Friday, 30 November 2012

Neighbourhood policing changes in Hackney

Just recieved an update on the new model of neighbourhood policing that will be introduced across London.

Police numbers and the budget for Hackney are still not clear.  The Met say they want to increase the number of PCs committed to neighbourhood policing - to be delivered by moving officers from the back office, cutting middle managers such as inspectros and sergeants and continuing to recuit PCs from PCSO ranks.  

Each SNT should have 1 Sergeant, 2 PCs and 2 PCSOs - which in our ward means one less PCSO.  Some sergeants will be shared between wards - though I understand this is not the case for Hackney Downs. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Hackney Downs CAP meeting November

At our bi-monthly meeting with the local police - known as the CAP meeting - the team reported back on their current strength.

We are currently one sergeant and one PCSO down - leaving us with two PCs and two PCSOs. The team are doing the best they can to cope and CAP Chair Bob Herring has written to the Chief Inspector to raise our concerns.

We have been informed that the team will be brought back up to strength at least in terms of recruiting a new sergeant.

In the long term the Met is bringing in a new policing model which is intended to retain neighbourhood policing strength by allocating officers from specialist units to response and safer neighbourhoods teams. We have yet to see how exactly this will affect our local policing but we will keep a close eye on developments.

At the CAP I raised concerns about vehicle crime which anecdotally has been on the rise in our ward.


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hackney's education success story

The article below is re- produced from a blog Rick wrote for the New Statesman
Amid the outcry over the first ever fall in the numbers getting a C or above at GCSE, it is easy to forget the extraordinary transformation that has taken place in schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country over the last decade. 
If you want to see a genuine revolution in school improvement - look at Hackney, where I am a local Councillor. In the 1990s the borough's schools were a byword for educational failure: in 1990 only 14% of the borough's students got 5 or more GCSE grades A to C and in primary schools 42% of lessons observed were deemed unsatisfactory. In 1994 Hackney Downs school failed its Ofsted inspection, was labelled 'the worst school in he country' and was eventually closed in the teeth of fierce local opposition. During that period the council was bereft of coherent political leadership, became virtually bankrupt and saw basic services in a state of collapse. In 1997 the new Labour government asked Ofsted to inspect Hackney's LEA, which concluded that it was failing in its provision of basic services.
Fast forward to yesterday's GCSE results: whereas in 2002 just 31% of Hackney's students achieved 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths, yesterday a remarkable 60.5% did so - the borough's best ever results and up 3.5% compared with last year. At Mossbourne Academy which replaced the old Hackney Downs school an extraordinary 89% achieved 5 A*-Cs including English and Maths.
All of Hackney's secondary schools have achieved remarkable results: at Bridge Academy 58% got 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths, at Cardinal Pole 66%, at Haggerston School 50%, at Our Lady’s 60%, at Stoke Newington School 60%, at Petchey Academy 60%, at the Urswick School 48% and at Yesoday Hatorah Secondary School 73%.
Whereas in the past parents were rushing to get their kids out of Hackney's schools, today they are queueing to get them in: 82% of pupils who transfer from Hackney's primary schools in Year 6 choose to stay in the borough for their secondary education.
What explains this revolution? First there was the school improvement programme enabled by the last Labour government - Hackney has opened 5 new Academies, which brought new leadership, focus and energy into the borough's secondary schools. But all of Hackney's schools have improved over this period, benefiting from effective leadership, investment in school buildings and staff and a partnership approach across the borough led by the Learning Trust.
Second there was investment in early years provision: there are now 21 children's centres providing coordinated early years education, development and care. The percentage of children reaching a good level of development at the Foundation Stage has risen from 33% in 2006 to 54% in 2011, halving the gap with the rest of the country.
Third, there has been strong and collaborative leadership: Hackney education functions were transferred in 2002 to the not for profit Learning Trust led consistently over ten years by Alan Wood. The Learning Trust had control over all education services in the borough and has been able to coordinate activity successfully through partnerships with schools, governors and stakeholders. It has created its own ethos and has emphasised the development of staff, building the state of the art Tomlinson Centre to provide staff with continuous professional development.  The Learning Trust has been supported by the strong leadership of Hackney's directly elected Mayor Jules Pipe, who has transformed the council from the chaos of the 1990s into one of the most improved local authorities in the country. The council has been ambitious for local schools, pragmatic in its dealings with government and has continuously pushed for further improvement.
Hackney's transformation in just ten years should kill stone dead the claim that there is little that can be done in schools to compensate young people for the wider challenges they face from living in a relatively disadvantaged area. Focused leadership, innovation and investment have radically improved the life chances of young people in what remains one of the poorest parts of the country.
Rick Muir is Associate Director at IPPR

