81% Have No Faith in Hackney Council

Press Release
In a survey covering over 1000 people and 17 different estates, Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) has found that over 80% of those surveyed thought Hackney Council failed to do a good job, while the same percentage thought that none of the main political parties in the town hall listened to their views. A staggering 81% stated that they thought Hackney Council did a bad job.

The full results of the survey, which is the cover story in the latest Hackney Independent delivered to 4000 homes in Haggerston ward, make shocking reading. Crime and anti-social behaviour top the list of people’s priorities (70% chose it as their most serious issue) while repairs and cleaning came next as one of the 3 top issues that concerned people (56%). Lack of community facilities and people being priced out of the area came next (35% and 24% respectively).

Hackney IWCA started the mammoth survey back in the Autumn of last year as none of the major parties seemed to be listening to any of the concerns of Hackney’s working class majority. Hackney Independent spokesperson Peter Sutton says “Councillors from the main parties claim to represent their communities but when was the last time you even saw your councillor, let alone got any help from them? Simple issues like repairs to flats and estate cleaning should be easy for councillors to deal with, but the truth is they don’t want to know. Most of them are more concerned with their own political careers than serving the community”.

Back in November 2001, Hackney IWCA criticised the Council for paying the pollsters MORI thousands of pounds for carrying out a survey on people’s attitudes to the council. At the time Carl Taylor of Hackney Independent stated that “the council is using our money to pay other people to come round and do their job for them – to find out information that most people could tell them for nothing!”. The Hackney Independent Your Point of View survey – carried out by volunteers for free – reveals just how little local people think of Hackney Council and how many of them are prepared to do something about it at the next round of council elections. Encouragingly, 84% of those surveyed said they would consider voting for an alternative to the main parties in May. As Carl Taylor commented, “You can’t really blame people for not wanting to vote for the main parties when all you get are the same old broken promises. Labour have abandoned the people of Haggerston by shutting down the pool and threatening the Apples and Pears play area with closure. It’s hardly a surprise that people are turning their backs on this kind of politics”.

Laughably, the Conservative Party have just started their own “In Touch” postal survey in the same area, only 4 weeks before the council elections. As Peter Sutton comments “this is just a desperate attempt to find issues to campaign on in the run up to the elections. To call their survey “In Touch” is a little ironic as some of their members are supposed to be representing parts of Haggerston Ward already and really should know what people think”.

Give Us The Money

Wenlock Barn TRA chair and Hackney Independent member, Tony Butler comments on the latest news about attempts to gentrify the area.

And so, it goes on! After 4 years of telling the Government and local authority what we want as tenants the government and council still sees fit to insist that if Shorditch wants the money for redevelopment we must comply with it’s parameters. These been to knock down 800 homes so that X amount can be rebuilt at X amount rent and X amount of tenants may move back in. All the decision makers involved seem to like to play with figures, a popular one been if your home costs more than £44.000 to repair than it is not worth fixing! These particular properties, strange to notice have the most land surrounding them, can in no way cost more than the stated amount. One survey (Shorditch Our Way) had at one time stated that the buildings ‘Are structureley sound’ so how Levitt Bernstein have come up with this figure beggars disbelief.
There are people involved in the decision making process that will play on the worst fears of the tenants involved in this process and try to make them believe that all is bad. Not only our homes but our aspirations for a better life are shifted about to suit the interests of groups who are waiting in the side lines to scoop the rich rewards of Shorditch who are keen to play up the worst of the area with out commenting on the best of 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.

Spring Newsletter published

Hackney Independent, Spring 2002 issue (pdf format)

Haggerston Ward Election Manifesto 2002

Council elections: this time there is a real choice

Hackney Council has been running this area down over the last few years. The Council says it has no money, but keeps putting the rent, service charges and council tax up while cutting back on the essential services that our community needs. Since the last election Labour, Lib Dems and Tories have all taken turns running the Council and they have all played their part in bringing the Council to its knees. The Council is millions of pounds in debt and the only answer from the government and from our Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councillors is more of the same – more sell-off’s, more privatisation and more policies aimed at replacing Hackney’s working class majority with middle class city workers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Over the last few years, Hackney Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) has worked alongside community representatives and other residents of the area in trying to implement another vision of Hackney. This vision is of a Hackney where ordinary residents get to decide what the priorities should be in their area. Only the IWCA has asked the residents of Haggerston for their views on what should be done in this area. All the other parties want to do is impose their vision of a privatised Hackney on the rest of us.

That’s why this election is different – this time there is a real choice.

The election manifesto has policies in the four areas set out below. But we know that none of these policies stand up on their own. You can’t deal with anti-social behaviour without realising that closing down youth clubs mean more of our young people will get drawn into crime. Campaigning for security doors on blocks is a housing issue and an anti-crime issue. And it is because councillors have been unaccountable that they have got away with things in this area for so long. We need councillors who will get involved with the community in finding solutions to these problems.

The IWCA spent six months talking to over 1000 people on 17 estates across Haggerston. You told us your priorities were crime and anti-social behaviour, housing repairs and cleaning and the lack of community facilities. You also told us that you don’t think your councillors represent you. The following manifesto is based on what you told us.

