Letter published in the Hackney Gazette – Friday, August 19

Your article “£90 million windfall boosts council homes facelift” (Gazette, August 4) tells part of the story about Hackney’s ALMO. Here are a few other points:

* This is not a “windfall.” It is a £90 million loan, which the Council will need to pay back in the future.

* This loan is only available to the Council if they are judged to be a “2 star” or good service. While the Audit Commission bureaucrats may award this, a fairer test would be to look round the estate where you live and think how may “stars” you would award our council.

* Leaseholders will have to pay for all works on estates. There is certainly no “windfall” for them.

* We will not all get the promised “modern kitchens and bathrooms.” Not only will leaseholders not get them, many tenants won’t either. There are no plans to replace any kitchens or bathrooms unless they are over 20-30 years old.

* This council is hopeless at spending money. If they have £90 million think how much of that they will hand over to consultants, architects and as profits to contractors. We will be lucky to see half of it actually spent on repairs to our homes.

* The ALMO will mean big pay rises for council housing bosses and will give an excuse for councillors to pass the buck on repairs and estate cleaning. It will be “don’t ask me, go to the ALMO.”

The Council plan to set up their ALMO in April, just one month before the council elections in May. We won’t get a chance to stop the ALMO by voting for different councillors, just like we did not get the chance for a straight yes or no vote to an ALMO in a ballot of tenants and leaseholders. Yet again Hackney’s Labour council is imposing on us their plans to hand over their responsibilities to a private company.

Of course £90 million is a lot of money, but council tenants and leaseholders pay many times that amount to the council each year. We shouldn’t jump ship to an ALMO just for the possibility of getting a £90 million debt.

Tony Butler
Hoxton representative, Hackney Independent
Cropley Court
Wenlock Barn Estate
London N1

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Haggerston School Scandal Update

The following email was received by Hackney Independent in relation to the current plans for Haggerston School.

For further details on the council plans read this article here

We will keep you updated on developments as and when they happen.

Hands off Haggerston School say the pupils

‘Building work has started at Haggerston school after planning permission was granted without the normal consultation with local residents.

A massive sports center and floodlit pitch is being built, while the sports pitch across the road in Haggerston Park has been shut down because the council cannot spend the £6,200 quoted to maintain the all weather surface.

Hackney knows that the school will be more attractive to outside investors once it has a spanking new sports facility.

Very few sports are played at the school despite the fact they have a huge playground and a big park just across the road.

Planning permission was given for the new sports centre without any info being given to local residents. The council claims 85 letters were sent out and no objections received, but no one can be found in the three streets most affected — Dunloe Street, Dawson Street or Scawfell Street who remembers receiving a letter. The council has a list of every letter they claim to have sent, but this does not tally with the memory of people who definitely did not receive them.’