Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mortgage deposit for first-time buyers will hit £100,000 by 2020, says study

It is really looking grim out there for residents of London and particularly Hackney where only 15.3% of residents can afford to own a home....


- Huge sum required for first time buyers

- £100,000 will be the average needed by 2020

- Grim prediction for would-be home owners

In some inner London boroughs property ownership with a mortgage is fast disappearing altogether as young workers are outbid by cash buyers looking to let out the properties. In Camden only 15.1 per cent of households now own the roof over their heads with a mortgage, according to latest Census figures, while in Hackney the total is just 15.3 per cent.

The figures are even lower in the wealthiest “bulls eye” boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea (12.8 per cent) and Westminster (12.9 per cent).

Comment on ‘Stamford Hill’s Neighbourhood Forum’ - a personal view!

The BBC News of 9 March 2001 ran a story about fraudulent voting in Hackney’s local elections and profiled Mr Leibowitz as receiving a custodial sentence for his role.

The fraudulent behaviour included the use of voting by proxy (which increased by 200%), tricking elderly residents into signing for one counsellor - when they thought they were signing for rubbish collection and basically making up names of voters who otherwise did not exist.

The impact has been long lasting politically, and was arguably felt in the community with the erosion of green spaces, loss of trees and numerous building conversions taking place mainly in the Stamford Hill area - conversions that would otherwise not have met Hackney’s strict planning criteria.

It appears some members of that group have reformulated with others and have taken a new name: Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum (SHNF).  This effectively allows those who have already harmed the community, to carve another route back into local government, using the coalition’s Localism Act 2011.

Localism Act is born out of the needs for rural communities to come together to determine how the future of their community should be developed.  The Government’s ‘regeneration model’ envisaged communities rallying together around parish councils; however, like many members of the Conservative-Liberal Democrats policies, it is questionable as to how suitable this tool is for highly developed urban cities and for diverse communities such as Hackney.

As with all untested law, opportunist such as the proposed Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum are able to exploit the act’s ambiguities and propose they take over the running of the area.  They claim they represent the community; however, one need only look at the newly constructed website and group photographs to see they are completely unreflective of Hackney’s diverse communities. 

The political handling of the SHNF application threatens to polarize the Jewish community against the rest of Hackney, leaving other more liberal members of the Jewish community torn between how to continue their support for regeneration without destroying the multicultural fabric of Hackney. 

The Localism Bill states a forum must have at least 21 members made up or residents and business people.  There is also an exceedingly complex system that determines the geographic area that members would be representing and warns, ‘council wards should not be used to decide boundaries for newly proposed forums’.   

The aim of the act is for regeneration; however, it is unclear as to what regeneration actually means.  The average layperson would imagine regeneration includes some new development, infrastructure and schools etc, but above all, where Hackney has high unemployment, any regeneration would prioritise this too. 

Research in March 2012 into regeneration failings warns:

“A localism approach to regeneration may achieve results in some communities but not be successful in others.  The government therefore needs to consider a multiple approaches to regeneration which will work in a variety of context” (BSHF)

Past regeneration failing means that section 9, which explains the purpose of the forums are to build their way into prosperity, could essentially be used by a minority group to either by-pass or fast track building development and avoid Hackney’s Planning Committees.  In other words, we could see building extensions and further loss of green spaces prioritised over other sustainable green and business developments.

The assumption, like many of the coalitions policies so far, is that regeneration of an area can be solely managed by ‘open markets’ alone.  But Hackney’s is highly developed in most areas and research into regeneration suggests a varied and collective approach would be more successful.  

For example, building extensions, converting houses into schools and build over green spaces.  These may seem innocuous on paper but in our shared streets, shared housing stock, (Council home tenant, housing association, private rentals and home owners), such developments simply further reduce green space and replaces it with concrete.

