Summer newsletter published

  • Haggerston School Under Threat
  • City Academies
  • Olympics
  • Broadway Market
  • A View from Hoxton
  • A View from Haggerston
  • More!

Hackney Independent, Summer 2005 issue (pdf format)

More newsletters

Laburnum Street Party

The annual Laburnum Street Party took place last weekend and was a resounding success.

Hackney Independent ran an Independent Kids Cinema event, staffed a stall with our newsletters and a special information leaflet and provided the majority of stewards for the day.

Other activities included music and dance, a bouncy castle, clowns for kids and Laburnum Boat Club ran canal trips.

The street party is a genuine community festival organised by people living in the Laburnum Street area, which started last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Haggerston Pool.

The pool was closed by Hackney Council in 2000 at which time it was promised that it would be reopened in months. It remains closed to this day and an aim of the fun day is to raise the profile of the pool and support the campaign for its reopening.

Although it has widespread support in the community, Hackney Council seemed to be doing its best to sabotage the event.

Official council newspaper Hackney Today was distributed a week before the event with a front page piece stating that the funday would take place on the Saturday rather than the Sunday.

The council also removed any mention of the pool campaign and portrayed the event as just “a good day out” with no political content.

Hackney Independent’s Carl Taylor said “We proud to be involved with this event. No wonder the Council were ashamed to mention the pool given their track record of closing community facilities in the area.”

More successes for Independent Kids Cinema


Hackney Independent’s Peter Sutton discusses possible future films with the audience…

Last week Hackney Independent organised two screenings of the film “Garfield”. Both shows werea great success. On Wednesday morning 20 children from Whiston & Goldsmiths came and Hackney Independent members were ably assisted by two members of the local tenant association.

The Thursday afternoon screening on the Geffrye Estate was our biggest ever, with 36 kids and a lot of parents in attendance. Good discussions were had at both events with parents about issues on their estates and with kids about what films they would like to see at future Independent Kids Cinema events.

Haggerston Pool Updates

The following appeared in the most recent issue of the Haggerston Pool newsletter:


Financial Services Company UBS who are sponsoring the new city academy on the site of Laburnum primary school, (which is in the street behind Haggerston Pool) have decided not to include Haggerston Pool in their development.

They have also decided not to take the land from Tannery Arts for the school, but to fit the whole new secondary school on the site of the old primary school.


Planning is just beginning to have another Street Party in Laburnum Street, Haggerston in June or July this year. This will be to celebrate the 101st birthday of Haggerston Pool. Anyone who’d like to get involved please get in touch.

More information, including details of how to subscribe to the newsletter by email, are available on the Haggerston Pool website.

Report: Advice Session

Last week’s advice session on the Geffrye Estate was well attended. Local people came along with a number of issues – all of which related to repairs. In case after case people had reported problems to the Council, after which nothing had happened. Hackney IWCA will be pursuing this directly with the Council.

Report: Kids Cinema Events


All of the kids who attended our showings of the film “Monsters Inc.” at Haggerston and Goldsmiths had an excellent time, and it was great to see so many adults volunteering to help out. The numbers were less than we had expected at both events, these being the first to take place on a Saturday. We shall be returning to mid-week showings again, and are currently planning further dates for later on in the year. Watch this space…

letter to Time Out (August 2004)

Dear Last Word,

Just wanted to point a few things out in response to David Austin’s comments (founder member of Tannery Arts, Laburnum Street, Hackney) in your News section.

The ‘derelict basketball court’ David suggests could be used to provide space for the new Bridge Academy (thus sparing Brunswick Wharf) is in fact used by local kids as a hang-out area. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the efforts the artists at Brunswick Wharf have made to assimilate into the local area (in comparison with the usual aloof, gentrifying Hoxton scum), and only hope that Hackney Council look seriously at Russell Gray’s offer to finance the reopening of neighbouring Haggerston Pool.

In the meantime, we should defend all the facilities we have left here – even ex-basketball courts.

Carl Taylor
Hackney Independent Working Class Association

Hackney Independent Kids Cinema – most successful yet!

The Hackney Independent Kids’ Cinema is a series of film shows put on for local kids in community centres, with the help and support of Tenants Associations.

Over the recent half term holiday, we put on showings of “Finding Nemo” at Goldsmith’s and Haggerston Estates. The events were the most successful yet, with over 80 kids attending.

The IWCA has always made a point of getting involved in the local community. We argue that young people need more facilities and more investment in their future, and that working class areas have suffered most with council cutbacks. These events are one way for us to put our money where our mouth is.

