Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ken's TfL invest a further £4m in Hackney

Tfl has announced a £4m of funding package for transport in Hackney.

Here is a breakdown of the funding for Hackney:

Principal road renewals - £198,000
Local safety schemes - £425,000
20mph zones - £300,000
Education, training and publicity - £44,000
Walking - £160,000
Cycling - £250,000
London Cycle Network+ - £867,000
Bus stop accessibility - £147,000
Bus priority - £510,000
School Travel Plans - £806,000
Work travel plans - £17,000
Travel awareness - £32,000
Regeneration area schemes - £80,000
Environment improvements - £50,000
Controlled parking zones - £50,000
Local area accessibility schemes- £60,000

Total £3,996,000

Monday, December 03, 2007

Our December report

Tory Leader resigns / Springfield Ward bye-election

We have commented several times recently about how useless the local Tories are. It seems that their own (former) Leader shares that assessment. Eric Ollerenshaw has now resigned but in a particularly cynical act, ensured it was timed to trigger a bye-election on the Thursday before Xmas.

Despite this Labour are fighting hard to win the vacancy in Springfield Ward. It’s one that we never seriously worked in the past, so with some effort, a surprise victory is very possible.

Budget setting 2008/9

Next years budget looks like being the tightest since the early days of the last administration, without as many opportunities for growth as in recent years. The reasons are

* a tight overall Comprehensive Spending Review
* increased spending in certain areas, especially both children’s and adult social services
* changes to the way subsidy works which generally don’t favour London
* the Conservatives using their control of London Councils to make Labour ones pay more

Departments have been told to work up between 5 and 7% efficiency savings so that we have the necessary resources to fund unavoidable growth and some more of our manifesto priorities.

One issue which will be part of the discussion is what to do about the Hackney element of the Council Tax. Although increasing it is an option, it represents a fair amount of pain for relatively little financial gain. We would appreciate resident’s views.

Labour Group 20th November

The main discussions were about next years budget and the residential extensions planning guidance.

Council 28th November

The main business was the adoption of Hackney’s Licensing Policy for the next 3 years. The revised policy contains most of the successful elements of the previous one including

- a presumption that planning, fire and all other necessary consents must be gained first
- a Special Policy Area protecting residents of Shoreditch
- positive initiatives such as Pubwatch and the All Bar One awards to encourage responsible operators
- close co-operation with the police and other agencies

Brian and Feryat are members of the licensing committees. Brian used his question to highlight the number of review requests being dealt with, and that the council were being pro-active in seeking licence reviews and revocations where necessary.

Hackney Homes

Feryat was recently appointed to the board, and will be part of the team ensuring that it’s ready for the re-inspection.

Kings Crescent

Demolition is proceeding well with virtually all of Codicote Terrace and Weston Court now gone. The contractors are still on schedule to hand over a clear site before the end of December.

The Regeneration Steering Group met again on the 14th November to consider revised proposals. The mews/courtyard style developments are gone from the current plans. The residential “green street” forming the reinstated Kings Crescent will now be wider, particularly where it meets the park. The revised plan showed the main shop on the Green Lanes side of this which is unacceptable.

This was intended to be followed by another Open Day to consult residents on18th December, but this may now be postponed until the early New Year.

Woodberry Down

The masterplan application was approved in September. The first of the detailed “Kickstart” (Phase 1) planning applications are due in the next couple of months. The height of the tower block on the corner of Woodberry Down and Woodberry Grove will be one of the most contentious points – it is currently proposed to be up to 26 stories high.

Two housing associations have reached the final stage and are still being considered for providing the social housing in the other phases. As previously explained, the appointed one will be required to establish a community based housing association for the estate as a dedicated subsidiary.

One change that has been agreed is that the main community center (in the base of the tower) will now be run by that CBHA rather than the Manor House Development Trust. In order to ensure it has an ongoing income stream, it will now own the retail units which will run south down that part of Woodberry Grove.

Hackney Homes are proposing to lead a local strategic partnership for Woodberry Down to help pull the work of various voluntary agencies together to provide a more comprehensive socio-economic regeneration programme.


We had a further briefing from the police on the 6th November with another planned for 6th December. They have confirmed their operation will now continue well into next year.

Police Community Advisory Panel

The latest CAP meeting held on 14/11/07 discussed future priorities for the community safety team, and came to the conclusion that Blackstock Road, vice on Brownswood Road and ASB on Woodberry Down estate should remain as the key priorities.

In October three vice enforcement operations were carried out resulting in 34 cautions and one arrest. A further 4 operations in November resulted in 1 PCN for ‘outraging public decency’ and 4 cautions.

A crack house on Lordship Road has been closed down, which might lead to decrease in vice as it was also used by the Brownwood prostitutes. A crack house in Kilpeck House is in the process of being closed down.

ASB problems on Myddleton grange have lead to parents of misbehaving young people being given acceptable behaviour plans, which if not adhered to could risk their tenancy.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

A new estate manager for Portland Rise recently started, and a walkabout is planned for the 12th of December.

Councillors have been invited by Doug Mitchell of Amwell Court TRA to their meeting on the 13th of December, but we are still having problems with the dates for the new enhanced TRA meetings as they clash with other meetings

Youth provision in the ward

We have had discussions with Father Clive Lee from St Thomas Moore Church with regards to his work to bring together local faith groups to offer youth activities in the Manor House area. There will be a meeting between faith groups and TELCO at St Thomas Moore on December 16th.