For someone like myself, who has spent many of my developing years moving in and out of our mixed communities (playing childhood games with other children to teaching fitness in Lubavitch House), I have learned that most cultural or ethnic or religiously identified group are not homogenous and are unlikely to have the only answer to help take our community forward.  Given that this is part of the history in this borough, it is a concern that SHNF currently does not reflect this.

The Liberal Democrats have recently withdrawn their support – which they did after it was demonstrated that SHNF is both non reflective and unelected by the community.  Residents are encouraged to present their objections and contributions about the forum to Hackney Council using their email: as the closing date for this consultation is Monday 4 February 2013.

In placing my own observations and concerns to one side, establishing SHNF in its current form is likely to continue to receive comments and criticism; however, we need to ensure that our debates over its legitimacy is not engineered by us or our media into an anti-Semitic discourse of ‘us against Stamford Hill’.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Active Lifestyle Project Coordinator

Active Lifestyle Project Coordinator

Build on the amazing success of the Paralympics…
Could you lead and develop an exciting new initiative to encourage disabled Hackney residents to use and enjoy a rich variety of accessible sports and leisure facilities in this area?

CHOICE IN HACKNEY has funding to run a 9-months pilot project.  You will develop a database, publicise the project, encourage participation (particularly amongst the Black Caribbean community), recruit and match volunteer enablers and seek further funding.

CHOICE IN HACKNEY is a small local organisation run by and for disabled people.

Hours                : 7-hours per week.
Salary               : £29,575 per annum (full-time equivalent).
Closing date     : 4pm on Tuesday 19th February 2013.
Further details  : To find out more, or for a job application pack, please contact us via:
Tel    : 020 7613 3206
Fax   : 020 7739 8599.

Tea, cake and Transition Transactions...Feb 9th Stoke Newington

Transition Town Stoke Newington warmly invite you to come and learn about Transition Transactions.
This peer2peer local banking system could transform the local bang you get for your buck & dramatically boost local economies. Oliver Ashton and Fred Garnett will present their exciting idea and be keen to answer any questions you have. 
Also, Move  Your Money will talk about how moving your money out of the big banks can make it work more effectively for Transition ends.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Transition tea, cake and chat provided.

When: Saturday 9th February
Time: 330 for tea and  cakes, action from 4
Where: St Pauls West Hackney N16 7UY: map here (fully accessible)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Support the TSSA 'Making Learning Work' Festival

Hackney Unites are supporting the TSSA trade union and the launch of their Making Learning Work Festival from 9 – 17 February.

The launch event for the Festival - Saturday 9th February (midday start) – will have workshops, performance, interactive-stalls,  information on careers and professional development, guidance on accredited courses and local community learning opportunities, health & nutrition advice, guest speakers and much more.

The launch event will be followed by a week of learning opportunities around Hackney visit: for latest up-dates. We think this is a great initiative that helps put learning in all its forms at the heart of our community. We would love you to get involved and make this festival a great success.

What can you do to help?
-         Circulate this email to networks, friends and family.
-         Book you place for the launch event. Come along and be inspired by the amazing breadth of learning that is out there. Whether for personal or professional development or simply to have fun – there is something for everyone. 
Book for launch here: 
-         Become a Community Learning Champion – If you want to volunteer to help make this event a success and continue afterwards to help promote community learning in Hackney then get in touch. E: Andrea Enisuoh at or Tel: 07590 183 724

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet the DREAMers in London via Hope-Not-Hate..