Monday, 30 July 2012

How many public agencies does it take to change a light bulb?

I'm being facetious of course - but there is a serious point.

I have been trying for some months, maybe even a year now, to help local residents close of a disused alleyway. It's a dead end that goes nowhere and which no member of the public would ever need to use. Indeed the only people who do use it are people who use it for urinating, defecating, copulating and various other activities that would be better practiced in the privacy of their own homes.  The alley has also been used so people could climb over into the residents' backgarden to steal bikes and other items.

I wrote to property services and asked if they could gate it off as it was council land and becoming a nuisance.  They said they were happy to do it but would require the residents to pay for the gate and to secure planning permission.  Planning permission seems excessive for a fairly straight forward metal gate but there we are. The residents are happy to pay for the gate but the whole process got bogged down as it became clear that they would also have to get an architect in to draw up the plans and also pay to submit them to planning.  Basically the residents really just want the council to deal with all the process stuff and they will pay for the gate.

I wrote to the Cabinet Member who was very helpful and put me in touch with the community safety team who have also been extremely energetic and helpful at trying to get things moving.  They offered to do the drawings themselves so the residents could submit them to planning. They also organised a very useful meeting on site this morning involving one of the residents, myself and officers from the highways authority, the community safety team and the planning department.

So far so good.

But what that meeting revealed was the web of agencies and processes you need to go through to do something as straightforward as gating off an alley that is causing a nuisance and which no one wants open.

Let's go through them

First the residents will need to ask the freeholder of their property if they are content to proceed with gating it off.  The freeholder lives nearby and is apparently content so this should not be a probem.

Second, the community safety team (having kindly agreed to do the drawings) will have to submit a planning application for approval on behalf of residents. Planning will then have to consult all the nearby residents and the conservation officer.

Third, the highways department will then have to agree to close off the alley as it is currently part of the public highway.

This is where it gets complicated. To do this they will need to consult Thames Water, BT, British Gas and any other utilities, which is likely to take a very considerable amount of time. They will also have to consult local residents who live nearby (NB even though they will already have been consulted as part of the planning process). And they have to apply to the magistrates court to secure a court order allowing a public right of way (that goes nowhere because it's a dead end) to be 'stopped'.

If this happens things get even more complicated because the council then ceases to own or be responsible for the road and it becomes the private property of the freeholder. This then means that the residents will have to take on responsibility for cleaning and maintaining it etc. and it also means the council will be under no obligation to collect their bins and may even start charging for their rubbish collection (!!!!) - though the words 'over my dead body' come to mind.

After we had discussed all this it was mentioned that this last part could take years and will likely cost around £9000 on top of the cost of the gate that the residents have kindly agreed to stump up for.

So 5 council departments (if you include refuse) and potentially up to 5 public agencies or utilities will need to be involved to help give six residents some respite from anti social behaviour by closing off an alley that no one wants open. Goodness knows how long this will take, but I'll be damned if it takes more than a year.

What this shows is that if you have a) a problem b) a group of community conscious residents who are willing to do their bit and stump up their own cash to sort it out then it is c) bloody difficult to get the state collectively to make it happen.  Getting this done will depend on some part of the state (the excellent community safety team who have thankfully taken this upon themselves), the local representative (me) and the residents working relentlessly to herd all of the other agencies through their own independent processes.

