Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cardinal Pole silence and questions about new head

A report into allegations that staff at Cardinal Pole school were asked to manipulate pupil assessments and to follow a 'no going backwards' policy will not be made public.

The only people who will see the report will be the chair of governors, Fr David Evans and the school's 'interim' executive headteacher Geraldine Freear who has taken over after the previous headteacher, Katherine Hartigan, resigned.

A spokesperson for the school said: "We are not releasing the report as it may prejudice the actions that the head may wish to take."

The report made three recommendations: “The first recommendation relates to personnel, the second to the school’s assessment procedures and the third to clarifying leadership roles within the school."

The school said: "Staff and students can rest assured that our new executive headteacher is very clear about the recommendations and will be acting on these as a priority. She is an extremely experienced headteacher and the governors have every confidence in her ability to lead this school towards a bright future.”

However it is believed that Freear had already been working with the school since the spring before the manipulation claims were made. Blood and Property has asked the Learning Trust what Freear's role at the school was in this period and whether she had any input on changes to how the school assessed its pupils.

Freear already runs two other schools in North West London and has an impressive track record. But teachers at Cardinal Pole are aware that an employment tribunal found the treatment of a member of staff at one of these schools as "not just inept but wholly unprofessional"  in 2007. A news report of the case described a member of staff being subjected to "months of torment" by senior staff.

Blood and Property asked whether that incident was of any concern to the Learning Trust, the school, the governors or the diocese, bearing in mind the morale of the schools teaching staff? No reply has been received.

(It is hard to tell what kind of leadership school authorities are looking for in their headteachers. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Hackney superhead who will take over Ofsted in January told the TES: "If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you will know you are doing something right". Would he apply that in this case?)


Background:

7 Dec: headteacher resigns

21 Oct: Official investigation reported by Gazette


13 Sept: Cardinal Pole replies to coursework falsification claims


12 Sept: Hackney teachers urged to falsify coursework marks, claim

2 July: Vote of no confidence in Head

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Will Cardinal Pole findings be made public?

Last week the the Hackney Gazette reported that Katherine Hartigan, the head teacher at Cardinal Pole school had resigned.

This follows an investigation into allegations that the school's senior management attempted to persuade staff to manipulate student assessments prior to an Ofsted inspection. However it is unclear whether the findings of this investigation - believed to include allegations of a "no going backwards" policy for student assessment - will be made public.

The Learning Trust, which oversees the management of Hackney's schools, said that these decisions were being taken at a school level and that the report had yet to be finalised and no decision had been made about whether its findings would be made public.

However Blood and Property has been told that one reason why the findings remain under wraps may be because other senior members of staff at the school could still face disciplinary action. A governors meeting is due to take place tonight on this subject.

Concerns had already been raised about which organisations or individuals commissioned the report and which of them had authority to say whether the findings should be made public or not.

It is believed that National Union of Teachers (NUT) members had threatened to boycott the investigation after the school's head teacher allegedly claimed that the investigation was her responsibility. Those teachers who were interviewed had to be reassured that this was not the case and some believe that the findings will be made public.

More recently there has been a stormy governors' meetings about the report and when it will be available and to whom. Hopefully there will be more news on this later in the week.

All recent Cardinal Pole stories here, and a rough timeline here:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Job loss trend becomes clearer

The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Hackney rose by 40 in October, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics published yesterday. It's not a big rise but, as the chart below shows (click on it to expand) while the size of the moves up and down may be calming down, there appears to be a solid upward trend.
In terms of actual numbers, there are now 11,243 JSA claimants, the majority in Hackney South.
In the meantime, as the number of unemployed increases, the level of staffing in Hackney Jobcentre Plus is falling.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Hackney Jobcentre cuts staff as unemployment peaks

Blood and Property has been told that a number of members of staff at the Mare Street Jobcentre Plus in Hackney Central have not have their contracts renewed. That's as the number of Job Seekers Allowance claimants using Hackney job centres hits record highs.

Back in 2009 Derek Harvey, external relations manager for Job Centre Plus and a member of Team Hackney told Blood and Property that JCP was “gearing up to handle greater volumes” of JSA claimants.

In those days the combined number of Job Seekers Allowance claimants in Hackney North and South was 9,350 (May 2009) falling to 9,308 (June 2009).

The forecast was correct - the count in September 2011 was 11,208 - a rise of more than 20% since the new recruits were taken on.

But now the volumes are here, it looks like JCP is gearing down.

A DWP spokesperson told Blood and Property: "Jobcentre Plus recruited a large number of people on temporary contracts to deal with the recession. As the Government looks to grow the economy and reduce the deficit JCP is now reducing its overall staffing, this year through a combination of normal turnover and releasing some of the people who were recruited on Fixed Term Appointments (FTAs) as their contracts come to an end. Its priority is to ensure support for people in Hackney is maintained."


This post is going up before the ONS releases the latest unemployment figures for the UK which will show whether or not the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance has risen again Hackney.

If it has then Hackney will be maintaining its highest level of JSA claimants since the Financial Crisis

Monday, 7 November 2011

Tension over Charedi sexual harassment claims

A claim that Charedi men "are notorious harassers of the opposite sex" has raised the stakes in a long-running stand off between Professor Geoffrey Alderman and Rabbi Abraham Pinter.

The two men often provide polar opposite arguments about Hackney's Charedi community.

Alderman's run-ins with the 'ultra orthodox Jewish' community have taken in a range of topics from schooling and statistics to "selfishness". Pinter has usually provided the rebuttal.

However tensions were raised to a higher level last week after Alderman wrote a piece in the Jewish Chronicle which said: "It is, however, well known that charedi men are notorious harassers of the opposite sex."

