Saturday, 26 July 2008

Council Pay Shocker

From the Hackney Gazette:

AS council workers protested over pay last week, it has emerged that a town hall chief pocketed more than £310,000 last year.

Hackney Council's accounts for the last financial year show that the senior officer took home a massive pay-out, which could include redundancy payments, expenses and other allowances.

A council spokesman refused to identify the officer, saying: "The council is not able to disclose details of payments to individuals as these are confidential".

When pressed by the Gazette, he said: "I am not prepared to say anything more.

"You can spin it any way you like."

Penny Thompson, who was the council's chief executive for the first month of the year the numbers cover, received a salary of £164,839.

She suddenly announced her retirement in April after two-and-a-half years in the post

The accounts show that another officer received a payment of between £230,000 and £239,000.

Borough solicitor, Meic Sullivan Gould, quit his job the week before Ms Thompson stepped down and Hackney Homes chief executive, Steve Tucker, also retired during the period covered by the report.

It is believed that the council's current chief executive, Tim Shields, earns between £160,000 and £169,000 a year.

Matthew Waterfall, branch secretary of Unison, the trade union which represents council workers, said: "It is shocking to think that a single council officer should receive such a massive pay-out when our members, some of whom earn less than 12 grand a year, have been taking industrial action to secure a decent living pay rise.

"Taxpayers in this borough should be asking some serious questions of their council about how their money is being spent."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the public spending watchdog, the Taxpayers' Alliance, added that it was a staggering amount to give someone in one year, especially as many Hackney families are struggling to pay their council tax.

"Whether it's a basic salary, a bonus or a severance payment, it's utterly wrong to lavish so much money on one public servant.

"The council should name who it is, so taxpayers can assess whether they gave good value for money."

At the time of going to press the council had been unable to tell the Gazette what other perks council officers were receiving and explain why more than £10 million in council housing rent arrears was written off.


Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Judge slams "hopeless" Hackney Council

From the Hackney Gazette :

A woman is celebrating after the threat of eviction from her De Beauvoir home was lifted following a bungled court bid by Hackney Council which a judge described as "hopeless."

Eco-campaigner Michelle Goldberg, 55, who lives in Lawrence Court on the De Beauvoir Estate, breathed easier this week after the council decided not to lodge an appeal over the judgement made against it at Shoreditch County Court a fortnight ago.

The council had alleged she had breached an injunction they took out against her two years ago not to harass "anyone going about their lawful activity in the London borough of Hackney."

But it blundered by failing to specify how the injunction had been breached as well as re-applying for a possession order when they should have applied for a warrant to evict.

The injunction, prohibiting "abusive or threatening behaviour," was also found to be "defective" because of discrepancies between the original draft and an amended version.

The judge threw out the application describing it as hopeless and "incontestably bad" and ordered the council to pay all Ms Goldberg's legal costs.

"The council needs to get it own house in order before it victimises others," said an angry Ms Goldberg this week.

more »


Friday, 18 April 2008

"Non-muslim" father banned from Hackney pool

From the Telegraph:

A father has described his anger after he and his son were refused entry to their local swimming pool because they weren't Muslims.

David Toube and Harry, five, were turned away by staff from the men-only session.

The council admitted yesterday that workers at Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney, north London, made a mistake and offered the family an apology.

Mr Toube, 39, a lawyer, said they visited the baths at 9am on Sunday.

“I arrived at the pool to discover that they were holding what staff described to me as 'Muslim men-only swimming’,” he said.

“I asked whether my son and I could go as we were both male.

“I was told that the session was for Muslims only and that we could not be admitted.”

Mr Toube then spoke to the duty manager, who confirmed he could not enter.

“I asked what would happen if I turned up and insisted I was Muslim.

“The manager suggested that they might ask the Muslims swimming if they minded my son and I swimming with them. If they didn’t object, we might be allowed in.”

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Friday, 7 March 2008

Hackney Council Persecute Pensioner

From the Sun:

A DEFIANT market trader appeared in court yesterday for selling fruit and veg by the pound.

“Metric Martyr” Janet Devers is charged with failing to display prices in kilos and using incorrect measuring scales.

Her case was brought by Hackney Council in East London – despite a European Commission decision last year to end efforts to make Britain ditch imperial measures.

The 63-year-old was granted bail by Thames JPs yesterday and her case was sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court, where she will enter her plea next month.

Janet, of Wanstead, East London, said: “I was hoping that they would come to their senses and withdraw these charges.

“Unfortunately not. We are dealing with Hackney Council after all.”

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Thursday, 7 February 2008

Three Star Big Brother

The council gets three stars out of four. LMAO. From Clives World Order:

Complete Control, 1984

..Or I'm A Libertarian, Get Me Out Of Here!

The dumb dumb local council apparatchiks of our stinking corner of London have become all-powerful and omnipresent. I guess at heart, all politicians and their lackeys have -- to a greater or lesser degree -- God complexes. But this unbearable.

Hackney (sodding) Council has now officially assumed control over every aspect of my life.

I'm woken each morning by its clumsy street cleaners, who while noisy, fail to actually remove any litter.

