Sunday, 19 December 2010

Calm before the storm? Eight new jobseekers in November

According to the Office of National Statistics there are now 9,995 people in Hackney claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA). The figures are for November and show an increase of eight new jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants on the October total of 9,987.

This represents about 6.6% of the borough's working population of about 150,000 and although small it is the fifth consecutive monthly increase in the number of JSA claimants.

NORTH SOUTH DIVIDE

While Hackney as a whole saw the number of people on the dole increase, Hackney North saw the number of its residents claiming JSA fall by five. But Hackney South saw the number of claimants increase by 19.

As such Hackney's JSA claimant count should have increased by 14 in November but due to statistical anomalies, the total JSA count has increased by just eight.

The big question is how much will Hackney's employment rate suffer from the government cuts. There seem to be a number of different views on how dependent Hackney is on public sector jobs and the effect of the cuts on the borough.

The borough's working population appears to be highly weighted toward managerial and professional jobs according to the borough's latest economic factsheet:

"In 2008, 58% of Hackney’s population were employed in managerial, professional and associate professional and technical occupations. Another 23% were employed in administrative, skilled trades and personal service occupations, and the final 18% of employees were concentrated in sales and customer service, process plant and machine operations and elementary occupations.

"Some 41% of Hackney’s employed residents are employed in professional and associate professional occupations. These split between the two, associate professional and technical occupations including science, and engineering technicians and IT service delivery; health, public service and social work associate professionals, culture media and sport occupations, and business, legal and finance professionals; and professionals such as engineers, software professionals, solicitors, accountants and architects. The third largest category (17%) are employed in various management occupations.

At the other end of the distribution, 8.5% of Hackney’s employees are employed as cleaners, security wardens, postal workers and couriers, hospitality workers and elementary sales. The final category with a significant amount of employees is the administrative and secretarial occupations.

The composition of the borough's working population may make it hard to predict what economic scenarios are good or bad for the level of unemployment in the borough. Also, the fact that these jobs are managerial does not mean that they are not in the public sector.

2010
November: 9,995 (6.6%) - (9,995/0.066=151,439) (+8)
October: 9,987 (6.6%) - (9,987/0.066=151,318) (+60)
September: 9,927 (6.6%) - (9,927/0.066=150,409) (+136)
August: 9,791 (6.5%) - (9,791/0.065=150,630) (+325)
July: 9,466 (6.3%) - (9466/0.063= 150,253) (+60)
June : 9,406 (6.5%) (9,406/ 0.065 = 144,707) (-210)
May: 9,616 (6.7%) (9,616/.067=143,522) ()
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.68=144,794)
February: 10,044 (7%)
January: 9,905 (6.9%)

2009
December: 9743 (6.7%)
November: 9,795 (6.8%)
October: 9,827 (6.8%)
September: 9,884 (7%)
August 9,826 (6.9%) (+276)
July: 9550 (6.7%) (+242)
June: 9,308 (6.6%) ()
May: 9,377 (6.6%) (+379)
April: 8,998 (6.3%) (+373)
March: 8,625 (6.1%) (+ 471)
February: 8,154 (5.7%) (+ 804)
January: 7,350 (5.2%)

2008
December: 7,245 (5.1%)
November - 7,013 (4.9%)
October - 6,982 (4.9%)
September - 6,942 (4.9%)
August - 6,803 (4.8%)
July - 6,454 (4.6%)
June - 6,440 (4.6%)


Hackney North

2010
Nov - 4,794 (6.2%) - (4,794/0.062=77,323)(-5)
Oct - 4,801 (6.2%) - (4,801/0.062= 77,435)(+29)
Sept - 4,772 (6.2%) - (4,709/0.062=76,967) (+63)
August - 4,709 (6.1%) - (4,709/0.061= 77,197)(+171)
July - 4,572 (5.9%) - (4,572/0.059= 77,491)(+34)
June - 4,538 (6.0%) - (4,538/0.06= 75,633)(-99)
May - 4,637 (6.2%) - (4,637/0.062=74,790)(-90)
April - 4,727 (6.3%) - (4,727/0.063=75,031)(+391)
March - 4,336 (6.2%) - (4,336/0.062=69,935)(-114)
February - 4,450 (6.4%) - (4,450/0.064=69,531)(+48)
January - 4,402 (6.3%) - (4,402/0.063=69,873)

2009
December - 4331 (6.2%)
November - 4386 (6.3%)
October - 4365
September - 4,338
August - 4,331
July - 4206
June - 4,118
May - 4,081

Hackney South

2010
Nov - 5,183 (7.3%) - (5,183/0.0.73=71,000) (+19)
Oct - 5,164 (7.3%) - (5,164/0.073=70,739)(+24)
Sept - 5,140 (7.3%) - (5,140/0.073=70,410)(+84)
August - 5,056 (7.1%) - (5,056/0.071 = 71,211)(+185)
July - 4,871 (6.9%) - (4,871/0.069= 70,549)(+20)
June - 4,851 (7.0%) - (4,851/0.07= 69,300) (-108)
May - 4,959 (7.2%) - (4,959/0.072=68,875)
April - 4,908 (7.1%) - (4908/0.071=69,126)
March - 5,510 (7.6%) - (5,510/0.076=72,500)
February - 5,594 (7.7%) - (5,594/0.077=72,649)
January - 5503 (7.6%) - (5503/0.076)=72,407)

2009
December - 5,412 (7.5%)
November - 5,409 (7.5%)
October - 5,462
September - 5,546 (7.8%)
August - 5,495
July - 5,344
June - 5,190
May - 5,296

Monday, 13 December 2010

Gangs or no gangs...will we ever know?

When a Hackney youth club closed down in August the Hackney Gazette reported (21 Oct) that it had something to do with a lease... or some "minor refurbishments".

A week later, in a full council meeting, Hoxton councillor Philip Glanville claimed that the club's management had closed it down because of gangs. He said that the claims had been made in emails to the council from SkyWay, the organisation which runs the Blue Hut youth club.
In the Gazette's October story a council spokesperson said that the club would re-open in the new year. Those plans are still in place but the story of the club's closure remains mysterious because of these claims about gangs.

Skyway's allegations were pursued by Hoxton's Labour councillors - Clayeon Mackenzie, Philip Glanville and Carole Williams. Cllr Glanville said that the Dalston-based SkyWay didn't report these gang-related problems to the police or the council or anyone else.

He brought the issue to the attention of a full council meeting in October when a report by the Children and Young People (CYP) Scrutiny Commission was published which claimed that Blue Hut was running well.

The report described the Blue Hut project as one that dealt specifically with gangs. It trained
15-24-year-olds to show their peers that, "there is an alternative to the gangs many young people will see on a daily basis."

Six months before the club was closed down by the alleged gang activity the CYP Scrutiny Commission visited and reported that: 'Staff at the Blue Hut said that the results so far have been very positive and they have seen a number of the peers grow in maturity & confidence..."

