Hackney 143rd Best Council In Country*

The Audit Commission’s annual report on council performances has again rated Hackney as one of the country’s worst – classed as “poor” – and most damningly awards it the lowest possible ratings for its core services and ability to improve. To those of us who’ve suffered at the hands of the council over the years, this comes as no surprise, but what is galling is Mayor Jules Pipe’s attempts to spin his way out of trouble. You can almost hear him whistling New Labour’s anthem “Things Can Only Get Better”.

According to the Evening Standard, Pipe “disputed that the council was the worst in the country. He said the fact that the ratings had only been partially updated since last year had made it impossible for them to convey major advances. “I realise there is a mountain to climb but I’m pleased we are going in the right direction,” he said. ”

While Hackney Council is identified as one of the 10 most improving councils by the Audit Commission, this isn’t really that hard to do. After all, improving on totally incompetent to massively incompetent isn’t that much of a leap. Apparent improvements in education have come at the expense of school closures – directly against the wishes of parents, pupils and staff – and amount to little more than an airbrushing out of the picture of some of the poorest areas of the borough. Meanwhile, leisure services are rightly slated at a time when the massively overbudget Clissold leisure centre is shut for repairs and the much-loved Haggerston Pool is still gathering dust.

Jules Pipe may believe the only way is up – and that may be true – but the slash and burn strategy of this Labour administration is likely to cause more damage to Hackney’s working class majority in the process.

(* out of 150!)