Hackney Not4Sale Autumn Newsletter Out

Hackney Not4Sale, who have been campaigning on a range of issues in the borough (many of which we agree with!) have released their Autumn newsletter. Below we reprint the first article Would You Vote For Who’s Responsible For This? from the newsletter. For your own copy email Hackney Not4Sale


nothing is safe…
Laburnum Primary School…Kingsland Secondary School… Rainbow Nursery…St John’s Nursery… Shoreditch Centre… Springfield 1 o’clock Club…Saturday opening in libraries… Dalston & Hackney Citizens Advice Bureaux…playgrounds… funding for voluntary groups… All gone or still under threat since the May elections.


Would you vote for who’s responsible for this?


The summer holidays are over, schools have returned and the Mayoral Election is upon us. Time to check in to Hackney Council and see what is left of our services. Remember the “Rose”, the Labour Party election pamphlet posted through our doors in May? Remember the headline “Only Labour Can Save Hackney!” and how they boasted about ending the threat to libraries and nurseries? Why then are our libraries still closed on Saturdays and suffering on a daily basis because of lack of staff? Why then was St John’s Nursery closed at the end of August, when there is a long waiting list, in addition to a whole host of other completed or immanent closures? Why are voluntary groups yet again uncertain about their future? You might well ask but the huge new Labour majority obviously has something to do with it. Was the headline “Big Improvement in Children’s Services” in August’s Hackney Today meant to be a joke? Inside this newsletter we give you the gory details of facilities that are closing or under threat. It is a long list from a party that is hoping the public will elect one of its main protagonists as mayor for the next four years – Jules Pipe, present Council Leader. His Council has presided over a year of cuts and uncertainty over funding and created a feeling that ‘nothing is safe’. With added authority as executive mayor, what shape will Hackney’s services be in this time next year under his rule?


Our questions to mayoral candidates should include: do you or any of your family actually use these services? There are certainly doubts that many Councillors in Hackney Cabinet need them. If they did they would know what it is like to live without them. Also worrying is a recent decline in access to information. There is little evidence that the new Cabinet/Scrutiny arrangements are of benefit, or accountable, to the public. For many people trying to save their facilities, lack of consultation and accurate information just adds insult to injury. Advice and information points such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux have been forced to close and there are threats hanging over the First Stop Shop. It seems impossible that such services, vital to the daily welfare of many people, are allowed to disappear with little debate. The Council may not care about such concerns but the work of the CAB resulted in the return to them of a substantial amount of debt (see right). Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.


Whatever you do, before you vote, find out what each candidate’s vision for our borough is and how they are going to stop the decline in services. We will all live with the result for four years.

Crime figures rise as CCTV expands

The following article is from the Indymedia website and raises some interesting questions about crime in the borough:


Hackney council have just announced an expansion of their CCTV facilities to make the streets safer. Yet crime in the borough continues to remain high. Ivan Agenda investigates to see why crime rates are so high and show why council policy has created an environment for the crime to continue.
The council announced last week the expansion of two new CCTV schemes within the borough, alongside with the digitalisation of all cameras, replacing the previous analogue method of copying footage to VHS. According to a spokesperson for the local authority, “this will help make Hackney a better place to live”, yet on closer inspection the streets don’t appear to be any safer than before. Latest statistics taken from a Crime and Disorder audit commissioned last year shows the borough as having the second highest recorded crime rate in London and nearly twice that of the national rate. The conclusion the audit reached was that “the levels of crime continue to be high and are linked to the poverty and deprivation experienced within the Borough”, a problem which increased CCTV coverage is unlikely to solve.


Hackney’s financial chaos is well known, millions in debt; massive overspends; failed privatisation, resulting in the demise of vital services under the authorities control. In order to restrict their outgoings the council have put in place a three-year budget, which they say will allow them to balance their books. This year £13 million pounds of ‘savings’ have taken place, meaning the closure of many resources within the borough. Grant money has been reduced from children’s play services and One O’ Clock clubs, adding to the closure of nearly half of all nurseries in the borough in recent times. Six youth centres have been closed in the last three years and if you add this to poor housing, gang culture and poverty the reasons for high crime become clearer. Money placed directly into community centres with trained workers on hand to run them, would be a positive step but as the council remains financially incompetent investments into such areas will remain the stuff of dreams. The council stated they are, “committed to tackling crime in the borough. CCTV is an important part of that strategy to reduce crime and make people feel safer in the streets.” Yet, the local authority has in fact reduced the budget for Youth services from £4 million to £1 million since 1989. Interestingly further statistics from the audit show that a fifth of all known offenders in the borough were under 18 years of age, with a significant rise in youth offending occurring in the 15 to 18 age range. That figure has now increased to nearly a third of all recorded crime being committed by under 18’s.