His comments appear to have prompted an organised campaign against him and the newspaper.

Rabbi Pinter told Blood and Property: "Alderman makes an appalling statement of collective libel. In his emails to you he clearly recognizes that he has made an error and should have chosen his words more carefully. However, it is unacceptable for him to try to get out of his problem in private emails to you. He must apologise for the collective libel and then I will be happy to respond."

The article was first discussed by fellow Hackney blogger, If you tickle us, and comments under the post included a pre-written letter to the Press Complaints Commission which the anonymous author hopes will be sent en masse by enraged Charedim. It describes Alderman's views as "unfounded, defamatory and discriminatory".

The same comment also provided an anonymised pre-written letter for the attention of the Jewish Chronicle calling for Alderman's "suspension as (a) writer for the JC pending the results a full investigation" due to his "continuously hateful conduct towards Charedi Jewry as a whole."

Blood and Property asked Alderman if his comments were meant to single out Charedi men as worse harassers of women than other communities or human beings in general.

He said: "That is not what I was saying. I don't know if there is necessarily a higher instance of harassment of women in Charedi communities than in the general population, I don't have statistics to show that, but that's not the point I was making.

"What I was saying is that they - the Charedim - set themselves very high standards which, I'm very sorry to say, they do not reach. They say they are closer to God than any other jewish group and yet this sort of thing still goes on."

Blood and Property asked if it was reasonable to expect any one community to behave better than another one and criticise them if they didn't. Alderman said: "It is they, - the Charedim - who set the standard they seem incapable of reaching. It is obvious to me that growing up in that sort of community does not make you any better than any other person. Do me a favour: ring up Rabbi Pinter (Avrohom Pinter) and ask him why this is so."

Ask him: "Does growing up in your community make you any better - as a Jew - than me? "

As stated above, Pinter told Blood and Property: "Alderman makes an appalling statement of collective libel. In his emails to you he clearly recognizes that he has made an error and should have chosen his words more carefully. However, it is unacceptable for him to try to get out of his problem in private emails to you. He must apologize for the collective libel and then I will be happy to respond."

Alderman said he didn't have a problem with the formal treatment of women in the Charedi community saying that the women were often the bread winners. He added that when he got married in the Lea Bridge Road synagogue in Clapton in 1973 a number of his wife's relatives, Chardim from Stamford Hill - came to the wedding and they themselves offered a neat loophole to the gender segregation problem - by asking that each family sit as a group at each table.

Alderman also pointed out that the content of his column was discussed, edited and approved by the newspaper before publication so any division between himself and the newspaper over the piece was unlikely.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Should you avoid ψηφισάτω (666) on Halloween?

Until this post was written Blood and Property had a symbolically significant number of posts in its archives.




Wikipedia gives some of the background on the source and meaning of 666. However none of it's that scary, at least not in a supernatural kind of way.

But with Halloween impending and Blood and Property sounding like the title of a horror movie it seemed sensible to push past the number of the beast.

It provides an excuse to revisit October 2009 when Blood and Property asked Hackney politicians if they had ever had a brush with the supernatural. Should the operation be repeated?

Back in 2009 several Hackney politicians replied but some have moved on, like the former leader of the Conservative group who had ghost troubles in a property in Stoke Newington.

Now there are lots of new faces on the benches in Hackney Council and their supernatural views remain uncharted meanwhile older hands may have updates. (Today's Financial Times 'exposed' a potential Conservative MEP as a ghost hunter and expert on the paranormal).

So would it be in the borough's best interests to recalibrate the ghost index? Or did Meg Hillier have the right attitude to Blood and Property's idiotic questions?

Latest on Hackney occult

Otherwise Ancient Hackney is keen to address the devil's work in your area. The most recent post (a lengthy piece of research into an advertising campaign for New Age Games on Hackney Downs) contains this reassuring comment: "It never surprises us when we discover occult symbolism contained within government literature, so on seeing The Venus Map... our response amounted to nothing more than a raising of the eyebrows."

Friday, 21 October 2011

Official investigation into Cardinal Pole

The Hackney Gazette has some interesting new stuff on what's going on at Cardinal Pole - there is now an official investigation by independent investigators.

This is unexpected because, on 12 September the Learning Trust, which runs Hackney's schools, told Blood and Property: “These matters have been looked into and there is no investigation at Cardinal Pole.”

According to the Gazette's front page story the Learning Trust "said they supported the governors' decision decision for an investigation this week". The Gazette reported that teachers "claimed they were told to mask results for pupils in years 7 to 9 in order to show Ofsted inspectors that achievements had improved".

Blood and Property tried to work out what was going on at the school over the summer:

In the last story the school's head, Katherine Hartigan, said: "As part of the drive to raise standards across the school, a new system was introduced for all staff which provided a consistent assessment framework for tracking and assessing pupil progress across the school."

However neither the school nor the Learning Trust have answered any of Blood and Property's requests for details about this "new system" introduced at Cardinal Pole.

If the allegations turn out to be correct the question is whether anyone will follow up the accompanying allegation - that Cardinal Pole is behind the curve and that falsification has been going on at all the other schools?


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Correction: Urswick School stats

Richard Brown, headteacher at Urswick School just called to clear up a couple of problems with the teacher/pupil ratio statistics published in the previous post.

The figures were taken from the Department for Education website and show Urswick has a much higher pupil teacher ratio than other secondary schools in the borough (20 pupils to 1 teacher while at the other end of the scale City Academy and Mossbourne have near 10 pupils per teacher).

But Brown said this was because Urswick is the only school on the list that doesn't have a sixth form (although he said he was consulting about changing that). Sixth form students have different funding and much smaller class sizes of 12 or less which brings down the pupil/teacher ratio for a school.

