Thursday, February 05, 2009
Councillors Report for January 09
Council performance and budget 2009/10
We intend to freeze the Hackney element of the council tax again, for the fourth year in a row. As far as we know, we are the only council in the country to be able to do this. Residents are on average £256 better off.
Despite this, through better use of resources we plan to
* Invest a further £0.5m in recycling
* Put an additional £0.5m into cleansing
* Recruit more environmental health officers, including ones specialising in noise pollution and food standards
* Offer free swimming to children and seniors all year round
The council commissions annual research from MORI into levels of satisfaction with public services in the borough. In 2000, overall satisfaction with the council was under 20%. It is now over 70%.
Brian currently chairs the council’s Audit Committee. At it’s last meeting, our District Auditor confirmed that we would be a three star (on a 0-4 scale) authority again this year. More impressively yet, they stated -
“The council’s performance demonstrates continued and significant improvement in a range of key lines of enquiry. This is particularly commendable on the back of an `improving strongly’ assessment in the previous Direction of Travel Assessment in March 2008.
Whilst the overall score for the council has remained as a 3(performing well), this is a much stronger performance than our previous assessment. In overall terms four individual elements have improved compared with last year and none have reduced.”
On the 23rd of January, the government and other members of the Funders Committee agreed to release an additional £135 million to build both the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre. These are the biggest elements of the Olympic Park which fall in Hackney, with £355 million to be invested in total.
The intention was that these should be built to the highest specifications for adaptable office and work space, accommodating the most up-to-date technology and to the highest fit out standards. After the games are over, they should attract media, creative and allied industries as the permanent tenants, hopefully bringing high paid jobs to the borough.
The council fought a long campaign to ensure these were built as originally planned, and not just as shells which might eventually end up as warehousing.
Hackney Children’s Services
Children’s services in Hackney have been given a three star (out of four) rating by OFSTED. They were impressed by improvements in all the included service areas over the last year.
Kings Crescent Estate
We previously reported that residents’ disenchantment with the prolonged tendering process for regeneration partners, and the delays to the start of interim works, has been building. They have had to endure 11 years of lengthy negotiations and false starts, while the fabric of the estate has sometimes been allowed to decline.
On our first day back on the 5th of January, all three councillors met with Hackney Homes and council officers to urge them to make rapid progress.
At the latest Steering Group, the TRA notified us that they no longer sought a comprehensive regeneration, but wanted the estate refurbished and retained by the council.
On a happier note, two KC residents Jill and Vince Walker-Murrain won Hackneys active resident of the year award for their work running the youth club and in the TRA. Brian and Feryat were amongst those pleased to nominate them.
Darren and Feryat attended the Community Advisory Panel meeting on the 14th of January. The meeting agreed to keep Blackstock Road, anti-social behaviour on estates and prostitution as the priorities for the Brownswood SNT for the next two months. A further anti-kerb crawling operation is planned for 1st week of February.
The top three crime allegations in the ward are; burglary 19 cases in last two months; ABH 15 cases; and theft from motor vehicles 14 cases. Overall crime allegation figures have further reduced by 3 % from previous two months.
The Brownswood Safer Neighbourhoods Team will be moving in to a shared office with the Highbury team on the Islington side of Blackstock Road later this year.
Brian attended a meeting called by the police on 12th January to discuss prostitution in the area. Unfortunately few other residents did, which was generally felt to be a reflection of the reduction of the scale and impact of the problem. However clearly this can change as the weather improves, and a follow-up meeting has been called for 16th February.
Darren will update verbally.
Feryat is one of the council representatives on the Hackney Homes board. HH has recently undergone it’s second Audit Commission inspection of the year. Obtaining at least a two star rating is a requirement of £225m additional decent homes funding being released.
The executive team met with the commission in early January to discuss the report and thoroughly check it ahead of its release. HH are obliged to follow the commission’s protocol and wait until the report is officially released to let everyone know the result. This is likely to be towards the end of February or early March.
The current year decent homes programme is well on track to meet its targets. The target % of homes without decent homes works at 1st April 2009 is 31.7%. Some 7,842 homes remain to be made decent between 1st April 2009 and 2012.
Manor TRA - Portland Rise, Amwell Court and Lakeside Court
At the latest meeting on 15th January, the residents complained that the fast turn over of estate managers on Portland Rise (PR) and Lakeside Court (LC) was causing major delays in all reported repairs. In the past 2 years, PR and LC have had 4 different managers. Most requests made at previous ETRA’s are still outstanding. (Feryal to follow them up)
We are still seeking new development partners to help regenerate the site and provide rented, intermediate, private, and possibly retail, accommodation.
Stoke Newington Central Bye-election
There was a bye-election in Stoke Newington Central ward on Thursday 29th January, following the retirement of former Deputy Mayor Jamie Carswell. The candidate was former Brownswood Secretary Louisa Thompson. Thanks to all the branch members who helped out.
And congratulation to Louisa who won with 48% of the vote – up 2.5% from the last borough elections. The Greens came second with 32% despite bringing in activists from across London. The Lib Dems only got 12% while the Tories were on a humiliating 7%.