Seasons Greetings

We would like to wish you all a happy Hanukkah, Eid, Christmas, Winterval and New Year!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

De Beauvoir Blog

Our colleagues in DeBeauvoir have recently set up a blog. Please visit them using the link on the right.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We crushed them.

Councillors Report – November 07

London Overground

In the coming month, Transport for London will take over control of the East and North London Lines, which will be rebranded as London Overground. This is potentially the biggest single improvement in public transport in our part of London for decades.

Among the benefits promised on the North London Line are –
· Tube like train frequencies
· Staff on the platforms whenever they’re open
· New greener train fleet on order
· Oyster card accepted throughout
· Longer trains and more accessible platforms programmed

In the medium term, this will join up with the extended East London Line to form the full London Overground network. There will be local exchanges at Dalston, Canonbury and Highbury & Islington stations. The new East London Line will run south as far as Croydon, and in the longer term have a branch to Clapham Junction.

The investment needed has only been delivered by a Labour Mayor and strong Assembly Labour Group, working with our government.

Labour Group 16th October

The main discussions were about the benefits of Estates Plus scheme, and a senior officer restructuring.

Council 31st October.

Brian highlighted the improvements in our financial standing and systems, while Darren asked that the council is updated on Kings Crescent.

The opposition appeared in advance to have finally got their act together this time. But on the night, we crushed them as usual.

Parkwood School

Our local primary school continues to provide our kids with a great start. The SATs results for last year’s 11 year olds were again outstanding. It’s also important to understand that the intake to the school is significantly more deprived than the even the Hackney average.

Achieving Level 4 English Maths Science
Hackney average 73% 66% 77%
National average 80% 77% 87%
Parkwood School 87% 77% 84%

We are currently seeking a new LEA governor for the school.

Kings Crescent

Demolition is proceeding well with all of Codicote Terrace and most of Weston Court now gone. The contractors should hand over a clear site before the end of December.

The Regeneration Steering Group meets again on the 14th November. The main business will be updates on the proposed phasing, preparing the masterplan application, and future heating systems.

Woodberry Down

The masterplan application was approved on 10th September. The first of the detailed “Kickstart” (Phase 1) planning applications are due in the next couple of months.

The council is promoting objections to the listing of Needwood and Nichol houses. We will report the English Heritage decision once known.

Brain and Darren attended the latest Estate Development Committee on the 18th of October. Two housing associations have reached the final stage and are being considered for providing the social housing in the other phases. EDC representatives have been involved in both the shortlisting and final interviews and assessment. As previously explained, the appointed one will be required to establish a community based housing association for the estate as a dedicated subsidiary.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

We are concerned that the first of the new style enhanced TRA meetings with officers and councillors either appears not to have happened or we weren't invited. Feryat will investigate.


Brian updated the board on our regeneration schemes at it’s meeting on the 17th October. Among the ideas they’re exploring to promote the area, is an ice rink in Finsbury Park over Xmas and New Year!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

18 months in!

Children and Young Persons Scrutiny

The C&YP scrutiny commission, which Brian and Feryat are members of, has launched an important enquiry into the causes of youth crime. A fascinating range of academics and psychologists gave evidence to the first hearing in September, with local practitioners to follow next Monday.

Labour Group 18th September

The main discussion was how we could achieve our commitments on housing modernisation, in the new circumstances.

Council 19th September.

Feryat highlighted the fact that GCSE results in Hackney have improved by a further 3% this year, and congratulated the teachers, families and young people responsible. Brian was acting Chief Whip for the meeting, which appeared to go well.

Audit and accounts

For the first time in living memory, the District Auditor expects to issue an unqualified opinion on the council’s accounts.

We have moved from a 2 star to a 3 star authority (out of 4) for the quality of our data.

The Audit Commission judges value for money against 12 criteria. This year, we met all 12.

Kings Crescent

The Regeneration Steering Group meets again on Wednesday 3rd October. The preliminary results of the door-to-door survey commissioned at the last meeting show almost 2/3rds in residents in those blocks due for demolition supporting that option, with only 9% in favour of refurbishment instead. The surprise result of the survey is that almost half of residents overall wish to remain council tenants or leaseholders.

Woodberry Down

The outline planning application was approved on 10th September. The detailed Phase 1 one is due in November.

The council is promoting objections to the listing of Needwood and Nichol houses. We will report the English Heritage decision once known.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

Feryat will report.

Polling station review

Our comments and those of the branch, on the suitability of the Myddleton Grange Village Hall were noted. Improved signage and better quality poll card maps are promised. Accurate ones would be nice!


We continue to have at least one canvassing session per month. We need to continue this, and to begin to focus on GLA and Mayor of London issues as we move towards those elections next spring.

As well as the borough wide leaflets, we have also done three ward ones – one each focussed on Woodberry Down and Kings Crescent issues, and one general one. The three of us are indebted to Louisa and Robin for all their work on these.

We would also like to thank all the branch members who help with deliveries and canvassing.

Report for September and August

Woodberry Down

As detailed in previous reports, earlier this year English Heritage agreed to list the existing Woodberry Down primary school, meaning that at least it’s shell had to be preserved. The original plan had envisaged the current primary school site being used to build a new secondary, whilst a new primary was constructed to the west of that. Instead the secondary will now be built there but will also need some additional adjoining land.

This resulted in negotiations with Berkley Homes who are the Phase 1 developer, to swap land already granted for sites elsewhere on the estate. The good news is that the new sites to be transferred to Berkley’s include more prominent ones along Seven Sisters Road, including those immediately east of the tube station. This will give a gateway effect to the scheme, and mean these homes will be replaced 8 years earlier than originally scheduled.

