Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November 2009 update

Council Tax and finances

In the last report I revealed that it was our intention to again freeze the council tax.

I can now confirm that the Cabinet meeting last Monday agreed a budget strategy which would achieve this. This would be the fifth year in a row that we have done this, and we are the only council in the country with such a record.

Despite that, the draft budget contains new provision for –
 reopening Stoke Newington Town Hall and Assembly Halls
 completing the refurbishment of Clapton Library, and outfitting the new Dalston Central library
 substantial additional expenditure on both children and adults social care
 running costs for the extra £5m capital investment in the Youth Service
 increased estate and general waste recycling and reduction
 allowance for reduced fee income during the economic downturn

Council performance

The Audit Commission continues to recognise the improved performance across the council. Its draft organisational assessment for this year rates us 2nd best in London and 4th nationally at achieving efficiencies.

They said “Hackney Council continues to build on its good track record and delivers good outcomes for local people. Satisfaction with the way the council runs things continues to improve and is similar to the London average. 7 out of 10 people are satisfied with Hackney as a place to live. More than 62% say that they get fair treatment from local services. 4 in 10 say that they can influence local decisions, which is better than average.

Good improvements have been made in services that local people say matter most including adult social care, the environment, housing, improving leisure services and in reducing crime. This builds on improvements in previous years.

The Council is working well with other public services, voluntary organisations and businesses to improve the quality of life for local people. In partnership, the Council has helped local people to find jobs and has improved the area through regeneration.”

Secondary school results

One of our major manifesto commitments in 2006 was that Hackney’s GCSE results would exceed the national average by the end of this term – from being up to 20 points behind 8 years ago.

The results for this year have now been confirmed. The national average for pupils getting five or more A*-C grades is 49.7%, and the Hackney one is 52%.

Kings Crescent

Refurbishments are now largely complete in Kelshall and Therfield, and ongoing in Bramfield with other blocks as below. Tenants are getting new kitchens and bathrooms, together with rewiring and associated improvements. On some of the southern side, new balconies are to be constructed and flats extended. We are pushing to find funding to extend this, and to bring the CCTV system back into use.

1-24 Theobalds 4/11/9
25-47 Theobalds 25/11/9
20-42 Datchworth 7/1/10
1-19 Datchworth 1/2/10
1-31 Lemsford 15/2/10
Weston Date tbc, Spring 2010

Highways scheme – junction of Brownswood Road and Queens Drive

Streets in the ward are to form parts of a new cycle route linking Finsbury Park Gate to the Olympic site. Part of this is a proposal for a raised table junction at Brownswood Road and Queens Drive. The crossing at this point could also be moved a little westwards to align with the edge of the junction.

Please respond to the consultation either via the booklet shortly to be distributed or on the web.

Manor ETRA

We were asked to again take up the issue of the location of the polling station for CD district, i.e. Myddleton Grange and Amwell Court. My preferred solution would be to see a portakabin placed at the entrance to Myddleton, as voters from surrounding streets are sometimes put off by the current journey. The Chief Executive has promised to look at this.

Woodberry Down Estate

We are still seeking to complete the regeneration on an incremental basis. In the meantime an interim repairs package has been agreed. And we have been negotiating to ensure that residents from Spring Park Drive and from Peak and Petherton, are among the first to be moved into the new flats.

Building work on the Old School Site is progressing well with the cores of both Block F (33 homes) and Block G (84) almost complete. Construction of the new secondary school is on schedule.

Councillor Brian Bell