Thursday, October 29, 2009

Public Drinking Ban for Hackney?

Residents and businesses across Hackney have been raising their concerns about the increase in anti social behaviour relating to alcohol. The problem is particularly acute in and around Shoreditch including parks such as Hoxton Square.

As a result, Hackney Council is considering introducing a borough-wide Controlled Drinking Area (CDA). A borough-wide CDA will give police powers to confiscate alcohol or issue fixed penalty fines to those drinking and causing disorder or threatening behaviour in streets, parks and open spaces.

A CDA is not a ban and does not make it illegal to drink alcohol responsibly in a public place.There have been designated areas in Hackney where CDAs have been in operation and these have been successful in reducing drunkenness and rowdy behaviour in public. However, this can mean that the problem is then moved to a new area, so a borough wide CDA is now being consulted on.

The public consultation runs until 24th December 2009. You can fill in your views online here or download more information about the proposed CDA here.

Tories Fail to Stand up for Hackney Residents

As you will know, London Mayor Boris Johnson (front row, 3rd from left) recently announced plans for massive increases in fares for Londoners.

Some highlights of his proposals include:

- raise the cost of a single bus fare by 20%, from £1 to £1.20

- raise the cost of a weekly bus pass by over 20%, from £13.80 to £16.60

- raise the cost of an off-peak tube journey from Hackney into central London by 12.5%, from £1.60 to £1.80

This is all to ensure he can look after wealthy voters by abolishing the Western Congestion Charge, at an estimated cost to TfL of £70m, and by abolishing the £25 gas guzzler charge at an estimated cost to TfL of £50m.

As a borough with low car ownership and heavy reliance on buses, these rises hit Hackney people harder than most.

It was incredibly disappointing to see Hackney Tory councillors at last night's full council refuse to stand up for the people they represent. During a debate on the fare rises,they queued up to praise Boris's plans, completely ignoring the impact it will have on Hackney people.

Slowly people are waking up to the fact that underneath the cuddly manner and the messy hair, Boris is a far right Tory who wants to use his adminstration as a test bed for any future Conservative government's approach to investment in public services.

As my colleague Cllr Rob Chapman said last night: "He's not so funny now."

Safer Neighbourhood Teams Celebrate Fourth Birthday

It was back in October 2005 that the council, working with the local police, accelerated the investment into community policing and brought forward the borough-wide roll out of Safer Neighbourhood police teams.

Hackney became the 2nd local authority in the country to have a complete deployment of the teams. Each team is responsible for policing in one of Hackney's 19 wards and is headed up by a police sergeant and is comprised of PCs and PCSOs.

In Haggerston there is an additional team dedicated to the Shoreditch Triangle and the night time economy.

The result has been the second fastest drop in crime in London. Crime has reduced so that there are 10,000 fewer crimes each year, with overall crime down over 35%. Confidence in the police has increased massively and the police now sit down with residents in each ward to discuss and agree policing priorities in each community. This is not the police paying lip service to local people - residents who attend the meeting really do get to set the priorities for local police - in recent meetings in Haggerston this has ranged form drug dealing to cycle theft to peiing in the street.

To find out more about our local Sergeant, Jeremy Hinde, and his team click here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baby Dennis Born on 394

A Haggerston resident was one of the heroes as Emiloju Fatima Lawal went into Labour early on the 394 bus.

Carole Allen, from Whiston Road, along with driver Pauline Jacobs form Hoxton helped delvier the baby at the back of the bus before an ambulance took the lady and her new son to the Homerton.

Mum and baby are well and she has given her son the middle name Dennis after the manufacturer of the bus.

Yelo Licence Application

8-9 Hoxton StreetLondon N1 6NU

Application for variation of premises licence within basement for live music and recorded music from 10:00-23:00 Monday to Saturday and from 12:00 to 22:30 Sunday and Good Friday.

Closing date to have your say: 12/11/2009

If you need advice on licensing matters including making representaitons contact me on or 07921 870908

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green power for Hackney?

As you may have read in Hackney Today and the Hackney Gazette last week, there are proposals from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to build a wind turbine on Hackney Marshes.

If the 120 metre high turbine goes ahead, it will offer Hackney the opportunity to buy green energy for up to 25 years, cutting carbon emissions significantly. The ODA is already going ahead with one wind turbine on Eton Manor in the neighbouring borough of Waltham Forest. If a turbine was built on East Marsh, the two together could generate enough green electricity to power Hackney's street lighting at night and all the main Council buildings by day.

