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?”