Apologies for the unavailability of this website for a while.
We are gradually uploading Hackney Independent archive material and will add some new items soon.
Below is an article from the first newsletter of the London Coalition Against Poverty.
You can download the whole newsletter by clicking on here [pdf]
Fighting to win: An introduction to LCAP and direct action casework
WELCOME to the first of what we hope will become an ongoing roundup of activities and campaign updates from the London Coalition Against Poverty.
So who are we and what do we do? London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) brings together activists, advice workers, and campaigning groups in order to tackle the causes and effects of poverty in London through merging advice work with direct action and libertarian organising. We have been going for less than a year but have already had some modest successes as this newsletter shows.
As our name suggests we were intially inspired by Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) who developed the model of direct action casework.
Since 1989 OCAP have been using a range of effective tactics to mobilise many of those at the sharp end of the attacks on their welfare, housing and employment rights. While these rights are not enough by themselves, asserting them is a necessary first step to extending those rights and, we hope, widening our struggles in the process.
What is Direct Action Casework (DAC)? There are three core principles around the DAC model of activity. Firstly to combine legal work with disruptive action to achieve an immediate, or more quickly arrived at, outcome. This means understanding what people are entitled to under the law, and at the same time knowing that people have power in disruptive action.
Secondly, not to duplicate the work of legal clinics or other agencies. There are numerous legal clinics and agencies that are given money (usually from government) to fight on people’s behalf or provide
them with services.
Thirdly, to forward political goals but never compromise the interests of those you are working with in the process. Landlords, bosses and government bureaucrats break the rules all the time and we’re the ones who pay. They often do this unchallenged. The official channels of appeal that are available are often lengthy, costly and ineffective. Direct action casework is designed to cut through this to get people what they want.
Organised workers have the power of going on strike. They have a power that comes from withdrawing their labour and suspending their activity in the economy. But if people on benefits simply stop participating in the benefits system it gains them no power at all; the opposite in fact. Instead we need to force our way into the process in order to be heard and to secure our demands. Keeping business operating as usual is very important to the functioning of many institutions; it is often easier for them to make a concession than to try to continue while disruptions are taking place. Our success will come from demanding people receive what the law says they can have and backing it up with effective action.
To be clear, we are a political group with political goals. As Jeff Shantz of OCAP explains, “recognising that direct interference with the practices of various levels of government and their business backers is the only way […] people can effect a real measure of control in their own lives. OCAP avoids token protest in favor of actions which upset our enemies’ plans. Rather than pleading with them to stop hurting us we act to develop the means to prevent them from implementing their plans.”
The Hackney Independent site is now the main source of alternative news in this borough.
Not only do we post up announcements the recent coming Spirit benefit gig and the cominig screening of the East of Liberty documentary at the Rio, we also carry interviews and opinion pieces.
We know that there are many ways in which this site could be even better – in both quality and quantity.
So we are asking you to submit articles and features to the site, or get in touch with us to have a chat about a potential article.
Articles should be from a pro-working class point of view, broadly in keeping with Hackney Independent’s politics and the issues we are campaigning on. At present we are of course mainly interested in articles relevant to Hackney.
Do you have a flare for writing? Would you like wider publicity for an issue that you are concerned about? If so, get in touch!
Hackney Council are trying to boost their green credentials with a “compulsory recycling” scheme. The pages of Hackney Today and the council website are full of recycling initiatives. Why has this suddenly become a priority of our Labour council?
A look at the voting figures from last May’s elections show that apart from the four Tory/Lib Dem wards in the North East of the Borough that Labour have written off, the Green Party is now the opposition to Labour in the majority of wards. The Greens secured hundreds of votes even in wards where they stood paper candidates and did not campaign at all.
Labour has reacted to this pressure with various recycling initiatives. Even though they only won one seat, the Green Party have got a result.
Of course, there was a “pilot” for compulsory recycling last year. Labour knew they were up against it from the Greens in Clissold Ward so they introduced a bogus pilot in the Church Street area. They put out leaflets and council staff knocked on doors in the run up to the local elections saying recycling was now compulsory. And of course nothing happened as a result of this cynical stunt. Where was the follow up when the election was over?
Recycling is a government target for councils to meet. There are hard targets like running good schools, leisure facilities and council estates. And there are relatively easy ones like recycling, where you can easily make an impact on those who don’t necessarily use public services but do buy into the new green consensus.
Yes, Hackney council needs to organise recycling, but it also needs to put improved public services first. Instead of backing plans to fine those who don’t recycle, we should be throwing out of office those who cannot get our swimming pools open, clean and repair our estates (without the threat of flogging off bits of them to pay for improvements) or run the best possible schools for all of our kids.
Labour pursues recycling as the easier option, instead of improving services they should be prioritising, but have since lost interest in running themselves. Key services have been turned over to private companies like the Learning Trust, Greenwich Leisure and, in council housing, the double privatisation of both “Hackney Homes” and the private contractors managing each neighbourhood.
