Estates Plus secret Agenda?

(Hackney Gazette 19th June 2008)

I’m confused.

Hackney Council spent an enormous amount of money on consultation fees and publicity to convince residents that the only way we were going to get “Decent Homes” was by agreeing to transfer to a housing association, or by way of a Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). They got the second of their preferred options, the ALMO now called Hackney Homes, and now appear to have a secret agenda to obstruct Hackney Homes from obtaining the required two stars that will release funds from central government to complete the Decent Homes programme in the forthcoming audit by the Audit Commission.

Despite enormous opposition from residents the council, not Hackney Homes, persists in going ahead with its Estates Plus programme.

This programme calls for “under-used land on estates to be sold off to housing associations for development.

What is “under-used land”? It is our green spaces and play areas.

Excuse me councillors, our green spaces and play areas are not under-used. They are an essential part of our estates and environment.

Furthermore it is not your land to dispose of. It belongs to all the residents of Hackney, be they Hackney Homes residents, or not. It is held in trust for future generations. We the current residents of the estates are just the guardians of the land.

Question three on the ballot paper on Decent Homes posed: Were residents in favour of land on estates being used to build on. The answer to this question? Twenty-nine per cent in favour, 66 per cent opposed.

I venture to suggest that were the same question asked today the result would be an even more resounding “no”. Are you really encouraging mass protest by residents just before the audit?

If Hackney Homes fails yet again to obtain two stars following the audit, are you planning to hold a further ballot that will disenfranchise a large proportion of residents by limiting it to one vote per household? (By itself a total abuse of all democratic procedures and principals).

I ask again councillors: Do you have a secret agenda? Is this a ploy to so frustrate residents that they will vote for a transfer to a housing association in order to get Decent Homes and thus allow the council to avoid any responsibility for the 20-odd years of total neglect of our homes?

It certainly appears so.

Finally. No, I am not being a NIMBY. Aspland and Marcon estates are not part of the Estates Plus programme.

Tony Osborne, Secretary,

Aspland & Marcon Court

Estates Tenants’ & Residents’ Association.