Autumn 2002 NewsletterPosted: September 23, 2002 | |
ShOWing Themselves Up
“£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.
REAL NEWS FROM HOXTON & HAGGERSTON
HAGGERSTON POOL – YUPPIE FLATS?
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?
WENLOCK BARN YOUTH CLUB BLOCKED
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.
APPLES & PEARS – THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
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…
KEEP LABURNUM SCHOOL OPEN!
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.
SHOREDITCH CENTRE: NO TO DEVELOPERS
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.”
CANALSIDE – BROKEN PROMISES
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.