In for a penny, in for a pound.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Public consultation on key planning documents

Following approval by the Cabinet on 25th June 2012, the Council has published two new draft planning policy documents for public consultation, as part of its Local Development Framework (LDF). The draft Development Management Local Plan (DMLP) contains proposed planning policies that will be used, along with other LDF documents, mainly to guide and determine planning applications received by the Council over the next 15 years. The draft Site Allocations Local Plan (SALP) identifies key strategic sites across the Borough and specific policies for those sites, setting out a range of development parameters including land use. This document will also be used to guide and determine planning applications on those sites, in addition with the DMLP and other LDF documents.   The consultation period for both documents will run from the 16th of July 2012 to the 25th of September 2012, running for a duration of 10 weeks overall.   View the documents at and       Have your say!  Submit your comments online at or if you would like to speak about the consultation with a member of staff please phone 020 8356 8084.    Responses should be made in writing, referencing your comments to the relevant policy, paragraph or table for the DMLP or to the relevant site name and site reference number for the SALP.      

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Parking update

Following the consultation on a Controlled Parking Zone in the area around Rectory Rd station the council will shortly be writing to all residents to let them know the outcome and to start the second phase consultation on the exact areas to be covered. As soon as the documents have been finalised we will post the details up here. The following streets voted in favour and it is proposed that they will now get controlled parking:   Jenner Road Benthal Road (from Evering Road to Brooke Road) Nile Close Stoke Newington Common (from Rectory Road to Jenner Road) Evering Road (from Rectory Road to Benthal Road) Rectory Road (from Evering Road to Stoke Newington Common) Brooke Road (from Rectory Road to Benthal Road) Adjacent roads which may face displacement will be given the opportunity in the second phase to 'opt in' now that the scheme is going ahead in the above area. A full map will be sent out with the letters. Do contact us at any point if you would like to discuss either by email or on 07875 546155.

Film on the common?

Stoke Newington Common User Group are hoping to hold a film night later in the year and would like to hear from people who might have a projector, a PA system and a screen. Please get in touch with SNUG via their website if you can help. Also SNUG are trying to replace their fountain and would like to hear from anyone who might be able to design one for them. Again please contact them via

Come along to our new Ward Forum

All Hackney Downs residents are invited to our first Hackney Downs ward forum 7pm Monday 2nd July at BSix College, Kenninghall Road. Every ward in Hackney now has a ward forum at which local residents and councillors can discuss what we want done to improve the area and how we can work together to achieve it. These will meet four times a year. At our first session we will be discussing 1. Hackney Downs park - the balance of uses, how we'd like to see the park develop 2. Crime and safety - what can we do to make our area safer and reduce crime? 3. How should the ward forum develop? What sorts of issues would you like to see tackled? Should we develop a ward plan setting out a number of objectives for the next few years? Please do come along and have your say. If you can't make it please just email us and let us know your views. We will keep residents updated via this blog and our email list.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Hackney to welcome Olympic torch

See here for details of the Olympic torch route and the corresponding Hackney One Festival on Saturday 21st July

Clapton Mile Festival 15, 16, 17 June

The Clapton Mile Festival is taking place this year on 15, 16 and 17 June. The line up includes a launch party at Chats Palace, a reggae sound blast concert, a community meal, local business networking (all at the Round Chapel), a classical concert at Sutton House, theatre in St Johns church, a heritage walk throughout Clapton, and a soundstage at Clapton Square with numerous artists. Do get involved! See for all the details.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Olympics meeting for residents 20th March

Hackney’s 2012 Unit will be hosting another community meeting at the Wally Foster Community Centre to update Hackney residents of any local issues relating to the 2012 Games. There will be a particular focus on the following key areas:

  • Games Time
  • Transport/parking
  • Security
  • Park Legacy
  • Test events

Please come along to hear presentations from the LOCOG, OPLC and to listen to what local residents are saying. 