We also took the opportunity of these negotiations to make that developer responsible for building the health centre, and business and training centre. In total we estimate this brings an additional £2m contribution from them.

The Cabinet meeting in July approved the land swap and other changes. It also approved the final secure tenant and leaseholder “offer documents”, which had been agreed with resident representatives.

We continue to negotiate with the existing shopkeepers about transferring to new units on the Old School Site.

Planning permission for the overall scheme is due to be considered on the 10th of September. Consultation has already started on the detailed planning application for the original Phase 1 sites.

A further issue has arisen with someone proposing the listing of Needwood and Nichol Houses, together with their twins on the other side of Woodberry Grove. If EH agree this, it would further complicate the scheme, and have particularly unfortunate consequences for the leaseholders in those blocks.

Kings Crescent

Deconstruction and clearance of the centre of the estate began in July. It’s important to understand that this is gradual deconstruction rather than a blowdown, with the aim that as much as possible can be recycled.

Negotiations continue between residents, the council and the development partners – Community Housing Association, Metropolitan Housing Trust, Durkan builders – through a Steering Group chaired by Brian. The meeting in August commissioned a door-to-door survey of the whole estate to establish housing needs in detail. A surprising number of tenants appear to want to stay with the council!

Hackney Homes audit inspection

Hackney Homes are the “arms length management organisation” set up last year to manage council housing. The recent inspection only classed them as a one star organisation, which was unacceptable. Its Chief Executive has departed, and the organisation has been told it must achieve a better result in the reinspection in 18 months.

Being rated a better performer would have given us access to additional credits which could have meant the Decent Homes programme being completed faster. However the council is committed to finding additional funding from within its capital programme.

Blackstock Road – Operation Rockrose

The six-month police operation against crime and ASB on Blackstock continues. The outline for the first two months was as follows –

week commencing 16th July - deploy mobile police station
w/c 23rd July - high visibility policing with at least 14 extra police officers
w/c 30th July - deploy automatic numberplate reader and traffic team
2nd August - London Fire Brigade visits and checks to begin
6th-19th August - anti-robbery initiative, deploying TSG
13th August - deploy mobile police station
28th August - LFB enforcement begins
w/c 1st September - deploy automatic numberplate reader and traffic team
w/c 10th September - deploy mobile police station, and high visibility policing with at least 14 extra police officers
w/c 10th September - environmental health, trading standards and licensing from both boroughs to begins visits, concentrating at first on education and later enforcement

Head of the operation is CI Jane Johnson, Islington Borough. In addition, there will be covert activities which obviously we can't publicise. Obviously also a major incident could lead to resources being temporarily diverted.

The three ward councillors and the Chair of our CAP, together with our equivalents in Islington, have been invited to sit on a community advisory group which will meet monthly throughout.

A meeting to alert traders on the road to the aims of the operation was held on the 16th of August. The traders present were keen to reassure us that those involved in crime were a small minority of themselves and their customers. They felt the Algerian community in particular was getting all the blame for what was a much wider problem. Reporting of criminal activity in the cafes tended to be low because of a lack of faith that the police would back them up effectively. They also wanted a lighter touch on immigration enforcement.

Arsenal matchday parking

A consultation on the possibility of introducing extra parking controls on matchdays has just concluded. We will report on the outcome once we know.


Finfest, an event aimed at promoting the area and encouraging our communities to mix, is in Finsbury Park from 1pm on Sunday 16th September. Please come along.

Street Trees

While some other boroughs are cutting back, Hackney is making a substantial to refill vacant pits and plant new ones. Trees make our borough a better place to live and help decrease our carbon footprint. This year alone more than 120 new street trees were planted in Hackney, some of which were in Brownswood. This was made possible with the funding provided in Labour’s 2006/7 budget and we plan to plant more

July report

Kings Crescent

The regeneration of the estate took a major step forward with the steering group holding two open days to consult residents on the initial proposals. All three councillors attended the opening with Deputy Mayor Jamie Carswell, and stayed for most of Saturday 30th June talking to tenants and leaseholders about their hopes and expectations. We intend to be represented again on Wednesday 4th July.

As previously reported, new development partners for the estate were finally appointed at the Cabinet meeting on 26th of March. The builders are to be Durkan and the RSL are Canalside Housing Association. Canalside is itself a partnership of two established housing associations - Metropolitan and Community – which was formed in the 1990s to take over some Hackney estates along the Regents Canal.

A significant and representative cross-section of both tenants and leaseholders attended. Among the key issues they wanted answers on or expressed opinions on, were-
o which blocks were staying and which going
o what terms would tenants transfer on, and would they retain a right-to-buy
o what about those tenants who wished to remain with the council
o how would leaseholders be treated, and how does “equity share” work
o how would estate management be improved throughout the regenerated estate

Hoardings have already been erected around Westmill, Codicote and the boiler room. Deconstruction is scheduled to begin next month. This was delayed for a further month due to planning permission for the demolition being deemed necessary. The area will be grassed and gravelled over until long-term plans are agreed. Some may be used to provide extra parking.

The regeneration steering group, which Brian chairs, and now involving the three sides – council, residents and development partners - met on the 13th, 18th and 26th of June in preparation for the open days.

The longer-term timetable foresees approximately six months spent in detailed discussions with residents, before a masterplan is completed and the planning application submitted. The planning process will probably take another six months, with major works commencing next summer.

Woodberry Down

Consultation on the Woodberry Down masterplan planning application continued through the first half of June. Darren attended several drop in sessions and wrote on behalf of all three councillors to support the application.

