We Need To Stand Up To Cuts


As a tenant representative and deputy chair of the borough wide tenants’ convention, I would like to inform the council employees that we fully support their industrial action against cuts. It is a sad day when the workers are left with no alternative but to strike and say “No More Cuts”. Hackney is steeped in history but, sadly, most recently we have achieved notoriety by becoming the borough with the highest level of serious crime, the lowest level of services and paying the highest price for the lowest level pf services.

It’s up to us now to tell these councillors that we elected them to represent our interests, in which they have failed miserably, and that if they have any decency left in them they should resign now. The government has told Hackney Council to put its house in order under the direction of the managing director, Max Caller. I can see it now – Max called the councillors together and told them “Unless you do as I say, you will be surcharged” – which could mean them losing their property and any other assets they might have.

We’ve all seen the Laurel and Hardy of Hackney, namely Jules Pipes and Eric Ollenshaw, singing from the same hymn book on TV, reiterating the words Max Caller has programmed them to try and justify leading us further into the mire.

That is why all theses councillors from all the parties are so willing to agree to any of Max’s proposals to make cuts to staff and their salaries. This will obviously result in cuts to services while Max proposes to increase the cost of these services, to be paid for by the residents of Hackney. The residents and service providers are yet again expected to bear the cost, rather than the perpetrators of this mess, the councillors who should be surcharged, and some senior officers, who seriously ill advised members at committee level when decisions were being made which are affecting us all now. These officers should be sacked.

Let us not forget the latest mess these councillors are leading us into, the awarding of the refuse collection contract to ServiceTeam, which was contested at the time by a company named Cleanaway, who were at the time unsuccessful in their bid. However, less than two months into the contract ServiceTeam have been taken over by Cleanaway. Is it an example of “best value” being practised by hackney Council when the private contractor is being paid £2 million more than the in-house team was ?

Until this council is brought down, we will be expected to keep bailing them out and bearing the cost.

Dave Mackey

Look out for an interview with Dave Mackey in the next Hackney Independent, out in March.

New Deal letters

The letters page of the Hackney Gazette has recently covered the spat between Carole Young (former TA chair of Wenlock Barn & well-known pro-sell off member of the New Deal Board) and the IWCA following our coverage of the New Deal meeting where proposals to demolish 822 council homes were chucked out.

Carole Young accused the IWCA of “spinning” the story (like New Labour!), claiming that demolition was never a real option and that she was proud to see so many local people taking part in the decision-making processes of the New Deal – not quite the same as her response on the night itself, as Tony Butler points out below!

Spin Doctoring?

– an IWCA member responds to Carole Young’s attack on the IWCA

It’s good to see Carole Young agreeing with so many of the IWCA’s points about the New Deal’s plans to demolish 822 council homes in Shoreditch, but we’re not the ones spinning the story. If the option to demolish the council stock was just looked at to fulfil government requirements, why did the New Deal officers put it forward as their “preferred option” ? People turned up at the meeting not because of the New Deal’s record of community involvement and transparency (both of which we’d like to see more of) but because they felt their homes were at risk.

If anyone’s doing any spinning it’s Anna Eagar and her team who’re doing the rounds of the estates with glossy brochures and displays trying to convince tenants to have their blocks demolished and let the developers move in; this might seem an attractive option to someone who’s lived in a rundown block for years but it’s one with no guarantee that tenants who move out will be council tenants when (or if) they return. If you hear any rumours of the New Deal targeting your block, phone the IWCA on 07000 752752. We will help you to organise to stop them, and to campaign to get improvements carried out to your block.

Dan Carter
Hackney IWCA

Crawling out of the Woodwork

– a Wenlock Barn tenant responds to Carole Young’s attack on the IWCA

Contrary to Carole Young’s views in the letters page of 15 February, the fact is 100 people gate-crashed, and were not officially invited to this historical decision making meeting on the future of our homes. Carole’s reaction on the night, far from being happy was “it’s funny how people are now crawling out of the woodwork” (as witnessed by everyone there).

As a Council tenant in Shoreditch I would like to say thank you to some of the New Deal Board members who have consistently opposed the plans to sell off our estates. I would also like to say that if it wasn’t for the work of people like the IWCA in warning that the New Deal might be a “RAW DEAL” then most people wouldn’t have known what was going on. Where have the other political parties been in the last couple of years? Carole Young should get used to big turnouts at every meeting when her Board considers demolishing or selling off our homes.

Tony Butler
Wenlock Barn Estate

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