I wholeheartedly support the proposals and think this is an excellent opportunity to help Hackney meet carbon reduction targets, support the Council's commitment to sustainability, and ensure that more green energy could be produced in Hackney than in any other London borough.

The Council is aware that there are strong feelings about Hackney Marshes which is why there is a public consultation on the wind turbine proposal - you can fill this in online here or find out more about the proposals here.

No armed police patrols in Hackney

Thanks to Alan Laing, my fellow Councillor and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods for clearing things up regarding armed police patrols in London and how this might affect Hackney.

Alan says on his blog:

Some people may have seen press reports about the Met Police deciding to allow armed officers to patrol some of London's "worst" estates and neighbourhoods as a way of tackling gun and gang crime.We've received confirmation from Hackney borough commander that this will not happen in our borough.To quote Detective Chief Superintendent Bending:"On no occasion has there been the deployment of armed officers on foot patrol in Hackney."I am proud that all of the officers stationed within this borough are unarmed and that will continue to be the case."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bringing theatre home

The proposed new theatre in New Inn Yard on the site where historians believe Romeo and Juliet was first performed moved a step closer last week. The council's planning committee approved the plans and the Tower Theatre company can now step up their fundraising efforts and bring theatre home to Shoreditch.

Britain's best hotel

The Hoxton Hotel on Great Eastern Street has been named the best hotel in the UK in the 2009 Guardian/Observer travel awards.

Living in the ward, I've never had the need to stay in the hotel but friends who've stayed rave about it. The management have also pioneered the use of budget airline style pricing with prices falling and rising with demand and regular £1 a night deals. Not so long ago, the idea of Britain's best hotel being in Hackney would have been laughable.

Not every hotel development will be right for the area but if we want to see Shoreditch develop a more balanced economy and less reliance on late bars and strip clubs then imaginative, high quality hotels like this have to be welcomed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Beth is an inspiration and Jenson isn't

Why Beth Tweddle is an inspiration for young people in Hackney and Jenson Button isn't

Two British World Champion in a week. Both considered possibilities for the coveted Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Beth Tweddle is a truly World Class gymnast who has performed at the top level for many years now. She is an inspiration to thousands of young gymnasts around the country and kick started a new era in the sport in Britain that has seen the emergence of Olympic medallist Lewis Smith, World All Round silver medallist Daniel Keatings and a clutch of youngsters who could make Britain a real force in the event in 2012.

So Beth has been competing at the top level since 2001 and last year earned around £30,000. She is unlikely to earn much in endorsements so when she retires she will pursue her ambition of becoming a physiotherapist. So she'll continue to earn modest wages and pay her taxes that pay for schools and hospitals.

Jenson Button on the other hand, like Lewis Hamilton, is a tax exile. He earns millions a year and pays no tax in the UK. Happy to drape a union jack around his shoulders after a race. Happy to talk about being proud to be British. Totally unwilling to pay his fair share towards vital public services. What sort of signal does it send to children when we heap praise upon people like this without even mentioning that they decide to live somehwere else just to avoid paying their dues?

Oh and gymnastics is also a real sport.

Flying Scud Demolished

In a previous post, I mentioned the new Hackney Road Conservation Area document and the fascinating background it gave on buildings in the area. As visitors to the blog have pointed out, shortly before the Conservation Area came into force, the owners undertook what planners call a "pre-emptive demolition" and what anyone else would call cultural vandalism.

As good an argument as any for the need to develop conservation areas if we want to protect the historic fabric of Shoreditch.

I am here

Public art projects, especially those funded by public bodies, are often a bit lame and feel like they are just there as decoration. The 'I am here' project on the Haggerston West & Kinglsand Estates is very different.

When consulted about estate improvements, residents made it clear they wanted the buildings to look more attractive while they wait for the new homes. The new social landlord L&Q has now removed ugly orange boards over the windows of empty flats as they felt they contributed to making the area look derelict.

As a response to this, artists living on the estate have come up with an innovative art project called ‘I am here’. It aims to create a more positive image for the area and interest in the regeneration project as well as masking the empty properties. Sixty-seven high resolution portraits of local residents have been installed to give Samuel House in Haggerston a complete facelift.

A ceremony on 13 October brought residents to gether to celebrate the start of demolition on some of the Kingsland Estate blocks and work on building new homes will start in the new year. The Chief Executive of L&Q and the Deputy Mayor of Hackney rightly praised tenants for their key role in keeping this project moving whilst others stalled. Their involvement will also ensure that the homes that are now being built will meet the needs of Haggerston people for years to come.