Brian attended the EDC meeting on May 21st, which was also their AGM. Most of the current officers, with whom we have good working relationships, were re-elected. They continued to be concerned about
· possible changes to the phasing, including as a consequence of the listings
· “lack of a people focus” in the planning process
· stability of the Manor House Development Trust, which is to operate the community centre
· crime and disorder, especially drug dealing and abuse

Darren attended a meeting between the council and the Manor House Development Trust on June 5th. The trust raised concerns about leasing arrangements for the new community centre and Darren communicated the local unease about the apparent lack of an economic or social regeneration strategy to complement the physical development. Deputy Mayor Jamie Carswell confirmed that from the council’s point of view, the trust was the best vehicle for locally-controlled regeneration in the area and the council would seek ways of supporting the development of the trust. Darren was elected to the board of the trust on June 19th, and will work with the chair and chief executive over the summer to build the board’s capacity.

Children and Young People

The council’s Children and Young People’s Commission, which Brian and Feryat are members of, intends to concentrate on youth crime reduction for some of the current year, including at its meeting on 2nd July.

Brownswood Road

There has been a further police operation resulting in the arrests of prostitutes and kerb crawlers, although the extent of the problem is less than before.

Policing on Woodberry Down

Feryat attended the meeting on Wednesday 16th May. Key issues were …………………….

Blackstock Road

The police are giving new priority to Blackstock.


Brian made a presentation to the Board on 20th June outlining the range of initiatives being undertaken by the council. They were particularly interested in the plans for Alexandra National House.

He also stressed that attempts to have Finsbury Park acknowledged as a town centre in planning policies, must include Hackney and not just focus on Islington.

Standards Sub-committee hearing

On 20th June, the Standards Sub-committee of the Council met to decide if Darren had a conflict of interest when chairing the Dalston Lane South planning application in July 2006. This was the culmination of a year long process following a complaint made by a member of the public to the Standards Board of England. The sub-committee is independent, and Darren’s case was heard by two local co-optees and one Conservative councillor.

Darren had admitted all along that he failed to declare a personal interest - in that he works for CABE, who were consulted on the design merits of the scheme. This in itself would not have meant that he had to withdraw from voting on the application. The committee rejected the more serious charge of failing to declare a prejudicial interest, which would have meant that Darren should not have voted on the application. As a result, Darren was partially-suspended (i.e. he can’t attend his scrutiny commission) until he undertakes training again on interests.

He is very relieved that this has finally come to an end. He has had to endure 11 months of misleading articles in the Hackney Gazette and a nasty, personal internet campaign against him instigated by those who were against the planning application he chaired. Despite what is contained on these websites, and contrary to what has been in the Hackney Gazette, the planning application did not decide on the fate of the Dalston Theatre. This was a separate application granted before Darren was elected and was subject to a judicial review.

Full Council – 27th June

We raised the thoroughness of the consultation process on the master planning application on Woodberry Down.

The Council also received a deputation of residents from Stamford Hill expressing their views on the proposals for planning “areas of exception”. They had tried to get local Tory councillors to arrange the deputation, but as usual found them disinterested in representing their constituents, and instead were introduced by Labour Clissold (and former Brownswood) councillor Linda Smith.

June 07 update

Woodberry Down

Darren attended the EDC meeting on May 17th where the planning department of LB Hackney presented the masterplan application for the redevelopment of the estate. Although broadly supportive, there is mixed reaction from residents regarding the narrowing of seven sisters road through the estate, and the amount and arrangement of green space. All local residents are able to view the application and submit comments by several means including via the Hackney website.

Darren also attended an open community meeting on May 30th where residents were able to question planning officers, the masterplanning team and representatives from Hackney Homes.

Brian has attended two further meetings with the retailers. Berkley Homes, who are the developers for the Kickstart Phase, appears to be taking on board their concerns. They are now intending to provide ten retail units of appropriate sizes on the Woodberry Grove side of the “old school site”. We meet with them again on the 5th of June.

There was a double shooting a Woodberry Down over the bank holiday weekend – one victim, who was injured in the leg, was a local resident and innocent bystander. Darren visited his family to offer our ‘get-well wishes’ and discuss issues of community safety on May 30th.

As the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programme has come to an end, the programme team has vacated its offices in the Robin Redmond centre. Darren has been in discussion with stakeholders to see if the new library facility in the centre can now be expanded to provide a greater number of books, computer facilities and homework space.

Drugs Action Team

Brian and Darren met with officers from the DAT on 25th May. We got some useful information about the range of services they currently offer and those intended for development. We also raised particular concerns about dealing on certain parts of Woodberry Down.

Police Community Advisory Panel

Feryat and Darren attended the CAP meeting on Wednesday 16th May.

Blackstock Road

We have a meeting with Islington police and councillors on 19th June.

Kings Crescent

As previously reported, new development partners for the estate were finally appointed at the Cabinet meeting on 26th of March. The builders are to be Durkan and the RSL are Canalside Housing Association. Canalside is itself a partnership of two established HAs - Metropolitan and Community – which was formed in the 1990s to take over some Hackney estates along the Regents Canal.

Temporary hoardings have already been erected around Westmill, Codicote and the boiler room. Deconstruction is scheduled to begin next month. This area will be grassed and gravelled over until long-term plans are agreed. Some may be used to provide extra parking.

The regeneration steering group, which Brian chairs, now involves the three sides – council, residents and development partners. This met on the 16th May and 30th May, and will again on 13th and 18th June. This is intended to lead up to an open day for all residents on Saturday 30th June.