Hackney New Labour has been allowed to recycle the Tory policies of privatisation, land sales and gentrification for too long.
by Paul Fitzpatrick
In a renewed bid to ‘regenerate’ Dalston plans were last year unveiled by the London Development Agency for the area just south of Dalston Junction. The development, as part of the Dalston Area Action Plan, will include housing, retail units and a new library. The development is tied in with the opening of East London Line there in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012.
Local campaigners OPEN, while welcoming the arrival of the long-overdue Underground station, say that the proposals will have a massive impact on the environment for decades to come. It would mean the destruction of 4-14 Dalston Lane including the Dalston Theatre/4 Aces club and other historic buildings.
“We have been watching a continuing process of the municipal vandalism of our local heritage and economy and the disregard of our community’s views” says OPEN spokesman Bill Parry-Davies “This group of buildings, like many others at risk nationally, uniquely reflects local architectural, cultural and social history and lends great character to the area.”
This follows on from what many people consider the deliberate running down of (not to mention mysterious fires at) late Georgian terraces at 48-76 Dalston Lane and their subsequent cut-price sale to an off-shore company.
There are clear parallels between what happened in Broadway Market several years ago and the recent property disposals in Dalston Lane (where fourteen properties were sold to a single developer for £1.4 million less than what the local leaseholders, many of whom have now been evicted, were prepared to pay,).
The large amount of private housing (up to 450 homes) proposed for the Dalston Junction site is likely to be sold primarily to investors, ending up as buy-to-let property.The plans show tower blocks rising above the surrounding buildings.After years of pulling down high-rises in Hackney the Councils plans to build more on Dalston Lane seems misguided to say the least
OPEN recently won a court order blocking demolition of Nos. 4-14 and a judicial review is set to take place on February 6.
“We believe that the public should have a say, not just a few council officials” says Mr Parry-Davies, “the buildings potential for regeneration of the wider area is being dismissed in the name of ‘best value’ and the scramble for short-term financial gain.”
Further information: http://opendalston.blogspot.com
Town hall chiefs were accused of deliberately misleading council tenants this week by “manipulating” the result of a ballot on the future of their homes.
Cllr Jamie Carswell, cabinet minister for housing described it as an “unambiguous mandate” for ALMOs following the ballot of 25,000 tenants and 8,000 leaseholders.
The council needs to raise £220 million to bring its crumbling housing stock up to a decent standard and hopes to tap into millions of pounds of government funds for necessary improvements.
But Peter Sutton of political party Hackney Independent says the voting figures are far from a “resounding green light to ALMOs” and has slammed the figures used in the a council press release as “pure propaganda and manipulation”.
“The release says a significant majority of 80 per cent of voters supported ALMOs,” he said.
“Despite two extensions to the deadline and an appeal letter, only 7,000 tenants and leaseholders voted. Of those, 64% put ALMOs as their first choice. To get the 80 per cent figure mentioned in the press release, the council would have had to have included people who put ALMOs as their second, third and fourth choices.
“It means, despite months of one-sided pro-ALMO propaganda, only just over 4,000 tenants and leaseholders could be persuaded to vote for an ALMO – just 14 per cent of the borough’s council tenants and leaseholders”, he added.
However, Cllr Jamie Carswell said he was delighted people had taken the ‘test of opinion’ seriously and voted. “This is the culmination of three years communication around ‘Decent Homes’ and means people have made their feelings very clear that an ALMO is their preferred option”, he added.
Council Chiefs will hope to meet with the Government in January to submit a bid for establishing ALMOs.
Recent figures compiled by National Statistics show that gaps in income and wealth remain large: 17 per cent of the population (2002/03 figure) live in households with income below £194 per week (60 per cent of median disposable income) while half the population own just 5% of the wealth (2001 figure).
We were previously a branch of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA).
At the IWCA AGM in October 2004 it became clear that there were a number of differences between us and the rest of the organisation in terms of strategy and the way forward. We have subsequently decided to leave the IWCA.
Both the IWCA and those of us in Hackney remain committed to working class community politics.
We will now be working under the “Hackney Independent” banner. This website will be updated accordingly in the next few weeks.
Hackney Independent will continue with its work on the ground and we have a number of initiatives going on right now. If anyone reading this lives in Hackney and likes what we do, then they are very welcome to get in touch and talk about getting involved. We are also interested in working with people from other areas who are involved in working class community politics – or would like to be.
We remain committed to the ideas of working class independence and working class rule in working class areas.
As you’ve probably noticed, we have a new address for our website: http://www.hackneyiwca.org – please update your bookmarks and links as the old site will no longer be updated.
We also have a new address for post: Hackney IWCA, PO Box 47000, London E8 4WW
10th August 2003
On Monday 28 July 2003 the Independent Working Class Association launched itself as a national organisation with its first manifesto, entitled ‘Working class rule in working class areas’.
‘The IWCA has chosen the Aylesbury estate for this event today because it is, in our opinion, symbolic of the failure of the New Labour project to improve the lives of those once considered the party’s core constituency – the millions of working class people who live on neglected estates such as this.’
See the national website for the full story and more details of how to join the IWCA and support our GLA campaign next year.