Last November Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States largely because of the enthusiasm and strong turnout from Latino voters. This was the result of organising from within the Latino community and in particular a campaign by young undocumented students which forced Obama to defer deportations and create a pathway to citizenship.
I am delighted to announce that one of the young Latino organisers who spearheaded this campaign will be speaking at a HOPE not hate public meeting in London on Monday 11 February.
Carlos Saavedra is the national coordinator of United We Dream, the largest Latino youth organisation representating undocumented young people in the United States. Also known as the DREAMers, this group is one of the most exciting, innovative and successful immigrant rights groups in the US.
Here Carlos tell the story of the DREAMers in London on 11 February
Though only 27, Carlos is a veteran of the immigrant rights movement. Born in Peru, Carlos joined other undocumented students in his local high school in Boston to start a campaign to allow access to higher education when he was sixteen. Eleven years later and he is still campaigning.
Carlos has overseen the growth of the DREAMers from a loose coalition of seven groups to a national body with 52 members in 30 states and it was the strength of this network that helped forced President Obama to act. It was one of the biggest victories in the immigrant rights movement since 1986.
HOPE not hate is delighted to announce that Carlos, who was named as Activist of the Year in 2011 by The Nation magazine, will be speaking in London on Monday 11 February to tell the story of the DREAMers and begin a discussion about whether we can develop a similar progressive alliance over here.
HOPE and Dreams
How young Latino students forced Obama to act
Speaker: Carlos Saavedra
National Co-ordinator of United We Dream
7pm Monday 11 February
TSSA headquarters
Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EJ
(one minute from Euston station)
HOPE not hate reserves the right to refuse entry
Places are limited so please register your attendance.
We can learn so much from Carlos and the story of the DREAMers. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Exclusive: Mounting opposition to CPZ’s R Zone

R Zone campaigners took to the streets of Stoke Newington on Saturday 12 January in a bid to raise awareness of Hackney Council’s allegedly flawed consultation process – which aims to introduce Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) in the area in February 2013.

The initial consultation in early 2012 showed the majority of residents (some 63%) voting against the R Zone.

Speaking from the corner of Maury and Brook Road, retired architect Mr Doug Harper stated: “This consultation has ignored the views of the majority of the residents in this area who are opposed to this CPZ”.

The residents are further enraged by what they see as the council’s ‘underhanded’ behaviour: The consultation did not receive support - so the council simply cut the zone into smaller sections creating a mini zone.  As these consultations have all been referred to as the ‘R Zone’, this too has left residents confused as to what consultation was attached to what zone. 

The revised R Zone has created the ‘unnatural boundary’ within Brook Road - as one half of the street will have to pay while the other section continues with free parking.  The council are aware of this and have identified that area as a ‘dispersal’ zone; however, they suggest those residents in that area have little option but to accept more CPZ.

The group point out that in December’s Notice in the Hackney Today newspaper, it suggested parking time for zone but this differed to those the residents received through the post.  The council accepted the point stating it was a ‘printing error’, but this has caused even greater confusion with some residents not receiving any information about the revised times. 

Mr Paul Sinclair expressed his annoyance with the whole processes pointing out, “The consultation is flawed as the time given for residents to feedback their views and objections was insufficient and when they did feed back, the majority were not in favour”.

Members of the R Zone have requested a meeting with Counsellors as this specific consultation is proving decisive and residents are concerned that the democratic process, that should accompany this public consultation, has in some way been driven by other factors rather than parking capacity needs alone. 

Residents have now formulated themselves into an official campaign group: R Zone against the CPZ, and are calling for other residents within the R Zone and the wider Borough of Hackney to join via facebook and email, so that a borough wide approach to managing CPZ and parking capacity in Hackney can be achieved.

Given the unusual flurry of consultations documents that have accompanied the R Zone, it seems reasonable that a public meeting with residents be undertaken - to ensure complete transparency.  However, as sign posting begins and counsellors are unable to commit to a public meeting, it appears the R Zone campaigners have little option but to continue with their letters of objection while exploring whether they have grounds for legal action, such as an injunction or judicial review.

by Teena Lashmore
Freelance Journalist and Photographer

A threat and two opportunities

First of all, Happy New Year: lets make it a good one for everyone in our communities.

It is early January, but it is already all go in Hackney!

This week there are two important meetings. On Tuesday Hackney Planning Watch held a campaign meeting while on Thursday we are holding the second planning meeting for the Dalston People’s Festival.

