Thursday, 29 December 2011

Campaigning against fare increases at Rectory Road station 3rd Jan

Join Hackney Downs Labour members on 3rd January - we will be meeting at 7.30am at Rectory Road station to campaign against Boris' increased travel fares. Ken has pledged to cut fares by 7% if elected Mayor.  Do join us to help hand out leaflets and discuss these issues with commuters.

Watch Ken's Fare Deal video here:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Gooch House update

Following the last Gooch House TRA meeting I have taken up a number of issues:
  • Licensing are now looking at late night activities at 237 Lower Clapton Road which has caused a distubrance to Gooch House residents.
  • The concierge staff have been asked to limit times when they are absent and to ensure the inner communal door is shut
  • The council still intends to convert the now vacant bedsits and neighbouring Hackney Homes tenanted one bedroom flats into larger family sized accomodation. Additional funding is being sought to carry out a pilot conversion later this financial year or early in the next when voids become available.The intention is to do work on a new heating system and the bedsit conversions at the same time as part of a single package of work. The council is awaiting confirmation of future Decent Homes funding for 2013/14 and 2014/15 and will then be able to confirm dates for the work, which will not be until 2013 at the earliest.

CCTV on Della Path

On our recent roving surgery on Nightingale Estate residents of Della Path raised with us a number of recent break ins.  We have now secured the agreement of Hackney Homes to install a CCTV camera on Della Path to deter further crime.

Save our station staff

We've been working with other local community groups in Hackney on a campaign to defend Hackney's train station staff. Lots of residents in our ward use Rectory Road and Clapton stations - both of which are under threat. We are very concerned about passenger safety if the stations are unstaffed, particularly as there have been incidents in the evenings in the past.

Rick and Alex leafleted outside Rectory Road station this morning to raise awareness of the cuts.

There is a meeting on Monday 12th December at 6.30pm at the Old Fire Station on Leswin Road.

Jennette Arnold, the Labour Assembly Member for our area on the Greater London Assembly, speakers from the TSSA rail union, the Green Party and Hackney Disability Backup will be there as we discuss how to continue campaigning and raising awareness of this issue. A spokesperson from Abellio, the train operator taking over from National Express in the New Year, has been invited to speak.

All the details from Together for Transport below:

A community coalition is launching a campaign to defend Hackney’s train station staff after government proposals to cut ticket office staff were exposed. The McNulty report recommends that smaller stations across the country lose their ticket office staff. In Hackney, this would mean cuts to all ticket office staff at Hackney Wick, Homerton, Rectory Road, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington stations. Ticket office staff would be cut at Hackney Central, Dalston Kingsland and Clapton. Community activists believe that without staff, Hackney’s train stations will become dangerous, unwelcome and inaccessible places.

A spokesperson for Together for Transport, a founding member of the community coalition, said: ‘Everyone in Hackney who uses the trains and Overground will be dismayed to hear talk of unstaffed train stations. We don’t want to go back to the bad old days of unreliable trains and dangerous train stations. This public meeting will be a chance to show how bad this move would be for Hackney, and plan a community response.’’

more information here:

Anybody wishing to attend the meeting or find out more information should email

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Gooch House Community Hall

I attended a meeting this week to discuss the future of Gooch House Community Hall - above the shops by the Leabridge Roundabout.  Former Councillor Linda Hibberd described the history of the hall - which goes back to when Gooch House was first built.  It had been used as a meeting space by the TRA and also by other estate and community groups.  Some years ago there was a flood and the building needs substantial renovation works to bring it up to standard.  Hence it has not been used for some years.

There is now a proposal from Bangla Housing Association to bid for lottery money to renovate the hall and bring it back into use.  The TRA are now considering whether to support this bid and go in as partners.  The idea would be to bring it back into use for community groups to hold meetings and events. This would require substantial funds - DDA works, rewiring and asbestos removal could add up to a budget of £250,000.

I will update this blog as things progress.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Clean Up Clapton Day 11th October

The annual Clean Up Clapton Day will be next Tuesday 11th October centred around B6 College from 10.30am. As in previous years, there will be stalls outside the college, various cleaning initiatives and jetting of paving stones in the area. If you are a parent or governor of any school within the E5 area, please remind your school we are arranging a children’s art competition on the ‘Clean-up’ theme, pictures will be collected on the day for judging by the Speaker of Hackney.

Please contact Councillor Michael Desmond for more details  

Friday, 23 September 2011

Residents moving in to new council homes

Last week Councillors Alex Russell and Rick Muir welcomed new residents to Dunnock Mews - the new council homes that have been built off Rendlesham Road.  The Cabinet Member for Housing Phil Glanville also attended.

The flats are now about 80 per cent allocated.  Most of the new residents have been allocated from estate re-development programmes elsewhere, although a minority have been allocated via Choice Based Letting. The flats at Dunnock and Goldcrest Mews are some of the first flats to be built directly by the council rather than a housing association in around two decades, following a decision by the last Labour government to encourage councils to build their own homes again. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Stoke Newington Gyratory consultation results

The results of the consultation on the future of the Stoke Newington gyratory have been collated by the council.

