London Coalition Against Poverty Halloween Demonstration Hackney Town Hall

London Coalition Against Poverty and others will be picketing the Hackney Council meeting this Halloween (Wednesday 31 October, 6pm for meeting starting at 7pm) to tell the Council that they will no longer be able deny homeless people their rights.

London Coalition against Poverty (LCAP) has had a presence at Hackney Housing Needs office since July 2007, and we have seen time and again that homeless people are turned away unlawfully.

Hackney Council cares more about balancing their budget then about their residents needs. To spend less money they try to delay or stop people making a homeless application. Because of this “gate keeping” at the housing needs office many vulnerable people and families are left on the street or other insecure, dangerous places.

Tonight LCAP demands:

An end to Gate Keeping at the Housing Office: House everyone eligible

Really affordable housing to rent in Hackney: No more people chased out of
the Borough!

LCAP will continue to haunt Hackney Council until these changes are made.

The True Cost of the Olympics

Mute Talk @ Soho Theatre 7pm, 9 October, 2007
Generation Debt, Part 1: The True Cost of the Olympics

Whatever the overruns on time and cost, one thing the London 2012 Olympics is certain to deliver is a huge public debt. The enormous bill for two weeks of spectacularised sport is legitimated by promises of urban regeneration. However a growing number of people insist that in reality the games are nothing more than a corporate landgrab.

In Mute magazine’s first discussion evening on the increasingly urgent subject of debt, Martin Slavin of Gamesmonitor [] will respond to contributor Mark Saunders’ analysis of the negative impact of the London Olympics.

Mark’s article, ‘The Regeneration Games’, was printed in Mute’s latest issue – Living in a Bubble: Credit, Debt & Crisis – and can be read online at: []
Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street
Tickets: £5 (£3)
Soho Theatre:

Hackney Independent Social Event

Haggerston Community Centre 179 Haggerston Road, E8 Saturday 29th September (2.00pm – 5.30pm)


We have met a large number of people over the years, and for some time now we have wanted to get
together socially all those who have supported what we have been doing, whether that be our various
campaigns, our involvement in the occupation of Tony’s Café on Broadway Market, the Kid’s Cinema,
or who just like our free newsletter.

So, come along, bring some food and drink (though this will be provided) and meet ourselves and
others interested in making Hackney a better place to live. It will give you a chance to talk to us and
us all a chance to talk to each other! We hope you find time to drop in at some point, have a chat and
some food and drink. There will also be a BBQ outside (weather permitting). Families/children are very
welcome. Hopefully see you on the 29th

An exchange of letters about Broadway Market

Published in Hackney Gazette 2 August 2007

[The Gazette] article “Alarm Bells Ring on Broadway”, suggested that the Saturday market has been a “catalyst for regeneration”. If it was genuine regeneration, there would be tangible benefits for the wider community.

This latest invasion of Hackney doesn’t even have the apologetic stance of gentrification, which would at least give a nod to the underlying conflict and tension for those excluded from the “benefits” of the process. This one-day-a-week public exhibition of over-priced over-consumption is an affront to ordinary, working people.

It is more like outright colonisation by over-paid white, middle-class yuppies who have nothing better to do than fritter their sizable wage packets (sorry, “salaries”) on items of food that cost the equivalent of most people’s weekly food bill.

They obstruct the pavements with their selfish appropriation of what should be shared public space for walking so that they can pretend that they are part of some upmarket pavement café culture and they relentlessly wheel or ride their bikes on the pavement to the detriment of anyone who foolishly thinks they are meant for ordinary Hackney pedestrians.

Then, of course, there are the yummy mummies brushing aside anyone in their way with their over-size baby buggies or causing a bottleneck while they stop to yatter about their stressful day of shopping and eating, without any thought for anyone else.

Even more overtly indicating a double standard are the pub groups sitting on the pavements as if the market is their private beach, while, of course, if the local youth (particularly if they were black) behaved in this way, there would be mutterings about intimidating groups of young people, police cars would be called and no doubt Asbos issued.

Six days of the week this is a street that has very little to offer the ordinary shopper, apart from the local supermarkets now having to compete with the chains that can undercut them and the (ordinary) vegetable stall which comes one day a week – but how long before the snobs stop this. The market has no facilities for the local community, no youth club or community centre or meeting place for pensioners, and it is unfortunate that the “improvement” to London Fields only echoes this cultural and class divide.

This isn’t regeneration, this is a perfect example of the divided Britain that Blair has left us, a corner of Hackney where society is stratified into race and class divisions – and celebrated as a success.

J Walker

[from Hackney Gazette 9 August 2007]

Mr Walker is ideally qualified to join the team of Hackney Council officials who have been given the job of managing the Saturday market on Broadway. He has clearly not been to the market and, therefore, does not understand how it functions.

If Mr Walker does come to Broadway Market, he will find that he can buy a loaf of bread for under £1 from the local baker, wonderful sausages from the local butcher, good cheap fruit and veg seven days a week – and, oh dear, drink coffee at pavement cafes run buy people who actually live here.

He would also know that the market’s regular fruit and veg stall operates for five days a week, not one.

The Saturday market, founded and operated by volunteers in the Broadway Market Traders’ and Residents’ Association, brings well over 3,000 people to a street that was all but once deserted on Saturdays. Many come back to shop in the week.