Glanville said that when Blue Hut closed "none of us could really believe that turn of events" adding that "SkyWay's initial response was that it was plagued by problems, we were worried that events had so quickly changed for the worst, or that something may have been misrepresented".

Now the centre could reopen with no further explanation of the alleged gang problem and why it wasn't reported.

Blood and Property called SkyWay but no one would comment or even say that the organisation was officially making "no comment".

The reopening may be good news but something must have been wrong for this to have happened. Either there was a gang problem or there wasn't. It seems unlikey that the decision by SkyWay to shut down the project was only due to a problem with a fire escape as it is now being portrayed.

Hopefully it hasn't been made difficult for SkyWay to explain the true nature of the situation.

In April a 16-year-old girl was shot dead in a Hoxton chicken shop (Hackney Hive report with interesting comments) which resulted in a number of teenagers as well as a couple of men in their twenties being charged.

So the idea that there might be a gang problem in Hoxton is not exactly far-fetched - it just doesn't sound like a valid reason to close down a project designed to deal with gang problems.

Cannabis factory discovered on Sunday

    Press release from Hackney Police:

    On Sunday, December 12 at around 13:20, officers from Hackney Police received a call regarding a man trying to break into a derelict factory workshop in Tudor Road, E9.

    On arrival at the scene, officers came across one man attempting to gain entry.

    On speaking to the man, he said he was working on the door. He was asked to open the door at which point he ran past officers towards Mare Street. Officers gave chase and he was detained and brought back to the original venue.

    On gaining entry to the premises to investigate the reason for the suspect's behaviour, the ground floor was searched. Nothing was found apart from construction and demolition debris.

    On ascending to the first floor, officers discovered a length of plastic sheeting sealed against a doorway entrance. On peeling this back, several cannabis plants could be seen to be densely packed together in plant pots, with lengths of cabling were strung along the ceiling. Further investigation revealed in excess of one thousand cannabis plants spread across two floors of the premises, including a fully-functioning hydroponics system rigged up to a water tank and heat lamps.

    The 41 year old man was arrested for cultivation of cannabis and abstraction of electricity. A name check conducted on his identity revealed he was also wanted for drugs supply offences in West Yorkshire and cannabis cultivation in South London, and he was further arrested in relation to these offences and taken to Shoreditch Police Station.

    Investigations continue. Anyone with any information about cannabis factories on Hackney Borough is requested to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

UPDATE (and apology): Parking, PR, and should the council answer questions?

UPDATE:

Polly Rance, Hackney's head of media and external relations, has provided a response to some of the questions posed in the piece below.

Here's what she said: 'Just to let you know that I have not resigned from my role at Hackney and have every intention of returning to work on 3rd May 2011. The conjecture in your e-mail and your article is entirely incorrect, and whilst my employer was quite right not to share HR details with you as a journalist I am more than happy to put the record straight in a personal capacity. By the way, my piece in PRWeek to which you have made several references is not about Hackney Council but making a more general point about the industry. I would no doubt write it differently in the context of the current cuts situation, but my overall point stands, that backroom services such as comms have to strive doubly hard to prove their worth in hard financial times. Please amend your blog so that it no longer implies that I have left my job.'

So apologies to Polly and thanks for the reply.

Original article:

Should Hackney council have answered any questions when its head of parking services was caught out in an alleged case of favouritism? Apparently not, according to its head of PR.

Head of hackney parking, Seamus Adams, had his car returned by his staff after it was towed away and his fine reduced. I think it was a Hackney Gazette story (although it's not on the paper's website yet so here it is from the Daily Mail).

The council leapt to the defence of this officer. (Adams appears to have been happy to collect cash from other people and not return it unless ordered to do so by a court (Check out this freedom of information request worth a story in its own right!) which didn't seem to be what happened to him.)

Meanwhile Hackney's "interim assistant chief executive, communications and consultation", Carl Welham, had recently told Blood and Property that: "The council does not answer questions relating to individual members of staff."

Blood and Property had asked if Polly Rance, head of Hackney's PR and Communications had left her job.

Carl Welham wouldn't answer and added: "I hope in future that you will confine your questions to matters of council business."

This wall of privacy (Not there for Michael Sobell and Seamus Adams) was in place even though Polly Rance had aired her views in public. There is no suggestion that she has done anything wrong, just that she is probably an important figure in Hackney's policy making.

See Carl Wellham here on YouTube saying that councils face major cuts and work has to be done to "make sure communications is not a casualty of that by proving we are an essential part of the business and not a nice to have add on."

Which sounded remarkably similar to Polly in a PR Week piece where she made a case for maintaining the size of the communications department:"In a recession the need for clear, accessible comms is greater than ever, as residents seek advice on debt, jobs and housing."

Is it none of our business whether these public calls for more PR have been taken on board or been ditched? No suggestion that anyone has done anything wrong, just a question about council business.

(OTHER STORY THIS WEEK: INSULT OR INJURY TO HACKNEY?)

'An insult to the people of Hackney' or an injury?

The Local Government Chronicle's chief reporter has provided more terrifying insights into the government's attitude to Hackney as Mayor Pipe does his best to get some straight answers about cuts. (More background here)

It is disturbing stuff. Pipe told the LGC reporter that the government's response to his questions about the cuts were an 'insult to the people of Hackney'. Sadly the end result is more likely to be an injury: evidence that the government will let places like Hackney become dysfunctional casualties of the cuts.

A story about the potential demise of Operation Trident - in the Guardian and the BBC - demonstrates that some of these assaults on life in Hackney may not be directly aimed at the borough. The Hackney Gazette had a source claiming that these reports were 'taken out of context' which is hardly a convincing denial.

And the official 'denial' is nothing of the sort - it had a Hackney Police spokeswoman saying the police were committed to building on the success of Trident, not necessarily with Trident.

Trident could even stay as it is and Hackney still lose out. A slight shift in political priorities at the top could see the task force's efforts concentrated on other boroughs - Hackney and Lambeth have been the main recipients of Trident's efforts.

There is also the question of elected police chiefs and the effect that could have on places like Hackney - watch The Wire to see what goes on behind the scenes in a politicised police force.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hackney Gazette and ELA leave East End (after 144 years)



The Hackney Gazette and the East London Advertiser are moving offices from Bethnal Green to Ilford. The two papers currently share an office in Bethnal Green (Cambridge Heath Road) not far from Hackney but will be moving on November 26.

The Gazette has been based outside Hackney for quite a while but the ELA has been in Tower Hamlets for 144 years covering Jack The Ripper (who turned up in 1888 20 years after the paper was established) and surviving the Blitz.