The long-term timetable foresees approximately six months spent in detailed discussions with residents, before a masterplan is completed and the planning application submitted. The planning process will probably take another six months, with major works commencing next summer or autumn.

Labour Group AGM

At the AGM, Brian was reappointed as Assistant Chief Whip, and Darren and Feryat were re-elected to the Labour Group Executive.

The Cabinet and their responsibilities remain as before, with the exception of the creation of a new post for environmental sustainability. Mayor Pipe appointed Dalston councillor Sophie Linden to this position.

Annual Council – 9th May

At the annual meeting, Councillors Faizullah Khan and Ian Rathbone were elected Speaker (the ceremonial Mayor) and Deputy Speaker for the coming year.

We were pleased to be able to invite a number of residents to join us for the meeting and the reception afterwards. Most behaved well.

Renewal in power

The contract for the council’s electricity supply has just been relet. For the first time, Scottish Hydro-Electric secured the tender meaning that (within the confines of the national grid system) it will all come from renewable sources. It’s important to recognise that this applies not just to office buildings but to all the other infrastructure for which we are responsible including housing estates and street lighting.

Review of polling stations

The council conducts a review of polling stations between each municipal election, and the current one invites comments by the 31st of July. We would suggest replying pointing out the unsatisfactory nature of the Myddleton Grange station for residents living on Queens Drive, etc, given the objections received on polling day. The other stations seemed to operate okay.


Apologies but we've not been able to access the blog for a while. The first few postings will be catch-ups of the past few months!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Early April update

Back on track!

Woodberry Down

Brian and Darren attended the EDC on 15th March. One of the main issues was an attempt by a few residents to establish a separate black& ethnic minority housing association or tenant management organisation. As far as we can tell the main motivation behind this is personal disagreement between these two people and the rest of the EDC, and not any general dissatisfaction amongst residents. The EDC declined to support their attempt.

We continue to make progress towards selecting a development partnership for the rest of the estate, i.e. excluding the Kickstart sites. Response to the OJEU notice was encouraging, and residents and the council are due to shortlist from the 11th of April. The Kickstart developers Berkeley Homes are due to open their shop on Woodberry Grove this Wednesday 4th April. The Mayor is due to attend and have a separate meeting with local retailers to discuss their concerns.

A CCTV scheme is being introduced on the estate in the next couple of months. Funding was allocated when we agreed the budget.

Police Community Advisory Panel

Feryat and Brian attended the CAP meeting on Wednesday 14th March. We are pleased to report that Peter Dacre was elected as it’s chair for the coming year.

The main concerns we raised were a perceived lack of a visible police presence in certain areas and the ongoing issue of harassment on Blackstock Road. A meeting with the Arab advice centre has been arranged for the 3rd of April to discuss holding a public meeting together in the near future.

Kings Crescent

New development partners for the estate were finally appointed at the Cabinet meeting on 26th of March. The builders are to be Durkan and the RSL are Canalside Housing Association. Canalside is itself a partnership of two established HAs - Metropolitan and Community – which was established in the 1990s to take over some Hackney estates along the Regents Canal.

Demolition works to remove Westmill, Codicote and the boiler room are scheduled to begin in mid May. This area will be grassed and gravelled over until long-term plans are agreed between the development partnership, Council and residents.

The regeneration steering group, which Brian chairs, met again on the 27th March. Representatives were generally pleased with the progress made. We had also asked the police to attend to address worries about gang activity which had been raised at the previous meeting.

Maintenance works to deal with the historic backlog are continuing.

Decanting of residents from Lemsford Court into the refurbished flats in Kelshall and Therfield has begun.

Kings Crescent continues to benefit from an excellent youth club run by residents, which attracts young people from the whole area. We again intend to support the event at the end of their Easter scheme.

Alexandra National

Brian and Darren attended the steering group for the “Six Estates”, which includes Alexandra National, on the 12th March. Resident representatives seemed happy with the reassurances we were able to give them

Durkan and Canalside were subsequently also appointed as the regeneration partnership for these estates.

Stoke Newington Neighbourhood Forum

Feryat is Vice-chair of the forum. The main issues at its 15th March meeting included irresponsible dog owners in Stoke Newington, particularly in Clissold Park who leave their dogs off-lead.

Gill Steward, Corporate Director of Customer and Corporate Services, provided the forum with an update on the Stoke Newington Assembly Halls. The Council is restoring the building in order to put it back to the centre of civic and community life in the borough. A public consultation in November 2006 helped capture residents’ views on future use of the Assembly Halls. The main uses that were identified in the consultation were theatre and music performances, film, dancing, arts and cultural activities, sports and leisure activities and public hire.

Shalini Balakrishnan, Principal Licensing Officer, provided the forum with an update on licensing policy within the Council following its interim review.

Labour Group

The Labour Group’s main business on 20th March was a review of the Scrutiny function in Hackney. Scrutiny commissions were introduced in 2002 alongside the Cabinet system, to hold them accountable in a similar way to Select Committees in Parliament. We also considered plans for the renovation of Stoke Newington and Hackney Town Halls.

Full Council – 28th February

The main business was the adoption of the draft Local Development Framework, and several supplementary planning policies. Most controversial among the latter was the one on domestic extensions which as previously reported, the Tories had been dishonestly claiming would unfairly penalise the Orthodox Jewish community. In the event, when the finally saw the proposed guidance they had to accept that it was fair and rational, and their opposition melted away. It should be noted that Queens Drive is one area included in this policy where such extensions will be more closely policed than elsewhere, due to the number of unsympathetic ones over the years.