The following letter has gone out to local businesses, which summarises the findings:

Dear Business Owner 

Re: Results of the consultation on the proposed removal of Stoke Newington Gyratory

Hackney Council undertook a borough wide consultation to seek views from residents and businesses to identify traffic and road safety issues in the Stoke Newington area and to understand how the gyratory affected residents, visitors and business owners.    

The public consultation ran from 4th October for 12 weeks and resulted in 850 responses. 
The separate business consultation received 161 responses. The majority of responses, 145 were completed as face-to-face surveys (104 from Stoke Newington Business Association members and 41 non-SNBA members) and 16 were received via online completions.
In total the consultation received 1016 responses from residents, business owners, visitors and stakeholder organisations.
We would like to thank all those people who provided feedback during the public consultation. This document provides a summary of consultation results and what the Council will do next.

If you would like to view the full consultation results please download a copy from our website at:

Consultation Results
Public consultation
850 responses were received in total and 92% of respondents identified themselves as Hackney residents; the highest number of responses came from postcode areas N16 0 and N16 7 which correspond to the Stoke Newington Central ward where the gyratory sits.

75% of respondents consider traffic levels to be a problem in the area and 67% consider traffic levels have a negative effect on the development and quality of life in the area.

Approximately a third of respondents (32.5%) consider parking arrangements to be inadequate, another third (35.1%) to be adequate and another third doesn’t know/is not sure (32.5%)

A majority of respondents (70%) would support the removal of the Stoke Newington Gyratory, 14.5% oppose it and 15.5% consider that they don’t know and mostly asked for more detail on the proposals before giving an opinion.

Business consultation 

161 questionnaires were completed, 104 from Stoke Newington Business Association members, 41 non-SNBA members and 16 online completions. This represents a 76% response rate from the list of businesses approached (212 businesses).

41% of responses indicated that traffic is considered to be a problem in the area.

Over 75% (106 responses) stated that parking was regularly required by customers of the shops and businesses in Stoke Newington. The provision of nearby parking is perceived as being of critical importance to the viability of businesses, particularly the smaller shops. Current levels and arrangements for customer parking, however, were considered inadequate.

49% of business respondents would support the removal of the existing one-way system. The majority of comments related to improvements in terms of accessibility and travel time, especially for cyclists and buses. It was also appreciated that a two-way system may help to slow traffic and reduce rat-running through the surrounding residential streets.

There were major concerns, however, surrounding the re-allocation of parking and loading facilities. 29% would oppose the removal of the gyratory on the basis that it is either going to decrease passing trade or that it is operationally unworkable.

Overall, consultation response suggests a strong support for the removal of the gyratory but also for there to be more information on the impacts of doing this.

What happens next?

Hackney officers and Transport for London are working together to review and consider the issues facing Stoke Newington, which were highlighted by the consultation.

Over the next few months Hackney officers will be working closely with TfL to develop clear objectives, which can assist in the improvement of the Stoke Newington area to create a sense of place whilst also addressing the traffic and transport issues highlighted through the public consultation.

Once the objectives have been established a range of options for improvements to the area will be considered against these objectives to identify which may be suitable for more detailed assessment.  We will endeavour to complete this initial outline assessment in Autumn 2011.

At this stage we are unsure of the number of options that may be generated and also the work involved in testing them and in practice this might take several months. We will however provide regular updates to the community on the progress of the work as it goes forward, and consult when we have identified workable options for improvement.                

For further information about this consultation, please contact the Traffic and Transportation team on 020 8356 4891 or email:

Yours sincerely,

Steve Walker
Traffic and Transportation Manager 
Health and Community Services
Tel: 0208 356 8157

Tea party in Clarence Road

Last night there was also a successful tea party on Clarence Road, bringing together residents to reclaim the streets for the community. 300 people attended and there was a suggestion board for ideas on how we can unite the community and prevent this from happening again.

Street surgery in riot affected roads

Last night we knocked on doors in Goulton Road and Hana Mews to talk to residents in roads in our ward closest to last week's trouble. We will be continuing this over the weekend. 

Generally residents were pleased with the clean up operation which meant that most of the damage was cleaned up by early the next morning. There are still scorch marks on Goulton Road which are to be removed, with new tarmac put down. 

We talked to residents who had seen cars set alight outside their frontdoors and had remonstrated with youths to stop looting and causing damage.  We also had some really excellent discussions with residents about the causes of the riots and possible solutions.

We met with the proprietor of City News which was looted on the night to make sure he is getting all the support he needs from the council, which is offering help and advice to affected local businesses.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

After the riots

Hackney Downs Councillors will be out knocking on doors in affected streets in our ward on Monday evening - we will carry on with this in coming days and weeks to make sure we get to speak to as many people as possible in the most directly affected areas to discuss what residents think we should be doing as a community to move forward.