Sad to see it move - especially when its owners seem to be making money (as pointed out in this Guardian Article). May be the council papers: the weekly East End Life and the fortnightly Hackney Today were also responsible. Whatever the reason it'll be harder for journalists to do their jobs properly now. (But for Tower Hamlets politics try Trial by Jeory)





I worked at the ELA for four years starting a few weeks before 9/11 (2001) and leaving a few weeks after the 7/7 (2005) bombings. Not long after I arrived the then editor Richard Tidiman (now dead) opened an envelope containing a white powder and a note claiming it was anthrax. When the police eventually turned up - there were a lot of anthrax scares at the time - they said it was probably talcum powder (no tests just said we should wait until we got ill before worrying).

But we were all pretty obsessed with terror. I took the picture below because of the stupendous terror events these billboards claimed to be reporting - I don't remember any of them.


The picture was taken in June 2005 (The date can be seen above Ricin 'Terrer') when East London was buzzing with terror threats.

Some more pictures from the good old days...


Down at Tower Hamlets Town Hall in 2005 when councillors walked out ...



George Galloway after his election.

Oona King before she lost the election....






Oldreporter said: "A pal of mine, a good sub, was made redundant a while ago and did some shifts at one of these "subbing factories." (Like the new Ilford office) After a few days he began to realise that good stories were being down-played because of the formatted pages and crap stories were getting shows. He raised the matter with his chief-sub or equivalent and was told: "Don't worry about it. We're not here to do anything other than get the pages away." A little later he was given another story sub which had the makings of a splash for the title he was working on that day. He approached his boss again and told him with a couple more inquiries made by the reporter in the area and a little tweak the story was much better than the one he had subbed as the splash. Again he was told: "Forget it." That's what people who care are up against. If the bosses don't give a toss neither do their minions. And weeklies will continue to go down the pan.

Another comment came from 'Localreporter': I work on one of the above papers, about to be moved to Ilford - miles off patch.Since the centralised CMS system was introduced not long ago, which is obviously enabling this move, it has been evident that quality has declined. We are often being told to "write to fit" the space provided, so stories with worth are being squeezed into nib size, and rubbish that would normally be used as space fillers is being given more room than it deserves. All so that pages can be "sent off" to production, and all part and parcel of this centralised subbing system. Working in Ilford, several miles and over an hour's journey off patch, is going to be yet another recipe for disaster. All very demoralising..."

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Hackney public sector employees: 16,000 or 60,000 or 130,000?

The number of people claiming job seeker's allowance rose by 60 in October, not a huge increase, but this is the fourth consecutive monthly rise. It brings the number job seekers in the borough to 9,987 or 6.6% of the working population.

The big question now is how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the massive cuts being made to public sector budgets? There seem to be a range of views:

On November 5 2010 Hackney's representative on the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold, wrote: "In Hackney we have one of the highest rates of to public sector employees living in the borough in London. Over 40% of working people in North Hackney and Stoke Newington are employed the public sector." If Hackney North working population 77,435ish and 40% of that is 31,000 people with Hackney South yet to be added.

If you take the latest Hackney Council economic update (out this month after a long wait) you will discover: "Official statistics show 144,400 people of working age in Hackney, 68% of the total resident population." Using this figure and Arnold's 40%, the estimate is around 58,000.

Arnold's vision is mild mannered compared to Diane Abbott who thinks that Hackney will be like a pit village after the mine has closed. Writing in the Mirror Abbott said: "I live in an area where 90% of people work in the public sector." If she meant Hackney in general that would be 130,000 people. If she meant Hackney North (working population 77,435ish) that would be 70,000 people.

However Hackney Citizen and The Commune both have the number of people in Hackney who work in the public sector at 23,000. The latest Guardian Datablog on public sector employment says that 16,400 people in Hackney are employed in the public sector and that this is 20.02% of the borough's working population, less than the the national average (20.4%). This would suggest that Hackney should not be worse affected than anywhere else.

Sadly the latest Hackney economics paper doesn't specifically address how many people work in the public sector.

Latest Hackney JSA claimant counts:

Hackney borough total (Local Authority): working population extrapolated from figures in red.

Has the population of Hackney increased by 10,000 since March? Statistical anomalies like June/July when the number of people on the dole increased but the percentage of the working population decreased.

2010
October: 9,987 (6.6%) - (9,987/0.066=151,318) (+60)
September: 9,927 (6.6%) - (9,927/0.066=150,409) (+136)
August: 9,791 (6.5%) - (9,791/0.065=150,630) (+325)
July: 9,466 (6.3%) - (9466/0.063= 150,253) (+60)
June : 9,406 (6.5%) (9,406/ 0.065 = 144,707)
May: 9,616 (6.7%) (9,616/.067=143,522)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.68=144,794)
February: 10,044 (7%)
January: 9,905 (6.9%)

2009
December: 9743 (6.7%)
November: 9,795 (6.8%)
October: 9,827 (6.8%)
September: 9,884 (7%)
August 9,826 (6.9%) (+276)
July: 9550 (6.7%) (+242)
June: 9,308 (6.6%) ()
May: 9,377 (6.6%) (+379)
April: 8,998 (6.3%) (+373)
March: 8,625 (6.1%) (+ 471)
February: 8,154 (5.7%) (+ 804)
January: 7,350 (5.2%)

2008
December: 7,245 (5.1%)
November - 7,013 (4.9%)
October - 6,982 (4.9%)
September - 6,942 (4.9%)
August - 6,803 (4.8%)
July - 6,454 (4.6%)
June - 6,440 (4.6%)


Hackney North

2010
Oct - 4,801 (6.2%) - (4,801/0.062= 77,435)
Sept - 4,772 (6.2%) - (4,709/0.062=76,967)
August - 4,709 (6.1%) - (4,709/0.061= 77,197)
July - 4,572 (5.9%) - (4,572/0.059= 77,491)
June - 4,538 (6.0%) - (4,538/0.06= 75,633)
May - 4,637 (6.2%) - (4,637/0.062=74,790)
April - 4,727 (6.3%) - (4,727/0.063=75,031)
March - 4,336 (6.2%) - (4,336/0.062=69,935)
February - 4,450 (6.4%) - (4,450/0.064=69,531)
January - 4,402 (6.3%) - (4,402/0.063=69,873)

2009
December - 4331 (6.2%)
November - 4386 (6.3%)
October - 4365
September - 4,338
August - 4,331
July - 4206
June - 4,118
May - 4,081

Hackney South
2010
Oct - 5,164 (7.3%) - (5,164/0.073=70,739)
Sept - 5,140 (7.3%) - (5,140/0.073=70,410)
August - 5,056 (7.1%) - (5,056/0.071 = 71,211)
July - 4,871 (6.9%) - (4,871/0.069= 70,549)
June - 4,851 (7.0%) - (4,851/0.07= 69,300)
May - 4,959 (7.2%) - (4,959/0.072=68,875)
April - 4,908 (7.1%) - (4908/0.071=69,126)
March - 5,510 (7.6%) - (5,510/0.076=72,500)
February - 5,594 (7.7%) - (5,594/0.077=72,649)
January - 5503 (7.6%) - (5503/0.076)=72,407)

2009
December - 5,412 (7.5%)
November - 5,409 (7.5%)
October - 5,462
September - 5,546 (7.8%)
August - 5,495
July - 5,344
June - 5,190
May - 5,296

Useful links
Guardian Datablog:
Guardian Datablog on public sector employee stats:
Dept

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Pipe Vs Pickles: but will Ken be more dangerous?

