Tenants' fury at 'deathtrap' flats


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Phone Masts Campaign

The IWCA has been campaigning against mobile phone companies putting up phone masts over council blocks without the consent, or even the knowledge, of tenants.

The issue is not just about health and the possible risks to young children, it’s also about control of our own areas. If these masts went up all over Kensington, we’d hear about it in the national press, but put them up in working class areas and they hope no one will care.

It's Good To Talk

Attempts by mobile phone company One 2 One to put up another mast in the borough have been thwarted by protesters. The company had hoped to put a mast on the roof of Alexandra Court in Stoke Newington but opposition by local people forced the company to back down. Vodafone already have 6 masts in the area and people have grown increasingly concerned about the possible health risks, especially for pupils at Princess May School, already overlooked by many of the masts.

One of the protesters hit the nail on the head when she said “If these companies put these masts up then they will have to do it with consent not imposition”. As the IWCA have previously said, there would be uproar if these masts suddenly sprung up on top of some yuppie loft apartments without any warning, but the council and various housing associations who have struck secret deals with the mobile companies are happy to ride roughshod over the rights of working class communities.

These masts are largely untested and there is growing concern about their harmful effects on young children, in particular. But in a way, health is perhaps not the main issue, it’s all about how working class communities are not even consulted about issues like this. As residents of Hawksley Court showed earlier this year, community opposition can stop the masts being put up and we can start regaining some control over our own areas.

IWCA proposals on mobile phone masts:
1. No new phone masts should be located within 100 yards of council estates or schools.
2. Ballots on every estate to see if tenants want the phone masts down. If they do, break the contract and take them down.

What a load of rubbish

Nearly a week after Hackney supremo Max Caller promised that “most of the rubbish will be cleared from the streets by December 1st” , residents in Dalston have threatened to take the council to court over the situation.

As the deadline to the handover of council collections to private contractors Service Team ticked away, the streets did for a while appear to have improved, but unconfirmed reports have reached the IWCA that much of this was window dressing – some of it at the direct expense of larger estates whose cleaners were diverted from normal duties to clear up the roads where rubbish was most visible. More worryingly, it appears that some tenants representatives were persuaded by Pinnacle to back this.

Whether or not this is true, the situation with rubbish is clearly going to be worse for council tenants who share disposal facilities in large blocks than it is for street properties who can leave bags outside on the pavements. The health risks for tenants of blocks are undoubtedly higher and it’s not enough to say that streets will be cleared.

On the Stonebridge Estate in Haggerston, the Tenants Association organised a rubbish collection using private contractors as the situation had got so bad. Obviously tenants shouldn’t have to do this and the TA have been criticised by some as giving in to “privatisation” but the IWCA support this action as they were meeting the immediate interest of the tenants.

The IWCA is calling for council blocks to be given priority over street properties and for the backlogs of collection to start in the working class areas most affected.

Mobile Phone Masts – untested, unsafe, unwanted

The IWCA has been active in the last couple of weeks on the issue of mobile masts. These masts have been springing up all over our estates with little, if any, warning and even less care for the concerns of tenants in the blocks. While Hackney Council pockets thousands every year from the phone companies, local tenants get no say in their installation and not a sniff of the cash !

The IWCA has been leafletting estates where phone masts have been put up, calling for full consultation with residents, a say in where the masts can and can’t go, and a fair share of the money gained for use in the tenants’ associations if they do go up.

Mobile phone masts have not been properly researched and that research which has been done points to dangers, especially to young children.

You can bet that if these masts were going up anywhere near the homes of the middle classes , the council would be deluged with complaints, but no, bung ’em anywhere on the estates and hope that no one notices…

Once again, a case of working class people being ignored and dumped on from a great height , in this case a couple of hundred feet.


IWCA proposals on mobile phone masts:
1. No new phone masts should be located within 100 yards of council estates or schools.
2. Ballots on every estate to see if tenants want the phone masts down. If they do, break the contract and take them down.
Click here for more information on mobile phone masts

Autumn 2000 Newsletter


Hackney Independent – Stanway area edition

IWCA local newsletter for Geffrye Estate, Harman Street, Rosalind & Cordelia

Hackney Council are about to make up to cuts of at least £22 million – on their own figures – which may end up being nearer £40 million pounds worth of cuts. They say that this was because they were overspending, but have you noticed any “overspending” round here? They can still afford to pay Council boss Max Caller £3,000 a week and pay all the councillors’ expenses, but our essential services are on the line.

When they came round asking for your vote last time, how many councillors said that they would be bringing in these sort of cuts? None of them did, and they have no mandate or support to do so. More than that, these services don’t belong to the councillors – they are ours. We have paid for them with our rents and council tax several times over and no councillor has the right to sell them off.

Our community is under attack from two sides. Not only is the Council cutting back our essential services, but they are encouraging developers and housing associations to gentrify our Borough and ‘socially cleanse’ the Borough of us – the working class majority.