Education, children and young people

The Children and Young Person’s Scrutiny Commission, which Brian and Feryat are members of, concluded a review of methods of encouraging young people “not in education, employment or training” back into study or apprenticeships. It’s recommendations were endorsed at the March council meeting. It has just concluded a further review of child protection (safeguarding) in the borough, and those recommendations will be reported to a future meeting.

Overall revenue funding for schools will increase by Á8.4 million next year, which is an extra 7.6% per pupil. Parkwood, our local primary, sees it’s main delegated budget increase by 10.2%.


The borough-wide rollout of compulsory recycling, which was piloted in Brownswood, has seen the amount of waste recycled rather than incinerated, rise from 20% to 28% in a single month!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

March update

Sorry it's late - problems with Blogger!

Woodberry Down

Feryat and Brian attended the EDC on 15th February. This saw a significant step forward as the residents agreed to support the options to be put to leaseholders on the estate. They will have six options:
· Outright purchase of a new property
· Shared ownership
· Swap with another leasehold Hackney property
· Swap with another leasehold Hackney property on a shared equity basis
· New property on a shared equity basis
· Return to a tenancy

The associated report also sets out much more clearly than before how the valuation process works, including the rights to appeal within it. This package is due to be agreed at the February Cabinet meeting. It is also accompanied by a recommendation to make a Compulsory Purchase Order covering the Kickstart sites and some of Phase 2, in order to minimise undue delays.

Darren has been attending the internal council steering group for the project. This month the group discussed what the implications for the listing of Woodberry Down School and the John Scott health centre would have on the project, as well as the timetable for the procurement of a development partner for the later phases of the regeneration.

The John Scott Centre and Woodberry Down Primary School have been awarded a Grade II listing by the Secretary of State. The health centre was the first to be built in the country after the creation of the NHS and is a little piece of social history right here in Brownswood. According to English Heritage, the school represents a good example of a post-war 'Scandinavian style' public building, of which few remain. A mural from the Festival of Britain was also relocated from the South Bank to the school in the 50s.

Police Community Advisory Panel

The next meeting with the police is on Wednesday 14th March.

Kings Crescent

A report appointing the new development partnership for the estate is now due to go to the March Cabinet. This was delayed for a month because the timescale being proposed by officers was two years longer than was acceptable to us. Shortening the timetable involved identifying additional funding for next year, which because of the healthy state of the council’s finances was viable, but caused a further short delay while budgets were revised.

The regeneration steering group, which Brian chairs, meets again on the 27th February.

An extensive programme of maintenance works to deal with the historic backlog is ongoing.

The first 10 flats refurbished to the standards to which all the retained units will be, are now complete. Two will be used as show flats for a period, and the others available for decanting.

Kings Crescent continues to benefit from an excellent youth club run by residents, which attracts young people from the whole area. Brian and Feryat attended the end of half-term project show on Friday 23rd, and presented certificate to the winning kids.

Alexandra National

We will be attending the steering group for the “Six Estates”, which includes Alexandra Nat, on the 12th March.

Blackstock Road

A new strategy to revitalise the area was launched at the Library/City and Islington College building on 22nd February. Alan Laing, Hackney’s Cabinet member for environment and community safety spoke at the launch, and generously praised our work for the area.

The strategy puts equal emphasis on promoting the area and encouraging community cohesion, as on enforcement and tackling crime and ASB. It will be co-ordinated by FinFuture. Concerns raised by members of this branch played an important part in ensuring that Blackstock was the first area they prioritised.


Brian and Darren took part in the planning committee on 19th February which considered two applications from the LDA to rehouse some of the traveller families from the Olympic site. The committee refused one application in Hackney Wick on the grounds that the new site was too industrial for families to live in while granting the other for a currently disused council depot on the edge of Hackney marshes.


Labour manifesto commitment to becoming a FairTrade borough is currently being implemented. At a meeting recently organised by Labour councillors, a Hackney FairTrade Steering Group which includes Feryat, was set up. A large number of Labour Party members and others, including Meg Hillier MP, helped to launch the group.

There will be a FairTrade Fortnight running from February 27 to March 11. During the fortnight we hope to distribute postcards at railway stations for people to hand in to their local retailers, encouraging them to take FairTrade products

The next meeting of the steering group is on March 10 at 3pm at the Halkevi Centre, 92-100 Stoke Newington Road, when a FairTrade mountain fruits producer from Pakistan, will be speaking on the benefits of FairTrade and tackling global injustice.

Labour Group

The Labour Group’s main discussion on 20th February was on how to expand services for young people. Residents should be aware however that this will mean mainly provision targeted at those most at risk, rather than more traditional drop-in youth clubs.

Full Council – 28th February

The main business is to formally adopt the budget and set the council tax for next year.

Margot Sreberny

Finally we are sad to report the recent death of local activist Marget Sreberny. Margot was a tireless campaigner for the area and a founder of both the Finsbury Park Action Group and the Finsbury Park Partnership. She was awarded an MBE for her services to the community. FinFuture have agreed to name their conference suite after her, and we are looking at establishing a permanent memorial within the park.

One of her most famous quotes goes back to the period when we were running a regeneration programme for the Mare Street corridor which was branded as the Heart of Hackney. Margot wrote “it’s alright the council spending all this money on the Heart of Hackney but what about those of us up here in the sweaty armpit?”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blackstock Road Community Consultation - 3.30-8pm on Thursday 22nd February

Find out more about FinFuture's work here.