Spring 2004 Newsletter


by Nusret Sen, Peter Sutton and Carl Taylor

Two years ago we stood in the council elections as independent working class candidates. We argued New Labour only represents the middle class in this area – they act in the interest of loft-dwelling City workers and their developer friends . We said that the working class majority in the area needed independent representation. We wanted to put your issues first and after talking to over 1000 people on estates in the ward we campaigned on the issues of crime and anti-social behaviour, housing repairs and transfers, and defending our vital community facilities.

Against a Labour Party bankrolled by big business we did well. With no experience of standing in an election before, we came within 90 votes of winning. We were the closest to beating Labour anywhere in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency. More people voted in Haggerston than in neighbouring wards, mainly because people who don’t normally vote saw us as something different and gave us a chance.

But Labour scraped back in. Since then what have they done?

• Haggerston pool is still shut (and now Clissold pool in Stoke Newington is shut as well)

• Laburnum School was closed despite protests from parents and the community

• Estate management has been handed over to private companies – tenants and leaseholders weren’t even given the choice of staying with the council

• Grant funding to Apples & Pears adventure playground and the One O’clock club has been cut

There will be another council election in two years time. It is our view that Labour do not deserve to keep representing this ward. We think there should be another independent working class challenge to Labour – whether this is us, or other independent working class candidates. That challenge has already begun. We know how to fight elections now, but we also understand that community politics is not about ticking a box once every four years. It’s about our involvement in the day to day issues of Haggerston. We will work with anyone who wants to fight Labour’s plans for privatising and gentrifying this area.




Tenants Petition ShOW over New Development
Activists from the Shoreditch Tenants Association have been petitioning the estates in the Pitfield Street area of Hoxton about the proposed redevelopment of the old cinema. Shoreditch Our Way (ShOW) have pushed a bid for the site, currently a warehouse. They say they want to reopen it as a community cinema. However, the planning application leaves it open for “mixed use”. Local residents are clear that while they would welcome a local community cinema — including a Saturday Morning Club for local children — they object to more yuppie flats and late-night bars. In short, local people do not want the so-called Shoreditch “cultural quarter”, with its high prices and anti-social behaviour, to creep further North from Hoxton Square into residential areas. Shoreditch T/A’s petition will be submitted to both ShOW and Hackney Council’s Planning Office.

£30 million – Down the Drain?
Hackney hit the headlines again with the closure of the £30million Clissold Leisure Centre. During the last election, the IWCA campaigned for “the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.” A fraction of the cost of Clissold would have refurbished Haggerston Pool, but New Labour preferred to open their very own Millennium Dome in the borough instead.

Working Class Candidate for London Mayor
The IWCA recently announced its candidate for the London Mayoral election on June 10th. Lorna Reid, 39, is an advice worker who lives on a council estate in Islington. She aims to give a voice to the concerns of the millions of working class people in London who find they are ignored by the mainstream parties. The message she is sending is: “We live here too!”

More information:

Get Involved with Community Politics!
This newsletter is put together by community activists who want to work together to defend working class interests in Haggerston and Hackney. If you would like to work with us then contact 020 7684 1743

The Truth about the Olympics
Ken Livingstone and New Labour are promoting the lower Lea Valley for the 2012 Olympic Games. While vital sports provision for the rest of us continues to be cut (bear in mind that dozens of football pitches on the marshes will be lost to make way for a coach park), what is being kept quiet is the plan if the Olympics doesn’t happen.

Thousands of jobs will be lost from the hundreds of local companies who will be evicted, so that thousands of riverside flats for Canary Wharf yuppies can be built.

Camden Tenants Fight Housing Privatisation
Housing Minister, Keith Hill called tenants in Camden “irrational” after they threw out government plans to hand their homes over to an ‘Arms Length Management Organisation’ (ALMO). More than 3 out of 4 tenants voted against the ALMO, rejecting the advice of Labour councillors, highly-paid consultants and top council officers. ALMOs are limited companies, set up to run council housing but tenants realised that it would quickly be sold off to a housing association. There has to be another vote before this can happen, but the ALMO is just a half-way house which the Council uses to get tenants used to the idea that Council housing should be privately run.

Minister Keith Hill has shown the contempt he has for tenants who don’t just go along with Labour’s privatisation plans and who want improved council housing with no strings attached. Watch out for Labour’s plans for bringing in an ALMO in Hackney.