It generates more than £30,000 a year in licence fees for Hackney Council and costs taxpayers nothing.

It enables the traders’ association to support a youth group on the Regent’s estate. It gives young business people a start in life.

It has been described as the most successful community-run street market in the country. And, yes, it has helped to regenerate the area.

One reason for its success is that the shops are part of the market. The Saturday traders compliment the shops, they do not compete with them. Customers don’t buy fresh coconuts from a stall – they buy them from Spirit’s grocer’s shop. They don’t buy hardware from a stall – they can get almost anything they need from Bradbury’s. The result is a glorious mix of cultures and colours.

Cllr Alan Laing, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods, told a public meeting on Broadway Market recently that the council had a statutory duty to manage Hackney’s street markets. He was misinformed.

The London Local Authorities Act states that the councils have a duty to regulate street markets. They can appoint agents to manage them as Islington has done, or they can work in partnership with community groups.

Indeed, Mr Laing’s own officials have been instructed to reply to the association’s proposed partnership agreement. They have yet to do so.

Perhaps, Cllr Laing would care to come to the Saturday some day and see for himself how it is run. I’m sure that the market department’s managers, and even Mr Walker, could be persuaded to join him.

Andrew Veitch
Resident Executive Member
Broadway Market Traders’ and Residents’ Association

Estate Plus Protests

BANNER-waving tower-block tenants staged an angry protest last week over sell-off plans which could see their council homes demolished.

Families living in the 160 flats on the Gascoyne Two estate in South Hackney are fighting privatisation plans which could involve knocking down their four rundown 10-storey blocks.

Furious tenants complain they face an uncertain future, plus higher rents and less secure tenancies, over proposals to transfer control from Hackney Council to a housing association landlord.

They have blasted as a “sham” a public consultation open day setting out the preferred options for demolition or refurbishment.

The plans include bulldozing at least two, or maybe all four, blocks and replacing them with low-rise homes.

The alternative is to renovate the buildings, although tenants are angry that they will continue to have to use costly storage heaters because the design of the 1960s-built flats has been deemed structurally unsafe for gas central heating.

“Tenants will face huge upheaval being moved off the estate while the demolition or refurbishment is carried out with no guarantee they will return or be offered comparable-sized accommodation,” said Adrian Peacock, who lives in Ravenscroft Point.

A letter signed by more than 30 tenants opposing the sell-off plans has been sent to the three Wick ward councillors.

This week, the deputy mayor of Hackney, Cllr Jamie Carswell, gave reassurances that the open day was designed to inform residents of the latest developments and get an initial opinion, and that other consultation events would be arranged.

He defended the council’s Estates Plus scheme, which he said was funded separately and designed to improve the estate as a whole, supplementing Decent Homes work.

[Taken from the Hackney Gazette website]

Victory at Haggerston School

French multinational company Sodexho has been forced to stop paying poverty wages to their canteen staff at Haggerston School. From September the canteen staff will be paid the London living wage and over the next year, their wages will increase to £9 an hour achieving equality with their fellow workers in another Hackney school.

The victory was achieved after a very successful one-day strike in
June. On the day of the strike the catering workers set up a picket
line and 35 teachers and 2 technicians refused to cross the picket
line. Sodexho attempted to smash the strike by bringing in managers
to run the kitchens. However, due to the support of the teachers,
most pupils had to be sent home.

The school is tied into a PFI contract with Sodexho who built a
canteen in return for a long-term contract. Sodexho then complained
that they weren’t making enough profit due to the government’s
healthy eating initiative. This was their justification for paying
their staff less than the minimum wage.

The teachers and technicians who refused to cross the picket line on
the day of the strike were threatened with disciplinary action by
the school’s head teacher. They were given letters instructing them
to attend individual interviews and warning them that they were
being investigated for misconduct or gross misconduct – which could
lead to dismissal.

The trade unionists received excellent support from across the
country from rank and file activists and other militants.
Unfortunately they were not supported by the National Union of
Teachers. The General Secretary, Steve Sinnott, wrote to the 35 NUT
members who had not crossed the picket line, warning them that if
they did it again they would be sacked! This was the fourth
repudiation letter NUT members had received during the dispute.

NUT members were however supported by the local branch of the union,
who agreed to represent all NUT members at these disciplinary
hearings. At the very first interview, the management were asked to
produce the disciplinary policy they were using. After a farcical
hour of ransacking filing cabinets, the management were unable to
produce the disciplinary policy or any record of one having been
adopted. The interviews were therefore cancelled.

Despite this embarrassment, the head teacher waited until the day
before the summer holidays to inform “the accused” that any threat
of disciplinary action had been withdrawn. Citing the resolution of
the dispute between the catering staff and Sodexho as well as the
need for good staff relations, rather than their own ineptitude,
staff were informed that no disciplinary action would be taken –
unless it happens again!

The victory of the catering staff and the solidarity shown by the
teachers and technicians at Haggerston shows that strike action can
win – even when we are fighting a multinational company involved in
privatisation. And whatever the anti-union laws might say, the
words “you don’t cross picket lines” remain fundamental to all
workers in struggle.

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: or contact OPEN c/o Dowse & Co. 23-25 Dalston Lane E8 3DF