Money from central government has been available for the borough but has instead been provided for getting the council’s finances back into balance and paying consultants to achieve this. Furthermore when Government provided £25 million earlier this year, they stipulated it wasn’t to be used to “offset savings”, but instead should be implemented to put their finances in order. This has left the borough, which is already reeling from the first found of cuts this year, with the knowledge that a further £40 million in cuts is to be implemented in the following two years. How much of this will be facilities used by the youth?


Due to attempts from financial centres Frankfurt and Canary Wharf to increase their role as World trading Centres, the City of London has felt the need to protect it’s leading status and expand. The borough of Hackney, which is geographically next-door to the financial district and until recently had relatively low property prices, was seen as an ideal area for that expansion.


The closest area in Hackney to the city is called Shoreditch and this part of the borough became the first recipient of money in a Government scheme called ‘New Deal for Communities’ (NDC). This was set up to provide finance to the poorest areas in the country in an attempt to attack “the core problems of deprived areas.” Shoreditch was earmarked to receive £57.4 million and a board, in part containing local residents was created to decide where the money should be spent. This board decided the money would best be given to improving the already existing council housing. Yet the then housing minister Lord Falconer decided to withhold £20 million of the allocated money, claiming the idea was unsustainable. What has since manifested in the district is a vast increase in wine bars, clubs, businesses, houses for City workers and the crime rate. The audit commission recognised Shoreditch as one of the crime hotspots within the borough stating; “This is a developing area and has seen an increase in the number of commercial premises and entertainment venues…High crime categories in this area include violent crime, robbery, vehicle crime and business crime, particularly non-residential burglary.”


A regeneration website ‘Invest in Hackney’ suggests that this expansion is only the beginning, “Businesses looking for the optimum location from which to serve the City are now considering areas such as Kingsland Road, Dalston and Mare Street as very real alternatives and such areas are creating a ‘new’ City Fringe.” Perhaps unsurprisingly another area to see vast investment surrounds the council town hall on Mare Street. This so-called Cultural quarter has seen a new Private Financed library, with five new commercial properties, a new venue called the Ocean, and a refurbishment of the Hackney Empire. This place is also listed a crime hotspot by the audit, citing the same key crime categories as Shoreditch.


There have been several crime prevention initiatives set up in the borough, ‘Operation safer streets’ deals with street robberies and snatch thefts and has seen a reduction in those crimes. Another initiative called ‘Safer schools partnership’, has trained officers going into schools and colleges who is on hand for children to approach them, who may be victims or perpetrators of bullying and crime. However with money being steered away from maintaining youth centres and disparity of wealth between the haves and have not becoming exasperated by the newly created nighttime economies. Any crime prevention is more likely to apply a bandage to a wound, rather than preventing the injury in the first place. New nighttime economies such as those in Shoreditch and Mare Street merely provide an arena for the offending to occur, leaving the issues of poverty unresolved and the streets of Hackney none the safer.

Mayoral Election – what the candidates say about Laburnum School

Election for Mayor of Hackney


3 candidates support us – 5 ignore us


Elections are going on now for the Mayor of Hackney. The Save Laburnum School Campaign wrote to all the candidates asking them to support us.


5 of them ignored us (Labour, Lib Dem, Tories, Hackney First and an Independent)


3 candidates gave us their full support. You get a 1st choice and a 2nd choice on your ballot paper. We recommend that you give your votes to 2 of these candidates:
Terry Edwards Independent
Paul Foot Socialist Alliance
Crispin Truman Green Party
But we can’t leave it up to the politicians. We need your support if we are going to keep the school open. Come to the next meeting of the campaign:


Tuesday 8th October, 5pm at 75 Hebden Court, Laburnum Street.