Mayor Pipe & Eric Pickles MP

“I need no lectures from you on efficiency,” Jules Pipe told Eric Pickles, minister in charge of imposing cuts on councils like Hackney. The report came via the Local Government Chronicle chief reporter's blog - about the London Councils summit (pics) on November 6.

According to LGC blog there had: "been an exchange of letters between the two in the previous week and it seems Mr Pickles had come to the event in combative mood."

But our mayor seems to have done well: "With Mr Pipe remaining cool and collected - and remaining diplomatic - and Mr Pickles becoming increasingly angry and rattled." (Another account of it here)

It seems mayor Pipe is becoming an important figure in battle against the coalition cuts. On Thursday he said as much in his 'Talking Point' - on the letters page of the Hackney Gazette: "I have called on the government to think again and I'm lobbying them on behalf of Hackney and councils across London..."

But Pipe has a more subtle problem than Eric Pickles as he becomes a London-wide player. It seems London politicians are experiencing a cross-party unity against coalition government cuts (not on moral grounds. Apparently Conservative outer London boroughs are worried by the threat of an influx of Labour voting folk shifted from inner city boroughs by benefit cuts).

The problems will come if there's any sign that Johnson might win concessions for London's poor. Would Ken Livingstone allow Labour politicians like Pipe to help Johnson score a London victory as the London Mayoral elections approach?

Although the fates of poor people in London look like they are bound up with the Labour Party, Johnson's stance - probably prompted by Labour boroughs - throws a spanner in the works for Ken.

So could Ken Livingstone and Jules Pipe contemplate undermining Johnson if a political battle with Cameron gathers pace? Who knows? May be, in the very long run, it would be better for Hackney's poorest if Johnson doesn't succeed. But any assumption that the well-being of Hackney is solidly intertwined with the fate of the Labour Party should probably be suspended until after the next batch of elections.

Also, Hackney has two MPs and one Mayor whose attentions are diverted beyond Hackney's borders. They all see their jobs as fighting cuts for the nation as a whole, hopefully they won't use it as an excuse to avoid what De Beauvoir councillors predict predict will be "devastating decisions" about Hackney.

Diane Abbott: never get involved in politics of racial division


Some odds and ends of interest

Diane Abbott: "The Labour Party should never get involved in the politics of racial division."

Zebras Vs Pelicans: Beechholme and Environs...

A bit of gossipy stuff -Seen first in Hackney Hive but it's in this 'Duchess of 'ackney' blog.

All stemming from this in the Hackney Gazette which then supported Cllr Louisa Thomson here

And some happy research saying Hackney has a good Pupil Referral Unit system....

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chatsworth Road Market pics



A busy day on Chatsworth Road. Congratulations to any one involved.









I bought a pie and some jam. There were lots of people hopefully buying more than just pie and jam. Here's a review from another blogger at Clapton Is Good: http://claptonisgood.tumblr.com/post/1509562096/chatsworth-rd-market

Good luck with the next one.

Democracy problem in Stamford Hill on the mend?

It is hard to tell how significant this may be but an election is due to take place for a parent governor at the Yesodey Hatorah Senior School for girls.

Here's an extract from If you tickle us we will laugh:

.... News reaches me that, to the consternation of those who dictate our way of life, Yesodei Hatorah Secondary School will be holding elections for a Parent Governor.

And if that isn’t enough, apparently a species of the fairer sex has had the temerity to stand for the position. I mean, what is the world coming to if a woman can try and elicit votes from parents which include men (though one wouldn’t think so when attending open days, parent evenings, graduation ceremonies or any other school activity except if it includes a visit by the PM or a few police officers when the men all miraculously appear)?

How, we all ask, has it come to this? Where have we gone wrong? Is this the result of a (non-existent) fair admissions policy? Is it the influence of having, G-d forbid, parents with tops which indicate a shape beneath and skirts which hint at legs ambulating within?


Some of the school's decisions about admissions were recently overruled after being appealed by parents.

Geoffrey Alderman, a commentator on the community, took an interest in the issue. Meanwhile the school's principal (I think), Rabbi Abraham Pinter, provided some comment on the situation, as did the learning trust.

Some of the issues about democracy and the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community have been discussed on Blood and Property before - they also surfaced in the last council meeting when Labour councillors more than implied that the political representatives for the community (the Conservative Party) were not doing an effective job (The suggestion was that the long-running dispute about loft extensions had over-ridden issues concerning the poorest members of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community who have failed to use the benefits to which they are entitled.)

If anyone was at this event: http://www.thejc.com/community/local-news/40616/hackney-councillors-support-local-limmud this evening (Sunday) it would be great to find out what was said.

Apparently "Liberal Democrat Ian Sharer and Conservative Simche Steinberger will be part of a panel discussion on how their Jewish values led them into politics."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Did gangs close Hackney youth centre?

A Hackney youth centre closed down last week, apparently due to gang activity. It had been open for a year.

Cllr Rita Krishna and Cllr Gulay Icoz told Hackney Council on Wednesday that the Blue Hut youth club had closed down.

I think it was Hoxton councilllor, Philip Glanville who added more detail. He started talking about gangs and the previously optimistic comments of Skyways, the voluntary sector organisation which ran Blue Hut. He appeared to be suggesting that Skyways ducked-out out of Blue Hut too easily. He said that voluntary providers also hadn't 'come up to scratch' in the borough (Hoxton Hall - also).

But in relation to Blue Hut, the implication was that Skyways didn't have problem with gangs six months ago but this changed... "One of the reasons they walked away is that they said that there were 'issues'"

I don't 100% know that's what was meant. I'll have to find out in the week unless someone can tell me.


Description of Skyway project in Wednesday's report including a recommendation to base other projects around its strategy. P. 184 of Council agenda:

Blue Hut - Peer Support Programme

The Peer Support Programme is a pilot project currently being run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and there has been huge interest from young people wanting to be involved in it. It is teaching the young people involved that they can give something back to their community and become positive role models for their peers. Through the programme, they can show there is an alternative to the gangs many young people will see on a daily basis and provide positive role models to the youngsters in their areas.

The programme has been running since October 2009 in its current form although a pilot project on a much smaller scale was run from March 2009 with 3 peer coaches.

In total there have been fifteen young people involved in the programme so far and their ages range from fifteen to twenty four

Page 184years, although most of the young people involved have been between seventeen and twenty one years.

The young people receive support through the development of an individual learning plan, and as part of this they received an in-depth initial meeting and then monthly one to ones which focus on their progress and development in relation to their individual learning plan. The peers specialise in one area, such as drama or sport, and they report to a specific member of staff who is trained in their area of interest and who can offer them continued support and advice. The peers also complete training which is both accredited and non- accredited.

