Saturday, 29 December 2007

Hackney Council wastes money on "unnecessary roles"

From the Daily Mail:

In November alone, Hackney Council and the East London NHS Foundation Trust each offered three separate equality and diversity jobs paying £39,030 each – a total salary bill of more than £225,000.

The phenomenon, which has continued despite a promise by Gordon Brown three years ago to cut non-essential posts, was branded Jobzilla after the all-devouring screen monster Godzilla.

Peter Cuthbertson, research fellow for the TPA, said: 'The public sector is clogged with these ridiculous jobs, draining huge amounts of resources away from essential activities.

"It's insulting to expect taxpayers who struggle to meet the taxman's demands to foot the bill for unnecessary roles."

more »


Friday, 21 December 2007

Taxpayers' cash lost in translation

From the Hackney Gazette:

TOWN hall bosses have come under fire for wasting taxpayers' money after revealing at least £125,000 was spent on translating council documents last year.

The huge bill run up by Hackney Council accounts for translating the information into some 100 languages spoken in the borough.

The costs have been attacked by the government's Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, who says local authorities are spending too much on translations and not enough on encouraging people to learn English.

She has sent out guidelines to all local authorities to advise cutting down on costs.

Meanwhile, the council seemed confused over how much had been spent and gave the Gazette several figures, some as high as £200,000, before settling on £125,000.

more »


Thursday, 13 December 2007

Swimming club welcomed home with slashed pool bookings

From the Hackney Gazette:

Clissold Swimming Club has 'moved home' to Clissold Leisure Centre.

But a spokesman has admitted club officials are "disappointed" with Hackney Council's decision to offer them exclusive use of the pool on just one night a week.

The centre, in Clissold Road, Stoke Newington, has been closed for the past four years for refurbishment - but now that the work is complete, the club is set to make a welcome return.

Throughout the four-year period that the centre had been closed, the club had been forced to do much of its swimming outside the borough.

Spokesman Kate Cornwall-Jones said: "The re-opening of Clissold Leisure Centre will allow us to swim in Hackney six days a week.

"However, it is disappointing that Hackney Council have cancelled our two whole pool bookings at Kings Hall and are only offering one similar session at Clissold Leisure Centre between 6pm and 8pm.

"Clissold SC is ambitious on behalf of young swimmers in Hackney and to deliver our vision for excellence and increase participation in swimming we need more whole pool bookings at more appropriate hours. We look forward to working in partnership with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) and Hackney Council to increase the opportunities for local people to achieve their maximum potential in swimming and other aquatic sports.

more »


Saturday, 8 December 2007

Christmas Demonstration for Housing

From an email:

Hi, this is the call out for the next London Coalition Against poverty
demonstration at Hackney,

*pls forward widely*

CALL TO ACTION: Christmas Demonstration for Housing
6 - 7:30 PM
Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street E8 []

Contact: 07932241737

Hackney "Scrooge" won't house us: We won't be turned away

London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) will demonstrate at Hackney
Council's Cabinet meeting on Monday the 17th of December 6pm to 7.30
pm. As Christmas day approaches its difficult to see the seasonal
spirit in Hackney's Homeless Persons office where homeless people are
daily denied their rights and left without anywhere to go. LCAP will
demonstrate this Christmas to send a clear message to Jamie Carswell
(head of Housing strategy and deputy Mayor) that we will not tolerate
this any more. LCAP will be campaigning for change in Hackney's
dealings with the homeless for as long as it takes.

Come to the picket, there'll be some hot soup, and Christmas festivity.
Dress warm, bring noisemakers and mince pies if you like.