This means that the teacher pupil ratio provided by the Department for Education will not reflect the situation at GCSE level or lower. Consequently Urswick is one of the few schools in the borough giving a real picture of the pupil teacher ratio at that level.

Brown said that Urswick never has class sizes of more than 25 adding that many of the maths classes were smaller. The school has an annual intake of around 150 which, in other schools, would generally mean 5 classes of 30.

Brown also pointed out that year groups at the school can have very different levels of ability and that this could cause some large fluctuations in the schools performance in terms of GCSE results. Academies do not have the same problem as they use the fair banding system which grades the ability of pupils across the borough into A, B and C ability and a school can take a third of their intake from each band.

All of this means that Hackney parents will have their work cut out for them if they want to assess the schools they are expected to send their children to.

Another moral of the story is that I should check the stats better. I did try. I sent this email to the Learning Trust on 27 September 2011:

"I was hoping to get a comment from the learning trust about the significance - if there is any - of all the borough's academies having average or above teacher:pupil ratios while all non academies have average or below average teacher:pupil ratios."

The request included reference to where the stats had come from http://www.education.gov.uk/establishments/urn/134693/mossbourne-community-academy and a spreadsheet with all the details and a version of a graphic used to illustrate the differences.

No reply came.

Response time from the Learing Trust had dwindled somewhat following requests for a copy of the "assessment framework" which seemed to cause such an uproar at Cardinal Pole school last term.





Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hackney headteacher discusses academies on BBC

Richard Brown, headteacher at The Urswick School (formerly Hackney Parochial) told BBC Radio 4's Beyond Westminster - (still available on iPlayer) that academies have financial advantages and are free to act against the interests of other local schools.

But Brown said he didn't know if he would convert the school to an academy if it gets the required rating from Ofsted in its next inspection.

Brown implied that he would only convert if the school was disadvantaged by remaining in its current status.

He said: "It looks like there are financial advantages but how longterm those advantages are... lets face it, with the economic climate at the moment the cake isn't going to get any bigger, it's how the cake is going to get carved up."

On the ethical front he seemed to balk at the potential disruption that an academy could cause in a local area:

"If I want to expand the number that come to the school I have to go through a process that assesses the impact on other schools in the area. (But) Academies can decide on their own if they want to expand. There is a danger that some schools will suffer as a result of that sort of policy." (The story about Skinners Academy poaching Petchey Academy's maths department shows that academies don't look out for each other either... A third of teachers leave Hackney School)

Another issue he discussed was the "pupil premium" which (I think) is related to whether a child is eligible for free school meals which could add an extra 10% funding per pupil.

He said that this didn't sound as good as it should for Urswick (its got one of the highest rates in Hackney see chart) because cuts elsewhere would outweigh the gains.


Also, an issue that wasn't mentioned in the BBC piece was that Urswick has the highest pupil:teacher ratio - the fewest teachers per pupil as per the chart. This subject was discussed in the most recent edition of the Hackney Citizen.




The data in both charts is from 2010 and from the Department for Education site. Richard Brown's interview is about 14 minutes into the programme which was broadcast on Saturday 1 October 2011.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hackney escapes drugs, gangs and EastEnders not Britney and guns



The front page of the Hackney Gazette runs a story about how the Channel 4 drama Top Boy was banned from filming in Hackney.

The paper quotes Hackney's mayor, Jules Pipe, saying it would have been unfair on Hackney folk to have 'their neighbourhood stigmatised on national television as riddled with drugs and gangs.'

But he's not totally averse to stigma and misery. He told the council's newspaper - Hackney Today - that he was "extremely disappointed" that notoriously miserable BBC soap EastEnders (see above) had pulled out of a deal to base its HQ in the Broadcast Centre in Hackney Wick.

Jules said: "If Dr Who can be based in Cardiff and all the sports staff are in Salford, surely the BBC can send EastEnders to the East End." Hackney Today pondered over the reasons why the BBC had pulled out of the deal - apparently it wasn't the noise of aeroplanes.

Meanwhile on Page 3 of the Gazette there's a story about Britney Spears shooting her latest video in Hackney in which she performs an armed robbery and evades the police.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cardinal Pole replies to coursework falsification claims



Katharine Hartigan, head teacher at Cardinal Pole school in Homerton and the Learning Trust, which runs Hackney's schools, have replied to allegations that staff at the school were asked to falsify coursework last term.

The allegations in the original story were put to the Learning Trust before it was published but Blood and Property only received this short response: “These matters have been looked into and there is no investigation at Cardinal Pole.”

Teachers at the school had passed a vote of no confidence in the head teacher and voted to strike over the issues reported. Also a statement from the NUT suggested that these issues were still being looked into. So the story was not just based on staff room gossip.

The dispute appears to have been sparked by the introduction of an assessment framework for teachers to follow when assessing pupils. Blood and Property will ask for details of this framework and whether other schools in the borough have them too. But thanks to the school and trust for replying.

This is the email from the Learning Trust:

"We are extremely disappointed by this article which questions the professionalism of staff at the school, and casts an unwarranted shadow over the excellent GCSE results of the students this summer.

"Staff were not encouraged to falsify GCSE coursework.

"As part of the drive to raise standards across the school, a new system was introduced for all staff which provided a consistent assessment framework for tracking and assessing pupil progress across the school."

Katharine Hartigan said: "Differing views were expressed regarding the new internal assessment framework and it is disappointing that comments are being taken out of context. I know my teachers are professional enough to disregard any comments which do not meet the very high standards we set ourselves as teachers.

"All matters have been resolved and the governing body, staff and unions are working together to continue to build a strong future for the school."

