Haggerston Girls Kitchen staff strike over pay

Members of Unite – the union at Haggerston School – are to strike on Wednesday June 27 in a bid to increase their pay above the national minimum wage.

The kitchen staff – employed by contractors Sodexho – are paid nearly £4 an hour less than other similar staff across the Borough.

“We have done everything we could to avoid a strike,” said Unite T&G Section regional industrial organiser Paul Fawcett. “We have been delaying implementation of the strike decision by our members in the hope that Sodexho would see sense and pay our members a fair wage. We suggested staging an increase.

“But it has all been a waste of time, unfortunately. The company is behaving like dinosaurs from the least enlightened period of British management, with absolutely no interest in justice or social responsibility.”

For further information please call the T&G section of
Unite Press Office on 020 7611 2550

The Latest on the Clays Lane Estate

Clays Lane housing estate in Stratford was built in the 1970s and was Europe’s second largest purpose built housing cooperative consisting of 450 units.

It is the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order by the London Development Agency to make way for the 2012 Olympic site.

All residents were promised equivalent, if not better, housing.

The following has been written by one of the remaining residents Julian Cheyne:

Clays Lane tenants are informed that the Government is becoming annoyed with the LDA and CBHA, our housing managers, because they have not yet cleared the Clays Lane estate. At a briefing yesterday Mr Blacker of the LDA said he thought the LDA would have to evict ‘a handful’ of tenants. We understand the idea is they should ‘get tough’ with the remaining tenants as if they are in some way being recalcitrant.

Tenants are not refusing to co-operate with the relocation process. No-one is barricading themselves into their houses.

Some tenants have not yet been made an offer of accommodation. It has been agreed they should receive three ‘reasonable’ offers with a right to appeal if they are dissatisfied.

The LDA has already gone back on its original promises and promises made by the Mayor of London about the quality of accommodation they would be offered.

The LDA has had since 2003 to prepare for the relocation of tenants but failed to keep any of the timelines it set out in the Fluid report. Staff were only appointed to supervise the relocation in July and November 2005.

Some tenants will have to make temporary moves because of the failure of the LDA to organise particular kinds of moves.

Tenants are much worse off in financial terms and have lost their community and amenities with inadequate compensation. Some have smaller properties than they had at Clays Lane. The LDA has promised to ‘sustain’ communities. This community has been demolished.

Tenants have warned of the likelihood of the programme not delivering on time. It is unfair they should carry the cost of the failures of others.

‘Getting tough’ rather than investing properly in making the programme work just makes eviction more likely.

Dear Supporter of the Manor Garden Allotment campaign

The following is an appeal issued by Lifeisland Support and Campaign Group for Manor Garden Allotments
Apologies if you came to the High Court last Thursday and found it was cancelled. It was impossible to give advance warning as we only knew at 10.30 on Wednesday night that a good enough agreement had been reached to cancel. In fact negotiations on the fine detail continued on through Thursday morning with nine lawyers!

We have another stay of execution until 23rd September with restricted access. We also now have a failsafe relocation site in case we are finally evicted.

We’d like to call on your support and goodwill again for a gathering outside The London Studios, South Bank, London SE1 this Thursday 21st June at 6.15pm. This one will not be cancelled. ITV plan to film us.

The Mayor will be arriving to participate in the London Debate. Julie Sumner will be in the audience to try to question him. The programme goes out live at 7pm on ITV.

Media interest continues unabated with three film crews at the plots on Sunday and another visiting on Wednesday. We’ll try to keep you updated.

Lifeisland Support and Campaign Group
for Manor Garden Allotments

Hanover in Hackney tries to ‘sell’ private flats to angry residents

The meeting held on 7 June 2007, to discuss the planned demolition of Bayton Court sheltered housing unit in London Fields by landlords Hanover in Hackney (HiH), was both bizarre and angry in equal measure.
“The purpose of the meeting”, according to the organisers, OPEN, “is to hear a presentation and to discuss a planning application made by Hanover in Hackney to demolish Bayton Court, sheltered housing accommodation on London Fields, and to redevelop the site to provide 16 x 4-bedroom houses and 2 x 4-bedroomed maisonettes for private sale.”