More info:

London Coalition against Poverty (LCAP) has been at Hackney Housing
Needs office since July 2007, and we have seen time and again that
homeless people are turned away unlawfully. By law some homeless
people have to be housed immediately but Hackney Council cares more
about balancing their budget through not housing people then about
their residents needs. They try to delay or stop people making a
homeless application. To achieve this the staff often act in an
intimidating and sometimes abusive way. Because of this "gate keeping"
at the housing needs office many vulnerable people and families are
left on the street or other insecure, dangerous places. When
accommodation or advice on how to find housing is offered by the
council its likely to be out of Hackney, often even out of London.
Hackney Council will be held accountable for their failure to house
Hackney's people.

LCAP demands:

- An end to gate keeping at Hackney HPU

- Stop the intimidation of people that approach the HPU

- Genuinely affordable housing to rent in Hackney - no more people chased
out of the borough

Jamie Carswell is scrooge!
We are the ghosts of Christmas present!


Friday, 7 December 2007

“It’s no secret... it was a fairly chaotic managerial arrangement.”

From Building:

Hodder soon encountered the sort of problems that go with local government work. “In the early days, there was a constant change of personnel at the council,” he recalls. “Tony Ellison, the chief executive, left, the [in-house] project manager changed. There was a tremendous lack of continuity.”

Kim Wright, director of community and leisure at Hackney, admits: “It’s no secret. There was no overall political control and it was a fairly chaotic managerial arrangement.”

But the real difficulties started in 1997 when Sport England, one of the scheme’s co-funders, designated Hackney a priority initiative area, which meant, according to Hodder, that there was money available to take the budget to £10m. However, what should have been a boon for the project quickly became a poisoned chalice.

“That prompted Hackney, not unreasonably, to rethink the brief,” says Hodder. “I felt there were things that we could improve … the size of the gym facility could be bigger, there was no spectators’ facility. There was quite a lot of public consultation that led to changes – for example, to the changing rooms because of the Orthodox Jewish community.”

There was debate, too, over the scheme’s two 25m swimming pools. Some felt that there should be a single 50m Olympic pool – an idea that was dropped – but one of the pools was stretched from six to eight lanes.

These were substantial changes, but Hackney was keen to start work on site as soon as possible, partly because it had been advised that this would save on VAT. However, tenders for the project came in at £13m, £3m higher than anticipated. The design team and the council came up with a compromise budget of £11.5m, but in the meantime Gleeson, the contractor, was being pushed to get started.

more »


Friday, 30 November 2007

Dalston's Heritage Destroyed

more »

Dalston Lane's historic buildings were now on the footprint of a proposed 20 storey tower block. They were, in effect, on death row awaiting demolition. The Council made a planning application to itself and, in the face of objections and demonstrations at the Town Hall by the local community, its Planning Committee voted in February 2006 to demolish all the historic buildings.


Hackney Social Services: delays and accusations of negligence

From the Hackney Gazette:

AN investigation into failings by Hackney social services, which may have contributed to the deaths of two children, has been delayed for the second time this year.

A panel looking into the deaths of Antoine Ogunkoya, 10, and his three-year-old sister, Keniece, who were killed by their schizophrenic mother, Viviane Gamor, at her home on the Pembury estate in Lower Clapton in January, despite warnings from their father, will now report its findings in February - more than a year after the tragedy.

The report, which will look at the involvement of Hackney social services and East London and City Mental Health Unit in the children's deaths, has been delayed once already.

A spokeswoman for Hackney Council said the decision to delay again had been to allow the family of the two children to contribute to the report.

The Safeguarding Children Board, a multi-agency body which oversees child protection, commissioned the independent serious case review.

It was due to present its results in September. Now this second delay has led to fears that other children under care of Hackney social services may be at risk.

The children's father, Gabriel "Jimi" Ogunkoya, who lived with them in Trehurst Street, Lower Clapton, has already accused Hackney's social services of "frogmarching" his children to their deaths.

more »


Friday, 23 November 2007

Council "care packages could be cut"`

From the Jewish Chronicle:

Families in need hit by budget cuts
By Dana Gloger
CHAREDI families with disabled children claim that social workers told them their care packages could be cut because a council had overspent.

