Monday, March 18, 2013

Our March report

Councillors Report – March 2013

Council Budget 2013/14

At the meeting on 27th of February, we set the budget for the year ahead. Despite substantial reductions in government grant, we were able to freeze the council tax for a record 8th year. The figures show how unequal this has been with Hackney losing £318 per head of grant while Dorset loses £39 and Surrey £41.

Despite every thing we were still able to free up resources for new/additional services

 £0.250million towards policing the night time economy

 an additional £1.4m for Looked After Children

 £900k extra to the waste disposal authority

 £150k towards a new service for children of “overstayers”

 £1.8m more towards adult social care

In addition we maintained an extra £2.1m in cleansing and post Olympics cultural development, on a one-off basis.

The council’s revenue spending for the previous year came in at 0.2% under budget.

Bizarrely and apparently without irony the main Tory proposal was to cut spending on infrastructure and cleansing, to add to “the hardship fund to assist those residents losing council tax and other benefits as a result of the introduction of the government’s welfare reforms”. The Liberal Democrat proposal was a more limited version of this.

Parkwood School

A second advert for a new Headteacher should appear on the 8th March. The governors hope to interview and appoint in mid April. However there is a severe national shortage of suitable candidates so the timetable allows for a further round.

Kings Crescent regeneration

With the masterplan having been approved in September, the detailed design of the north side of the estate has been worked up. It will see the estate rebuilt in phases, each consisting of new build and refurbishment of existing stock so that the eventual design is tenure-blind. One interesting feature will see the conversion of the rows of garages along much of the northside to flats. This was one of the original design flaws leaving substantial areas with no natural surveillance or sense of ownership.

We hope to get it to a planning committee in the summer, and to start work in the late autumn. It will achieve

• 101 refurbished flats for current residents

• 107 new affordable units (79 for rent, 28 for shared ownership)

• 155 new units for private sale

The second stage of the refurbishment which included replacement of the electrical mains, all lifts, the installation of two tier door entry systems, and new roofs and windows for Weston and Lemsford, is almost complete. New windows are also being installed at Therfield Court, with Datchworth and Theobalds to follow shortly.

We have bid for £30k – and £78k of council funding - from a GLA initiative to create “pocket parks” from the current green spaces along Queens Drive.

Manor House Area Action Plan

We are meeting with residents affected by the proposal to redevelop the UNITE /T&GWU building on Green Lanes..

Finfuture/ the Finsbury Park Trust

At an EGM on 25th March, Finfuture is due to change it’s name to the Finsbury Park Trust to try to better reflect it’s aims and activities, first proposed by Brian.

As previously reported Hackney, Islington and Haringey council have agreed to work together on a joint supplementary planning document for Finsbury Park town centre which includes parts of Blackstock and Seven Sisters Roads. The aim is to guide future development of the area to support economic, social and physical regeneration.

Joint work has already taken place between the 3 boroughs on the removal of estate agent boards, auditing street clutter on borough and TfL roads, and engaging business and other stake holders. “Capital Clean Up” on 11-17th March will see further work but the area is already cleansed to a high level so any ideas would be welcome. The Accord is also exploring the idea of re-launching a Blackstock road festival. Hackney Council is leading on this and would welcome resident involvement.

Woodberry Down regeneration

Construction has begun on the “3 Ps” site. This will be 100% social housing.

The new youth club is to formally launched on the 6th April, with the adjacent Woodberry Grove North Park hopefully to follow on 25th April.

Secondary school admissions

1 March was national offer day, for pupils applying to secondary school this September. 67% of those who opted for a Hackney school have been offered a place at their first choice school. 84.5% have been offered either their first or second choice.

Community safety/policing

The March full council passed a Labour motion criticising the Mayor of London’s policing plan which will see officers in Hackney reduced from 770 in 2010 to 685 in 2015. It will also reduce the fixed element of SNTs to 1 sergeant, 1 PC and 1 PCSO.

Locally we continue to work closely with the police. For example “Operation Haka” is a joint long-term operation aimed at targeting gang-related criminality in Hackney. A total of 25 search warrants were executed and 14 people arrested, during dawn raids on the 27th of February 2013. These were predominantly in the Hoxton area of Hackney but with other addresses in Hackney and surrounding boroughs involved.

Councillors Brian Bell, Oli de Botton and Feryal Demirci

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