The Learning Trust said: "This matter has been looked into and no basis for investigation was found”.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hackney teachers urged to falsify coursework marks, claim

Staff at Cardinal Pole school were urged by email to falsify GCSE coursework marks last term, Blood and Property has been told.

(The school and the trust have provided a response to these allegations)

Also, at a staff meeting attended by the school's head teacher, teachers were allegedly told that doctoring GCSE coursework marks was normal practice elsewhere and schools that didn't do it were "too honest".

This alleged advice sparked a vote of no confidence in the school's head teacher, Katharine Hartigan, as Blood and Property reported on 3 July. At the time the background to the dispute had not been revealed and it was still not public when the Hackney Gazette reported it (page 2, July 14).

The dispute threatened to end in a strike after the school's National Union of Teachers (NUT) representative was suspended - but the school withdrew the suspension.

Then, during the summer holidays, it was revealed that Cardinal Pole had achieved its "best ever" GCSE results.

Blood and Property put the allegations about teachers at Cardinal Pole being urged to doctor coursework results to the Learning Trust and to Hackney Council. They were asked to clarify or correct any of the alleged details in the account here.

The Learning Trust commented on behalf of the school and the council: "These matters have been looked into and there is no investigation at Cardinal Pole."

However a comment from the NUT about the conditions surrounding the suspension and the strike threat suggest that these issues are still being looked into.

In a statement issued in July, the union said: "From September the NUT will have a series of meetings with the head and Diocese of Westminster. These meetings will deal with the range of issues Peter (Domokos) was raising when he was suspended. These meetings will also address the issues which were the subject of the vote of No Confidence in the Head."

The chart below shows the percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at A-C including English and Maths in some of the borough's schools.






Sunday, 24 July 2011

Technical hitch


For the last week this blog has been looking a bit odd due to the Hackney blogs bar missing which I didn't notice for a while and then couldn't fix. Seems to be OK now. Just testing.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Unemployment claims level - high number of women













The total number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Hackney fell for the first time since December but remained above 11,000 at 11,028.

Last month the figure was 11,043 and the proportion of the working population on the dole remains 7.3%.

As the chart shows most of the increases in claims over the last year have come from Hackney South where the level of unemployment is the highest in London and most of the UK - and where the proportion of unemployment among women is also higher than most at 6.6% of the population.

When the figures were released last week the Guardian said: 'Female's claiming Job Seeker's Allowance has risen month after month and is now at the highest level since August 1999. Looking at our detailed but not seasonally adjusted claimant count by constituency it shows that Birmingham Ladywood records the highest rate of female claimants at 6.8%. Hackney South and Shoreditch and Tottenham also have rates of over 6%.'

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Cardinal Pole school 'no confidence' in head



The majority of teachers at Cardinal Pole school on Kenworthy Road have signed a petition of no confidence in the headteacher Katharine Hartigan - according to sources.

It is also believed that the school's NUT (National Union of Teachers) representative, who is a teacher in the school, has been suspended.

Members of the union at the school will be balloted this week over whether to strike in support of their representative - the fact that an official ballot will be sent out means that the union believes the suspension was unfair.

Blood and Property doesn't know the reasons for the vote of no confidence but has been told the school's governors are looking into the dispute.

Cardinal Pole school has over 1000 pupils spread over two sites. The main school is on Kenworthy Road in Homerton, the lower school is on Victoria Park Road. In September 2012 the school is due to move to a new site on Morning Lane.

The school passed an Ofsted inspection in March which gave it a '3' or 'satifactory' grade where '1' is outstanding, '2' is good, '3' is satisfactory, and '4' is inadequate.

In a letter to the school's pupils the Ofsted inspector said examination results were low in comparison with national standards but some pupils were rapidly improving their performance.

It said: "Some aspects of your school are good, for example the care and support you receive from your teachers. We saw plenty of you enjoying your lessons and we were pleased to hear that you are happy at school.

Your head teacher has plans to improve the school further. We identified three things
that should help her with this:

1. Improve the use of assessment so that lesson activities are matched more closely to your needs.

2. Reduce the variability of the quality of teaching so that you all make expected or
better progress in all of your lessons

3. Raise achievement in science. "
I have emailed the school and the Learning Trust to confirm the claims and will pass on any fresh details if they are supplied.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Hackney jobseekers: 11,000 and "entrenched"?

The number of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in Hackney rose to 11,043 in May, up from 10,941 in April.

That's 7.3% of the borough's working population.

In Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier's constituency, 8.3% of the working population is on the dole. It has risen every month since December 2010 when it was 7.3%.

These look worryingly high in comparison to the London average of 4.2%. Last week the Guardian commented: "Some of those parliamentary constituency areas, like Birmingham Ladywood, and Hackney South and Shoreditch, in east London, already have some of the highest proportions of benefit claimants, suggesting joblessness there is becoming entrenched."

The JSA claimant figure does not include all forms of unemployment - the bulk of which is known as 'Worklessness' and can include anyone from students to people claiming incapacity benefit.

All together 29.8% of working-age people in the borough are not employed (or 70.2% are employed). The break down between Hackney's two constituencies shows 32% of working age people are not employed in South Hackney while in Hackney North the figure is lower at 26.8%.

But it's worth remembering that worklessness figures are not easy to interpret. Despite having had years to look at it - and saying it would do so - the council has yet to explain why the borough's worklessness figures fell so miraculously (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth and Hackney: A worklessness miracle) from 47,100 in 2005 to 26,900 in 2007 - a much faster rate than neighbouring boroughs. The latest figures show the number around 34,000.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Questions for Gardeners Question Time and Hackney


De Beauvoir Gardeners will be hosting the BBC's GQT (that's Gardener's Question Time) in the crypt of St Peter's Church in De Beauvoir Square with tickets selling for £2 for people who aren't members of De Beauvoir Gardeners.