Resistance to both these attacks must be from us – it’s our estates and community that is most affected. We can’t expect any favours from the Council. Instead we need to decide what which essential services we cannot lose, draw a line in the sand and plan what steps we will take to defend them. Parents from two nurseries have already occupied them and are keeping them open themselves rather than let the Council close them.

We should never let Labour get back in. The Labour government has proved no better at funding Hackney than the Tories. Labour now runs Hackney Council in an alliance with the Tories and it is these parties that are bringing in the cuts. The Hackney Labour Party is now a middle class party that has no interest in representing the working class.

And the Lib Dems are no better. They are very good at telling you what you want to hear when they are in opposition, but they helped get the Council into the mess when they ran the Borough with Labour. In neighbouring Islington the Lib Dems run the Council and are bringing in their own £2 million cuts plan.

There is no point in looking to any of the political parties on Hackney Council. The IWCA is seriously considering standing in this Ward in the next Council elections We need to replace the middle class parties on Hackney Council with working class representatives. The time for protesting to the Council has gone, we need our own representation.

IWCA needs your help

The IWCA was set up to involve and represent the interests of the working class majority in Shoreditch. We felt that the political parties were no longer able to do this, and that the developers were being given a free hand to gentrify our area.

You only ever see the other parties at election time, but the IWCA has tried to get round to every door asking about repairs, ITNet, anti-social behaviour or phone masts.

The IWCA needs your help. How much help you can give is up to you – but if you can help deliver newsletters, take a petition round your block or even make the tea at meetings there is a part you can play. And by attending our meetings you can help make decisions on what issues we take up and how we campaign on them.

If you want to know more about the IWCA you can attend the meeting below or phone us on 07000 752 752. If you can get onto the internet, look up our website on www.hackneyiwca.fsnet.co.uk

Phone masts – unsafe and unwanted

Have you seen the phone mast on top of the building on the corner of Kingsland Road and Pearson Street?

This mast is emitting pulses of radiation up to 217 times a second, and anyone living within 100 yards is affected. That means York Row, most of Harman Street and the nearest blocks on Geffrye Court.

Hackney Council are taking a small amount of money from the phone companies and not telling us about the health risks.

Federal Law in America, and similar laws in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden have made it illegal to place the masts close to homes, schools and hospitals. But the Council let them be put up next to our estates, and have even let one be put up opposite Laburnum School. Were you consulted before this phone mast went up? And has anyone told you about the health risks? This is another example of how the Council treat us like second class citizens. After all, have you ever seen a phone mast on top of a private block?

The IWCA believes that there should be no mobile phone within 100 yards of council estates or schools. We also believe that there should be ballots on every estate to see if tenants want the phone masts down. If they do, the Council should break the contract and take them down.

If you would like a free information pack on mobile phone masts, call the IWCA on 07000 752 752 and leave your details on the answerphone.


Everyone knows how hard it is to get your housing benefit or council tax benefit paid. The Council has a legal duty to get you your benefit within 2 weeks of you giving them your details – but instead the Council blame ITNet, the private contractor they brought in to do the job for them. While we have no time for ITNet – a firm that made £10 million profit a year but is causing suffering to thousands of hackney people who are not getting their benefits – the buck stops with the Council. Typical of them, they privatise a service and then pretend that it’s not their problem.

The Council got a lot of good publicity by saying they had sacked ITNet – well they haven’t. They are still in place and we are still not getting our benefits paid.

Those of us who are on benefits, or whose family and friends are on benefits know what a big issue this is. Our middle class councillors have no idea what it is like not being able to pay the rent, and that’s why they didn’t sack ITNet a long time ago.

The IWCA held a surgery in the Geffrye Estate Community Centre for people who were having trouble with ITNet. We arranged for benefits experts to attend to give people advice, and have since followed up everyone who attended. We aim to hold another surgery soon, but if you are in need of immediate advice, call the IWCA phone number – 07000 752 752 – and Carl Taylor will get in touch with you to help with your benefits application or to give you any other support.

gap between council workers and management

“Speaking to a road sweeper I discovered that there is a huge gap between workers, who have pride in the Borough, and officials and management, who are not Borough residents. He said workers could only see to complaints when they had an order to do so from above. As I am sure that many workers in the Borough are aware of the conditions of the roads, I can only assume that the staff who sit in Shoreditch have little interest in the workers in Stoke Newington.”
Stoke Newington resident and cyclist Norman Bright takes on the Council’s senior managers
(Gazette 1 June 2000).

But our councillors, who do live in the Borough, are no better.

IWCA letter in Hackney Gazette April 2000

Hackney IWCA was pleased to see in the Gazette of 23rd March that residents of Hawksley Court estate had successfully prevented the installation of a mobile phone mast. This is exactly the sort of community-led initiative that the IWCA supports and it is good to see local people standing up against the spread of these masts which are dangerous and unwanted .

When Hackney Council and private companies like Orange treat ordinary working class people with such disdain is it surprising that residents get sick of being treated like second class citizens? From the disasters of IT Net, the lack of consultation over tenants being “decanted” from Florence Court right through to the dubious ballot over Fellows Court’s transfer and now this example of arrogance, it should be clear to us that the council will only sit up and take notice when we take matters into our own hands.

