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.