On Monday 15th August at 5pm – to mark a week after the trouble broke out – there will be a tea party on Clarence Road organised by St John at Hackney. Please do attend. The event is being sponsored by Hackney Marks and Spencer, Hackney Council and other local businesses and is a community response to take back the streets.

Residents will know that Siva Kandiah is one of the local businessmen who was most affected by the rioting and looting on Monday evening on Clarence Road. Hackney Council is helping Mr Kandiah by providing support and advice, but there is also a fund set up by HCVS. All the details of how to donate are online here:

Can you help the Police? Operation Withern has been set up to investigate the last few days of disorder and violence in London. Anyone with information should call the Major Investigation Team on 020 8345 4142. The Police are also asking people to look at CCTV images online here to help with identifying people connected with the looting across London.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hackney Downs CAP meeting - July

We had our regular bi-monthly CAP meeting with the Safer Neighbourhoods Team at B6 last week.

The main points were:

  • the new CCTV camera has now been agreed for Monteagle Way and Muir Rd
  • there have been a number of personal robberies around Rectory Rd station - smart phones being snatched from people late at night/early hours of the morning at weekends.  The police are to increase their presence in the area.
  • residents raised concerns about youths hanging around on Nile Close - police agreed to increase patrols
  • police monitoring situation regarding the occupation of the Palace Pavillion closely and are hopeful it can be resolved
  • along with a reduction in the number of Sergeants covering SNTs there will be reforms to the way CAPs operate in the autumn, with more formal constitutions and perhaps elected membership. There is an ongoing consultation.

Upper Clapton floods meeting with Thames Water

Last night we organised a meeting for residents affected by the Upper Clapton flood with Thames Water and representatives of the loss adjustors.

Residents and councillors put a range of questions to Thames Water representatives and a series of actions were agreed.

The main points were:
  • Thames still do not know the cause of the burst water main - they have sent the pipe away for analysis and will have results back in a months time.
  • There have been a number of smaller leaks in pipes in the area over recent years. Most of these seem to be drainage leaks or leaks in the smaller distribution pipes, which Thames claimed were fairly common.  They agreed to write to affected residents with the full analysis.
  • The Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe is meeting with the Chief Executive of Thames Water to raise these issues.
  • Thames were pressed on the speed of their response which many people believe was too slow.  They replied that it takes at least an hour to close the valves to the water main and an hour to get to the site.
  • Residents pressed them on the issue of compensation which they said they would take away  and consider.  We will press them on this in the coming weeks.
  • People had concerns that the loss adjustors and salvage companies had taken away damaged belongings without explaining to residents that they would not get the full value back.  In the rush many things had not been properly recorded on the lists meaning that residents could not now claim for them.  Thames said they would take this on board in their 'event de-brief'.
We will write to all residents with a summary of the meeting and will continue to press on the issues raised - compensation, claims and an explanation about what happened and reassurance that it will not happen again.

Friday, 1 July 2011

New owners of the Palace Pavillion

The Palace Pavillion site has been bought by the St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church who have been in the area for more than 30 years and currently meet at St James church.

Representatives from the church attended last night's North East Neighbourhood Committee and said they wanted to discuss with local community groups their plans for the building.  There may be potential for securing some shared community uses.

We will be meeting with the church shortly and will keep residents updated via this blog.


Thursday, 30 June 2011

Council brings in new powers over noise nuisance

I thought readers would be interested in new powers for the noise service - and extended hours of operation.  Please see details below:

Introduction of a Fixed Penalty Notice for night noise

The noise service has introduced new powers for managing night noise allowing the team to issue Warning Notices and Fixed Penalty Notices for excessive noise levels during the hours of 11pm and 7am. One warning notice was successfully served and complied with in May 2011. It is hoped that this tool will provide a greater incentive for residents and businesses to comply with an officer’s request in the first instance than the threat of potential prosecution did previously, particularly in regards to instances of one-off parties.

New hours of operation
In response to residents concerns the noise night service has been extended by an extra ten hours per week.
Residents and businesses can now contact the team between:
8am and 6.30pm Monday to Wednesday
8am Thursday to 2am Friday
8am Friday to 5am Saturday
9pm Saturday to 5am Sunday
6.30pm Sunday to 2am Monday.
In addition to the extended hours, over the summer period (May-August) the Council has increased the number of teams investigating night noise nuisance, and will have two additional night-duty officers on call.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Doorstep floods surgery in Upper Clapton

This morning Alex and I visited each of the flood affected houses on Alconbury, Northwold and Norcott Roads.  We spoke to many residents who are trying to get their homes back to normal.

There are a number of issues that residents identified for us to take forward with Thames Water:
  • There is a lack of clarity about the process for the taking and storing of damaged items 
  • We need a clearer explanation of why the water main burst and of what Thames Water have done to make sure it cannot happen again
  • There are concerns over residents who have no insurance and what their position is
  • We need to get claims sorted out quickly so people can get their lives back to normal
We will be taking these issues forward with Thames Water and will write to all affected residents to keep you up dated on progress.