My street and all those around it a constantly filthy because recycling and refuse collection isn't properly coordinated. Pick-up on our road is Thursday, immediately south and to the right, on Mondays, opposite us on Wednesdays and to the North, on Fridays. Ipso facto, the whole neighbourhood is in a perpetual state of accumulative rubbish. Indeed, many of the flat dwellers simply don't have room for all the recycling paraphernalia, so their stuff constantly lives on the pavement. And what of my neighbour's penchant for discarding TVs, computers, fridges, furniture, carpet and the like by just leaving it on the street..?

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Friday, 1 February 2008

Hackney's Planning Department

Yet more incompetence, this time reported in the Gazette. Give them all OBE's:

PLANS for a new school and affordable housing for the Jewish community in Stoke Newington have been put on hold after council officers failed to produce the correct paperwork at a planning meeting last Wednesday.

The planning application was withdrawn after bungling officials failed to explain why they had not carried out an environmental impact assessment on the development on Lordship Road.

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Friday, 25 January 2008

Ms. Devers and the Imperial System, Indeed!

A letter from America:

Seattle, Washington

Hello, Hackney Blogger!

The story of Ms. Devers and her travails before the Hackney Council were
featured last evening on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news show, "As It Happens," that leaks across the border. The piece included an interview with Ms. Devers that touched a nerve on the other side of the world (well, eight time zones distant, anyway), in part because she and I are the same age. "Metric Martyr" puts it mildly, I'd say.

We both grew up learning - and admiring - a Britain for which that inspiring phrase, "so many owe so much to so few" did not describe the apparent
relationship between the residents and the governing body of Hackney. Not at
all your "finest hour" to put up with this crew of people "clothed in a little authority," to borrow from another prominent Brit of yore.

I could relate how metric was tried and soundly rejected here thirty and
more years ago, including the use of shotguns on roadside speed limit and
distance signs, but I have a better idea: Send your delightfully batty Council
here for a vacation or even a lecture tour.

Yes, perhaps they could come to inform us benighted colonials about the benefits and requirements of metric. I'd bet you wouldn't get them back unless they had private medical insurance and perhaps if they displayed the same stupid attitude they'd find out why so many Americans keep guns in the homes and shops.

Don't you have Recall or Initiative and Referendum rights? Good luck casting off your tyranny!



Hole in Maintenance Standards

From the Hackney Gazette:

FEARS have been raised over the safety of Hackney Marshes after the ground gave way beneath a 15-year-old boy's feet on Sunday, plunging him into a six-foot hole.

It is believed that the hole may have been caused by tunnelling to bury overhead power cables beneath the Marshes 14 months ago as part of a £50 million project for the 2012 Olympics.

Hackney Council, which manages the Marshes, has been forced to close off two football pitches on North Marsh and carry out inspections each weekend amid safety fears of further cave-ins

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Hackney Council charges pensioner with 13 "criminal offences" -does using Imperial scales really make her a menace to society?

Is persecuting a 63 year old woman for using non-metric scales the best use of council resources? Of course it is, this is Hackney. From the Telegraph:

An extraordinary thing happened one week last September. Gunther Verheugen, a vice-president of the European Commission, announced that Brussels had abandoned its policy of forcing Britain to go exclusively metric.

The British, he said, could use non-metric weights and measures as long as they wished. Indeed he went further. The belief that it was a criminal offence under an EU directive to sell in non-metric measures, he said, was an invention of the "tabloid press", which had "repeatedly and erroneously printed stories" of "people having to buy their food from markets in kilograms rather than pounds".

Mr Verheugen's announcement won front-page headlines in the national press. Yet, only a day later, trading standards officials made a mockery of his statement by seizing two sets of "illegal" imperial scales from a stall run by the sister of Colin Hunt, one of the five original Metric Martyrs, in London's Ridley Road market. This event was totally ignored - except by this column.

Just before Christmas the stallholder, Janet Devers, a 63-year-old pensioner, received a 67-page document from Hackney Council charging her with 13 criminal offences, including use of her old imperial scales. Yet only a month earlier, in a letter to the British Weights and Measures Association, one of Mr Verheugen's senior officials had stated that "use of pre-2000 weighing instruments in imperial-only units" remained entirely legal under EU law, since "the directive does not prohibit the use of such instruments".

Mrs Devers was told the council's costs, for the time of the officials who seized her scales (£68 an hour each, equivalent to £141,000 a year) were already £2,000. Fees for Hackney's lawyers will bring the total much higher - apart from any fines to which she might be liable (up to £5,000 each), for offences which Mr Verheugen insists do not exist.

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Saturday, 5 January 2008

Hackney pensioners pay more Council Tax than Gordon Brown

From the Times:

Hackney is a borough of London not exactly renowned for the prosperity of its residents. Yet anyone living in a modest family home in this deprived part of the capital pays more in council tax than the Prime Minister, who lives in a luxurious flat in prosperous Westminster.

In fact, a pensioner living in a Band E property in Hackney on a pension of only £13,000 a year paid £255 more in council tax last year than the Prime Minster, who earns more than £180,000. No wonder reform of this iniquitous tax is low on Gordon Brown’s agenda. But the pressure for change will grow with the news this week that council tax is to rise by an inflation-busting 5 per cent for most people in April.

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