I read about it in the Gazette and it's on 7th June hopefully tickets are still for sale - although I couldn't find it on the BBC's website (that doesn't mean its not there) or on the St Peter's website for the crypt.

I can't go even if there are tickets. But if anyone's looking for questions...

Firstly, are gnomes ok? I used to fear them but not enough to remove my predecessor's collection, now a lost village of gnomes usually hidden in my back garden.




But is there a Hackney angle to the garden debate? The politics of gardening presents some ideas. This essay contained lots interesting ideas and was based on Hackney City Farm. Among the many points it made was that Hackney doesn't have enough allotments: 'While there are over 30,000 active allotment holders in London, (Garnett 2005) there are only 124 remaining allotment plots in Hackney (Hackney Council, 2008), home to some 212,200 people (Ibid., 2010)– nowhere near 4 acres per 1000 people.'

And: 'These socio‐political histories had the effect of restricting garden use and urban land cultivation to wealthier classes by limiting access to a large part of London’s green space to those with private transportation, private gardens, or access to government licensed allotments.'

Otherwise there's less cerebral problems like the Hackney blogger Glamorous Gardener's occasional run-ins with the authorities (The older problem with passion flowers and dead rosemary and the more recent camomile lawn and clematis trampling incident.)

Or last year when the Council wouldn't let gardeners do voluntary work in Hackney parks and public areas unless they paid £1000. This might have changed - apparently Jules Pipe was onto the legal department about it - and there seems to be a full schedule of stuff going on in Hackney parks ranging from consultations over BBQs in London fields and dodgy dogs to actual plant care lessons.

So, what questions?

I was hoping to find something useful about gardening in Hackney as opposed to anywhere else. It hasn't really happened.

Although it would be helpful if they know of any fox-repelling plants.

Otherwise, can a gardener give anything away about their politics (or anything else for that matter) in their garden or gardening style? These looked they might be interesting, both (1 and 2) from the USA about gardening and what it's about and this, but nothing that interesting.




Monday, 30 May 2011

Chemical spill blocks Downs and Cricketfield Roads

Fire crews rescuing someone trapped in a building on Downs Road (which turns into Cricketfield Road) were caught in some kind of chemical spill - possibly asbestos - which contaminated the area and some of the people involved.

There were a few people in alarming looking orange suits decontaminating or being decontaminated. A look at google maps didn't help identify which business or residence would need to store material that could contaminate in this way.

Diane on social services

Diane Abbott's piece in the Guardian on Haringey's former head of social services, Sharon Shoesmith, could prompt questions about Hackney's social services. The department has a good reputation but there are some unknowns.

One example was in a recently published book by a detective sergeant who worked for Hackney police's child protection unit up until 2006. He wondered how a child could have been beaten to death in Hackney in 2003 and no one went to jail.

Also, there doesn't seem to be any news on whether or Hackney's social services were aware of the mother charged with murdering her four-year-old daughter on the Chatsworth Estate?

Then there's the story recently reported in The Voice about a man only being saved from jail because he recorded his conversations with Hackney social services?



Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tape conversations with Hackney council or go to jail

A man only escaped being jailed last month because he had recorded conversations with a Hackney council social worker who had accused him of assault, criminal damage and making threats to kill.

According to The Voice a judge threw out allegations made against Hackney resident Lovel Brian Dennis who had been trying to win custody of his brother Kenny.

The voice said: "Hackney Council reportedly offered Dennis an apology and a total of £1,600 compensation, but said in a statement: ‘The Council will be making no comment due to legal reasons."

Remember last year Hackney council attempted to prevent the Hackney Citizen from publishing a recording of a council employee who said there wasn't a Conservative Party mayoral candidate standing in Hackney.



Friday, 20 May 2011

Hackney: unemployment up by 1000 this year

The latest Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) statistics for Hackney showed that there were 288 new claimants in the borough last month. This brings the total number of JSA claimants in Hackney to 10,941.

Hackney has the highest proportion of JSA claimants of all London boroughs at 7.2% ahead of Newham (7%).

Since the start of 2011 the number of jobseekers in Hackney has risen by 1,038 (last month's stats showed a 171 rise in the JSA claimants from February.)


Background

The borough's latest economic factsheet shows that the working population is 58% in managerial, professional, associate professional and technical occupations with just 8.5% employed as cleaners, security wardens, postal workers and couriers, hospitality workers and elementary sales.

Hackney's politicians have voiced a number of views on how dependent Hackney is on public sector jobs and the effect the cuts may have on the borough. 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.

HACKNEY BOROUGH
JSA CLAIMANT FIGURES:

2011
April 10,941 (7.2%) - (10,941/0.072= 151,958) (+288)
March 10,653 (7.1%) - (10,653/0.071=150,042) (+171)
February: 10,482 (6.9%) - (10,482/0.069=151,913) (+250)
January: 10,232 (6.8%) - (10,232/0.068= 150,470) (+329)

2010
December : 9,903 (6.6%) - (9,903/0.066=150,049) (-92)
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) (-47)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223) (-183)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.068=144,794) (- 198)
February: 10,044 (7%) (10,044/0.07=143,485) (+139)
January: 9,905 (6.9%) (9,905/0.069= 143,550) (+162)

2009
December: 9,743 (6.7%) (9,743/0.067=145,417) (-52)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
April - 5,103 (6.6%) - (5,103/0.065=77,318) (+97)
March - 5,006 (6.5%) - (5006/0.065=77,015) (+77)
Feb - 4,929 (6.4%) - (4,929/0.064=77,015) (+ 71)
Jan - 4, 858 (6.3%) - (4,858/0.063= 77,111) (+158)
2010
Dec - 4,700 (6.1%) - (4,700/0.061=77,049) (-94)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
April - 5,810 (8.2%) - (5,810/0.082=70,853) (+181)
March - 5,629 (8%) - (5,629/0.08= 70,362) (+92)
February - 5,537 (7.8%) - (5,537/0.078=70,987) (+178)
January - 5,359 (7.6%) - (5,359/0.076= 70,513) (+172)

2010
Dec - 5,187 (7.3%) - (5,187/0.073= 71,054) (+4)
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 - 5,29

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Meg Hillier: "I'm not your love, matey, OK?"