If there is anything further we can do, please telephone 07875 546155.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

Clapton Festival opens!

Clapton Festival opened in great weather this afternoon!

Diane Abbott MP and Hackney's Speaker Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas opened the festival in Clapton Square just after 2pm.  Children then learned and performed the Clapton Walk - see here for details  

There will be music all day in Clapton Square and reggae tonight at the Round Chapel.  The Clapton Market  offers a vast array of stalls in St Johns church yard all afternoon. 

Well done to all the organisers for making it happen. More details of events for the rest of the weekend are available here.

Upper Clapton floods

As most people will know a major mains burst led to 40 homes being swamped with thousands of gallons of water last week in Upper Clapton.  Thames Water eventually controlled the flood and put many residents up in emergency accommodation.  The damage to property runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds and the havoc caused to residents' lives is immense.  Thames Water loss adjusters have been out taking down details of the damage and we will be working to make sure that any compensation is paid quickly and without delay. 

We will be knocking on doors in Norcott, Northwold and Alconbury Roads next Saturday 18th June to see what more the council and other agencies can do to help in the aftermath.  In the meantime do contact us on 07875 546155 if there is anything we can help with.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Clapton Festival 11-12th June

The very first Clapton festival will be opened by the Speaker of Hackney at 2pm on Saturday June 11 in Clapton Square. Diane Abbott MP will also be present. Please come if you can! The Festival has arisen from The Clapton Conference, initiated by Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group. A lot of work has already gone into the preparations – events include a heritage walk from Clapton Pond to the Square, a community picnic, a classical music concert and various activities for children. The Festival market in St John’s gardens is hoped to be the first of a regular weekly Saturday market there.

The Festival is designed to help boost the local economy and you will see from the programme that a business night is being run on the Thursday evening before the weekend. 

For more details see

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Hackney Downs CAP meeting - May 2011

We had the Hackney Downs CAP meeting this week at BSix. 

The Safer Neighbourhoods Team is now strengthened with one sergeant, one PC and three PCSOs. The police are hoping to recruit a further PC very soon.

Residents on Monteagle Way have been experiencing a lot of anti-social behaviour in recent months.  Southern Housing have responded by getting a temporary CCTV camera in place.  This has led to a considerable improvement. However this will be moved soon and residents are very concerend that when it does, the situation will deteriorate again.  We have written to Hackney Homes to ask them to co-fund with Southern Housing a permanent CCTV camera to cover Monteagle Way and parts of Muir Rd.  We will update the blog when we know more.

The CAP agreed to retain the current three priorities for the SNT: Clarence Road, Nightingale estate and issues outside BSix.

Monday, 9 May 2011

488 bus coming soon

The new 488 bus route starts on Saturday 4th June.

The new route will travel from the Leabridge roundabout, down Kenninghall Rd, down Rendlesham Road, turn right on Downs Road and then go up Shacklewell Lane to Dalston Junction.

This will significantly improve public transport links in the ward. 


Monday, 2 May 2011

Clapton Conference

The last meeting of the Clapton Conference took place on 11th April - this time focusing on planning issues.  A senior planning officer from the council attended and answered questions generally about planning policy - and in particular what could be done locally to support regeneration and protect heritage buildings and community amenities.

In particular he reported that the planning department will now be developing a planning brief, in consultation with local groups, around the old cinema site - including the old Palace Pavillion site and the row of shops by the roundabout. Work on this will begin in July and the intention is to set out what the council and local residents' aspirations for this site should be - in particular reflecting the desire to see the old cinema site restored and brought into use as a community facility.  This brief would have weight in the planning process, meaning that it could help invite interest from developers who would help regenerate the site, so long as they could support a community use. This brief will be prepared in consultation with local groups and will go out to a six week consultation with residents.

We will let you know more on this as it develops.

The Clapton Conference meets again on 16th May at 7.30pm at St Johns Ambulance Hall - this time specifically for residents interested in developing social media and communication between local groups.

Residents parking - update

As regular readers of this blog will know, we have been conducting a door to door survey on Jenner, Benthal and Maury Roads about the parking pressures on those streets.

Our survey found that the majority of residents on those roads would like the council to consult on introducing a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ).  In the past these three roads have supported a CPZ, although roads further from Rectory Road station and Stoke Newington High Street where there is less commuter parking have been opposed.  On Benthal, Jenner and Maury Roads we were told some extraordinary stories about the conflicts that have arisen as a result of lack of parking space.

Following the survey we have asked officers to look into this question again - including possibly introducing a new CPZ or extending the existing CPZ to those streets most affected.  
We have been informed that the council has been conducting stress surveys outside the existing CPZs.  The analysis of this information will be complete by July 2011.  Once that has been done a decision will be made over whether to consult on introducing a new CPZ or introduce a new one.

If you have views on this - you can participate in a council survey here  Alternatively, you can write to officers at CPZ Team, 2 Hillman Street, London, E8 1FB, or, or can telephone officers on 020 8356 8877.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

CPZ update

The weekend before last we completed our door to door survey of residents on Benthal, Jenner and Maury Roads about parking issues, this time on Jenner.  There was clearly majority support for re-opening consultation on a Controlled Parking Zone. 