The peers all complete a ‘train the trainer’ course, and this included units on safeguarding, working with young people, running activity sessions, equality and diversity, and confidentiality and data protection. They also completed an enterprise training programme over 4 days. The peers also complete training on working with young people in relation to drugs and alcohol.

Peers are recruited to support activities across all aspects of SkyWay’s programmes and therefore they have sports peers, media peers (music and film), youth work peers and bike maintenance peers. All of the young people involved receive training and paid work experience in the area they are interested, for example sports coaching, media sessions or youth work. The work that they do is constantly monitored and only once the workers are confident in the young people’s abilities and skills and they have completed the relevant training and have had an enhanced CRB check will they be allowed to lead sessions with other young people.

In addition to this, each peer will complete qualifications that are relevant to their interests and will be identified through their individual learning plan; this could include for example Level 1 or 2 in FA football coaching or Level 2 in Youth Work.

The Peer Support Programme has been increasingly popular with young people and it is currently oversubscribed. Staff at the Blue Hut said that the results so far have been very positive and they have seen a number of the peers grow in maturity & confidence, and the young people involved have developed communication, self reliance, team working and leadership skills.

The Commission members talked to one of the young people involved in the Peer Support Programme who told them he felt it was important to develop young people through the programme as it helps to bridge the gap between the young people and youth workers.

Page 185

Recommendation Three

The Commission was impressed during the site visits and through talking to young people by the range of training and qualifications young people are able to gain through youth centres and activities and strongly support and encourage these opportunities.

The Commission was particularly interested in the Peer Support Programme run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and its aim to develop young people to lead activity sessions with their peers and younger age groups.

The Commission recommends the Youth Service look at the Peer Support Programme currently being run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and consider adopting a similar model in council maintained youth centres in Hackney.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Fighting evil powers at work in Hackney


Apart from Glamorous Gardener's terrifying cake party there wasn't much Halloween stuff going on in Hackney blogs.

But Mayor Pipe's description of the coalition government prompted the resurrection of a survey of Hackney politicians carried out last year.

The Mayor, one of the contributors to "Do Hackney politicians believe in ghosts?", said: "I am happy to confirm that I have never felt the need to attribute any event to ‘supernatural’ causes. Whilst I accept that people are entitled to hold whatever beliefs they like – as long as this causes no harm to others..."

On Wednesday night Mayor Pipe said the government's cuts were "extremely divisive, some may even say evil". Evil appears to mean anything that harms others or something "producing or threatening sorrow, distress, injury..."

Anyway, it looked like Pipe had found people who held beliefs that were evil - a concept often employed to dehumanise somebody before a merciless attack.

But while the language was strong, Pipe quickly re-humanised all close-to-hand Conservatives claiming that Boris Johnson had something like a conscience (Pipe's 'social cleansing' phrase mysteriously pre-dated Johnson's more public use of a similar phrase - the two seem to get on well at the moment) he then re-humanised the Conservative councillors present at the meeting: "I can't see the people opposite as the representatives of this government. I could stand here and attempt to savage the people opposite for whatever reason they had for standing under the party colours they chose to..." (but I won't).

However it wasn't long before he and a number of other Labour politicians were gritting their teeth as Conservative councillors returned passionately to their loft extensions - an issue which apparently only affects the rich home-owning members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community - but has consumed hours and hours of council time. Cuts or no cuts, some things don't change!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hackney Gazette has new website that allows comments

Yes, the Hackney Gazette now allows people to leave comments. Blood and Property left one under the Hackney cuts story. Not sure why, but the comment, left on Saturday, had yet to appear on Sunday night.

Other story this week:

Turkish crime - Turkish politics

(UPDATE  February 2012): http://bloodandproperty.blogspot.com/2012/02/police-watch-watch.html

This month a team of Hackney police officers returned home from a trip to Turkey. The trip was to "learn more about the culture, to strengthen existing relationships with Hackney's Turkish and Kurdish communities."

They have some interesting stuff to look at:

Last week the BBC published this story: "Could Turkish and Kurdish gangs become the new 'mafia'?"


What are the MLKP and the PKK? They exist in Hackney and appear to be in conflict with the Bombacilar gang cited as a cause of Turkish gang violence in Hackney.

(PKK marching through Dalston in 2008. But marching not illegal in the UK or Hackney? And marching again in 2010 may day march. Story in the Observer, 2002 about MLKP and the world's longest hungerstrike, 49 dead. (Feb 2010 Socialist Worker))

CRIME AND POLITICS COCKTAIL:

In 2007 BBC Radio Four's File on Four transcript March 2007: "Drugs" which investigated the how Baybasin (leader of Bombacilar) had a deal with HM Customs which ran him as an informer.

The BBC investigation mentions another character, Nurretin Guven. He, and another convicted drug dealer, Hamit Gokenc, were both allegedly linked to a right-wing nationalist group and to attempts to capture or assassinate PKK and MLPK leaders. (Most of these links were taken from this article: Turkish Conflicts: PKK, Grey Wolves. I don't know if the claims made in it are correct.)

The BBC's 2006 story about a clampdown on the notorious Bombacilar said: "Matters came to a head on 9 November 2002 when the Bombacilar clashed with their PKK/Kadek rivals" which led to a street battle along Green Lanes and the death of one man. The PKK being the far-left Kurdish nationalist party and listed as terrorist organisation in the USA and Europe.

The violence errupted again in 2009 with several tit-for-tat shootings but this time the Bombacillar were believed to be in conflict with the Tottenham Boys. According to the Evening Standard both gangs are Turkish Kurds.


Blood and Property spoke to a Turkey expert from a well-known London-based institution who did not want to be named. He said that Turkish communities, like those in Hackney and Haringey, were more polarised than Turkish/Kurdish communities in Turkey itself. He also said that events, like a recent PKK terrorist attack in Istanbul, could result in increased tensions in communities like those in North London.

Some back ground:

A piece of research done in 2008 by academics at Sussex University:

"Since the enactment of the 2001 Terrorism Act in the UK, the PKK has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government. Kurds from Turkey who claim asylum in the UK stating persecution due to membership of, or association with, the PKK could risk imprisonment under the Terrorism Act. At the same time (2000) the Kurdish television station MED-TV, which was broadcast from the UK, was closed down by the British government due to breaches of impartiality and claims that it incited people to commit criminal acts. These events highlight how diaspora politics and the struggle for Kurdish national recognition have the potential to escalate into a sensitive political issue between the UK and Turkey."

But then the same research suggests it's more to do with integrating into life in a Western city:
According to academic research:

In policy terms, the absence of youth centres, and hence of activities for young immigrant
origin people to engage in, is seen as one reason behind the growth of Turkish and Kurdish gangs. These gangs are usually ethnically differentiated, although some mixing occurs too, according to our key informants. Identity is seen as a central issue:

If they don’t belong to an identity, they tend to do a lot of criminal, anti-social behaviour. They form mafia street-gangs. Fighting and anti-social behaviour is becoming a problem (community centre representative). Whether the problem of youth crime lies in issues of identity, or lack thereof, is a moot point. What is less contentious is the strong correlation between poverty and alienation."

