Thursday, November 28, 2013

Will you help us organise our communities?‏

Our end of year round up:
  • Alerts you to a renewed threat to planning regulations in the north of the Borough
  • Notifies you of the next stage of Stokey Local’s Sainsbury’s/Wilmer Place campaign
  • Informs you of the Progress of the Dalston Futures initiative
  • Updates you on plans to hold politicians to account across the borough through ‘hustings meetings’
  • Announces plans for two new locality based initiatives (in Hoxton and in Hackney Downs)
  • Gives a call our to students or others with skills they are willing to share with the community
  • Makes an appeal for donations
  • Asks you to update your records, and
  • Encourages you to share this info with others via email, twitter and facebook.
As we draw towards the end of a year, it is always good to look back and celebrate what has been achieved. This year we have concentrated largely on a small number of very local initiatives. We hope next year to help more communities develop local initiatives that are relevant to their area.

Planning Watch
For Hackney Unites, the year began with news of a very concerning, and divisive attempt to wrest democratic control of planning in the north of the borough from elected councillors and hand it to an unelected and unrepresentative ‘forum’.  A substantial campaign initiated by Hackney Planning Watch, one of our founder groups, alerted the community to the threat, and saw a major victory when the council instead declared a ‘Area Action Plan’ for the area (although since then we have seen no plan and precious little action since then).

Unfortunately, the problem has returned! We have been informed that a revised application for a ‘Central Stamford Hill Neighbourhood’ planning group has been submitted. As we enter the new year, we will be working closely with the community to ensure that this divisive proposal is rejected.

Stokey Local
The long running campaign against the proposed Sainsbury’s/Wilmer Place development rumbled on, with a number of wins for local people early in the year, but a shocking reversal when the council granted planning permission in August (after the developer threatened a costly appeal against an earlier rejection). The community, however, were not prepared to ‘roll over’ and put up with the heart being torn out of a conservation area, the threat to the biodiversity of Abney Park and the inevitable damage to the independent local stores. A public appeal was launched to raise £10,000 to pay for a judicial review. The money was raised and a judicial review is ongoing. The battle goes on however, as the developer has submitted a further, identical, application in an attempt to outmanoeuvre the judicial review process.

Stokey Local is a genuine grass roots community organisation, with over 70 people regularly attending meetings. You can read their latest email here: If you want to help the community in Stoke Newington, then you can sign their petition, and join them on 11 December when the latest planning application goes back to committee.

Dalston Futures
Inspired by the success of the summer’s Dalston People’s Festival, we have begun the work of putting together a local, inclusive group which is capable of bringing the community together. We used techniques we had learnt from the Stokey local campaign to bring people together, and the last meeting had 45 residents discussing how to build a powerful voice for the community. You can watch a short video of the event recorded by East London Lines, here: 

What are our plans for 2014?
Our aspirations for 2014 include organising a series of ‘hustings’ meetings in advance of the May council elections. Candidates who want our votes should make themselves available to answer our questions, and we want to use these meeting to encourage our communities to re-engage with the election process. We are actively looking for local community groups across the borough to work with us to host these meetings. If you are part of a community group that would like to play a role in empowering your community and enhancing democracy by hosting an event with local candidates, please drop us a

Hoxton and 'Tech City'
Hoxton contains some of the poorest and most deprived estates in the borough. It is also host to ‘Tech City’ an amazing collection of high tech companies. The difference between the wealth, innovation and energy of tech city, and the lack of opportunity that exists on estates is an affront to decency. We want to explore how we create bridges between Tech City and the surrounding estates. We are planning an innovative project that brings together the movers and the shakers from Tech City with the community that surrounds them. We hope to get training and development opportunities, as well as a commitment to ‘skill share’ with the community so that some of that technology can be put to good use supporting the community. If you live or work in the south of the borough and are interested in getting involved in a planning meeting for this project let us know.

Hackney Downs
With planned ‘regeneration’ on the Nightingale Estate, we have been approached to help establish a community group in Hackney Downs. Discussions to establish a community organisation (or link up existing groups) in the area are at an early stage, but if you are from the area and want to get involved, please let us know.

Student give back
We are engaged in talks with the student union at London Metropolitan University with a view to getting students living in the borough more involved in the community. Many of the students are Hackney born and bred, they are getting an education that provides them with skills that many in the community simply don’t have. We want to create an opportunity for them to ‘give a little back’ to the community that raised and nurtured them. More details to follow, but if you are a student, even if it is not at London Met, and you want to help facilitate a process by which students engage with their communities, then let us know. We need help to establish a student group committed to supporting the community.

None of our successes could take place without some financial resources. In the last few years Hackney Unites has relied on grants from charitable trusts, collections at events and donations from supporters. Our organisation could not function without our Andrea, our part-time organiser/project manager, but we often struggle to find the money to pay for her work. If you could make a donation, or make a series of smaller donations via regular direct debits, then you can help strengthen and support us in delivering against our objectives.

If you would like to help, you can make a donation via telephone, or on-line banking:
our account name is Hackney Unites,
Unity Trust Bank,
Sort Code 08-60-01
Account number: 20245706.

Alternatively you can write a cheque and send it to Hackney Unites C/O HCVS, 84 Springfield House, 5 Tyssen Street London, E8 2LY.

Some of our supporters help by donating a regular sum each month. If you would like to join them, you can download a standing order form from (please complete and return to us) or you can set this up via telephone banking.

Skills share
We increasingly need volunteers, to help us turn our vision of a well organised community into a reality.
For example, we need volunteers who:
  • are prepared to put leaflet through doors
  • are willing to ask residents to give us their views of the issues that concern them.
  • have web development skills.
  • have leaflet/poster design skills
  • have experience of financial budgeting,
  • have experience of making applications to charitable trusts or other fundraising activity.
  • have skills in developing training materials,
  • are able to make short promotional films of our events (just two or three minutes long)
There is lot more help that we need, from basic admin tasks, to ‘phone banking’, if you want to get involved, please let us know what you can do, drop an email to

Help us update our records
We want to keep you updated with the events and activity that really matters to you, so please visit[UNIQID] and update your profile.

Please tweet/facebook this newsletter
If you are on facebook or twitter, you can help us increase our reach by sending the following message/post

Hackney Unites, a community gets organised Please share

Thank you

It has been a good year for Hackney Unites, lets make sure that 2014 is even better.

Thank you for your continued support.

John Page

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