As a result we have written to the Cabinet member responsible and she has started discussions with officers about how we can move forward on this. 

We are looking at whether there could be a smaller zone, given that streets further away from the high street and Rectory Road station don't feel the pressure as much.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Benthal Primary School - road safety

Residents have expressed real concerns about road safety outside Benthal Primary because of the amount of parents parking very close to the entrances of the school.  The police and traffic enforcement officers did a blitz recently to enforce traffic rules outside the school - although we have asked them if they could do this more regularly to keep on top of the problem.  The police have been very supportive.

The council has now agreed to re-paint road markings which have faded away which will hopefully also help.  But we will keep on monitoring this.

Police numbers in Hackney Downs

At the last CAP meeting and at the Neighbourhood Committee meeting this week we discussed the depletion of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team in the ward. 

We have been hit by a combination of one of our officers moving to a new role and two of our three PCSOs training to become constables.  Because of a wider recruitment freeze across the Met this has left us with just one PSCO and one PC.

We have written to the Borough Commander to express our concerns about the impact of this. The good news is that Inspector George told us at the Neighbourhood Committee that they would be bringing over an additional PC and PCSO very soon to get us back to near full strength.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Northwold Primary School - road safety walkabout

On Tuesday this week we organised a walkabout with highways officers and the headteacher at Northwold Primary to look at road safety concerns in the area.  At the start of the school day there is very intensive traffic with parents dropping off children at the school and general traffic on Northwold Road. 

With the headteacher we agreed a number of steps that officers would take forward.  These include:
- they will examine whether the bus stop on the Hackney Downs side of Northwold could be moved further away from the school, as buses reduce visibility there for drivers
- they will have 20mph signage displayed on both approaches to the school - if possible we will look into whether neon signage could be put up, joint funded between the council and the school.
- they will erect more prominent school signs so drivers are aware the school is there
- more regular enforcement to stop people parking on double yellows

Concerns have also been raised with us about the road markings and parking restrictions at Benthal Primary School and we have taken these up with officers.  We will update via this blog when we know more.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Clapton Labour street stall against the cuts

This morning we spoke to residents at the junction of Upper Clapton Road and Mount Pleasant Lane to build support for the TUC march on 26th March.  There was anger among residents about the coalition's programme of cuts which are hitting Hackney hard. 

Friday, 4 March 2011

March for the Alternative - Clapton Labour street stalls on Saturday

We will be holding two street stalls this Saturday - one on Upper Clapton Road and one on Lower Clapton Road by Clapton Pond.  Labour activists will be handing our literature opposing the government's massive cuts to services in Hackney.  We will also be building support for the TUC March for the Alternative later this month. 

We want to get a massive Hackney contingent out on the march on the 26th - details are:

The march will gather on Victoria Embankment and form up between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges from 11am.  It will start moving off around noon, but because of the likely size the last marchers will not be leaving until after two, and possibly later.

Hackney Labour activists will be meeting at 10am at Dalston Junction overground station if you want to go together. 

Palace Pavillion sold

The Palace Pavillion on Lower Clapton Road has been sold.  We don't know who to yet - but it has just been confirmed that it is not Antic who have just bought the neighbouring White Hart pub which they hope to re-open as the Hart of Clapton.

See Yeah Hackney for details.

Obviously our objective is to try to retain this building for community use so we are very keen to find out who has bought it.  The Clapton Arts Trust is trying to find out - watch this space.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

New licensing applications in Hackney Downs ward

White Hart, 231 Lower Clapton Road

Application for a premises licence to allow supply of alcohol and recorded music from 10:00 to 00:00 Sun to Weds, 10:00 to 01:00 Thurs to Sat, 10:00 to 02:00 Fri to Sun of Bank Holiday weekends, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and up ten occasions per annum and on New Years Eve from 10:00 to 00:00 on January 2nd, live music from 12:00 to 22:00 Sun to Weds, 12:00 to 23:00 Thurs and 12:00 to 00:00 Fri and Sat and late night refreshment from 23:00 to 00:30 Sun to Weds, 23:00 to 01:30 Thurs to Sat, 23:00 to 02:30 Fri to Sun of Bank Holiday weekends, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and up ten occasions per annum and on New Years Eve from 23:00 to 00:30 on January 2nd.

Closing date for representations:18/03/2011 

Rinkle Stores
29 Muir Road
London E5 8JX

Application for a premises licence to allow supply of alcohol from 06:00 to 23:00 daily. 

Closing date for representations: 18/03/2011

Representations must be made in writing, and should be sent to: The Licensing Service, Hackney Service Centre, 1 Hillman Street, London E8 1DY. Alternatively , you can fax it on 020 8356 4974 or email at Please note that you must send your representation in by the closing date, and you must include your address details.