This follows the JC’s “Forgotten Parents” campaign, which revealed that many large families were forced to cope alone with their severely disabled children.

MP Diane Abbott raised the issue with Jules Pipe, mayor of Hackney, one of the worst-hit areas of NorthLondon.

Mr Pipe refused to comment at the time, but this week Orthodox families said that the situation had worsened following visits from social workers.

Chaya Spitz, head of services at Interlink, an umbrella organisation for voluntary groups in the strictly Orthodox community, said: “People will have a review with a social worker they haven’t seen for two years and the minute they come in the door they are saying, ‘We have to make cuts now because we have overspent’.

“People feel they have to beg and plead to maintain the care packages they have. It’s so depressing.”

A mother of eight living in Stamford Hill, Hackney, who has a 12-year-old son with cerebral palsy, said: “I was terrified I was going to lose the little [help] I have. I only get seven hours of care a week, which is not enough as it is.

“Now people are terrified every time a social worker comes round in case they lose the little care they have. I begged for more help. I am desperate. But they just have their budgets in mind. I survive, but it’s a struggle and I don’t have the strength to fight any more.

more »


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Hackney "forgot to renew" council policies

From Hackney Planning Watch:

We have now received a letter from the Government Office for London. It appears that the Council may not have a legal basis for the policy document that includes the proposed areas of exception.

This is quite a technical point, but a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) cannot make council policy, it can only give guidance on existing policy. The proposed SPD relied on three Council pre-existing Council policies, two of which have lapsed (it appears the council forgot to renew them), the third of which applies only to conservation areas.

Consequently it appears doubtful that the Council can adopt the SPD without first adopting some basic policies.The Council is suggesting that it can rely on a general 'plan for London', the principles of which the Council has adopted, but this seems unlikely (or should I say 'desperate'). The Council intends to continue with its existing proposals.

We have been led to believe that the Council may remove the phrase 'area of exception' which is viewed a problematic, but they are currently committed to the substance of the proposals. The latest proposed timescale is that the report will go to Cabinet in December, but there is every reason to suspect that this timescale will be extended. In any event, our campaign must continue to build in strength.

The accidental lapsing of important Council policies is of course a typical Hackney Council 'cock up', but what does it mean for our campaign? Well the good news is that it makes it even harder for the Council to simply ram through the existing proposals, and consequently more likely that we will, eventually, get them amended.

The bad news? Well it appears the Council no longer has any policy on residential extensions! It is therefore possible that unscrupulous developers with good lawyers can appeal any application (however outrageous) that is rejected on the basis that the Council has no policy grounds for rejection.

more »


Sunday, 28 October 2007

Halloween Picket at Hackney Council Meeting to demand housing rights

From London Coalition Against Poverty:

CALL TO ACTION: Halloween Picket at Hackney Council Meeting to demand
housing rights!

6 - 7:30 PM
Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street E8 []

Contact: 07932241737

This Halloween we demand our rights!

'A NIGHT LEFT ON MARE ST' - Hackney council turns the homeless away

London Coalition Against Poverty have called for people to picket the
Hackney Council meeting this Halloween. Hackney Council's Homeless
Person's Unit (HPU) has been systematically denying people their rights.
This picket will demand that the council immediately halt these illegal
and unjust practices.

Come show your solidarity and join in the picket! Come to the picket
dressed as something scary and send shivers up the councillor's spines -
bring noisemakers if you'd like to.

More info:

London Coalition against Poverty (LCAP) has been at Hackney Housing Needs
office since July 2007, and we have seen time and again that homeless
people are turned away unlawfully. Hackney Council cares more about
balancing their budget through not housing people then about their
residents needs. They try to delay or stop people making a homeless
application, and to achieve this the staff often act in an intimidating
and sometimes abusive way. Because of this "gate keeping" at the housing
needs office many vulnerable people and families are left on the street or
other insecure, dangerous places. Hackney Council will be held
accountable for the gatekeeping at the Housing office.