A quote from the "'Turks' in London: Shades of Invisibility and the Shifting"

This is why their community organisations insist that using the term ‘Turkish-speaking community’ is not neutral: it implies that ‘Turkish Kurds’ somehow ‘belong’ to Turkey, and that their separate Kurdish identity does not merit recognition. Their claims as a people and nation are at times found to be at odds with anti-terrorist legislation in the UK and with the UK’s position in favour of Turkey joining the EU.10

9 In practice, the centres which call themselves ‘Turkish and Kurdish community centres’ are either Turkish- or Kurdish-dominated, with a very small minority of Turkish Cypriots involved.

10 Since the enactment of the 2001 Terrorism Act in the UK, the PKK has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government. Kurds from Turkey who claim asylum in the UK stating persecution due to membership of, or association with, the PKK could risk imprisonment under the Terrorism Act. At the same time (2000) the Kurdish television station MED-TV, which was broadcast from the UK, was closed down by the British government due to breaches of impartiality and claims that it incited people to commit criminal acts. These events highlight how diaspora politics and the struggle for Kurdish national recognition have the potential to escalate into a sensitive political issue between the UK and Turkey.

In policy terms, the absence of youth centres, and hence of activities for young immigrant origin people to engage in, is seen as one reason behind the growth of Turkish and Kurdish gangs. These gangs are usually ethnically differentiated, although some mixing occurs too, according to our key informants. Identity is seen as a central issue:

If they don’t belong to an identity, they tend to do a lot of criminal, anti-social behaviour. They form mafia street-gangs. Fighting and anti-social behaviour is becoming a problem (community centre representative). Whether the problem of youth crime lies in issues of identity, or lack thereof, is a moot point. What is less contentious is the strong correlation between poverty and alienation.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2005: Young Turks and Kurds: a set of invisible disadvantaged groups.

"There is clearly an ethnic enclave present, consisting not just of sandwich and kebab shops but many other family businesses that provide extensive services and, in many ways, a parallel micro-economy. This is clearly a resource not often available to all disadvantaged groups, for example to indigenous white working-class neighbourhoods. But it has to be stressed that this resource comes at a price. Its presence may be a contributing factor in the young people's relative disengagement with the broader structure of labour market opportunities and can lead to them being trapped in the ethnic enclave.

"The young people are ambivalent about what it means to be British and reluctant to adopt that identity. Yet at the same time, most do not simply use a Turkish identity either. They usually choose multiple ethnic identities, but in the majority of cases, the term 'British' is not (yet) part of that plurality. This is complicated by the fact that the majority of Kurds refused to self-identify as Turks."





Blood and Property wrote a brief follow-up piece about the conviction of the leader of the Bombacilar gang 18 months ago - Turkish Gang Problem - it remains one of the most viewed Blood and Property stories each month due to Google searches for "Bombacilar Hackney".

What do terrorist attacks in Turkey ( Five Killed...) do to Turkish communities in London: US to support Turks in suppression of Kurdish separatists.

Boris follows Jude to Petchey Academy

Jude Law and Boris Johnson have both dropped in on the Petchey Academy in the last four weeks. Hopefully all is well at the school. But how would you know? Still no answer on whether a third of the teachers left the school at the end of last year.

Boris was at the school to launch a scheme to provide cheap Olympics tickets for Hackney pupils.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Pipe sets spin to positive for cuts

In this week's Hackney Gazette Meg Hillier says: "These cuts are so deep and quick that even with the strong local leadership by Hackney's mayor, we will see services devastated."

Diane Abbott has spoken about Hackney like a pit village facing mine closure.

Jules Pipe's councillors are no less negative. In July Councillor Louisa Thomson, also of We Love Stoke Newington, wrote an article for Progress Magazine called: "What are community organisers for": "In Hackney, we are bracing ourselves for the 25 per cent cuts rumoured for the autumn spending review. We have a reputation now for sound financial management and efficiency savings, but overall we're a group of Labour councillors that isn't used to having to have these discussions and it's going to hurt."

On September 30th the Hackney Gazette had Jules Pipe implying that there would be no cuts in young peoples services: "We have nearly halved the number of 16 to 18 year-olds not in education, employment or training. We are determined to maintain the provision of services that will continue to drive this figure down still further..." He then spoke about his hopes for the effects of the olympics on the borough... like he did in his previous talking point on 19 August. This spinning is unlikely to be without its purpose, even if it isn't clear at the moment.

Meg Hillier: fears for her seat

In her previous Hackney Gazette 'Talking Point' Meg Hillier said that the government's plans to equalize constituency sizes could lead, among other things, to the end of Hackney MPs (09.02.2010):

"If our population (Hackney's) shrinks a little we then a bi of the City, Tower Hamlets or Islington will be tacked on to Hackeny... or if boundaries start being drawn from outer London into the centre, we could see Hackney carved between the neighbouring constituencies.

Nick Clegg has already singled out Meg's constituency as a target - although the figures he used appear to have been out of date.

Diane on black pupils and concentration

Diane sounded angry in her October 7 talking point in the Hackney Gazette: "Recently much rubbish has been banded around about how black children do not concentrate at school which is why they do not succeed. I could not disagree more... We start a dangerous narrative if we continue to peddle such nonsense..." (like this?) I couldn't find the recent 'rubbish' that she was objecting to... anyone know what it was?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

What do Operation Trident cuts mean for Hackney?

Hackney is one of the biggest 'clients' of operation trident. The chances are that Trident officers know more about Hackney's worst criminals than Hackney's own detectives.

According to data provided to Blood and Property by Operation Trident under a Freedom of Information Act request, Hackney is its second biggest customer. In 2008-9 Trident had a £28m budget and employed 359 police officers. Over the last four years Hackney has seen 110 cases, 10% of Trident's case load, being investigated.

This debate on youth crime took place in Parliament in September 2010. No Hackney MPs were there (both probably busy with the Labour leadership)

But David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab) asked: "Can the hon. Gentleman confirm whether a decision has been made by Boris—the Mayor of London—to cut the marketing budget of Operation Trident? It is important that we should be able to communicate with the young people of London in order to deflect them from crime, so can the Minister comment on whether that is, in fact, true?"

James Brokenshire: "I am afraid that I cannot give him a direct answer to the specific point that he raises about any decision that the Mayor may or may not have made on Operation Trident. However, I should be happy to make inquiries and, as required, write to him if that would be of assistance to him."

It looks like similar cuts to Operation Trident's PR machine were done before, in 2008: "The cuts in adspend will mean less high profile campaigns such as the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident campaign, created by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, to fight gun crime."