The meeting will take place on:

20th March 5.00-8.30pm at the
Wally Foster Community Centre,
Homerton Road
E9 5QB

There will also be a Transport and Parking drop in session at the centre organised by LOCOG.  This will be from 3.30 – 5pm.  

There will be a selection of stalls from various stakeholders including the, OPLC, Reed, Seetec who are recruiting for Games Time Jobs and LOCOG. 

 If you require any further information please contact Eda Ziya on 020 8356 3126 or

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cleaning in Seaton Point

We recently held an unannounced inspection of the cleaning at Seaton Point with Hackney Homes officers, following complaints from residents. 

There is now a new cleaner and the morning we visited the standard was very good. Hackney Homes will be putting out a leaflet to ensure that residents have the phone number of the cleaning team in case they encounter further problems.

If there are further problems, please do not hesitate to contact us on 07875 546155.

We are continuing to press for the problems with the roof over the entrance area and concierge office to be fixed and Hackney Homes have assured us they will be soon.

Residents Parking update

Just a quick update on parking issues.  Following the door to door consultation we did last year in Benthal, Jenner and Maury Roads, the council has agreed that it will consult on extending the existing Stoke Newington CPZ to cover parts of Hackney Downs ward.  This will be after April (the next financial year - a time has yet to be confirmed).  The council has also to decide which exact area will be proposed to be covered and consulted on. 

We are currently following this up with officers and will update residents as soon as we know more.  Please just email or phone us if you have any questions.

Clapton Planning Brief proposal

The Council Planning Department will be holding a public consultation on a planning brief covering part of Clapton.  The main focus will be the area boundaried by Lower Clapton Road, Downs Road, Powell Road and Kenninghall Rd (excluding Gooch House).  In other words the area including the old cinema and the White Hart pub. 

This document would set out how the community and the council would like to see that particular area develop in the future, with an eye to indicating to any future developers the kind of things that would be deemed appropriate.  The council will be consulting local community groups and residents in the coming months - including a public meeting in March.

All of this flowed from discussions about local development at the Clapton Conference.  Since then of course there have been lots of developments - including the old cinema becoming a church and the White Hart being turned into a new pub the Clapton Hart. These new planning guidelines would mean however that if these buildings were ever sold in the future, development would have to abide by the planning brief.

The document will also include some aspirations for the wider area beyond that particular site, taking into account community needs in the long term.  When we have a date confrimed for the public meeting we will post it here.

Radio 1 Hackney Weekend

The Radio 1 Hackney Weekend will take place on Hackney Marshes from 23 to 24 June 2012. Headline acts include Leona Lewis, Florence and the Machine, Tinie Tempah and Plan B. It will be the biggest ever free-ticketed event with 100,000 tickets available.

There will be six stages, including the Radio 1 Main Stage, the 1Xtra Arena, Dance Arena and the BBC Introducing Stage. To celebrate local talent, the Introducing Stage will feature events from East London.

For more information on ticketing and the line-up please visit the BBC website here.

50% of tickets will be allocated to Hackney residents so there is a really good chance of getting one!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Fare Deal campaigners at Rectory Road station

Hackney Downs Labour activists leafleted outside Rectory Road station this morning - braving the rain and winds to inform commuters about Boris' fare hikes.

These fare rises mean that:
  • A single bus ticket is up 50% under Boris Johnson, from 90p in 2008 to £1.35 in 2012
  • A weekly bus and tram pass is up 45% under Boris Johnson from £13 in 2008 to £18.80 in 2012
  • A weekly zone 1-2 travelcard is up 21% under Boris Johnson from £24.20 in 2008 to £29.20 in 2012
  • A weekly zone 1-4 travelcard is up 21% under Boris Johnson from £34.60 in 2008 to £41.80 in 2012
  • A weekly zone 1-6 travelcard is up 20% under Boris Johnson from £44.60 in 2008 to £53.40 in 2012
This is despite the fact that TfL has a significant surplus on its operating budget. Ken pledges to cut these fares if elected and keep them down, saving Londoners an average of £1000 over four years.  For more detailed information please see this fact sheet setting out Ken's plans: