. We have all got to support each and every campaign to defend community facilities in Haggerston.


What is the Save Laburnum School Campaign?


A meeting for parents and other supporters of the school was held on July 11th. This meeting elected 10 people to keep the campaign running over the Summer holidays and to plan the campaign for when school starts again. The Committee has six parents – a majority. The other members are Shaun Abrahams, who is the union representative for the Laburnum teachers, Peter Sutton and Carl Taylor from Hackney Independent and Sheila Dadpour from Kingsland Estate Tenants & Residents’ Association. The Committee meets every Tuesday at 5pm at 75 Hebden Court, Laburnum Street. This is the Kingsland Estate Community Flat and is kindly lent to us by the Kingsland Estate TRA. Anyone else who wants to support the campaign is welcome to come along on any Tuesday.


Saturday 31st August – Save Laburnum Day


Haggerston Community Centre, Haggerston Road. 11.30am – 2.00pm We are asking all supporters to drop-in and give your support to the school on this day. There will be a number of different activities going on:


A chance to sign letters and postcards to send to the Council
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.


To contact the Save Laburnum School Campaign please ring Carl Taylor on 7684 1743, or write to 75 Hebden Court, Laburnum Street E2.

Protest Postcard Launched by Laburnum School Campaign

Parents, children and community campaigners launched a new postcard on Saturday 3rd August as part of their campaign to save Laburnum Primary School.

“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.”


Community campaigner Peter Sutton, who gained 595 votes on behalf of the Independent Working Class Association (Hackney Independent) in Haggerston Ward in the Council elections in May added, “As usual Hackney Council consultations are a farce. There have been no meetings and no information. Labour might think they can close Laburnum School quietly, but the kids, parents and the wider community in Haggerston will fight this all the way.”


The Save Laburnum School campaign have now printed up thousands of postcards and are asking supporters to send them in to the Council demanding that the school stays open.


Anyone wanting to help the campaign can get in touch by ringing Carl Taylor on (020) 7684 1743.

Children's Campaign to Save Laburnum

The following news update was sent by the Campaign to Save Laburnum Primary


The children at Laburnum were incensed at the news of the proposed closure and decided to do something about it. The children have been actively involved in the action to save the school. Firstly, they made a petition and distributed it to their peers in all the classes.These they took home and returned filled the next day;asking for further petition sheets to take home. The response from children,parents and friends was overwhelming.Letters were written by the pupils and sent to the Hackney Gazette and one was published three weeks ago.


This has been followed by a rolling campaign of letter writing to selected MP’s, councilors and other key educationalists. The week before last letters, cards and petitions by the children were sent to Brian Sedgemore (MP). Last week Mike Tomlinson recieved more of the same. This week Diane Abbot will be recieving the same.


The children have made posters and two large banners, one of which is currently hanging at the front of the school. The children have also formed a save laburnum children’s committee that meets weekly to update and plan further action. The children have been writing their persausive letters and are now writing poetry and a newsletter for distribution.


The children are intending to go and interview various officials regarding the proposed closure of Laburnum. They are preparing large banners and posters for a demonstration on the town hall. They are also planning to produce photographs and a video to support their campaign. This information will be updated on a weekly basis.

"Tearing the Heart Out of Our Community" – Threat to Close Laburnum Primary

The threat of closure hangs over Laburnum Primary School in Haggerston. As if shutting down Haggerston Pool, threatening Apples and Pears play area and the one o’clock club weren’t enough, Hackney Council’s New Labour administration is now threatening to shut down the local primary school.

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.


Hackney Independent will fight them every step of the way.

Laburnum School Meeting

Laburnum School Meeting – Hackney Independent Backs Campaign
A packed meeting of Laburnum School parents on 14th May was told by the Chair of Governors, Graham Myers that their school was under threat. He said that no decision had yet been made but that a consultant’s report made a number of errors.

Are there more places than kids in this part of Hackney? “We don’t think that they have done their sums right.”

Should the school be closed because it is in ‘special measures’? “This fails to take into account the progress made in the last year. We are confident that we will get off special measures soon.”

On nursery places: “They have forgotten about nursery places. There are already too few nursery places in the South of the Borough.”

So a D-minus for the consultant – but what happens next?

A “consultation” process will start in mid-June. Parents’ views will apparently be considered by the Learning Trust, which takes over Hackney Education on August 1st. If Hackney Council consultation is a joke, then what will it be like for the unaccountable Learning Trust?

Speaking at the meeting for Hackney Independent, Peter Sutton pledged our support for the fight to keep Laburnum School open and proposed that a parents’ committee should be set up to act as an independent voice for parents. This was agreed by the meeting and the Hackney Independent has been invited to attend to support the campaign.