The issue of advertising and challenging the perceptions of the black community and the police were addressed by the Met's armed police CO19 back in May 2010 (on the day of the London Fields Shooting). This highlighted a number of persistent beliefs within the black community about subjects like police corruption.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Unemployment rises by 136 claimants ahead of cuts

Hackney has seen 136 new people claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA) since last month when the claimant count rose by 325.

Hackney may be moving toward the February peak of 7% claiming dole - more than 10,000 of Hackney's working age population.

Latest Hackney JSA claimant counts:

Hackney borough total (Local Authority): working population extrapolated from figures in red.

2010
September: 9,927 (6.6%) - (9,927/0.065=150,409) (+136)
August: 9,791 (6.5%) - (9,791/0.065=150,630) (+325)
July: 9,466 (6.3%) - (9466/0.063= 150,253) (+60)
June : 9,406 (6.5%) (9,406/ 0.065 = 144,707)
May: 9,616 (6.7%) (9,616/.067=143,522)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.68=144,794)
February: 10,044 (7%)
January: 9,905 (6.9%)

2009
December: 9743 (6.7%)
November: 9,795 (6.8%)
October: 9,827 (6.8%)
September: 9,884 (7%)
August 9,826 (6.9%) (+276)
July: 9550 (6.7%) (+242)
June: 9,308 (6.6%) ()
May: 9,377 (6.6%) (+379)
April: 8,998 (6.3%) (+373)
March: 8,625 (6.1%) (+ 471)
February: 8,154 (5.7%) (+ 804)
January: 7,350 (5.2%)

2008
December: 7,245 (5.1%)
November - 7,013 (4.9%)
October - 6,982 (4.9%)
September - 6,942 (4.9%)
August - 6,803 (4.8%)
July - 6,454 (4.6%)
June - 6,440 (4.6%)


Hackney North

2010
Sept - 4,772 (6.2%) - (4,709/0.062=76,967)
August - 4,709 (6.1%) - (4,709/0.061= 77,197)
July - 4,572 (5.9%) - (4,572/0.059= 77,491)
June - 4,538 (6.0%) - (4,538/0.06= 75,633)
May - 4,637 (6.2%) - (4,637/0.062=74,790)
April - 4,727 (6.3%) - (4,727/0.063=75,031)
March - 4,336 (6.2%) - (4,336/0.062=69,935)
February - 4,450 (6.4%) - (4,450/0.064=69,531)
January - 4,402 (6.3%) - (4,402/0.063=69,873)

2009
December - 4331 (6.2%)
November - 4386 (6.3%)
October - 4365
September - 4,338
August - 4,331
July - 4206
June - 4,118
May - 4,081

Hackney South
2010
Sept - 5,140 (7.3%)- (5,140/0.073=70,410)
August - 5,056 (7.1%) - (5,056/0.071 = 71,211)
July - 4,871 (6.9%) - (4,871/0.069= 70,549)
June - 4,851 (7.0%) - (4,851/0.07= 69,300)
May - 4,959 (7.2%) - (4,959/0.072=68,875)
April - 4,908 (7.1%) - (4908/0.071=69,126)
March - 5,510 (7.6%) - (5,510/0.076=72,500)
February - 5,594 (7.7%) - (5,594/0.077=72,649)
January - 5503 (7.6%) - (5503/0.076)=72,407)

2009
December - 5,412 (7.5%)
November - 5,409 (7.5%)
October - 5,462
September - 5,546 (7.8%)
August - 5,495
July - 5,344
June - 5,190
May - 5,296

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Cuts could cause Jewish influx into Hackney state schools?

Hackney's largest and fastest growing ethnic minority - its ultra orthodox Jewish community - is mainly self-catering when it comes to education. Most ultra orthodox Jewish children are educated in private schools.

But could this be about to change if, as expected, various government cuts hit this community hardest? (Effects of housing benefit cuts discussed here while East London Lines describes possible effects of child benefit cuts) When compared to neighbouring boroughs like Tower Hamlets, where the largest minority relies on state education, has Hackney got-off lightly?

These broader issues appeared during discussions about an admissions dispute at Hackney's only state-funded Jewish secondary school: the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School. The school had 231 pupils aged 11-16 when its most recent (July 201) Ofsted Report (an interim check) in which it retained its 'outstanding' rating.

In contrast to Hackney's silent Academies - Mossbourne and Petchey - Yesodey Hatorah spokesman, Abraham Pinter, provided some background during a telephone conversation. The bulk of his replies were consistent with answers officially provided by the Learning Trust (I've noted any differences in the answers).

The exchange below also includes some comments from Jewish historian and columnist on Jewish matters for the Jewish Chronicle and the Guardian, Geoffrey Alderman, who is involved in the dispute and pointed it out to Blood and Property.

The bulk of the answers come from the Learning Trust.

Blood and Property: I've been told that some parents who applied for their daughters to go to the school were originally denied but were then accepted after an appeal process. Were you aware of this?

Learning Trust: Yes


Blood and Property: If so, is it possible to get any details about these cases what the issues were?

Learning Trust: We are not able to discuss individual cases involving students. Yesodah Hatorah is an oversubscribed school. In line with other schools they follow the Learning Trust co-ordinated admissions process. (Abraham Pinter said that not all the schools places were full)


Blood and Property: Do you know of any complaints about the admissions process at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls school? Are they more common than in other Hackney schools.

Learning Trust: The school has told us that there had been one complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman which was later withdrawn following an unsuccessful appeal.


Blood and Property: When parents appeal against the decisions of the board of governors at Hackney secondary schools is there a higher body/regulator that can judge whether a governing body is behaving properly? If so has it recently been at work at Yesodey Hatorah school?

Learning Trust: There is a statutory process for appeal. The Headteacher, followed by the Chair of Governors and finally the Secretary of State



Blood and Property: Have you had any complaints from parents about nepotism or factionalism within a school's governing body. If parents have these concerns, to whom should they present evidence, the Learning Trust? The Charity Commission? The council?

Learning Trust: There have been no complaints from named parents. The process for complaints are outlined above.

Geoffrey Alderman: I have a copy of a letter sent to the chief executive of the Learning Trust on 27 June 2010, to which there was a reply by email dated 27 July 2010.



Blood and Property: I've been told there have been difficulties in identifying who the governors of the school actually are. Should there be a formal route by which parents or any member of the community can can contact the school's governors? Or at least check that they exist?

Learning Trust: All requests for information are directed to the school This reply is unacceptable.

Geoffrey Alderman: Surely the Learning Trust knows the names of the members of the governing body. If not, how can it satisfy itself as to the appropriate governance of the school?



Blood and Property: Is the learning trust confident that there is a complete and effective governing body at the school?

Learning Trust: At the last Ofsted the school was judged outstanding. This has been achieved under the leadership of the head and the Governing body, the hard work of its teaching staff and students as well as the support of parents

Geoffrey Alderman: As a matter of fact the Ofsted inspection itself drew attention to shortcomings in the governance of the school. So this reply is being very economical with the truth. (The 2006 Ofted report gave the school's governing body a score of 3 the lowest of all its other scores got higher rated scores of 1 or 2)


Blood and Property: Is the Learning Trust aware of any investigations into admissions at the school?

