Pointing the finger

To be elected Chair of a tenants’ association is an honour, but it brings responsibility. The highest standards should be expected of our community leaders, and if they are not up to it then they need to step down and let others take over.

The Chair of one of our tenants’ associations walked into the New Deal Office yesterday (February 1st) with a leaflet he claimed had been distributed by Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) on his estate. He implied that it had been written by leading Shoreditch tenant activist, Clayeon McKenzie. This was quickly checked out and the true position emerged.

The “Hackney Independent leaflet” was text taken from this website (the 20th January news item – Demolition of Shoreditch averted – for now) and rearranged by someone into the form of a leaflet. This had not been distributed by Hackney IWCA, or any other local tenant or community activists who we work with. So this begs the question “what was the aim of claiming this was a Hackney Independent leaflet?”

The TA Chair was Paul Davis-Poynter. Paul has featured in our newsletter before (see below) and as soon as an election was called Paul was voted off the New Deal Board. It could be that with Clayeon McKenzie having recently lost the rigged election for New Deal Board Chair (see 20th January story New Deal Board stitch-up?) Paul sees this as his opportunity to kick Clayeon when he is down, and re-establish himself with the pro-stock transfer group now in the driving seat on the Board.One section of the article itself has come in for a little bit of friendly criticism. This was the section that read
An interesting spin off from the meeting was the resignation of Winnie Ames as chair of Wenlock Barn Tenants’ Association. Winnie – long time friend of the gentrifiers and rabid opponent of Hackney Independent – was put on the spot by some of her own tenants, who asked her why she wasn’t representing their interests. Faced down by those she claimed to represent, Winnie did the decent thing and resigned her position, although she remains on the New Deal Board ,but for how long?
It is claimed that this paragraph was too personal, and that we should only talk about the issues. A considered response is that, like with Paul Davis-Poynter, high standards are expected of our community leaders. When people stand for elections – to the Council, New Deal Board or as Chair of their TA, then they must be held to account. In Winnie Ames’ case to win elections she has stood as anti-stock transfer, but she has used her positions:
  • to support sell-off’s on the New Deal Board
  • to defend Pinnacle against any criticism whatsoever on the Shoreditch Panel
  • to argue for rent rises in the Hackney Gazette (13th January 2000) and on the New Deal Board
  • to attack Hackney Independent, while never having a word of criticism for the middle class parties that run Hackney Council.

There are some outstanding community leaders in Haggerston and Hoxton, but Paul Davis-Poynter’s leaflet that never was and Winnie Ames’ actions, show that we do not just have problems with our councillors – our own local community leaders need to be held to account as well.

New Deal Diary from Hackney Independent Issue 2:

I note that Paul Davis-Poynter was voted off the New Deal Board Area 1 by tenants. Paul was the chair of the Board and made a habit of criticising Hackney Independent behind closed doors. Always trying to look reasonable, he would claim to have tried to contact us countless times on our phone number and through our mailing address. In reality he did not make a single phone call or write a single letter. Now he is off the Board, Paul will have more time to make contact with us. One local tenant leader remarked that Paul’s problem is “that he spent too long in the Socialist Workers Party and too long trying to prove that he is not a member !”