Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our September report

What have we achieved?

Since taking back control in 2002, this administration has achieved -
* Stability and continuous improvement in the council finances and management
* Achieved a three star rating (out of 0-4) for overall performance
* Nearly two thirds of council homes meet the Decent Homes standard compared to a quarter back then
* Introduced compulsory recycling for street properties, and rolling it out further on estates
* The biggest reduction in crime of any London borough
* Extension of the Underground under construction
* Reductions in infant mortality and teenage pregnancies
* Helped more residents into employment
* Gone from the worst to the best at processing benefit claims
* Our streets are the cleanest they’ve ever been, with graffiti removed in under two hours and 1000 new street trees each year
* Seven of our parks have achieved Green Flag status
* Opened London Fields Lido and reopened Clissold Leisure Centre
* Educational standards have increased significantly
* All our secondary schools are being rebuilt, and five new academies opened
* Surestart and the Childrens Centre network being delivered

Major challenges remaining include
 Making sure the Olympics and Paralympics leave the legacy we want
 Delivering major projects such as Woodberry Down, in the changing economic circumstances
 Improving educational standards, outcomes and opportunities further
 Hackney Homes achieving at least two stars
 Reducing the fear of crime to match the real reduction

Kings Crescent estate

The refurbishment of the southern blocks is proceeding, funded directly by the council and government grant. Planning permission was granted on 3rd September. A programme of environmental “catch-up” and improvements works are scheduled and clarification as to whether leaseholders should be recharged is being sought.

The steering group, which Brian chairs and which now includes the potential developer and housing association partners, continues to meet on an approximately monthly business. We hope to be able to report on the signing of the Heads of Agreement within the week.

Community Policing

At the CAP meeting held on the 3rd of September the police reported a dramatic decrease in all crime in Brownswood ward over the summer (July/Aug). In particular, decreases in all three of the main previous concerns - burglary, prostitution and anti social behaviour (ASB). Whilst Brownswood was a burglary hotspot in June, it is now no longer considered so.

Over the summer the police conducted plain clothes patrols of all the estates, as well as deploying a police bus which not only patrolled the estates but also stopped to give young people summer scheme information.

The dispersal zone around Blackstock Road is coming to an end soon. It was reported that whilst there are people still congregating outside cafes on BSR, there has been no trouble. Several residents voiced their disappointment with the summer festival on BSR. They were concerned about the vision /lack of vision for BSR by FinFuture.

Concerns were raised regarding high number of accidents on the junction of Queens Drive and Seven Sisters Road involving motorbikes. Feryat undertook to look in to getting a safety assessment done.

The panel decided that the priorities set at the previous meeting should remain the same ie i) ASB by gangs of youths on WD, KC and Myddleton Grange ii) prostitution iii) Blackstock Road. The next meeting is on Wednesday November 12th.

Woodberry Down

The masterplan for Woodberry Down is due to go to the planning committee during October. This has been resubmitted due to changes that were made as a result of the listing of the primary school and the John Scott health centre.

The council continues the selection process for a developer and RSL to carry out the regeneration for stages 2-5 of the masterplan. This is expected to be concluded early in the new year and will go to cabinet for final approval.

Negotiations with the developer of the old school site (adjacent to the Jewish girls’ school) continue as they have not signed an agreement on planning obligations that would allow them to start building. There are concerns about how this is related to problems in the property market at the moment and the council is considering whether other sources of funding that can be accessed to bring the scheme forward.

Boris Johnson is being lobbied by a conservative councillor from New River and a conservative London Assembly member to drop the plans to narrow the section of Seven Sisters Road as it travels through Woodberry Down. Mayor Johnson has committed to re-consult on the issue and we hope that he does not go back on his word to support this. At the moment, this section of the road severs the community in two and when the regeneration is completed, the new educational campus will be on the north side of the road. We hope that the principals set out in the masterplan to create a ‘whole living environment’, where children can walk around safely, will be maintained.

We ran a stall at the funday back in July.

Blackstock Road

At the same time as increasing enforcement activity, we have always emphasised the need to work with the residents and traders to promote the area positively. Therefore we were please to attend the inaugral Blackstock Road Festival on Sunday 10th August. The street was sealed off for the afternoon, and entertainment and information stalls provided. We had useful discussions with several residents and Jeremy Corbyn MP, and took some good photos.

(photo was meant to go here!)

Although organised at short notice, and acknowledging that it could have been better attended, we felt it was symbolically important that something positive was done. There is an in principle commitment to repeat it next year, with more time to plan and advertise.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

Resurfacing works at Portland Rise which we have been pressing for, are about to start.

Alexandra National

We are currently seeking for new development partners to help regenerate the site and provide rented, intermediate, private, and possibly retail, accommodation.

Myddleton Grange estate

We continue to support resident representatives, police and housing associations in establishing a proper T&RA, and planning more activities for young people.

Wilberforce Road

We have had the derelict phone box at the top of the road removed.

Campaigning for May 2010

The next local elections are in May 2010, and although that may seem a long way away, we need to start campaigning now. A borough-wide campaign plan has been adopted, and there should be both local and council-wide leaflets to deliver in the autumn. Canvassing started in September with a push in Brownswood in early November.

It has been a great privilege to be your councillors for the last two years. We are pleased to confirm that we will be seeking renomination in accordance with the Labour Party’s procedures, in the coming months.

Brian Bell, Feryat Demirci and Darren Parker
Labour Councillors for Brownswood