Hackney South MP Meg Hillier seems to have been having interesting run-ins with Tory ministers.

The Express quotes Meg replying: "I'm not your love, matey, OK?" to an as-yet-unknown comment by Energy Minister Greg Barker.

Meanwhile details have emerged about a much older encounter she had with Tory defence minister Andrew Robathan and which she described on a blog by Sky News Sophie Ridge:

"I came back to vote only a short time after giving birth because of the peculiar nature of the job, but I was post natal and breastfeeding at the time.

"So I was gobsmacked to be challenged in this way - it was like stepping back in time. You don't expect that reaction in the modern world. When I told him that I was post natal, he actually demanded to know how many weeks!"

That was back in 2009 while Labour was in power and, after the incident, Meg's whips arranged for her to vote via phone.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

AV: not the end of the line in Hackney

Of the 149,606 people eligible to vote in Hackney, 30,969 voted for the Alternative Vote - about 20% of the entire electorate of Hackney. (Hackney Citizen report here said that Hackney had the highest yes vote in Britain and the FT pointed out that Hackney was one of only 10 areas across the whole country that voted in favour of AV. It was also one of only four London Boroughs that came out in support of AV: Lambeth, Hackney, Islington and Camden.)

Unfortunately it is not possible to see how the vote broke down across the borough's two constituencies but more people in Hackney support AV than their individual MPs - Meg Hillier in Hackney South won 23,888 votes in 2010 while Diane Abbott won 25,553.

The support for a change was high but the one Hackney South candidate who focused almost entirely on electoral reform in the last election only won 95 votes.

Denny De La Haye's campaign website 'Get a Vote' outlined his plan to create an online voting system that would allow Hackney voters to direct his votes in parliament.

Meanwhile Meg Hillier, the victorious MP for Hackney South did not support the Yes campaign. The question is whether the issue will die away in Hackney as it is expected to do elsewhere?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Hackney is the only borough where men are losing jobs

The latest Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) statistics for Hackney show 171 new claimants in March bringing the number of JSA claimants in Hackney to 10,653.

That's 7.1% of the working population. Hackney is the London borough with the highest percentage of jobseekers allowance claimants, it is also the only London borough where more men are losing jobs than finding them.

118 men have been added to the JSA claimant count in Hackney over the last 12 months. All other boroughs have seen the amount of male claimants fall. The nearest to Hackney is the City of London which has seen the number of male claimants fall by 21.

However Hackney is much like other boroughs in that most of the people losing jobs and claiming JSA have been women.

Background

The borough's latest economic factsheet shows that the working population is 58% in managerial, professional, associate professional and technical occupations with just 8.5% employed as cleaners, security wardens, postal workers and couriers, hospitality workers and elementary sales.

Hackney's politicians have voiced a number of views on how dependent Hackney is on public sector jobs and the effect the cuts may have on the borough. 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.

HACKNEY BOROUGH
JSA CLAIMANT FIGURES:

2011
March 10,653 (7.1%) - (10,653/0.071=150,042) (+171)
February: 10,482 (6.9%) - (10,482/0.069=151,913) (+250)
- January: 10,232 (6.8%) - (10,232/0.068= 150,470) (+329)

2010
December : 9,903 (6.6%) - (9,903/0.066=150,049) (-92)
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) (-47)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223) (-183)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.068=144,794) (- 198)
February: 10,044 (7%) (10,044/0.07=143,485) (+139)
January: 9,905 (6.9%) (9,905/0.069= 143,550) (+162)

2009
December: 9,743 (6.7%) (9,743/0.067=145,417) (-52)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
March - 5,006 (6.5%) - (5006/0.065=77,015) (+77)
Feb - 4,929 (6.4%) - (4,929/0.064=77,015) (+ 71)
Jan - 4, 858 (6.3%) - (4,858/0.063= 77,111) (+158)
2010
Dec - 4,700 (6.1%) - (4,700/0.061=77,049) (-94)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
March - 5,629 (8%) - (5629/0.08= 70,362) (+92)
February - 5,537 (7.8%) - (5,537/0.078=70,987) (+178)
January - 5,359 (7.6%) - (5,359/0.076= 70,513) (+172)

2010
Dec - 5,187 (7.3%) - (5,187/0.073= 71,054) (+4)
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 - 5,29

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Police target Turkish social clubs, was it a success?

A police press release, mentioned briefly in the Hackney Gazette on March 10, described raids on Turkish social clubs that took place at the end of February.

Nothing particularly significant was found, at least not compared to raids on suspected Turkish gang-related properties back in 2003. Back then the police arrested several people and found guns, machetes, stolen mobile phones counterfeit money and a torture chamber with hooks suspended from the ceiling and electric cables allegedly used to discipline Turkish businessmen who didn't pay protection money.

The motives for the recent raids was concern about recent gun incidents and they will have been alarming in the context of the outbreak of a gang war of 2009... (Blood and Property had a look at the links between Turkish crime and Turkish Politics last year).

On the face of it the raids didn't turn up much but may be they're more focused on improving police relations with the Turkish community?