Learning Trust: No

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A third of teachers leave Hackney academy, claim

In this week's Hackney Gazette Jules Pipe said (page 18): "High quality education is about teachers who can inspire and unlock potential. Without the knowledge and dedication of the staff in each of schools, these results would not have been possible."

This week Blood and Property was told by someone with links to the Petchey Academy that a third of the school's teachers left at the end of last year. Also that most of the maths department moved to the Skinners Academy, another Hackney Academy.

It would be helpful to know if the claim was true. But in June Blood and Property asked the school it was expecting around 30 teachers to leave at the end of the academic year.

The school did not respond: Silent academy speaks... to someone else: Press officers from the Learning Trust and the Jack Petchey foundation both replied saying that the school would deal with the inquiry. However the school did not acknowledge the questions or respond to emails or telephone messages.

It raised questions about the fact that academies are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act: Hackney Academy silent over teacher exodus claims

When Blood and Property asked Jules Pipe, elected Mayor of Hackney, if the Freedom of Information Act should apply to academies: (Jules Pipe answers Blood and Property questions) he said: "The Freedom of Information of Act should indeed apply to Academies. They are not currently subject to the FoI Act, however..."

So does Jules know what goes on in most of Hackney's secondary schools?


Friday, 1 October 2010

Doubt over Homerton A&E future

Homerton A&E not busy enough to justify its existence?

This blogger - 20goto10 - left a comment on Blood and Property on Thursday which suggests that Homerton Hospital's accident and emergency department is a likely target for NHS cuts. You can find the original post here which was based on this Hackney Communist site's claim that with: "Cuts of up to 187 million over next three years in Hackney NHS; Homerton Hospital might shut down the Accident and Emergency, Stroke and Maternity Departments, replaced by smaller GP units, polyclinics."

In reply 20goto10 wrote:


Re: closure of the Homerton Emergency Department - it may be on the horizon in the next 5 years or so. The North-East quadrant of London has lots of Emergency Departments covering it (Newham, Royal London, Whittington and Whipps Cross are all close by just to mention a few).

NHS London is definitely looking to swing the axe, especially given the pressure from the Condems, and also because their plan to close the Whittington collapsed on the altar of an election promise by then-Health Secretary Andy Burnham. For many years now King George's in Ilford has had the sword hanging over it and it looks like it will fall for sure.

However, NHS London are still looking round for another victim. Emergency Departments (EDs, no longer called A&E) are expensive to run because of the staffing levels required and the other (non-Emergency Medicine) specialties who are required on-call in the hospital to see many of the patients. Unfortunately the powers-that-be that run hospitals at 100% bed capacity also think that an ED isn't pulling its weight unless it's bursting at the seams and looks like the Alamo every Friday night. The Homerton ED is not like that, partly because it is a very well-run department with out-of-hours GPs resident and partly because the workload simply isn't as bad as one might expect for Hackney (stabbings and shootings go straight to the Royal London).

This is a good thing for patients as it means doctors can spend a bit more time and thought on them, but shamefully also means that it isn't 'busy enough' to justify its existence. I have spoken to a few people in other hospitals (ED consultants) who expect the Homerton to be closed one day. However the Homerton staff of course strenuously deny this. Their case is strengthened by the fact that their department is going to be setting up the polyclinic on the 2012 Olympic site.

Personally I think it would be a disaster for Hackney if the Homerton ED were to close. The Save The Whittington campaign demonstrated (i) how a good publicity-generating campaign could be run and (ii) how people can force politician's hand by making them scared of losing votes. Hopefully if any plans to close the Homerton were to surface, this could be replicated locally.

Watch this space.


Today the Hackney Citizen reported: Hackney GPs and health watchdog warn new proposals will undermine NHS

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Not a shooting, not a stabbing... still a very serious incident


The policemen protecting this crime scene weren't going to say what happened. Whatever it was it happened in the early hours of Saturday morning. One of them said he couldn't say what it was just "it wasn't a shooting and it wasn't a stabbing but it was a very serious incident" just off Gillett Square.

Also today:


Homerton crack baby theory and A&E threat

In a discussion thread from Mumsnet in Feb 2010 one of the commentators said "the bad reputation Homerton" is out of date and "it's been really improved in recent years."

She said: "Also my own doctor had her baby there and was very positive. The other thing about Homerton is that it has one of the best neo-natal units around because of all the crack babies etc... (Sorry I couldn't find a nice Guardian-y way of putting that without wanting to throw up. blush ) Plus they have posh consultants like Dr Katrina Erskine who is famous and that, and also works in posh-people private hospitals."

Blood and Property hasn't tried to find out if this claim is correct but judging by this Wikipedia entry and this New York Times story about an epidemic that never happened - it probably isn't.

Although "Cocaine slows fetal growth, and exposed infants tend to be born smaller than unexposed ones, with smaller heads. But as these children grow, brain and body size catch up" so may be the actual births are more dangerous.

But it's a possibility that cash spent on specialising services (In 2002 Homerton staff were shipped off to Soweto for 'battle surgery' training) to the particular needs of a community might not be relevant for very long.

A&E to close?

That's according to this Hackney Communist site: "Cuts of up to 187 million over next three years in Hackney NHS; Homerton Hospital might shut down the Accident and Emergency, Stroke and Maternity Departments, replaced by smaller GP units, polyclinics."

I asked around but no one seemed to know much about this. Doesn't mean it's wrong.

This site outlines possible major cuts in a secret report leaked to the BBC earlier this year

If you've got time, this is an interesting article:


FT sceptical about Iran and Chatsworth Road juice bar

Hackney-based FT and BBC economist Tim Harford described the changes on Chatsworth Road here. He said that while it might look like all this gentrification was inevitable - as the demographics of the area have changed - it wouldn't have happened without the risk-taking entrepreneurialism of places like Venetia's.

"Given the restaurants, cafés and delis which line Stoke Newington Church Street a mile or so away, it might have seemed obvious that it was possible to run similar businesses on Chatsworth Road. But somebody had to demonstrate that it could be done."

He added: "there is also some kind of juice bar, which I view with scepticism but am told is excellent".

I've had a couple of 'juices' in Lumiere. I don't think either of them were strictly healthy - one was rhubarb and custard, the other was mostly sugar puffs and sugar - no need for sanctions, they were very good.

Chatsworth Road shopfront update

After noticing a Chatsworth Road shopfront theme a couple of weeks ago, there's more going on. The Chinese takeaway - the scene of an injury-free but alarming drive-by shooting - looks like it might be getting a facelift. The process has revealed 84 Arthur Tom. Down the road there's more... and some random street party.


The Chinese as it was:



As it is now:





This place was the long-standing home of a chewing gum landmark.