Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Will Jules Pipe ever answer these questions?

It started off so well but after months of waiting and several broken deadlines, Jules Pipe has yet to answer a set of questions sent by Blood and Property back in January.

15 October 2009:
Blood and Property asked Jules Pipe: "Do you believe in Ghosts?"

16 October 2009:
Jules Pipe replies: "I am happy to confirm that I have never felt the need to attribute any event to ‘supernatural’ causes...." (Do Hackney Politicians believe in Ghosts?)

11 December 2010:
Blood and Property asks for an interview with Jules Pipe.

22 December 2009:
Polly Rance, head of Hackney's media and external communications, wrote: "Thanks for your request for an interview with Mayor Pipe. I am sorry but things have been very busy in the run up to Christmas and we have not been able to fit this in before the holiday season. Jules might be able to manage something in the new year. Perhaps you could send over the list of topics you would want to talk to him about and we can try to find some space in the diary?"

19 January 2010:
Blood and Property sends a list of questions to Hackney's press office having been told this is the correct way to approach the Mayor.

27 January 2010:
Hackney Press Officer: "Sorry for delay in getting back to you. I'll chase this up."

12 February 2010:
Diane Abbott answers a similar set of questions. (Diane Abbott answers Blood and Property Questions).
I resend questions to Hackney Press Office. A press officer replies: "This is fine. As I said, questions are quite wide ranging so may take us a little while to get back to you. Let me know if you need any of this urgently."

19 February 2010:
A Hackney Press Officer calls to say that efforts are being made to get a set of answers by Monday 22 February.

22 February 2010:
No news.

23 February 2010:
A press officer replies to an email saying that the matter was being looked into.

24 February 2010:
Any news? A Hackney Press Officer says the answers are "nearly there".

2 March 2010:
Replying to an email, a Hackney Press Officer says: "have already chased this matter this morning for you. Almost there…" We later spoke on the phone. The answers would be ready by Friday 5 March.

5 March 2010:
I asked if there was any news: not ready.

8 March 2010:
I asked if there was any news: not ready.

9 March 2010:
I asked if there was any news: no reply.

10 March 2010
I asked if there was any news. A Hackney Press Officer said: "Sorry about this… still waiting."

Sadly the questions are hardly worth the build up. The ones about the Labour Party's relationship with the Orthodox Jewish Community were added at the beginning of February which could explain some of the delay. Hopefully the answers are coming but I can't say much more than that.


1. Do you think that main opposition in Hackney is really the Conservative Party or the Orthodox Jewish councillors who make up its majority?

2. You had a run-in with Councillor Steinberger last year over his actions as head of scrutiny, do you believe that he put the planning needs of his community above the financial needs of the rest of the borough? (23,000 Hackney tenants used as a bargaining chip, Mayor Claims)

3. How do you react to claims by some members of the OJ community that the Labour Party in Hackney is anti semitic?

4. Do you think it is odd that Orthodox Jewish councillors so rarely stand against each other - would it matter if there was some kind of agreement within the community not to do this?

5. Do you think it matters that Hackney's legal department was 25% understaffed during major development period - olympics, bishopsgate goods yard, dalston development.

6. The BNP wants to stand in the Hackney Mayoral elections this year:
how do you think this will affect the elections in the borough?

7. How much has the borough changed in the last 10 years - demographically (there's some research claiming that Hackney North has the highest density of people with degrees in the country) Do you think this will change the make up of the voting patterns in the borough?

8. To what extent do you think that changes in the borough are related to property prices and new people moving here - how easily do you think that this process could be reversed (i.e. do you think that many hackney residents see their homes as investments or just as homes?)

9. Do you think that Hackney has suffered the worst effects of the financial crisis? Why is Hackney's employment situation improving more slowly than other boroughs?

10. What would happen to Hackney if the conservatives win the next election? How much less money would the borough recieve?

11. Do you think it is healthy that so many of the boroughs schools are now academies - and does it matter that these schools are not subject to the freedom of information act? - References here: Hackney academies: too good to be true?

12. Although crime in Hackney has fallen, other boroughs complain that Hackney has more policemen. On top of that, Hackney seems to be able to rely on outside agencies like Operation Trident. Do you know how much support Hackney's police get in fighting crime and whether this might no longer be available either if the conservatives win or if the government has to cut police budgets?

13. How important do you think religion and an understanding of religion might be in Hackney. Do you think that it will become more or less of an important factor in Hackney politics in the future? (There seems to be a lot of political activity in fundamental churches) and the orthodox jewish community is said to be growing fast and has specific requirements.

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