Meanwhile in just a couple of weeks (9 – 17 February) we will also be supporting the Making Learning Work festival.

The threat
If you live in New River, Lordship, Casenove or Springfield, then you should be concerned about proposals that the council is currently consulting on, to hand control of planning policy to an unelected and unaccountable ‘forum’. The secretary of this proposed forum is the former Hackney councillor jailed for election fraud Isaac Liebowitz. The council has not publicized the consultation very well and very few people in the area know it is taking place. Hackney Planning Watch are looking to leaflet every door in the four wards and to alert residents. They are holding a meeting on Tuesday 15 January at the Oak Tree Community Centre, 77 Bethune Road  London, N16 5ED at 7.30. If you are going, you are asked to register in advance: The group plans to leaflet every house in the area to alert people to the consultation and invite them to respond. If you want to know more then please visit: if you can help with leaflet distribution, please contact

Dalston People’s Festival
The second planning meeting for the Dalston People’s Festival will be on Thursday 17 January at 6.30pm. We will be meeting at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road, (it is located at the Forest Road end).

On Thursday we will finally be able to announce the dates for the festival (we are still discussing with partners) but it will be in mid-July

The festival now has a facebook page:

You can help by doing five things:
It would also be great if you could tweet about it. #dalstonpeoplesfestival

The more people who know about the planned festival, the more people will contribute.

Making Learning Work
The TSSA trade union is working with community partners to stage a week long Making Learning Work festival from 9 – 17 February. The Festival will focus on personal and professional development for workers, their friends, family and the wider community. The Festival will kick of with a day long launch at the ELISE Centre, 24-30 Dalston Lane, E8 3AZ with interactive stalls, workshops, talks and taster sessions.  From ‘Make Do and Mend’ to ICT skills; Dance workshops to NVQ’S in Customer Service; ESOL to pre-apprenticeship skills - come along and try something new! More info to follow, but if you want to know more now, or are interested in being a part of the festival please contact Andrea:

On 2 February, the campaign groups Together for Transport are putting on free community organising training for campaigners interested in making public transport better for everyone: if you are interested visit: to download an application form.

Plans are also moving forward for the conference on the Life and legacy of C.L.R. James in London Saturday 13th April 2013. f you think you can help in any way to make this conference the success it deserves to be then please email:

Please help spread the word
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Hackney Unites

Holocaust Memorial event on Wednesday 30

Hackney residents may be interested in a Holocaust Memorial event being held on Wednesday 30th of January in Hackney at the Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch (see attached leaflet )

Key speakers include Mala Tribich , who survived the hell of Bergen Belsen concentration camp, Rabbi Bernd Koschland who found refuge in the UK as a child (Kinder transport) and Sandor Szoke organiser of antifascist resistance in Hungary and vice president of the Roma Civil Rights Movement.

Holocaust Memorial Day
Weds 30
th January 2013, 6.30-9.30pm

Holocaust and Genocide ~ Never Again!

Do as I do, light a candle for them and do not forget to remember them. If they are
forgotten they die again. You can make sure that such a catastrophe never recurs. You
are their future - you are the future!”
Joseph Perl, Holocaust Survivor

Live Music by the London Klezmer Quartet

Mala Tribich Holocaust Survivor; Rabbi Bernd Koschland;
Sandor Szoke
Hungarian Anti Fascist Movement, Roma Civil Rights
Movement, and son of Holocaust survivors
; David Rosenberg author of
“The Battle of the East End”
; Dan Jones Amnesty International;
Natasha Munoz; Father Steven Saxby; Weyman Bennett
Secretary of Unite Against Fascism

Amnesty International,
Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard,
off Great Eastern Street,
London EC2A 3EA
Old St or Liverpool St
£3 / £2 to cover costsRefreshments available

Contact: Ulrike Schmidt 07984 729321

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

300 Signatures in 9 days opposing Hackney's R Zone Controlled Parking Zones!

Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) is a tool to make money, suggests the Times Newspaper: Parking charges soar as Town Halls Take £1bn, dated 4 January 2013.  And Tory led councils are at the top of the league table.

