A message to Manor Garden Allotments supporters

The following appeal is being circulated to friends and supporters of the Manor Park Allotments campaign:

There are some important events coming up we would like to ask your help with.

The closing date for the revised Olympic Park Planning Application public consultation is Friday 15thJune. There is information being added to the lifeisland.org website on how to go about sending in an objection.
Our Judicial Review will take place in the High Court on Thursday 14th of June. We are taking them to court on the basis that they would be breaking the promises they have consistently made that we would not be evicted before a suitable relocation site had been found for us. The Compulsory Purchase Order was approved, as was the Olympic Delivery Act, on the assumption that a relocation site would be provided. Yet still the LDA plan to evict us on 2nd July, relocation site obtained or not!
It would be impressive and attract media attention if there was a supportive presence with placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand from 9.30am on Thursday. The hearing starts at 10.30. We will be producing a number of placards but any extras will add to the effect. Please come and show solidarity with Manor Garden Allotments. Be sure to check the website www.lifeisland.org on Wednesday evening for up to date information.

Many thanks for your support to date,

Julie Sumner
Lifeisland Coordinator and Plot holder

London Fields pensioners forced out?

OPEN (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs Ltd) in association with London Fields User Group


On Thursday 7th June 2007 at 7.30pm at St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)

The purpose of the meeting is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale. Although the redevelopment proposal does not satisfy the Council’s planning policies, Hanover have asked that it should be considered “holistically” in the context of 11 other planning applications made simultaneously.
Bayton Court is on the west side of, and overlooks, London Fields. The developer proposes todemolish a 2-storey development and build houses at higher density up to 4 and 5 storeys.
The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields. Blackstone Estate TRA have put in strong objections to the proposal.
Bayton Court is one of 29 sheltered housing schemes which were transferred by Hackney Council to newly formed Hanover in Hackney in October 2002. At that time it was made clear to tenants that the Council had no money to improve the properties but it was promised that, if the transfer proceeded, £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same. In view of these promises tenants voted in favour.
However, in 2003 Hanover undertook a review of its former Council assets and identified development and sale opportunities to raise capital from its 29 properties. It commissioned architects to help realise these opportunities. Then, in March 2006, it advised its tenants that, due to Hackney Council requirements, it would be replacing residential sheltered housing officers with “floating support” workers. This scheme is likely to be introduced in November 2007. The demolition and redevelopment plans, and the loss of their residential sheltered housing officers, will not be the subject of a tenants’ ballot.
The planning application drawings for Bayton Court have only recently been published on the Council’s web site although the official consultation period expired on 15 May. The Council’s planning officer has confirmed that comments received prior to the Planning Committee meeting will be considered.
Hanover in Hackney’s architects have agreed to attend and present the scheme at the meeting but with the proviso that, following a “high level” meeting with planners to take place this week, their attendance may become “inappropriate”.

To see planning application go to www.hackney.gov.uk (search planning applications – 2007/0286)
Public meeting:7.30pm, Thursday June 7, St Michael and All Angels Church Hall (junction of Lavender Grove and Lansdowne Drive E8)
For more information contact

www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF

E2 road safety petition

On 4th May cyclist Ninian Fraser Donald was killed by a lorry at the junction of Whiston Road and Kingsland Road.

Local resident and Kingsland TRA Chair Anna Maria Mari has drawn up a petition calling for safety improvements at the junction.

It can be found at the bar in the Old King John’s Head pub on Whiston Road. If you are passing please pop in to sign it.

Decline of Gillett Square

from Hackney Gazette, 24 May 2007

In your report of the decline of Gillett Square, you failed to remind readers that the fanfare opening of the square attended by Jules Pipe and Ken Livingstone was also attended by a number of protestors voicing their concern about the social cleansing of the area. It looks as though they were right. Hackney Council and the regeneration professionals think that architecture and middle-class culture is the key to improving areas like Dalston. In doing so, they ignored the needs of the majority of low income working families and now apparently want to sweep aside those who have become unemployed, homeless and/or alcoholic.

The council has publicly funded a “Mediterranean-style square” upon which it now proposes to impose a strict drinking ban! It would be funny if it weren’t so hypocritical. Can someone tell me the difference between late night revellers in Shoreditch and down-and-out street drinkers in Dalston? While both groups urinate in the street and upset local residents, one group is threatened with dispersal, CCTV and policing while the other’s anti-social behaviour is ignored. One group drinks cheap wine and lager and has no disposable income, while the other drinks expensive wine and trendy imported lager and has an enormous disposable income. Do you suppose that’s why they’re treated so differently?

“Diverting” street drinkers elsewhere, as the Council puts it, or instigating some kind of social apartheid, where some are welcome and others are banned, should not be taken seriously. I sympathise with the residents over-looking Gillett Square just as I do with those who live adjacent to Hoxton Square. The fact is that the Council and others ignored the needs of local people – both residents and down-and-outs – when they “regenerated” Gillett Square. You cannot regenerate an area by ignoring its social problems at the planning stage and then resorting to bully tactics when those social problems refuse to go away. If anyone is guilty of anti-social behaviour here it’s Hackney Council, for p***ing over all of us from a great height.

Carl Taylor
Hackney Independent

Hypocritical reception on the town hall steps

The following article was sent to Hackney Independent. The author wished to remain anonymous:

If you were walking past Hackney Town Hall a couple of weeks ago you may well have noticed a protest being held by London Field residents over the erection of a phone mast by T mobile in the Richmond Road area.
Back in 2004 the Council failed to respond to or reject a planning application from the company to build the mast and as such T-mobile exploited planning laws by deciding to go ahead with their plans at the end of April.
Protesters gathering on the Town Hall steps were delighted when Labour Chief, Jules Pipe addressed them stating, ‘T-mobile should do the honourable thing and not go near London Fields.’
Considering the concerns over the possible health implications of placing radiation emitting devices close to busy public areas I think that we would all agree with the sentiment of Mayor Pipe and his apparent resolute stand against such developments!
However I was recently on the 55 bus passing through Lower Clapton and to my surprise I noticed a new mast, situated on top of a portacabin, between Mildenhall and Atherden Road.
The top of the aerial is almost level with the top deck of a bus and in heavy traffic passengers are presented with a safety sign on the mast itself which rather alarmingly alerts readers;
You have plenty of time to read the sign as you sit in rush hour traffic adjacent to the microwaves and the new flats which they front.
It struck me on observing the demonstration by residents from the recently gentrified Martello Street and surrounds that Mr Pipe appeared to be saying one thing and doing another.
Appeasing the middle class residents of the ex-squatted, Class War heartlands whilst on the other hand apparently ignoring the carcinogenic pulses of masts in Lower Clapton, one of Hackney’s more run down areas populated in the majority by working class people.
On further investigation it seems that Hackney is covered in ‘base stations’. Indeed in Clapton alone there are many, including four on the Lea Bridge Roundabout (at least two on top of the B-Six sixth form college), two on the Pembury Estate and two on buildings around the Downs.
Furthermore there are at least seven on Mare Street, two on top of the Trelawny Estate and loads in Dalston.
It would seem that the only real ‘reception black spot’ in Hackney is the London Fields area and although I do not take issue with those expressing their rights to demonstrate on that sunny day in April I do take issue with the cynical and ill informed approach of a Mayor who has been leading the council for the last 11 years during which time mobile phone masts have been springing up all over the place, on schools and Council blocks throughout the Borough.
If the Mayor, who exclaimed that T-mobile had ‘no moral right’ to build the mast in London fields, feels so strongly about their erection then perhaps he should examine the Council’s income to see how much the Borough makes from renting out their building’s rooftops to phone companies.
If readers feel the need to contact him to express their concern at his apparent hypocrisy may I suggest that they ring from Lower Clapton I understand that the coverage there is excellent!!!

An appeal for writers and those with an issue to publicise

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!

After the hurricane – Chis Ivey at Centerprise bookshop

In the summer of 2005 the world was stunned at the plight of the people of New Orleans

In the couple of years since the devastation, the rebuilding has resulted in ethnic and social cleansing on a massive scale

Film maker Chris Ivey will be showing footage that he has shot and talking about events that have happened since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

@ 7pm, Tuesday May 8, Centerprise bookshop, 136/138 Kingsland High St., Hackney E8 2NS
Free admission

flyer pdf

Benefit for Spirit, Friday April 27

Who’s to blame?

The working class is defeated, they have no political representation and they are only the subject of popular disdain, mockery and hatred.

This is thinking behind the two playwrights Beatrix Campbell and Judith Jones in their latest offering Blame.

Hackney Independent talked to them just as Blame is about to open at the Arcola Theatre on Kingsland Road.

The play is set in a multi-racial working class household in this borough. Divided by drugs, alcohol and violence the household unites around the disappearance of one of the youngest members of the family – a 10-year-old girl.

Beatrix Campbell, a long standing journalist, and Judith Jones, a social worker of 30 years experience, have worked together before on their previous play And All the Children Cried, and decided to write together again on that elephant in the British sitting room – class.

Beatrix explains: “What moved us to do this play was that we were interested in what has happened to the working class. In our lifetime we lived through the amazing contrast between the moment after the Second World War when the working class had to be taken into account and its demands had to be answered to the point now where the working class doesn’t really exist at the parliamentary level or in a category where they are going to be taken any notice of.

“And the consequences of that for the poorest people within the working class are astounding and unacceptable.

“It’s impossible to ignore the way that there is a permanently pauperized presence in Britain.”