The residents of Hawksley Court have set a good example to the rest of the borough.

Sara Lane Court leaflets

Included below are copies of two leaflets that went out in Sara Lane Court; one took the form of questions to tenants and the other contained the collated responses of the tenants to whom we spoke after canvassing the block.

Raw Deal for Shoreditch ?


Two questions for

Sara Lane Court

“Why are the Council running the block down?” 

“Why are there drug users on the stairs?”  

This weekend, members of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) will be knocking on your door to ask you these two questions.

And we will be asking what you think should be done about it.

Without putting anyone’s name on them , the answers we get will be sent round to everyone in the block. Then you will see if other people are thinking the same as you – about the conditions in Sara Lane Court and what needs to be done.

You may ask why the IWCA is doing this. The answer is that our aim is to involve and represent the interests of Shoreditch’s working class majority. A better question is why aren’t Hackney Council, Pinnacle and the police taking up these issues.

If we call while you are out, but you would still like to put your views forward, please leave a message on the IWCA answer phone on 07000 752 752. Or you can to the IWCA, PO Box 48, 136 Kingsland High Street, E8 2NS.


About three weeks ago members of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) spoke to residents of Sara Lane Court about the problems facing the tenants in the block. We spoke to about 15 separate residents on the day and have put their views together into the points made below.

Anti-social behaviour
Most tenants complained about the behaviour of a small group of drug-users (most said they were from outside the block) whose activities frightened and concerned a lot of people.

Tin foil is left all over the back stairs, some complained of syringes too, and at least 4 tenants said that drug users were so confident that they would even knock on people’s doors to ask for silver foil so they could take their heroin. “The corridor is very scary. I found two people on my doorstep smoking. The back stairs are the worst,” said one tenant, while another mentioned that she thought drug deals were being done in the lifts (when they were working) and that she had to step over drug users to leave her front door.

While the drugs seem to be a big problem, the knock-on effect is in the state the drug-users leave the stairs and the rest of the block. Some people complained about the urine and excrement left on the stairs and in the rooms off the stairwells as well as the fear they felt at night coming back top their own homes.

Virtually everyone we talked to made a point about the lack of security in the block. While new doors have just been put on, nearly everyone asked for an entry phone and many for CCTV and a full time caretaker.
“There is a lack of safety everywhere in the block. A concierge or porter on the door might help – an entry phone might help and there should be CCTV in the lifts.”

“The youngsters are unemployed and there is nothing for them to do – they get into drugs and prostitution. There should be more social services, CCTV cameras and a caretaker.”

“The block needs security and cleaning. Twenty years back this block was better.”

“One lady came up to me and said it’s like hell in this place. The cops and the council have done nothing and the building is dirty. If there were enough security we’d stay.”
A lot of tenants we spoke to had complaints about the general state of the block and 2 thought that it was so rundown it should be demolished. One man said that one of the workers putting up the new doors had told him “this is the worst block I have ever seen”. There were many complaints about the lifts, the state of the corridors (some even looked as if they had police tape all over the floor) and the time it took to get anyone to get repairs. “To me asking for repairs seems pointless,” said one tenant, while another had only managed to get the council to do work on his flat after he had contacted a solicitor.
The firm who have taken over the management of the block came in for criticism too. “After Pinnacle took over, things got worse,” said one man, while another thought things had slightly improved but then added

“There is a tree causing damage to the structure of the block and our phone lines. I can’t get Pinnacle to deal with it.”

“It is disgusting. Pinnacle promised so much but have not delivered. It has got worse since they took over.”

“When I complained about a leak I was told by Peter Akkermans, Pinnacle’s estate manager, that I would have pay for the repairs myself.”

“The council and Pinnacle have done nothing. They don’t give a damn about the class of people living here.”

No one we spoke to was happy about the conditions in Sara Lane Court, but what can be done ? A lot of people seem resigned to the fact that the council doesn’t care and that the company they’ve sold off the estate management to aren’t bothered about working class people, only making a profit.

The chair of Sara Lane Court Tenants’ Association has already put pressure on Pinnacle to make improvements to the block and some of this has been done. In the week IWCA members came round to talk to tenants, work was being done on putting up new doors, but the promised entry phone system is already late.

The Independent Working Class Association is determined to support the interests of Shoreditch’s working class majority and we are looking for your views on what can be done to make Sara Lane Court and other blocks like it, a better and safer place to live. If you have any suggestions for action that tenants could take or ideas about how to make Pinnacle come up with the goods, we would be interested to hear.

As for now, we would urge all tenants to get involved in their tenants association and make sure that Pinnacle sticks to its promises. We are only too aware that given the track record of private companies like ITNet these promises are nothing unless they are fulfilled. If you want further information about Hackney IWCA or have information / suggestions to give us, please get in touch.

HACKNEY IWCA, PO BOX 48, 136 KINGSLAND HIGH STREET, E8 2NS TEL: 07000 752 752 WEBSITE: www.hackneyiwca.fsnet.co.uk