Hoxton Primary School Wins Last Minute Reprieve

Burbage Primary School in Hoxton has won a reprieve after facing closure. In early April, Hackney Council u-turned on their plan to close the school which has been on “special measures” for two years and is reportedly two thirds full.

Campaigners greeted the news with delight, but there could still be trouble ahead. Councillor Phillip Pearson of the Lib Dems warned that the decision to keep the school open was “politically motivated” and “the school will be kept open until after the election and then hit with closure”. Is this the same party who have the closure of the Angel school lined up in Islington ? Another example of Lib Dems saying one thing here in Hackney where they are in opposition, and another in Islington where they have control of the council.

The closure of local facilities and the sell-off of public assets is just part of a bigger picture of social cleansing in East London and especially Shoreditch. While campaigners for the school should be congratulated on their success in winning a stay of execution, we await the council’s long-term plans with interest.

Hinde Sight – reprinted from Private Eye 12th Jan 2001

Despite the appointment of new broom managing director, Max Caller, who last year vowed to “Hackney’s house in order”, it is still business as usual in the benighted east london borough.

In the council where Paedophile social worker, Mark Trotter was allowed to carry on abusing children for years in the 1980s until he died of AIDS, a senior officer involved in the care of children and subject of a police investigation has been quietly allowed to resign.

Meanwhile Caller has been sitting for 4 months on a report by borough solicitor Chris Hinde into allegations of corruption in the Stamford Hill planning committee involving the Borough’s Tory Mayor Joe Lowenstein, first aired in Eye 981, July 1999. The report must be a thorough one. It took Hinde, who coincidentally used to be secretary of the former Dalston city partnership regeneration quango, of which Lobenstein was a director, more than a year to produce.

At least some Hackney officers are quicker off the mark. After NUT members at just one Hackney school, Stoke Newington comprehensive, voted in December not to cross picket lines duringa one-day strike by non-teaching unions against proposed budget cuts and redundancies, their general secretary, Doug McAvoy wrote to them pointing out that such a vote endorsed unlawful secondary action.

Officers in Hackney’s education department then copied McAvoy’s letter, with the recipient school’s name blanked out, and faxed it to every school in the borough, giving the impression that McAvoy was on the side of the local education authority in a dispute he in fact wanted to keep out of. That’s the kind of enterprise Hackney needs!

It's Good To Talk

Attempts by mobile phone company One 2 One to put up another mast in the borough have been thwarted by protesters. The company had hoped to put a mast on the roof of Alexandra Court in Stoke Newington but opposition by local people forced the company to back down. Vodafone already have 6 masts in the area and people have grown increasingly concerned about the possible health risks, especially for pupils at Princess May School, already overlooked by many of the masts.

One of the protesters hit the nail on the head when she said “If these companies put these masts up then they will have to do it with consent not imposition”. As the IWCA have previously said, there would be uproar if these masts suddenly sprung up on top of some yuppie loft apartments without any warning, but the council and various housing associations who have struck secret deals with the mobile companies are happy to ride roughshod over the rights of working class communities.

These masts are largely untested and there is growing concern about their harmful effects on young children, in particular. But in a way, health is perhaps not the main issue, it’s all about how working class communities are not even consulted about issues like this. As residents of Hawksley Court showed earlier this year, community opposition can stop the masts being put up and we can start regaining some control over our own areas.

IWCA proposals on mobile phone masts:
1. No new phone masts should be located within 100 yards of council estates or schools.
2. Ballots on every estate to see if tenants want the phone masts down. If they do, break the contract and take them down.

First benefits, then rubbish, now Hackney Council fails our kids

In another blow to Hackney Council, a report published by OFSTED (the government inspectors of schools) criticises the education service in the borough, stating “Our conclusion to this report is simple and straightforward, but deeply depressing: We do not believe that Hackney local authority has the capacity to provide a secure, stable context for continuous educational improvement.”

What this means for Hackney’s children is not yet clear, but there is already talk of all education services being privatised. Of course, the whole issue of education is one that means a lot to any parent, but the situation for working class parents is bleak in the wake of this report. While middle class parents can afford private nurseries (and even have the option of moving out of the Borough before little Toby has to mix with the rough kids), working class families have to use what facilities the borough provides.

Hackney Council has not supported its schools because our middle class councillors and senior officers do not use them. What’s proposed is privatisation of the Local Education Authority, and if education goes the same way as the benefits service under ITNet, there will be bad times ahead. In the case of ITNet, the service provided by the council was already poor; the council privatised it and ITNet made it worse. Privatisation won’t give more support to our schools.

For more information click on the link here: BBC news report