The police said: "The operation was planned as a result of recent incidents involving firearms in the vicinity of Turkish sports and social clubs on the borough, as well as heightened concern from Hackney’s Turkish community."

Four venues were targeted on the night:

Karadeniz Club - 109 Green Lanes, N5
What the police found: Three unlicensed gaming machines seized. Closure notice served on the premises, following several firearms-related incidents in the vicinity of the club.

Dilligra Social Club - 113 Green Lanes, N5
What the police found: Seven unlicensed gaming machines seized.

Efes Snooker Hall, Stoke Newington Road, N16
What the police found:The premises was found to be abstracting electricity to the value of several thousand pounds. By arrangement with EDF Energy, the owner has since paid this bill in full.

Adana Social Club, 59 Stoke Newington High Street, N16
What the police found: Ten unlicensed gaming machines identified.

Prosecutions for violation of gambling law may follow. Other venues identified by Hackney Police as worthy of attention will be subject to an education programme, to ensure licensees are clear of their responsibilities.

Detective Sergeant Simon Smith of Hackney Borough’s Intelligence Unit, said: “This operation was a great success and demonstrated our commitment to ensuring the safety of all communities in Hackney. During the operation we were approached by many members of the Turkish community, expressing their approval at police action.”

Chief Inspector Jane Easton of Hackney Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “We have disrupted the activities of the small minority of licensees who think they can act outside the law. We will be keeping a close watch on these venues and others to ensure that they remain a safe environment for their clientele and operate in a responsible fashion.”

Blood and Property tried to untangle some of convoluted world of Turkish crime and Turkish politics - not sure how successful it was but an interesting story of intrigue and corruption non-the-less.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Random Hackney bits and pieces

Hackney is one of the few districts in the UK that has is now 100% completed 100% on Open Street Map according to Suprageography

Launch of City Safe in Hackney - zones where shopkeepers report 100% of all crime and antisocial behaviour: "As part of the action, teams of young people, teachers, neighbours visited shops on Upper Clapton Road to start building relationships in the view to get them to sign up to the scheme."

Winnie the Pooh on the banks of some murky Hackney waterway...

The Hackney Post reported £30 million of Hackney council taxes remain uncollected: "In Hackney, 7.6 per cent went uncollected last year from an estimated net collectible debt of £68.3m, meaning £4.9m was left owing". Hackney gets an extra shot of news (for short spell each year as far as I can tell) from the Hackney Post which is run by post graduate students at City University London.

Hackney Secular Singers: a punk choir

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Hackney Purim, unemployment up again

GOOD PARTY: Apparently this week's market on Chatsworth Road was a happy success but the big Hackney party was going on up in Stamford Hill. A lot of drinking, dancing and fancy dress for the Purim festival.





BAD PARTY: The latest Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) statistics for Hackney show 250 new claimants signing on in February (figures released on 17 March). The number of JSA claimants in Hackney is now 10,482.

The last time the number of JSA claimants broke 10,000 was in February 2010.

The latest figures show job losses in Hackney South had accelerated (172 in Jan, 178 in Feb) but slowed in Hackney North (down from 158 to 71).

Meanwhile the question remains how vulnerable will Hackney be to cuts? This week's Hackney Gazette reports Brian Debus from Hackney TUC saying 400 Hackney Council employees would lose their jobs this year and that 200 have already taken voluntary redundancy.

The borough's latest economic factsheet shows that the working population is 58% in managerial, professional, associate professional and technical occupations with just 8.5% employed as cleaners, security wardens, postal workers and couriers, hospitality workers and elementary sales.

Hackney's politicians have voiced a number of views on how dependent Hackney is on public sector jobs and the effect the cuts may have on the borough. 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.

HACKNEY BOROUGH
JSA CLAIMANT FIGURES:

2011
February: 10,482 (6.9%) - (10,482/0.069=151,913) (+250)
- January: 10,232 (6.8%) - (10,232/0.068= 150,470) (+329)

2010
December : 9,903 (6.6%) - (9,903/0.066=150,049) (-92)
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) (-47)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223) (-183)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.068=144,794) (- 198)
February: 10,044 (7%) (10,044/0.07=143,485) (+139)
January: 9,905 (6.9%) (9,905/0.069= 143,550) (+162)

2009
December: 9,743 (6.7%) (9,743/0.067=145,417) (-52)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
Feb - 4,929 (6.4%) - (4,929/0.064=77,015) (+ 71)
Jan - 4, 858 (6.3%) - (4,858/0.063= 77,111) (+158)
2010
Dec - 4,700 (6.1%) - (4,700/0.061=77,049) (-94)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
February - 5,537 (7.8%) - (5,537/0.078=70,987) (+178)
January - 5,359 (7.6%) - (5,359/0.076= 70,513) (+172)

2010
Dec - 5,187 (7.3%) - (5,187/0.073= 71,054) (+4)
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

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Hackney play area or evil vortex?

This week Hackney Bloggers have delivered...

Supernatural
Be afraid because, apparently: 'This (Hackney) playground is much more than a play area, its an energy vortex which was marked out and built by Hackney Council planners and construction contractors.... Why go to so much trouble to build a child safe play area with the newest technology in safety turfing to place a boulder on top of that MOUND. Even if you don't believe a word we say, its pretty odd don't you agree?' (Up there with that masonic pyramid on Canary Wharf and Hawksmoor's pentagon of East End churches.)

Natural
Returning to the real world Northern Rustic points out some exotic looking birds in Hackney (he now seems to have a site dedicated to the Birds of Stoke Newington Reservoirs). This week on Northern Rustic it is Waxwings (as it was at the end of Feb) possibly because: 'It could be a long time before our dark urban borough is graced by them again, so it seems only just to make the most of them'.