Monday, 21 February 2011

North East Neighbourhood Committee - agenda

Just had a meeting with colleagues to scope out the agenda for the next Neighbourhood Committee meeting - which is open to any members of the public who want to come along and have their say.

The meeting is on 30th March at 7pm at BSix College.

On the agenda will be:
  • a presentation about the work of the Clapton Arts Trust
  • a discussion with the Hackney Youth Parliament members for our area
  • an update from the local police 
  • a discussion about economic development in Clapton with the Cabinet member responsible for regeneration Guy Nicholson
  • an update on the borough's transport strategy - including on various road/traffic schemes that are being planned in the next three years  
  • and finally I have asked for a senior officer from planning or parks to attend to respond to residents questions about what policies the council has to protect open space - following the proposals around Stormont House school

White Hart pub under new ownership

We have learned that the old White Hart pub on Lower Clapton Road has been purchased by the Antic group  They run a number of pubs including the White Hart on Stoke Newington High Street and have plans to turn it into a community-oriented pub.

You can see more information about their plans on the Yeah Hackney site here

It would be great to see the building turned back into public use and made into a genuine community pub.


Friday, 18 February 2011

£25,000 found for improvements on GABS estate

I made enquiries with officers following the last GABS estate TRA meeting.  Residents believed that the estate had been given funding as part of a section 106 agreement from a neighbouring development - but when I made enquiries officers said the money had gone on various improvements to the highway and footpaths on Clarence Road.

After talking to residents, I wrote back pointing out that the estate's section 106 funds should not have been used for general highways maintenance - but for improvements on the estate itself. 

The good news is that I have now been written to confirming that officers were originally mistaken - and that the £25,000 is still available - which can help fund the security improvements the TRA has been asking for. We will discuss all of this at the next meeting.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Stormont House School proposals to be re-considered

You may be aware that the Council is currently consulting residents and stakeholders about the redevelopment of Stormont House School on Hackney Downs Park.

You may have received a consultation document setting out a proposal to redevelop the school in the middle of the park where the bowling green is currently positioned.

We believe that this would be an intrusion and an eye-sore, and would limit the open space available for users. Therefore, on the 6th February, we conducted our own consultation with local residents on Queensdown Road and discovered that, while residents are in favour of redeveloping the school, they are overwhelmingly against it being situated in the middle of the park.

With this in mind, we made strong representations to Council officers about our dissatisfaction with the plans, and are pleased to report this proposal has now been withdrawn.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in voicing their concerns about this plan which would clearly have had a terrible effect on the park.

Officers are now working up a different set of options for re-developing the school.  There will be a fresh consultation on these revised options.

We are hopeful that a solution will be found that ensures the school is improved and redeveloped for the benefit of the children while at the same time protecting the open space and integrity of the park.

We have also been discussing with local residents the need to ensure that the open space within the park is protected in the future and will be asking planning officers to address these concerns at the next North East Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 30th March.  We write to you with details nearer the time and also write again when we know more about the new options for the school.

If you would like to discuss this or any other matter with us we would be happy to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Upper Clapton street stall against the cuts

Labour members from Hackney Downs, Springfield, Cazenove and Leabridge wards leafletted in Upper Clapton on Saturday to oppose government cuts to housing benefit, the council's grant, Education Maintenance Allowances and other local services.  We collected a petition calling for an alternative strategy and publicised the national march on 26th March,organised by the TUC.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Hackney Downs Labour street stall against the cuts - this Saturday

We are holding a street stall to inform local people about the government's cuts and how they will affect Hackney. 

This will be tomorrow (Saturday) 10am-1pm at the junction of Upper Clapton Road and Mount Pleasant Lane. 

We will be distributing literature about the effects of the cuts and what we can do to fight them.  In particular we will be building support for the TUC march on 26th March. 

Do pop along to say hi!

Stoke Newington Common - 20mph works notice

The council is carrying out works around Stoke Newington Common to implement a new 20mph zone.  

The works are:
• To relocate existing 20mph zone signs to the new boundary at Stoke Newington Common junction with Rectory Road.

• To take down redundant signs from the old zone boundaries.

• To introduce new speed cushions to reduce traffic speed.

• To build out the junction of Stoke Newington Common with Jenner Road to reduce the crossing distance to the park

The works are scheduled to start in the week beginning 21 February 2011 and weather permitting will take approximately 3 - 4 weeks to complete.

.Do let us know if you have any queries or questions.

Hackney Downs CO2 reduction pilot - progress report

Alex asked Cllr Sophie Linden at the last council meeting about the CO2 reduction pilot that the council has undertaken in the ward.  This is the reply she recieved:
From Cllr Russell to the Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Crime and Sustainability:

‘Could you provide an update on the Co2 reduction pilot in Hackney Downs ward, and what work is being undertaken with residents to help them reduce their fuel bills?’


Last year Team Hackney’s Sustainable Environment Partnership commissioned Global Action Plan to deliver a pilot carbon reduction initiative in Hackney Downs ward. To date Global Action Plan have engaged with 482 residents, and aim to engage a further 245 by March 2011. Households have been offered expert advice on behavioural and technical measures which can be taken to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions. A wide range of methods including doorstep engagement, community workshops and events, and collaboration with schools, housing providers and local community groups have been used to identify and engage target groups.

