Friday, 5 March 2010

Hackney council in new row with Orthodox Jewish community

The Jewish Chronicle reports a campaign by Hackney's Charedi community to prevent a former school being turned into residential property. Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is among those supporting the campaign.

According to Abraham Pinter, former Hackney Councillor, headmaster of Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School, 20% of Hackney's under 16s are from the Charedi community.

The dispute could reignite debate over planning restrictions in Stamford Hill. Bad feelings still linger after a personalised row - back in April 2009 - when Mayor Jules Pipe said that Conservative Councillor Sime Steinberger - head of the borough's scrutiny committee - had been prepared to "withhold money from 23,000 households" in order to push the Orthodox Jewish call for looser planning rules in Stamford Hill. Pipe described it as an "incredible abuse of his position" and that "23,000 people could have had their rent decreases delayed and you used that as a bargaining chip."

Cllr Steinberger replied: "What Mayor Pipe said is not what happened. I got a call in the morning saying what about this item. I hadn't seen any paper work and I asked officers what it was about." He said that Pipe had not returned his calls.

Blood and Property recently stole another Jewish Chronicle story: Hackney Council tells Orthodox Jew to demolish his home - which illustrates how severe this planning issue has become in some instances.

Meanwhile should there be concern about the state of democracy within the Orthodox community?

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