Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Councillors report for May/June 09

Council performance

The Audit Commission have found that “Hackney Council has continued to 'improve strongly' and remains a 'three star' council.

Hackney is delivering significant improvement in priority areas such as community safety, children and young people and adult social care. The pace of improvement is higher than the national average with three quarters of performance indicators improving in 2007/08. Overall resident satisfaction has improved with 60 per cent of residents feeling their views are taken into account. This is supported by the Service First programme. Challenges remain in the planning service and tackling childhood obesity.

2 The Council works well with partners to deliver wider community outcomes such as health inequalities, addressing worklessness and tackling crime. Infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates have decreased. Apprenticeships are used to deliver more local job opportunities. Crime overall has decreased.

3 The annual performance assessment of the Council's children's services by the Office for Standards in Education found that the Council makes a good contribution to improving outcomes for children and young people.

4 The Adult Social Care performance judgements delivered by the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate showed that the service is delivering good outcomes with promising capacity to improve. Managerial and political leadership and the LAA were noted as strengths.

5 The services provided by Hackney Homes were recently rated as good with promising prospects for improvement.

6 The Council provides improved value for money and financial standing is good. Leadership, planning and prioritisation are strong. Consultation is used well to shape services to meet the needs of diverse communities. The Council continues to improve performance management and is making good use of joint appointments to increase capacity. The Council is well placed to sustain and deliver future improvements.

7 The appointed auditor has reported separately to the Audit Sub-Committee on the issues arising from our 2007/08 audit of the financial statements. He has issued his audit report, providing an unqualified opinion on your accounts and a conclusion on your value for money arrangements to say that these arrangements are adequate. The Council has continued to improve it final accounts processes including the quality of working papers provided and responding to audit requests.

8 The Council's performance on Use of Resources demonstrates continued and significant improvement in a range of key lines of enquiry. Whilst the overall score for the Council has remained as a three (performing well), this is a much stronger performance than our previous assessment. In overall terms four individual scores have improved compared with last year and none have reduced.”

There is a major change in the way assessment operates next year as we move from CPA to CAA. This is much more outcome based and examines the joint contribution of all the partners in an area rather than just the local authority.

Kings Crescent Estate

The interim works are now well advanced with much of the painting complete, and lighting repairs and upgrades beginning. The start of resurfacing has been delayed by the disruption to adjacent roads by Thames Water.

The refurbishments are now finally scheduled as follows –

21-37 Kelshall Court 27th July 2009
Therfield Court 10th August
Bramfield Court 31st August
Theobalds Court 21st September
Datchworth Court 20th October

Decisions are urgently required as to the futures of Weston, Lemsford and the part of Kelshall above the shops.

The recent discovery of asbestos in some of the elements of the old heating system has understandably alarmed residents. The Deputy Mayor, Karen Alcock is due to attend the next Steering Group meeting at the end of June.

Community Safety

A second joint police and council community safety newsletter is in preparation. The first appears to have been well received.

Overall crime in the borough is down 16% December 07 to 08. Crime calls in Brownswood are the 2nd lowest of all wards in Hackney. We will be represented at the CAP meeting in July.

Woodberry Down

The Old School site continues to be prepared for construction – unfortunately a section of the reservoir path will be closed for at least 6 months while drainage and foundation work are undertaken. On a positive note, the new planning application for the site will be decided by the planning committee this week – it is a big improvement on the outline planning permission as the new community centre and shops are much better situated.

Genesis Housing, the new social landlord for the estate, are promising to support new estate wardens, a community chest programme to help local people set up projects, and a series of small environmental Improvements. We are very pleased to be working with them as partners in delivering the regeneration that is needed.

The building of the new Skinners Academy is ongoing. Unfortunately the discovery of an unexpected electric main under the site may mean that it has to continue on its existing site for an extra term.

Six Estates

The residents of the ‘Six estates’ regeneration programme – which includes the site of Alexandra National House, are unhappy with the latest bid made by the relevant consortium – a partnership between a housing developer and a housing association. We are encouraging the council to negotiate hard to improve the bid but are aware that unless the consortium can meet residents’ demands, the council will have to look at other options to deliver new affordable housing for our empty site.


Finfuture continues to face financial difficulties with the collapse of it’s biggest tenant.

Manor TRA - Portland Rise, Amwell Court and Lakeside Court

The community hall on Amwell Court is having disability access put in; hence the access to the hall is blocked. The location of the recent ETRA was changed and Feryal was not able to attend.

Transition Towns

We continue to liaise with the Transition Towns Finsbury Park group, who have recently set up in Brownswood. http://www.transitiontowns.org/

Myddleton Grange

Although the fun day on the 6th April was well supported and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the TRA, the AGM itself was not well attended. The handful of members who turned up decided to select the TRA officers provisionally to kick start the whole process, hence a chair, secretary and treasurer were elected with 3 other residents as committee members. The next meeting is on the 23rd of June, when they will start discussing issues on the estate.

Street trees

One of the most specific commitments in our manifesto was to plant 1000 new street trees by the end of the term. This was achieved in March, over a year ahead of schedule. We are seeking extra funding to continue this initiative.

Labour Group and Council AGMs

We were pleased to welcome branch members and ward guests to the Council AGM. Councillor Muttalip Unluer of Stoke Newington Central was elected Speaker for the coming year, with Clayeon McKenzie from Hoxton as his deputy.

At the Labour Group AGM, Feryal was elected Chair of the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Commission. Brian was elected Chair of Audit, and remains Vice-chair of Licensing and Assistant Chief Whip.

Stoke Newington to Sadlers Wells tunnel

The Thames Water tunnelling project which links the Stoke Newington Reservoirs (and thereby the East London Ring Main) to the Inner London Ring Main at New River Head (next to the Sadlers Wells Theatre) had an important breakthrough last month - see photo below.

We have continued to receive complaints of disturbance being caused by the tunnelling, and have taken them up as necessary.