Blackstock Road Community Consultation Event
Thursday 22nd Feb 3.30pm to 8pm
City & Islington College
28-42 Blackstock Road N4 2DG

"FinFuture would like to invite you to attend a community consultation event to find
out how FinFuture working in partnership with Hackney & Islington Councils,
Safer Neighbourhood Teams and local businesses, plans to improve Blackstock Road.
During the day there will be presentations on our proposals and an
opportunity to find out more about the businesses on Blackstock Road, their
services and cultures. Formal presentations will be from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.

We have received a grant from the London Development Agency to develop
Finsbury Park as a Town Centre and Blackstock Road has been selected as our
first high road to work with. The project is called Town Centres for City
Growth and the work we do on Blackstock Road will be delivered on the other
local high roads over the next two years. To find out more, come to our
event, where there will also be information about our Start Up Business
Club, Interpreter Training Courses, Women In Business event plus a lot more.

There will be stalls with samples of dishes and cakes from around the world
and details of where this food originated from and its cultural

We would like you to attend to see our plans and share your views."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

0% local tax rise and boosts for key services

Following last night's Council meeting, we can reveal that

Hackney’s part of the council tax is being frozen for the second year in a row - with a 0% rise for 2007/8.

Rising collection rates and efficiency savings at the Town Hall mean Hackney’s ruling Labour group is able to put more money into key services without putting up council tax.

Highlights of the 2007/8 budget were revealed to a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

For the fifth year running Labour Mayor Jules Pipe will be setting a balanced budget that does not have to deal with overspends in previous years.

This is also the fifth year that there are NO cuts in services in Hackney’s budget – as well as extra money to fund residents’ key priorities.

The council has made almost £4 million in efficiency savings – money which is being ploughed back into key services.

The council tax collection rate is rising and is now at 90% - up 1% on last year – bringing in more money that can be spent on key services for residents.

Hackney’s Labour mayor Jules Pipe said: “Hackney Labour is very pleased we can deliver a 0% rise in local tax for the second year in a row.

“I am committed to keeping council tax down through improving the Council’s efficiency and driving up collection rates.

“Improved council efficiency means we can also put more money into the services that matter to you.”

Labour’s 2007/8 budget means boosts for key services including:

· KIDS SWIM FREE: An extra £295K to fund free access to all residents under 18 to swimming lessons during school holidays – starting this Easter.
· BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE: An extra £80K to extend the opening hours of the Hackney Service Centre from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday to 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday AND Saturday morning. More translating services for customers without English as a first language.
· STREET WARDENS: Investment to secure the future for Hackney’s Street Wardens to help make our borough cleaner and safer.
· MORE RECYCLING: An extra £250K to roll out compulsory recycling across the borough including for plastics and to introduce blue bins for kitchen waste to all kerbside collections.
· MORE TREES: An extra 500 trees on Hackney’s street this year alone – reducing our carbon footprint and making Hackney greener.
· GREENER HACKNEY: An extra £1.3m to improve Hackney’s parks and green spaces

In addition, Hackney’s schools are getting an extra £11 million to continue the improvements in education in Hackney that have seen GCSE results improve from 32% in 2002 to 51% today.

Labour’s 2007/8 budget takes a further step forward and away from the financial mismanagement and instability of a hung council.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Brownswood February update


Labour Group 16th January

At the last group meeting we set the budget for next year, including the council tax. While details remain confidential, you will be pleased to know that the council’s finances are sound and we were able to free up resources to begin implementation of most of our manifesto.

Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team

There has unfortunately been significant turnover in our police team in the last month. Sergeant Dave Bounds has taken over management of the team from Alison lapper who is on a six month secondment. PC Kelly Wood has left and been replaced.

Feryat and Brian attended the last CAP meeting on 10th January. Amongst key issues –
· an undercover operation on Blackstock Road for the fortnight before Xmas resulted in 15 arrests, mainly for handling stolen goods
· the anti social behaviour closure order on the abandoned parts of Kings Crescent, has been renewed for a further six months
· incoming calls to phoneboxes in Woodberry Grove, have been barred to discourage loitering. They also plan to try out a “mosquito” in the area.
· vice continues to significantly reduced on Brownswood Road

Woodberry Down

Issues recently raised by residents include-
· the narrowing of Seven Sisters Road
· is phasing really based on "worst first", particularly as they believe the Seven Blocks had been agreed as the worst?
· allegations about the values being offered to current leaseholders
· concerns about the possible loss of current shops on Woodberry Grove, and the time taken to provide replacement units in a later phase

All three councillors attended a further meeting with the Woodberry Grove retailers on 16th January. The retailers were presented with the proposed retail redevelopment and a retailers ‘offer’. Although the council have agreed to lower rents for the retail units and revisit some of the leasehold conditions, they are unable to offer more compensation or a first right of refusal on the new properties as they will be owned by the developer.

The retailers have been encouraged to approach the developer to enquire about the take up of the new shops (Berkley Homes have now opened an office in the shopping parade). The councillors are exploring ways in which they can support this communication.

Kings Crescent

The report is now due to go to the February Cabinet recommending development partners for Kings Crescent. This was delayed for a month to allow further work to be done on the financial models put forward by the competing partnerships. This was particularly important given the previous history of this estate.

Once a preferred partnership is selected, they will be expected to begin detailed negotiations with the residents and council on the future shape of the estate. As previously mentioned, the assumptions in the tendering process were that it likely to involve clearance of the Green Lanes frontage for redevelopment, and refurbishment of the blocks along Brownswood Road and Queens Drive for possible retention by the council. However this may be subject to change during those negotiations.