In the next phase of the project 333 of the residents already contacted by Global Action Plan will be offered further advice and support on reducing fuel bills and emissions. This could include anything from assistance with filling in forms for home improvement grants, to helpful advice and assistance on implementing smaller measures to increase energy efficiency. An independent evaluation of this pilot will help officers to determine how successful approaches can be used to support all households in Hackney to reduce carbon emissions and fuel bills.

1. How is the pilot project targeting residents in fuel poverty?

Hackney Downs was selected as the ward for this pilot because, like Hackney, it experiences a high level of fuel poverty and has a large social and private rented housing sector - both tenures have a high level of fuel poverty in Hackney. Where possible, Global Action Plan have captured data indicating whether residents are either a) fuel poor or b) at risk of becoming fuel poor. Residents have been asked a series of questions relating to their income and expenditure on fuel. Where this was not possible residents were asked to provide information on the extent to which they worried about their bills, and on the levels of comfort they experience in their homes based on their current heating regime.

2. What will happen when the project comes to an end in March 2011?

LB Hackney is working with Global Action Plan and the evaluator - the Association for the Conservation of Energy - to determine how learning and successful approaches from this project can be used and applied elsewhere. All three parties are also working to ensure that the project achieves a lasting legacy in Hackney Downs ward. The project evaluation will give Hackney a better understanding of why some engagement methodologies worked better than others and this learning will be applied to future engagement going forward.

3. What did the project set out to achieve i.e. what GAP were contracted to do?

GAP were contracted to directly engage with target households in Hackney Downs to encourage them to make changes to their behaviour and homes in order to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. GAP were contracted to carry out initial engagement with 1,200 households and to carry out follow up engagement with 900 households (75% of those originally contacted).

Is it also possible to get some concrete examples of what residents have done to change their behaviour or their homes?

The project is now entering the final phase of engagement, where residents will receive support to make changes to their behaviour and homes. Physical changes which residents have been asked to commit to include draught-proofing, thermostatic radiator valves and loft / cavity wall insulation. Typical behavioural changes include monitoring energy usage and fuel bills, optimising household appliances (e.g. setting washes at 30 degrees), and supporting others to take action to save energy.

Bus route 488 extension approved

Plans to extend bus route 488 along Kenninghall Road, Rendlesham Road, Downs Road and Shacklewell Lane to Dalston Junction have been approved.  The consultation resulted in 78.5% support for the proposals.
The proposals include installing 11 new bus stops along the route and carrying out a number of other highway improvements.

The council has just published the detailed proposals for Kennninghall Road which include:

• Three new stops located at 63 Kenninghall Road, Muir Road and St. Scholastica RC Primary School.

The westbound stop originally proposed opposite No 23 Kenninghall Road has been moved closer to
the junction with Muir Road to accommodate the new surgery development.

• Installing a new raised speed table at the existing zebra crossing on Kenninghall Road and replacing
the existing speed table by Rendlesham Road so it is more bus friendly

• Introducing new double yellow line waiting restrictions opposite no 23 Kenninghall Road

• Remarking the double red lines outside 63 Kenninghall Road.

Works on Kenninghall Road are scheduled to start during the week commencing Monday 7 February 2011 and will take approximately 3 weeks to complete.

Pavement works will be carried out under lane closure with temporary traffic lights.

A temporary road closure will be in place when the surfacing and speed table replacement works take
place. Traffic will be diverted along Nightingale Road, Walsingham Road and Rendlesham Road. The road
closure and traffic diversion is estimated to last for a week and is expected from 21 to 25 February 2011.

Access for Emergency Services, residents and businesses will be maintained at all times.

Works will be carried out between 08:30 am and 6:00pm Monday to Saturday.

When we have the details of the works on Rendlesham and Downs Rds we will post them here.

Should you require further information or have any comments on these proposals please let us know.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

GABS estate security measures

GABS estate TRA met on Tuesday and Hackney Homes officers presented plans to provide greater security on the estate and in particular to stop it being used as a rat run by youths between Lower Clapton Road and Clarence Road. 

The plans involve:
  • a secure gate to close off the alley on the northern side of Sutton Court: every resident will get a key.  An entry phone system would have been very expensive, and the TRA felt that a simple key system would be easier to manage. 
  • The bins currently in the alley way will be moved to the little corner adjacent to Lower Clapton Road
  • iron fencing will be put on the walls in front of Sutton Court to stop people sitting on them which has been disturbing residents. 
This will come to around £9,000. 

In the long term Hackney Homes are looking at whether the Clarence Road entrance could be gated off and an entry phone system installed, but this would be much more expensive.  So, it was agreed that we would see how the first phase goes and come back to it if the problems continue.

The plans are going out for consultation with residents in the coming weeks.

