Friday, 30 November 2007

Dalston's Heritage Destroyed

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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.

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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.

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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.

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