Following the deputation which we took to the Council in November, there is finally a detailed programme of works underway to tackle the backlog of maintenance. There is a meeting for residents on 30th January to explain what is planned.

The first 10 flats refurbished to the standards to which all the retained units will be, are due to be complete by 23rd February. Two will be used as show flats for a period, and the others available for decanting.

Negotiations towards establishing a permanent police shop on the estate are in the hands of the property services branches of both the MPS and Hackney, but will hopefully be concluded within the next few months.


The Hackney Gazette ran a positive piece on the work being done to regenerate Finsbury Park, which they picked up on from our blog!


The Spring Park Hotel sex encounter premises application was heard on Thursday 11th January. All three councillors attended. Darren and a number of residents spoke on behalf of Brownswood ward to oppose the application, while Tory Cllr Maureen Middleton spoke on behalf of New River residents. After long deliberation, the panel decided to grant the application with a number of conditions; an extremely disappointing result. The hotel was not granted an extension to its licence to serve alcohol though, and the sex encounter licence will be reviewed from March this year - giving us the opportunity to object if any of the feared problems connected to the licence do materialise.

Parkwood School

The school’s new playground got a special commendation in the recent Hackney Design Awards.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kings Crescent and Alexandra National

Find previous reports here.

For those who have asked, here is a brief history of these schemes -

1)In March 2006, Cabinet granted approval to proceed to tender for selection of developer partners for the following estates:

Colville Estate
Kings Crescent Estate
Tower Court, Alexander National House, Randlesham, Ottaway Court, Bridge & Marian Courts (the Six Estates)

2) Seven Developer/RSLs were shortlisted and received tender documentations on 4th September. Tenders were returned on 27th November 2006.

3) In October groups of residents representatives and councillors visited development sites/completed schemes of the shortlisted candidates.

4) Tenders have been assessed on the basis of agreed evaluation criteria. The Evaluation Panel assessing the quality of tender submissions comprised resident representatives from each estate supported by their independent tenant and leaseholder advisors (ITLA), and officers with expert knowledge in different areas such as planning and construction training.

5) Financial viability assessment was carried out separately and independently.

6) This was followed by interview of, and presentations by, all bidders which took place on 12th and 13th December 2006.

7) Further meetings with residents’ representatives and their ITLAs are being arranged.

8) The selection process will be finalised shortly and a report will be submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet in February for decision.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

January update

from the Brownswood Councillors

Woodberry Down

The regeneration of Woodberry Down has taken another major step forward with the December Cabinet meeting agreeing to support the residents preferred option for the future. This (“Option 2”) would see a single housing association and development consortium selected to lead the process. They would be expected to establish an unique ‘Community Based Housing Association’ for Woodberry Down, and assist the campaign to win a stock transfer ballot.

As stated, this was the option strongly supported by the residents through their Estate Development Committee. “Option 3” which was chosen as the backup, sees ownership and management transferring incrementally. Just a reminder that the advantages include

· 4,316 new homes
· investment of approx 653 million
· new health centre and children’s centre
· new primary school and secondary school
· resident control of the social housing through the CBHA

There is a further meeting with the Woodberry Grove retailers scheduled for 16th January.

Kings Crescent

A report is now due to go to the February Cabinet recommending development partners for Kings Crescent, following a process including technical evaluation and interview of the housing associations and builders forming each of the partnerships by residents and officers. Once they have been chosen and the legal agreements completed, they will be expected to begin detailed consultation with residents on the regeneration plans. As previously mentioned this is likely to involve clearance of the Green Lanes frontage for redevelopment, and refurbishment of the blocks along Brownswood Road and Queens Drive for possible retention by the council.

However there is even better news. While most of the overall regeneration will be funded through the new partnership, we also put in a bid for a special London-wide fund for 2.5million to make an early start to some of that. The Government and London Mayor announced at the end of November, that this bid has been successful. This means that we can begin the refurbishment a year earlier than otherwise.

The intention is to make a start on the blocks along Brownswood Road as soon as a contract can be let. Demolition works on the further areas to be cleared should also commence in the new year.

Alexandra National House/ “Six estates”

Similarly the next couple of months should see a development partnership appointed for the package of six estates which includes Alexandra National. Because it covers six estates spread throughout Hackney, it difficult for anyone of have the same sense of ownership of these proposals and therefore possible the schemes will be developer-led.

For example one of those for Alexandra National involves new retail units at ground floor level, while another has a 20 storey tower block on the north-west corner, ie taller than the existing one.

Police Community Advisory Panel for Brownswood

The Police Community Advisory Panel meets every two months to give our safer neighbourhoods team and the wider police force, some direction as to what their priorities should be. It currently meets at 6.30pm on a Wednesday in a local school; the next one being on Wednesday 10th January.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

Feryat attended the estate committee on 16th November.


The Spring Park Hotel sex encounter premises application is now scheduled for 7pm on Thursday 11th January. It was previously due to be heard at a daytime hearing in December but the councillors had this delayed to a more suitable time.

School results

Hackney’s results overall have continued to improve markedly year on year. But for the second time in three years, our local school Parkwood is in the top 2% nationally based on the scores below:

English Maths Science
Hackney average 71% 65% 76%
National average 79% 76% 87%
Parkwood primary 90% 87% 90%
(achieving Level 4 at age 11-12)

It should also be stressed that this extraordinary achievement was still based on a class which was significantly more deprived than even the Hackney average. Congratulations to all the pupils, families and staff.