New Labour – Privatise Locally, Privatise Globally
The charity War on Want has recently criticised the government severely for tie-ing overseas aid to the privatisation of public services. Hackney residents have become very familiar with New Labour’s fetish for privatisation. However, until recently most of us didn’t know that New Labour’s commitment to selling off everything that moves also extends to Africa, Asia and South America…

Plug is pulled on showpiece sports centre

(from Guardian website Saturday February 7, 2004)

The fanfare which greeted the £31m Clissold leisure centre could scarcely have been louder. A state of the art sports facility in one of the poorest boroughs in the country, the design was paraded around the the world by the British Council, the Foreign Office and the Millennium Commission.

It was one of “12 for 2000”; buildings meant to symbolise a brave new century and lauded as “prime examples of the excellence of British architecture and design”. But after less than two years the aluminium and glass complex – hailed for its “functional modernism” – has been shut on safety grounds.

The centre, in Hackney, east London, is plagued by flaws which have seen walls cracking, roofs leaking, water pouring into the electrical fittings and drains backing up. The showpiece swimming pools are seriously damaged and the walls of the squash courts are crumbling.

As the adults and children who used the centre troop by, the tubular automatic doors stay shut. A single security guard sits in the gloomy half-light of the reception area.

A building meant to raise the spirits has begun to appear drab. On the side overlooking the street and a school, two large glass panels have been broken and one is held together with sticking tape. As the school emptied last week, a boy with tousled brown hair crossed the road to pick at the jagged glass.

The centre closed last November, initially for a week, which was extended to three months. But the problems are so serious that some of those involved cannot be certain that it will ever open again. When it closed, a sign was pasted up to reassure the public that the closure would only last three months. The deadline has since been erased with Tippex.


Last week, amid growing public disquiet about the loss of what had become a much loved facility and concern about the colossal waste of public money, the beleaguered council sent in an architect to find out what could have gone so wrong. But following comments from the Audit Commission which suggest the building has “systematic design faults”, the council has also sent for its lawyers.

Diane Abbott, the local MP, said: “This may have been feted as one of 12 millennium projects but because of the design, it was very difficult to build. The local authority were the project managers. Why take delivery of a building that was not fit for its use?” She said the debacle had hit the area hard and may require a public inquiry. “This building sucked up money that could have been used on other facilities. Other pools were closed. It is a lovely looking building but I think the design may have been too clever for its own good.”

Eric Ollerenshaw, the leader of Hackney’s Tories, said the closure was embarrassing for all concerned. “This was seen as a key symbol in the revival of Hackney. Much was said about serving the diverse communities and they were going to have things like special sessions for Muslim ladies. But then they had to scrap that be cause the whole thing is glass and they realised that everyone would be able to see in. There was to be a glass viewing area too, but health and safety officials would not allow it to be used because they considered it unsafe.”

Mr Ollerenshaw said councillors and residents were desperate for information. “It is Hackney’s own Millennium Dome fiasco and the majority of councillors have not got a clue what is going on because we are told this is in the hands of the lawyers and it is all confidential.”

It should all have been so different. The centre was funded by Hackney with “match funding” from the government’s sporting quango, Sport England. The original estimated cost was £7m but that soon proved woefully inaccurate. As costs grew and the intricacies of building what had been designed became apparent, so did the delays and the centre opened two years late.

Greg McNeill ran the Clissold Swimming Club there, teaching youngsters how to swim and then coaching them to county competition standard. “People who used the centre on a daily basis were complaining from day one,” he said. “There were leaks, the plumbing system didn’t work properly. It wasn’t safe to use the showers because you got scalded or frozen. The ceiling started falling down because of the damp and condensation. When we said all this we were called whingers.”

Ken Worpole, of the Clissold Users’ Group, said many preferred a less elaborate design. “I think their heads were dizzied by this wonderful architecture. It is the wrong building at the wrong time in the wrong place fulfilling the wrong function.”

Web protest

Hackney is in a bind. The centre is in Stoke Newington, where working-class families live alongside middle-class professionals. Both grow angrier by the day, at the loss of the centre and a perceived dearth of information. A well-used website fuels the protest campaign.

But with the possibility of a legal case, the council feels the less said publicly the better. That strategy may be legally sound but it is politically problematic. A spokeswoman said: “We have a duty to defend the financial interests of the Hackney council tax payer, which is why we have been robustly pursuing this action since we were advised by counsel that we had a good case.”

Despite repeated requests, no one was available for comment at the award winning architects Hodder Associates, based in Manchester. That silence speaks volumes in east London, where officials mourn not just the loss of much-needed sports facilities but the chance to kickstart regeneration with a world-class building.