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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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