Here is what the Mayor candidates said to us:


Terry Edwards (Independent)
“I went to Laburnum School as did my brothers and we got a good education here. If I am elected Mayor of Hackney, Laburnum School will not close.”


Paul Foot (Socialist Alliance)
The answer to your question is an unequivocal Yes I support your campaign. The elected mayor will have little power, but will be able at least to block and stall council closure plans, and use the influence of the elected office to campaign against them. I would do these things most energetically. I would like to say that I will also be available to – and supportive of – your campaign if I am not elected.


I went last week to a meeting at Kingsland school, which is also threatened with closure, and was impressed by the level of local fury the council have stirred up by their policy. In a borough where problems are so obviously caused by deprivation and poverty, it seems to me quite incredible that the council should be closing schools, nurseries and libraries. That is why I agreed to stand as Socialist Alliance candidate for mayor.


Crispin Truman (Green Party)
As Mayor of Hackney I would fully support the kids, parents and staff of Laburnam School and the wider community in your campaign to keep the school open. It’s my strong belief that the work you are doing to protect and improve our borough cannot be dismissed by Hackney Council but must be welcomed and supported if we are ever to turn things around. It’s the role of Mayor to put the interests of local people at the top of the local agenda, protecting services for the future instead of sacrificing everything we have to the obsessive need to please the government and its accountants.


I have two young children of my own, one of them attends William Patten School in Stoke Newington, so I am very acutely aware of the importance of having a local school which kids can walk to, with their mates living close by. I’m also struck by the importance of a thriving school to a healthy community – as you say it’s not just pupils and parents who benefit, but all adults who can contribute and learn as part of the wider role a school has in bringing people together.

Laburnum School Reunion

The Save Laburnum School Campaign organised a reunion for ex-pupils on 27th September. The reunion started in the school hall where many old friends met up along with current teachers, staff and community activists.


Event organiser Peter Sutton read out e-mails of support from those who have moved away from the area and so could not attend but wanted their support to be recorded. Typical examples were:


“Sorry to hear that they want to get rid of the old school,but I live in Australia and will be unable to attend so sorry about that, the school has to be Heritage Listed, I went there as a child way back in the 1950’s, Anyway I do wish you all success and hope that they relent, Regards Ken Bywater Perth Australia”, and


Peter Sutton of Hackney IWCA reads out emails of support

“I am very saddened and upset to hear of Hackney Council’s decision to close Laburnum School, I only just heard about it the other day and thought it was a mistake, then I recieved your e-mail so it must be true. I went to laburnum from 1973 – 1979, and I remember those days there to be happy and very memorable.


“I wish you all well in your efforts to save a great school from impending closure; and I hope that once the council sees how important this local school is to the community, I remember my days at Laburnum as some of the happiest and I could almost guarantee that other’s did too. Rod Rothwell”

Mayoral Candidate and ex-pupil Terry Edwards

Ex-pupils lined up for a photo. In this photo there are 28 ex-pupils along with Laburnum Chair of Governors, Graham Mayers.

Candidate for Mayor of Hackney, Terry Edwards spoke to the reunion. He said “I went to Laburnum School as did my brothers and we got a good education here.” After reminiscing about the school Terry spoke briefly about the Council’s mismanagement of the Borough and his Mayoral campaign. Terry pledged “If I am elected Mayor of Hackney, Laburnum School will not close.”
Some ex-pupils wanted to look around, others were interested in catching up with old friends – but all were determined to fight to keep the school open. Charlie Sandbridge, 65, who now lives in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex and left Laburnum School in 1949. “Towards the end of the War, German planes came overhead shooting their guns at us. Teachers told us to get back inside. We survived German planes and we can fight off this Council’s plans to close our old school.” Dominic Bergonzi, 44 formerly of St Mary’s estate and now living in Waltham Abbey “The Council are breaking down the fabric by selling off its silverware – its schools”
A group of girls from Haggerston School attended – who had all left Laburnum in the last few years and were keen to show their support for the school. As the photo below shows they were also interested to hear about the old days at Laburnum School.
The evening ended with a social in the Old King John’s Head attended by ex-pupils, current parents and a number of school support staff.