Theatre is infamous as the place where the polite classes go to quietly sip wine, but facing the paradox of presenting such a working class-centered piece in a middle class institution, the writers are unapologetic, as Beatrix makes clear:

“We believe totally in the importance of addressing the life and times of working class people who are maligned, in any environment that we can possibly find and challenging middle class or upper class or reactionary political preconceptions about how people are in those circumstances.

“What we are interested in is an unsentimental look at how these people behaviour is sometimes terrible, sometimes funny, sometimes mystifying, and sometimes tragic, and any environment that that can be aired is good as far as we are concerned.

“Besides, the final resting place for this play will be in the Arcola Theatre on the Kingsland Road in Hackney, which is where the play is set, so nothing could be more appropriate.”

Hackney remains today one of the most overcrowded and poverty stricken boroughs in London. We live in a labyrinth of concrete tower blocks that houses a population of which over half are dependent on some form of income support. But despite deep seated social problems, the borough has become a byword for urban chic as gentrification has taken hold over certain areas.

This social conflict provided the ideal setting for the play:

“Hackney is emblematic of what has happened to Britain with globalization and what has happened to the working class. It’s emblematic of a borough in London that has always been poor and where life has always been a struggle, it’s also emblematic of the enormous richness of our history and culture.”

Both Judith and Beatrix comes from working class families and have spent their subsequent professional careers working and writing about the class.

Beatrix is the author of previous acclaimed books Goliath: Britain’s Most Dangerous and Wigan Pier Revisited, with Judith Jones has her experience grounded in over 30 years of social work.

One in three children today grow up in poverty, a figure which Judith finds astounding: “I thought when I started social work that there would still be so many children living in poverty – I thought that something might be done about it and then we could deal with other issues such as mental health and children protection, but this certainly hasn’t been the case as we have to deal with it all.”

The play is bound up with their pessimism for the future of working class politics in England. Without a representative voice, the playwrights claim, they lack any economic clout.

“It’s very hard to imagine how the working class will gain a strategic presence here in England,” explains Beatrix Campbell, “The transformation of the Labour party means that is not a party with a comfortable relationship with the working class any longer.

“We feel very strongly that its needs and future have very little political articulation at all, other than being to blame for everything and as people who are lowlife scumbags who are spoiling it for everybody.

“We are trying to confront this situation with this play.”

Blame runs at the Arcola Theatre from March 27 until April 21.
To book tickets call their box office on 020 7503 1646

EXCLUSIVE! The British Premiere of East of Liberty

Hackney Independent presents

A story of good intentions
Part one

A documentary about gentrification and regeneration in the predominantly African-American neighbourhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Playing at the Dalston Rio on May Day Bank Holiday – May 7

On this coming May Day Bank Holiday Monday, the Dalston Rio will be hosting the British premiere of East of Liberty, a documentary about gentrification and regeneration in the predominantly African-American neighbourhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

East Liberty was once one of Pennsylvania’s most prosperous areas, but disastrous urban planning in the 1960s saw both the central business area collapse and tower blocks erected leaving residents isolated in the sky.

But change is again coming to East Liberty. The traffic in the centre is once again flowing after being rerouted in the 60’s, the tower blocks are coming down and new shops are offering everything from yoga to organic food.

Everybody, seemingly, was a winner

But then voices, excluded, marginalised and anxious began to emerge…

Chris Ivey, a seasoned filmmaker in Pittsburgh, first started working on the project in May 2005.

He found himself filming a publicity stunt in which paint bombs were being launched by employees of the regeneration company from a giant catapult at a soon-to-be demolished tower block, East Mall. But, amidst the revelry, he found residents far from happy:
“I was hired to document the tearing down of the high rises. At the same time I interviewed some of the residents who lived in the high rises and they weren’t happy at all because of the spectacle that was before them. They were really angry. It was their home, it was where they used to live, some for 30 years or more. Even though in many ways it wasn’t the best place to live it was all they had and to see strangers having fun by shooting paintballs at the block left them furious.”

And so began a journey of investigation in which previous silent rage was given space to talk.

The film first debuted in the US last Autumn, and the response has astounded the director:
“The reception here has been really incredible. It’s the most talked about thing in the city right now. There’s been loads of coverage in the papers and everybody around town is talking about it. All the screenings have sold out. The people at the screenings are really passionate – they’re always asking what they can do to get involved.”

Chris Ivey will be attending the event and answering questions at the end. On the prospect of showing the documentary here in London he said:
“I’m really looking to forward to coming to Hackney to show my film. Gentrification isn’t just happening here in the States, it’s also happening all over the world too. Sometimes it’s race, and sometimes it’s class, but it always comes down to the money – who has it and who doesn’t, and if you don’t have it you’ll get screwed.”

East of Liberty will be shown at the Dalston Rio at 1pm on May Day Bank Holiday – May 7. The price of admission is £4.

flyer pdf