LCAP demands:

- An end to gate keeping at Hackney HPU

- Stop the intimdation of people that approach the HPU

- Genuinely affordable housing to rent in Hackney - no more people chased
out of the borough

LCAP will continue to haunt Hackney Council until these changes are made.



You dirty rat: street cleaners prepare to blast Banksy away

From the Indpendent on Sunday:

Critics call the graffiti artist a genius, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have paid £1m for his work. But Hackney council has ordered its workers to power-hose his pictures out of sight
By Cole Moreton
Published: 28 October 2007

What is the biggest eyesore on the streets of east London? A giant rat with a knife and fork in its paws, apparently. Or a rioter throwing flowers. Hackney council says these subversive images are making the place look dirty and have to go – even if they were spray-painted by Banksy, the art world's most unlikely superstar.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have just paid £1m for some of his work. From Hollywood to Hoxton, art collectors are prepared to pay big money for anything Banksy does, with his most expensive single piece, Space Girl and Bird, selling for £288,000 at Bonhams in April. But Hackney council doesn't care.

more »


Tuesday, 16 October 2007

National Customer Service Week, 2007

From ESP visuals:

Was walking back home from Noodle King with Irie and saw this Hackney Council Customer Service card on the street. Made me smile.......I'm glad he appreciates Jules Pipe.

more »


That's 'Councillor' spelt U-S-E-L-E-S-S

We pay for these people?

Responses from Councillors:

If you are making reference to a Commuity, kindly have the manners tospell their name correctly. It is Charedi with a "C". Many thanks,

Cllr Linda Kelly
Leabridge Ward


Dear councillor Kelly

As the word is a transliteration it is spelt either Haredi or Charedi and we chose to use Haredi as this is what was used by the eminent Jewish scholar who wrote to the report.
I am sorry this seems to have offended you.

Best wishes


Just for your information and I will not be responding to any more emails. It did seem to offend me, it did offend me. With regards to your eminent scholar, reading through his findings there are an awful lot of spelling mistakes, he should have used aspell check.With regards to the word, Charedi since you all live in Hackney, perhaps you could have asked your neighbour about the correctspelling.

Cllr Linda Kelly
Leabridge Ward

I was about to make the same observation as Cllr. Kelly, but she has beaten me to it.

Maureen Middleton
Cllr.New River

Thank you for your email, would you allow me to print this on my blogsite -


Dawood Akhoon


15 October 2007

Re. Planningwatch email dated 14 October

Thank you for the above dated email.

You have raised very important points. I will discuss the issues raised with my
Colleagues and also ask questions to the Planning Officers.

Cllr.Shuja Shaikh

Haredi Judaism>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaHaredi or Chareidi Judaism is the most theologically conservative form of Orthodox Judaism .[1] A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi (Haredim in the plural).

Could we perhaps concentrate on the issues raised rather than spelling?

Cllr Linda Smith

Thank you for the spelling lesson, spelling is an issue if you aregoing to talk about a Community.The Community referred to in issue live in Stamford Hill and callthemselves Chareidi.

Many thanks

Cllr. Linda Kelly


From: "Daniel Kemp"

To: "planningwatch"

My understanding is the area of exemption is more simply a nuance ofinterpretation but that the planning guidelines will have to be adheredto so cannot understand the furore.The areas are not within my ward or constituency and so I am notsupposed to get involved, it is not that I am ignoring your emails.

I have asked Guy if the planning dept could let us know were there had been a legal exention that the staus of property ie single family dewilling conversion or HMO would be usual, it wouldn't bve perfect but might give us any idea of percentages.