A report into car ownership and behaviours by the RAC last year notes that car ownership is on the decline.  With financial instruments rapidly increasing during this austerity period, such as fuel prices sky rocketing, car insurances increasing, road tax etc, all going up, it is clear that the car is becoming unaffordable.

CPZ is a blunt tool to tackle residential parking congestion and park and drive communities in the R Zone.   With the natural reduction in car ownership, one has to ask why this strategy is still being pursued?

The R Zone Consultation appear to contradict a range of findings about Hackney's parking needs.  It has angered residents who voted against CPZ in 2012 only to find that in January 2013, it is being introduced anyway.

Resident parking need for Hackney should be assessed with a criteria that includes the amount of parking spaces available but Hackney Council have been unable to say how many spaces they have, as they haven't counted them.  In summary, their plan is to continue to implement CPZ and sell permits, even though they have no idea of the amount of spaces available. 

This model reflects the low cost airline fiasco - where airlines over-sold seats on the idea that not all passengers turned up.  This created excessive delays in airports and sometimes a complete loss of the family holiday.  Likewise, CPZ do not guarantee parking spaces outside hour door, or on your street, or close to your home.  CPZ is a 'first come first park basis' with no refunds if you were unable to find a space.

If it didn't work for airliners, why use the model for residential parking?  Some say its to raise revenue (The Times article), while others suggests it support the Green agenda of ridding car ownership from the city.  With no idea of how many car owners and car spaces available, Hackney's motivation to only use CPZ to manage parking capacity is becoming questionable.

In nine days the R Zone community have collected some 300 signatures and they achieved this over the December holiday period.  This reinforces their rejection to CPZ made earlier and they are now asking local government to sit down with residence to explore a range of other parking tools to manage the pinch point in the area. 

The R Zone community figures do fly in the face of the Parking Stress Report which is allegedly the trigger document for introducing CPZ.  That report suggested parking pinch points were Stoke Newington Common and Benthal Road but from the list of signatures, residents here appear unanimously apposed to CPZ. 

Clearly the introduction of the 'bendy bus' parking on the common took away large chunks of parking to the detriment of these residents but there are other tools available to solve that problem; especially as the bendy bus is no longer with us.

The closing date for Statutory Consultation appears to be Monday 7 with objections about the proposed time of 7:30am to 7:30pm up to 17 January.

The signed petition is being handed in to Hackney Council on Monday with R Zone residents making both individual and collective complaints using the council complaints procedures.  But if the Times newspaper's league table is any indication, Hackney is not on the list at the moment and this may see an aggressive drive to push through CPZ throughout the borough - just so they can make it in the top ten by t

Monday, January 7, 2013

Haggerston Pool Campaign - new ideas needed

Haggerston Pool Campaign is having a stall at Broadway Market throughout January - we are looking for people with new ideas for the pool re-opening.
If you dont know it, Haggerston Pool is the 1900s building on Whiston Road near the corner of Queensbridge Road, with the viking boat weather vane - it was closed in 2000 for Health and Safety reasons.
Hackney Council, who own the building, have drawn up a feasibility study for the pool as part of a healthy living centre, but these plans have been hit by the recession and cuts in local government funding, and the council has mothballed the pool to protect the building.
We dont believe that the council will be able to re-open the pool in the foreseeable future - if ever.
It is a huge building with a lot of potential alongside the pool, as well as being a listed building and a landmark in Haggerston.
If you are in the Broadway Market area in the next few weeks, please come along and talk to us, we are keen to hear from any local residents with an interest in the building.
We are planning to have an IDEAS MEETING in March - I will advertise it here once we have a date, but if you would like to be notified, please let me have your email address..
Best wishes,
Liz Hughes
Haggeston Pool Campaign