Hackney Council wants to sell off Council housing throughout the borough. Every estate they sell ends up with less homes for rents we can afford and more homes for high rent or sale. This is part of the Council’s plan to increase the middle class percentage of the borough, claiming they are creating “mixed communities.” We will oppose all Council plans for sell-off’s of estates in this Ward and across Hackney. Where tenants decide that they have been so let down by the Council that they will accept privatisation we will work to make sure they get the full facts and the best possible deal.

The current standard of housing isn’t acceptable. We will continue to campaign with tenants and residents and their associations for more money for essential repairs on our estates and for a better standard of cleaning and repairs. We support free parking for residents.

Labour encourages the building of £200 a week flats for City workers. We will campaign for new council housing aimed at overcrowded Hackney tenants and young people living at home.

We will campaign for every empty flat in this Ward to be done up and let on a council tenancy – not high rent housing association tenancies.

We oppose any rent or service charge increases at least until the Council meets its obligations to manage, repair and clean our estates.

We will work with private and housing association tenants to fmake sure these landlords fulfil their responsibilities. We are opposed to housing associations building for high rent or sale in this Ward.

Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
This is your number one priority and it would be the main issue for IWCA councillors. We do not claim to have all the answers on this issue. IWCA councillors would convene a genuine community-based conference on this issue to look at possible solutions to the problem.

Dealing in hard drugs in this ward must be stopped. The Council and the police have a duty to take action to stop it.

While trying to force the Council and the police to be accountable about the way they operate and the priorities they choose, we will also look for community-based solutions to the problems of muggings, car theft, burglaries and vandalism.

We will campaign with tenants and residents and their associations for block security measures and improved lighting throughout the Ward.

Community Facilities
Public space in Hackney is under attack from developers and their friends in the Council who are encouraging the selling off of land and buildings that belong to all of us. Everyone suffers when public amenities are turned into a source of profit for private builders. IWCA councillors would oppose each and every move that leads to the loss of facilities such as playgrounds and parks for our community. We are supporting the campaigns to prevent the Apples and Pears adventure playground being redeveloped and to keep the Haggerston One O’clock Club open and also back the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.

We oppose all Council attempts to close down or sell off public assets in this Ward and across the Borough and will participate in any campaigns to protect our community facilities.

Electing IWCA councillors will not change the World, but it would be a clear signal to the Council and the government that the community has a vision of its own for the area that doesn’t involve making it a playground for the wealthy.

IWCA councillors wouldn’t be doing the job to promote their own political careers. They would work as part of a team within the IWCA and with the community to expose the Council’s plans and come up with viable alternatives

These are just a few ways in which IWCA councillors would be different from the other parties:

We would call a Ward Meeting as soon as we were elected and then every six months and invite everyone who lives in the Ward to come along and participate. Councillors would report back on what they have done in the last six months and outline what would be likely to happen in the next six months. In this way councillors would be held directly accountable to the community.

We would open an office in or near the ward – probably in a shop. This would be an easy way for you to contact your councillor. The IWCA would use the office to run advice sessions, surgeries and as a base to run campaigns from.

All decisions that our councillors have to vote on would be displayed in the office and on our website – so that you could have your say on them first. We would look at every possible way of getting people involved in decision-making, including use of the internet.

We will never form any alliance with the establishment parties that have let Hackney down – Labour, the Lib Dems or the Tories. We will work with tenant and community groups and anyone else who is on the side of the working class majority.

We know that we would be in a small minority at the Town Hall and we will not waste our time point-scoring with the other parties. We would arrange for delegations of local people to have their say, and would confront councillors with the effects their policies are having on this Ward. The main role of IWCA councillors will be as part of the IWCA outside of Council meetings – in the community. IWCA members will be at meetings on your estate or in your community. We will be part of campaigns in this area and will be accountable to you.

After the election – who will stand up for the working class majority?

The IWCA is completely different from the other parties. While we campaign 52 weeks a year, you only ever see the other parties at election time – if at all. And while the other parties only want your votes, we want you to vote for us and get involved.

If Labour councillors get in they will be able to vote for things like increased charges for home helps, scrapping the Freedom Pass for disabled people and selling the Apples and Pears adventure playground site – and claim they have your support.

If the IWCA get in, our councillors will be able to put pressure on the Council, but it needs far more than 3 councillors on their own. The IWCA is creating an organisation that doesn’t just hold protests, but can force the Council to manage and repair our homes and that can take action to make our streets and blocks safe again.

We want you to join the IWCA.

The first thing to do is to ring Carl Taylor on 020 7684 1743 and see how you can help in the election campaign. This could be anything from just putting a poster in your window to giving some leaflets to your neighbours or even coming out and knocking on doors.

But after the election when all the politicians have forgotten Haggerston again, the IWCA will still be here creating an organisation that involves and stands up for the working class majority in this area.


Nusret Sen – Independent
Peter Sutton – Independent Working Class Association
Carl Taylor – Independent Working Class Association