Cllr Sharron Patrick

more »


Monday, 15 October 2007

Heartbreaking but true

If only we had a competent democracy then we might not have to advertise for:

Ref: : CCS119/50211/O (London Borough of Hackney)
Location: : Hackney - London
Rate: £30,594 to £32,961 (Permanent)


£30,594 to £32,961 pa inc. (pay award pending)

Hackney is a great place to live and work. We are one of the fastest improving local authorities in the country and are one of the host boroughs for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.

We are now looking for three new Democratic Service Officers to join our new Services for Councillors team, to serve and support a number of local meetings. It might be a formal Planning or Licensing Sub- committee, a full Council or Cabinet meeting or, one of the Council’s four Area Committees/Forums, but you will be at the heart of Hackney’s democratic and governance processes.

You will be a highly-motivated team player, with sound experience of servicing Committee meetings and supporting the work of local Councillors. You will be focused on the detail, have a pride in your work and be enthusiastic about being part of a team which is committed to the delivery of a high quality service.

You can download an application pack from or call our Response Handling Consultants on 020 7649 6044 or email quoting reference number CCS119/50211/O and your full contact details.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is Monday, 5 November 2007.

Through the Local Government Pension Scheme, the Council offer a generous and competitive final salary scheme.

One of the core values of the Council is an unequivocal commitment to the principle and operation of equality in terms of how we deliver the best services to our customers and all the people of Hackney, how we recruit, and how we support our staff. We welcome applications from people who can make that principle a reality.

more »


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Unison and Hackney clash on children's staffing reforms


Hackney Council’s Unison branch is threatening to strike over a restructure of children’s social work in the east London local authority.

Under the plans introduced in May, social work “units” will be created with small teams of “consultant” social workers and other professionals with the aim of reducing management and bureaucracy.

In July, Steve Goodman, deputy director of children’s services at Hackney, told Community Care the units would mean “an end to social work teams” and give social workers the authority to make decisions on cases without referring them to team managers.

The council is currently recruiting for 50 jobs in the units, with top salaries for different roles between £40,000 and £50,000. The first unit is due to be set up in November.

While the council has been keen to promote what they call “reclaiming social work”, Unison says 80 social workers are being forced to “jump through hoops” to reapply for their jobs, with 30 or more at risk of redundancy.

Andrew Williamson, Unison’s co-convenor at Hackney, claimed consultation on the restructure, which began in May, was “an utter farce” and said the assessment process for the new positions was “more than usually required of external candidates”, including psychometric tests.

“Staff are being denied their contractual rights, given offers of alternative employment that are unreasonable and forced to reapply for their jobs,” he said.

more »


Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Hackneyed thinking

From The Times:

Exhibitors seem a little thin on the ground this year, but councils are out in force spending thousands on stands to lobby for more money. Take Hackney: posh stand, plasma screen, glossy booklet. Two members of staff. Councillors on hand if someone wants a photo. Why? “The 2012 Games give us a golden opportunity to make Hackney a better place. We will work with partners and organisations to get the best out of the Games for the people who live in the borough . . . ” But would Hackney council tax payers agree?

more »


Sunday, 23 September 2007

Pounds, pints and a personal vendetta

Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph:

Last week I reported how, two days after the media had been claiming victory for the Metric Martyrs and that Brussels had reprieved pounds and ounces for ever, council officials and police officers again swooped on the Hackney fruit and veg stall run by Colin Hunt, one of the original "martyrs", to seize his "illegal" non-metric scales. Because this did not suit the media's new "narrative", only the local paper bothered to pick up the story.

Visitors to Ridley Road market might be surprised to see how many other stalls, mostly run by members of "ethnic communities", are selling in pounds and ounces without Hackney council taking any action.

The body that supposedly oversees enforcement, Lacors (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services), has issued a "Con-cordat", stating that the law must be imposed impartially.

But instead of insisting on a policy of non-discrimination in Hackney, Lacors has circulated a leaflet personally attacking Neil Herron, director of the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund and Mr Hunt's champion, for claiming that he had "saved the crown on the British pint".

Since Mr Herron has never made any such absurd claim, one must ask whether it is the role of public officials to pursue what appears to be such a scurrilous personal vendetta.

more »


Friday, 21 September 2007

Council payoff to abused siblings

From the Hackney Gazette:

A WOMAN and two younger siblings have been paid a total of £100,000 in an out-of-court settlement because Hackney Council failed to remove them from their abusive home.

Jennifer Routledge, 39, who was given £57,000, was sexually abused by a stepfather when she was nine years old.

Along with her brother, Anthony, 32 and sister, Amanda, 36, she was also beaten in her South Hackney home and deprived of food.

more »


Landmark left to rot

From the Hackney Gazette:

CONSERVATIONISTS have raised concerns about the deterioration of a Hackney landmark.

Members of the Central and South Hackney Conservation Area and Advisory Committee (CAAC) are worried about the poor condition of the New Lansdowne Club in Mare Street.

Planning permission was granted in 2004 to turn the grade two listed building, which is on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register, into a Vietnamese cultural centre on condition it was fully restored.

However, three years on, no repair work has been carried out on the 18th-century building and CAAC members are shocked that it has been left to rot.

One of their number, Louise Oldfield, said: "Ownership of a listed building comes with a responsibility and the deterioration of this building over a few years has been shocking. It's one of the most important buildings in Hackney."

Rossana Tich, another CAAC member, who is also a Hackney Society trustee, added: "It is sitting there rotting. The council is dragging its feet to use its statutory powers."

more »


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Entire London Borough of Hackney In A State Of Disrepair?

From This is Stoke Newington:

morehackneychaos.jpg And the hits just keep rolling at the London Borough of Happiness. Is there nobody at Hackney that can get a grip? Click on the photo to read the latest consequence of Hackney Labour “led” in-action.

How much more Hackney Labour know nothing managerialism are residents meant to endure?

more »


Sunday, 16 September 2007

£100,000 for abused siblings council failed to take into care

From The Guardian:

A 39-year-old woman and her two younger siblings have won a total of £100,000 in an out-of-court settlement with Hackney council in east London because it failed to remove them as children from their abusive home.

Jennifer Routledge, who received £57,500, was raped aged nine by a stepfather who was jailed for the crime, and later abused by another who she believed had groomed her for the purpose. She and her siblings were beaten and deprived of food and she left school at the age of 13 unable to read and write properly.

more »


Friday, 14 September 2007


From the Hackney Gazette:

ANGRY tenants protested outside the town hall this week over sell-off plans which could see estates being built on and council homes demolished.

Jeers and boos greeted, Hackney's deputy mayor, Cllr Jamie Carswell, after the council's Cabinet gave the go-ahead on Monday to the plans to transform the borough's estates as part of a £6.8 million investment programme.

For the past nine months, Hackney Council has consulted tenants over controversial plans to sell off land on their estates to a housing association landlord.

more »


Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Building resentment

From Scorn and Noise:

Imagine coming home one day to find that your neighbour had built an extension that was bolted onto the outside wall of your upstairs living room. When you’d suppressed (or not) the urge to dynamite the edifice, you would feel certain that the authorities would take a similarly dim, if less emotional view of the matter.

And so they do: unless you live in Hackney, where official policy allows the council to grant planning permission for structures built on other people’s property.

more »


Friday, 31 August 2007

'One-star' housing boss retires after 26 years

From the Hackney Gazette:

THE chief executive of Hackney Homes, Steve Tucker, retired last week after the borough's housing authority achieved just a one-star performance rating earlier this month.

Mr Tucker had been in the post since November, 2005, and worked for the council for 26 years.

more »


Tenants' fury at 'land swap' deal as estate undergoes £1 billion revamp

From the Hackney Gazette:

ANGRY tenants say they will be forced to suffer the misery of living on a building site after plans for the £1 billion redevelopment of their estate were altered radically.