Safer Neighbourhoods Teams review

At the North East Neighbourhood Committee on Wednesday we were concerned to hear about the review of Safer Neighbourhoods Teams that is being undertaken by the Metropolitan Police. 

Nothing wrong with a review of course but none of us wants to see a reduction in service. 

Inspector Simon George from Hackney Police set out the objectives and scope of the review:
  • dedicated officers for each ward will definitely remain
  • the exact level of staffing however could change: currently we have one sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs per ward.  One change could be that sergeants could cover a wider area.
  • it may be that 'quieter wards' (which Inspector George said would include those in the North East area) could get less staff than wards with higher levels of reported crime
  • no decisions have been made as yet and it could be that there is no change
  • the police are finding it difficult to sustain their current complement of PCSOs, because there is a recruitment freeze: so when a PCSO moves on to become a warranted constable, they cannot be easily replaced.
The police have been consulting on this through street briefings and surveys in recent weeks, although the formal consultation has now closed.  Through the council we will be making clear that we want to protect existing levels of service in Hackney Downs ward and we would be very concerned if our complement of officers were reduced.

The SNTs have been a great success and in Hackney Downs we have seen real improvements.  In particular the police have done a lot of work on Clarence Road to disrupt street dealing and the closure of the Cricketers Pub has led to a big drop in recorded crime in the ward. 

We will keep you up-dated via the blog.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group AGM

I just returned from the Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group AGM at St James Church on Lower Clapton Road.

Chair Ian Rathbone gave a summary of the fantastic range of activities the group has been involved in over the last year.

These include:
  • Continuing to maintain the improvements to Clapton Pond, which has had a Green Flag award for three years now - and which was named the second best small green space in London.  There are on-going problems with pigeons and litter that need dealing with.
  • Continuing to press TfL to secure the pedestrian crossing across Lower Clapton Rd by the junction with Downs Rd.  This has been agreed with TfL and we hope will be delivered in March.
  • The Clapton Conference which met for the first time last year and which will meet over the coming year to work on a planning masterplan for Clapton
  • Helping to organise the Clapton Festival on 11th and 12th June - which will involve a fashion-oriented bike ride, a film festival, concerts and other cultural events  
Lots of activities going on in the year ahead - watch this space!


Monday, 10 January 2011

Hackney must unite against government cuts

(This article by Rick has just been published by the Hackney Citizen

George Osborne is currently peddling two political dishonesties.  The first is that public spending cuts of this nature and this severity are economically necessary – the age old Tory line that ‘there is no alternative’.  This is manifestly untrue – there is no economic requirement to eliminate the structural deficit before 2015, and the burden of deficit reduction does not need to fall so exclusively on cuts to public spending.

There is in fact an alternative as Labour has long proposed: a slower and less severe process of deficit reduction, in which the burden is spread in a more balanced way across spending cuts, tax rises and a proper strategy for restoring economic growth.  Indeed in recklessly cutting back in this way the government risks plunging our economy back into recession.

The second dishonesty is that these measures are ‘progressive’, that ‘we are all in this together’.  This claim would be laughable were the consequences not so socially destructive.  Take the cuts to local government spending, which are being frontloaded this coming year.

Hackney, one of the poorest boroughs in the country, is one of the hardest hit: this April alone we face an 8.9 per cent reduction in ‘spending power’ (and this figure disguises even larger cuts in our local government grant).  Look at the list of places facing the biggest cuts of 8.9 per cent: Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Manchester, Rochdale, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Doncaster.  And those facing the lowest cuts of under one per cent? Poole, Hampshire, West Sussex, Wokingham, Richmond upon Thames, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Dorset.  In fact Dorset is getting an increase. We are all in this together – but some of us are ‘in it’ more than others.

These cuts to local government grants will inevitably have an impact on services here in Hackney.  As Labour councillors, working with the Mayor Jules Pipe, our responsibility is to make sure that our most vulnerable people are protected and that we do everything we can to minimise the impact on frontline services.  But we now face very difficult years ahead.

It is not just Hackney Council’s funding that is being slashed: Education Maintenance Allowances of up to 30 pounds a week to support students from low income families to stay on in education are being scrapped this year.  At BSix College over 70 per cent of students receive the full allowance which helps to cover the costs of travel and study, and creates an incentive for students to stay in education rather than leaving at 16 to find work.

Families in Hackney will be hit by the Government’s cuts to housing benefit: the council estimates that there are around 800 families in the borough who will now find that their level of benefit will not cover the cost of their current rent.  If their landlords will not agree to lower the rent levels, these families will be forced out of their homes.

Our job in Hackney is to resist these cuts in every way we can: councillors, trade unions, students, teachers, voluntary sector organisations, progressive political parties and movements of all kinds. We as Labour councillors will play our role in organising the fight back within our communities.

The poorest people in this country are being asked to pay the price for a crisis caused by the irresponsibility and greed of the richest. This government’s strategy is both morally wrong and economically illiterate. The time has come to stand up and fight it.

Rick Muir is a Labour councillor for Hackney Downs ward.