Ultra Orthodox
Hackney blogger 'If you tickle us' hit the headlines last week via an article in the Telegraph about Stamford Hill. This promted a flurry of activity and as Tickle said: 'The Hill is alive with the sound of comments.'

A colleague at work pointed out where the 'If you tickle us' might be from (I didn't know): Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice: 'Hath not a Jew eyes; hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer that a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?' (Meanwhile, if you are in need of more conspiracy theories, here's one about Shakespeare and Hackney)


Free schools in Hackney?
This week's Hackney Gazette has a letter from lots of top Hackney folk complaining about the idea of a free school in Hackney. They say: 'While the public will be paying for them, we will have absolutely no say in how they are run or to hold them to account in the event of problems'. This sounds pretty much like academies which, it is rumoured, are slave-ships for teachers, and also steal each others teachers as if they were competing businesses, and which are not subject to freedom of information act.... but are otherwise loved - may be by some of Labour Party people on the list of objectors to free schools.

Well Street in the FT
This weekend's Financial Times had a piece about a charity set up to help poor people in the East End evicting Well Street shopkeepers. The FT reported: "They want to increase my annual rent from £5,000 to £9,000,” says Danny Rao, who runs the street’s post office. “If that happens, I’ll have to close down. And if I close down, half the street’s going to be dead." That will leave lots of room for more off licences and betting shops - the only money-making shops on Hackney highstreets these days - apart from Tescos, but there's one of them there already. Hopefully the FT's undercover economist and Hackney resident Tim Harford will shed light on whether a charity should be denied the right to ask shopkeepers to pay a market rate rent, and whether there is a cause to fight for here.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Big spike in Hackney unemployment (JSA claimants)

The latest job seekers allowance statistics for Hackney show 329 new claimants signing on. The number of unemployed people (Job Seekers Allowance claimants - rather than 'workless' who are on longer term benefits) hit 10,232, the highest it has been since the financial crisis in 2008.

The last time the number of people claiming job seekers allowance broke 10,000 was in February 2010 and the last time the level of unemployment in Hackney rose at such a fast rate was between February and June 2009. Back then Hackney was hit with succession of monthly increases in unemployment.

Meanwhile the question remains how vulnerable will Hackney be to cuts?

Predictions that thousands of public sector jobs are likely to be lost - as many as a thousand in Hackney itself over the next four years - could drive increases if these people are Hackney residents.

However the demographics of the borough may protect it a little. The borough's latest economic factsheet shows that the working population is weighted toward managerial and professional jobs with 58% of Hackney’s population were employed in managerial, professional, associate professional and technical 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.

Hackney's politicians have voiced a number of views on how dependent Hackney is on public sector jobs and the effect the cuts may have on the borough. 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.

Will the number go up or down from here? Last months figures published by the Office of National Statistics showed that 92 fewer people were collecting the dole in Hackney in December 2010 with 9,903 claimants compared to 9,995 in November. That has more than reversed.

(While the actual number of unemployed people in Hackney has risen to a new high, this number, as a proportion of the working population, is not a record. It is 6.8% compared to 7% in September 2009 when there were 350 fewer JSA claimants. This, apparently, is due to boundary changes in Hackney North and South (the parliamentary constituencies) which took place in 2010. However, as far as I can remember, there were no changes to the boundaries of Hackney borough as a whole. So I'm not sure where this leap in the size of the population came from (There may be some explanation of for this here: statistical anomalies in Hackney. This month the combined total of new unemployed people in Hackney South and North is 330. Across the borough as a whole it is 329. The total number of JSA claimants in Hackney North and South is 10,217 while the figure for the borough as a whole is 10,232 - not exactly huge discrepancies but they could make it difficult to interpret what is going on.)

HACKNEY BOROUGH
JSA CLAIMANT FIGURES:

2011
January: 10,232 (6.8%) - (10,232/0.068= 150,470) (+329)

2010
December : 9,903 (6.6%) - (9,903/0.066=150,049) (-92)
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) (-47)
April: 9,663 (6.7%) (9,663/.067=144,223) (-183)
March: 9,846 (6.8%) (9,846/0.068=144,794) (- 198)
February: 10,044 (7%) (10,044/0.07=143,485) (+139)
January: 9,905 (6.9%) (9,905/0.069= 143,550) (+162)

2009
December: 9,743 (6.7%) (9,743/0.067=145,417) (-52)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
Jan - 4, 858 (6.3%) - (4,858/0.063= 77,111) (+158)
2010
Dec - 4,700 (6.1%) - (4,700/0.061=77,049) (-94)
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
JSA CLAIMANT COUNT

2011
January - 5,359 (7.6%) - (5,359/0.076= 70,513) (+172)

2010
Dec - 5,187 (7.3%) - (5,187/0.073= 71,054) (+4)
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

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Hunger strikes in Hackney

This week the Hackney Gazette reported: "Kurds took part ina 24-hour hunger strike at the Kurdish Community Centre in Finsbury Park on Monday February 14 and many joined a march from Dalston Junction on Tuesday afternoon.

"They called for the release of Kurdish leader Abudullah Ocalan, who has been jailed in Turkey since his arrest in 1999, and for new efforts to resolve the Kurdish conflict there."

Abudullah Ocalan is the leader of the PKK which has been classed as a terrorist group in the UK and in the US and has called on Kurds in Turkey to stage protests like those in Egypt.

Last year a Turkey expert told Blood and Property that ethnic divisions in Turkey were alive and well - and often more intense - in communities outside of the country. In Hackney there may also be a link between crime and politics. Gangs like Bombacilar may have been linked to right wing groups involved in the assassinations of Kurds.