The blueprint for regeneration of the massive Woodberry Down estate has been re-drawn by the town hall in a land swap deal so that a planned new academy for 11 to 18-year-olds can be re-located.

The academy had been set to be built on the nearby site of the former Woodberry Grove primary school, but English Heritage refused permission as the school is a listed building.

Hackney Council's Cabinet gave approval last month for the academy to be built on another part of the estate earmarked for property developer Berkeley Homes to construct 209 mixed tenure homes.

more »


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Non-job of the week

From Burning Our Money.

This week’s non-job is rather sobering. Given the anarchy sweeping the UK, with gangs attacking children and other innocents, the political classes recognise the crisis on our streets. Calls for more police are one thing. People recognise that police on the beat cut crime. A police presence makes our most vulnerable feel safe and secure; free to walk the streets they have every right to be on. Yet no one is calling for more “community safety coordinators”, bureaucrats with fancy titles whose good intentions feed inaction and ineffectiveness against the scourge of crime on our streets. Every penny siphoned off to town hall apparatchiks fighting crime with bits of paper behind a desk is one less penny put to frontline policing. That’s fewer funds to train and employ new police who can fight crime.

Our non-job of the week therefore comes from Hackney council:

“Community Safety Co-ordinator

£32,961 - £35,593 p.a. inc.

more »


Saturday, 25 August 2007

Housing When's a home not a home? When it's a live/work space

Owners of properties designed for home-based workers face eviction, as Lucy Barnard reports in The Guardian.

They're called live/work apartments, and have sprouted in urban centres across the UK. They are targeted at the pioneers of home-based working, and usually feature cutting-edge architectural design.

But now hundreds of purchasers who use them entirely as a residential space, face eviction following a clampdown by council planning departments.

The London Borough of Hackney has already issued 600 "planning contravention" notices, and other councils across the country are watching the situation closely.

Two weeks ago, the 75 homeowners of Union Wharf, a trendy-looking block a stone's throw from Hoxton, N1, woke up to open an innocuous-looking letter from Hackney council.

It was from an official, telling them they were all in breach of planning regulations and had to either leave their homes or apply for residential planning consent within 28 days.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

Clissold Costs Spiral

From the Hackney Gazette:

THE final bill for repairs and improvements to the trouble-torn Clissold Leisure Centre is expected to be £13 million. The building work is scheduled to finish next month.

The latest estimate hikes Hackney's spending on the flagship centre in Stoke Newington to £44 million - four times the original budget.

Some of the money was recouped after legal action was taken against architects Hodder Associates, quantity surveyors Langton Davis Everest, building contractors Gleesons and structural engineers Whitby Bird.

The claims were settled out of court, but the council had to compensate former management company Leisure Connection for the fees and profits lost after the centre closed in 2002, just 21 months after it had opened.

more »


Friday, 10 August 2007

Bike bureaucracy bungle

From the Hackney Gazette:

ANGRY cyclists lost out on £50,000 to kit out their estate with secure bike lockers as a result of a bureaucratic bungle.

The Frampton Park Residents' Association had secured Transport for London (Tfl) funding to build 75 lockers at Loddiges House.

But between them, Hackney Council and Hackney Homes failed to return the application form in time.

more »



From the Hackney Gazette:

A MENTALLY ill man slept rough for five nights in a public park because the council failed to fulfil its statutory duty to find him emergency housing, it was claimed this week.

His case is not an isolated example, according to a homeless campaign group, which has accused Hackney's Homeless Persons Unit of operating a "gate-keeping" policy towards those in urgent need of a roof over their heads.

David Brewster, 54, who is being treated by his doctor for clinical depression, says he spent five nights sleeping in bushes in Butterfield Green, Stoke Newington, after he applied, penniless and desperate for somewhere to stay, to the homeless persons unit.

more »


Sunday, 5 August 2007

No, Hackney Council: You’re Not Going To Have My Bank Details

From This is Stoke Newington:

Guys, love the latest smooth move from our friends at Hackney Council. It used to be that you could pay your “value for money” council tax payments at Stoke Newington Town Hall. As of Monday, 3 September 2007, that facility will vapourise. Thanks for the consultation, Hackney Labour.

more »


Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Psychotic mother killed children

From the BBC.

