Wednesday, April 01, 2009
April update – MORE AWARDS!
Most improved council
Last Wednesday Hackney was recognised as the most improved council at the Local Government Chronicle awards.
The work of our local strategic partnership Team Hackney was also highly commended.
A fortnight previously, we had been awarded beacon status in two categories. This is the first time Hackney has been acknowledged in this way.
The two areas in which we were recognised as beacons of good practice were –
Strategic commissioning of services from partners and the commercial and voluntary sectors
promoting more active communities in the lead up to the 2012 Games
Hackney has also been crowned the best borough in London for transport.
The council won the top prize at the London Transport Awards in recognition of its work to boost green travel through investment in cycling, walking, public transport and road safety.
A judging panel of industry experts felt Hackney was now leading the rest of London in sustainable transport. The award comes after six years of investment by the council to improve transport links and traffic flow, upgrade road surfaces, and promote safe and eco-friendly travel.
As a result, the borough is ranked number one in the UK for growth in cycling. Hackney also now has over 70 schools with a travel plan to help reduce school run congestion, and has seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of council staff walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work.
On the important issue of road safety, the authority met all its 2010 accident reduction targets, three years ahead of schedule in 2007, and has a policy of adopting a 20mph limit on all its roads.
It has also secured better transport links – the culmination of a four year campaign – with improvements to the East and North London lines underway, including building four new stations in Dalston, Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch and more frequent trains by 2012.
The council was also commended in the Cycling Improvements category at the awards ceremony on 17 March.
Kings Crescent Estate
Officers are in the process of concluding matters with the previous potential developers. In the meantime we are working on the assumption that the council will refurbish and retain the remaining blocks.
The contractors for the interim works are now on site and beginning preparatory works. One major issue which will arise is displaced parking when the highways repairs are being undertaken. With the major water pipe maintenance already underway, this may contribute to temporary congestion in lower Queens Drive if not managed properly.
The rest of the interim works and associated repairs are programmed between now and the autumn. They will include –
Creation of a gardening space for residents
Lighting replacement and upgrading
Roof repairs where necessary, especially to staircases
Safety and access improvements, including some repainting
The first set of refurbishments could then begin as soon as July. It has been confirmed that we are able to use existing framework contractors including those for Decent Homes. We have asked officers to properly consult residents on the materials and design to be used.
The new Deputy Mayor, Karen Alcock is due to attend the next Steering Group meeting.
A new sergeant Keith McMaster, has been appointed to head up the Brownswood Safer Neighbourhoods Team, in place of David Bounds who moves on within the Met.
The March CAP meeting again confirmed the local policing priorities as –
Anti social behaviour on estates
Overall crime in the borough is down 16% December 07 to 08. Crime calls in Brownswood are the 2nd lowest of all wards in Hackney.
A joint police and council community safety newsletter went out to all parts of the ward in the last week.
The Brownswood Safer Neighbourhoods Team will be moving in to a shared office with the Highbury team in the former plant hire/carpet warehouse on Blackstock Road later this year. This may also be the base for a new dedicated Blackstock Road/Nags Head SNT.
Construction on the first new social housing has now begun. The Labour Government, through the Homes and Communities Agency, has made £16 million available to ensure the social housing on the Old School Site is built as planned. A ground breaking ceremony was held on 12th March. These homes will be 10% bigger than the nationally recognised Parker Morris standard, which itself is regarded as unusually generous these days.
Bids for the rest of the “Kickstart” sites totalling £50m have been submitted. Again if agreed these would allow the building of the social housing to start before any private units.
We have a briefing on the implications of the revised PDA for these sites this Thursday.
Genesis Housing Association (which previously operated in Hackney as the Pathmeads and Paddington Churches HAs) has been appointed as the RSL to take forward the regeneration of the rest of the estate – ie non Kickstart sites. The accompanying private developer for the rest will be appointed in June if it goes according to schedule.
Interim works are being put on hold pending greater clarity of the phasing of future development.
The building of the new Skinners Academy started on programme.
With the end of its funding from the LDA this month, Finfuture faces a major shortfall. Brian is taking it’s CE to meet with the council’s Director of Partnership on 9th April to see if this is a potential source.
Manor TRA – Portland Rise, Amwell Court and Lakeside Court
We are continuing to support the TRA in raising complaints about the noise nuisance from the adjoining Thames Water site.
Feryat met with the Transition Towns Finsbury Park group, who have recently set up in Brownswood. They are well established in other parts of the borough and their aim is to make Finsbury Park/Brownswood “more sustainable and resilient in response to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change”. Feryat has been asked for help in reaching out to the Turkish/Kurdish communities in Hackney. http://www.transitiontowns.org/
We are still seeking new development partners to help regenerate the site. One of the original four tenderers has been shortlisted. Their bid is currently being evaluated. We expect an update next Wednesday.
Darren attended the meeting on 18th March and helped to review the community action plan to deliver a regular youth club and holiday activities. A community open evening is being held on April 6th to bring residents together and promote the new TRA.
One of the most specific commitments in our last manifesto was to plant 1000 new street trees by the end of the term. This was achieved last month, over a year ahead of schedule.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Parkwood Primary – 2nd best in the whole country!
The primary school league tables were published last week. Parkwood Primary in Queens Drive was listed as the 2nd best in the whole country for the value it adds to it’s pupils’ education.
Congratulations to the Head and staff, and the pupils and parents!