“The redevelopment will impact on the frail and elderly residents, who will need to be relocated, and on residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate and create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields.”

Tenants from Blackstone Estate TRA, elderly residents from Bayton Court and others heard first the background from OPEN’s Bill Parry-Davis. In 2002 Bayton Court was stock transferred to HiH because the council claimed it had no money for improvements. Residents were promised that £41 million would be invested with every flat to be refurbished within 5 years and that their Sheltered Housing Officers and the services provided would remain the same.

Reassured, residents voted ‘YES’ to the stock transfer. Despite these reassurances made by HiH and Hackney councillors and officers back in 2002, HiH are now seeking planning permission to demolish the building and put up homes for the wealthy; not just depriving the elderly residents of the community they know and their pleasant green surroundings, but also depriving many residents of Blackstone Estate their views of London Fields, too.

HiH’s presentation of their plans for the new development was bizarre. HiH’s architect – dressed oddly like a Bond villain – gave a presentation as if he were trying to sell the proposed private homes not to the angry pensioners and tenants who were patiently waiting for him to finish, but to a room-full of prospective yuppie buyers.

Following that it took repeated questioning of HiH to get to the heart of the matter. Why build posh homes on London Fields instead of refurbishing or even building a new sheltered unit?

If the money has to be raised by building and selling posh homes, couldn’t it be raised by building and selling posh homes in another part of the borough if necessary, rather than disrupting the remaining years of frail and vulnerable old people, and disrupting – both short-term and permanently – the council tenants of Blackstone Court? HiH admitted they chose London Fields rather than any of their other sites in Hackney because of the value of the land right next to a big leafy park. As Bill Parry-Davis observed, what HiH are really saying is that Bayton Court is too nice and too valuable to be wasted on elderly people.

As usual there was lots of guff from HiH about them taking a “holistic approach” to their management of sheltered housing in Hackney, none of which gets round the fact that they have broken the promise they made to the residents and to Hackney Council in 2002 at the time of the stock transfer. Since then HiH have sold off two other buildings. As one angry member of the meeting’s audience pointed out, “they should be called Handover in Hackney!”

Given that HiH are in breach of a promise made with Hackney Council as well, you might expect the council to be outraged and threatening all sorts of action to protect their legal integrity and the rights of their constituents? Sadly, if predictably, not, however. The Queensbridge Ward Labour councillors at the meeting appeared content to sit on the fence rather than whole-heartedly defend their constituents against a landlord that had effectively lied to them to get hold of their homes five years ago.

Surely, it was asked, Hackney Council planning committee should just declare HiH’s planning application invalid since it is in breach of the original stock transfer agreement? Not so easy apparently. Councillor Emma Plouviez explained that it was up to tenants and residents to object to the planning application. Makes you wonder why we bother electing representatives in the first place….

Hackney Independent will post further developments.

For more info: www.opendalston.net or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF

A message to Manor Garden Allotments supporters

The following appeal is being circulated to friends and supporters of the Manor Park Allotments campaign:

There are some important events coming up we would like to ask your help with.

The closing date for the revised Olympic Park Planning Application public consultation is Friday 15thJune. There is information being added to the lifeisland.org website on how to go about sending in an objection.
Our Judicial Review will take place in the High Court on Thursday 14th of June. We are taking them to court on the basis that they would be breaking the promises they have consistently made that we would not be evicted before a suitable relocation site had been found for us. The Compulsory Purchase Order was approved, as was the Olympic Delivery Act, on the assumption that a relocation site would be provided. Yet still the LDA plan to evict us on 2nd July, relocation site obtained or not!
It would be impressive and attract media attention if there was a supportive presence with placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand from 9.30am on Thursday. The hearing starts at 10.30. We will be producing a number of placards but any extras will add to the effect. Please come and show solidarity with Manor Garden Allotments. Be sure to check the website www.lifeisland.org on Wednesday evening for up to date information.

Many thanks for your support to date,

Julie Sumner
Lifeisland Coordinator and Plot holder