A judge has criticised a council after it allowed a mentally ill woman access to her children before she killed them.

Vivian Gamor, 29, admitted beating Antoine, 10, and suffocating Kenniece, three, in Hackney, east London, in January, the Old Bailey heard.

Judge Peter Rook QC criticised Hackney Council, saying the tragedy could have been avoided and Gamor should not been given free access to the youngsters.

more »


Sunday, 29 July 2007

Cleared but still suspended

From the Hackney Gazette:

THE town hall's standards watchdog has been accused of a whitewash after it went against independent advice and cleared a Hackney councillor of having a prejudicial interest in a controversial development.

Cllr Darren Parker was suspended for three months after admitting making an "error of judgement" by not declaring an interest in the proposal to bulldoze the 19th-century Dalston Theatre and build a 19-storey high-rise block in its place.

Crucially, however, Hackney Council's standards committee decided the 33-year-old's employment with a government body that supported the scheme did not amount to a prejudicial interest.

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Saturday, 7 July 2007

Stamford Hill deserves better

From Hackney Planning Watch.

Hackney Council is planning to exclude 38 streets in Stamford Hill from normal planning protection. A period of so-called ‘consultation’ on the plans has already concluded, but most residents had no idea that this consultation was taking place. One councillor has already been quoted in the press celebrating what he described as an unprecedented u- turn in council policy. While the councillor was celebrating, most residents had not even been informed of the proposals. Those who have managed to obtain copies of the ‘draft’ proposals are appalled at the proposal to abandon their streets to unregulated property developers.

The Council already has an appalling record of applying its existing policies and often grants planning permission for front, rear and side extensions that are completely out of character with the existing streetscape, and which in some cases involve the almost total in-fill of rear gardens. Not satisfied with the existing levels of architectural vandalism, the Council wishes to relax even further the rules that they so rarely apply.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Want A Landline? Not In Hackney!

From I Intend to Escape...

You would have thought Hackney Council and Virgin would have agreed clear working processes to ensure any mechanical faults could be quickly repaired, and tenants would get the service they are paying for. Not so. Two working days notice is required before Hackney will provide Virgin with a key to the roof (that's two days you are paying for a service you cannot use, on top of the week before the engineer can come round)

This time a new twist was added. Virgin informed me I had to request the key from the Council, and they would then pick it up from Hackney on the day of the repair. When I visited by Neighbourhood Office, I was simply told there was no access allowed to the roof of the building, for anyone, due to "problems caused by pirate radio stations operating from roofs".

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Monday, 18 June 2007

Demolition of Dalston’s historic buildings: Darren “One man, two votes” Parker to face Hackney Standards Committee hearing.

From Open Dalston.

An investigation, instigated by the Standards Board for England (SBE), has found that Hackney Councillor, Darren Parker, had a personal and a prejudicial interest when he used his Chair’s casting vote last July to grant planning permission for the demolition of Dalston’s heritage buildings and their replacement with towerblock flats. The investigation has found that Councillor Parker should have withdrawn from and not voted in the meeting. Had he done so the application would have been refused on the balance of votes cast. Hackney’s Standards Sub-Committee is to consider the report’s findings, and Councillor Parker’s representations, and make a ruling on Wednesday 20th June.

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Saturday, 28 April 2007

Blue boxes for Hackney Yay!

From Service with a Snarl:

Well done to Hackney Council for introducing borough wide Blue box organic matter recycling. Unfortunately they have omitted to deliver mine and I've been in s stream of 5-10 working days madam, for the past 2 months. Maybe one day, dear old Hackney Council.

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